Borderline Personality Disorder: The grey between the lines

Happy Monday everyone! Today’s blog post is from a friend about dealing with borderline personality disorder.

I was diagnosed (reluctantly) as having Borderline Personality Disorder at the age of 18, following an attempt to end my life. My ultimate goal was to stop feeling all those overwhelming emotions – I’d had enough of being let down, I’d had enough of being in pain, I’d had enough of not being enough.

When you try and explain BPD it’s easy to get tongue tied. “Borderline between ‘what’ and ‘what’?” The simplest ‘medical’ answer is borderline between neurotic and psychotic. I get to experience both sides of mental instability. Wahoo. It’s also referred to as ‘Emotional Instability Disorder’ if that helps anyone understand it better.

The common example given to explain BPD is that of a severe burns victim – all their nerves are exposed and even the slightest breeze causes ripples of pain over those exposed, vulnerable nerves. We are typically like that with our emotions. If someone ignores me (read: probably didn’t notice me wave, speak, or sneeze etc. in the first place) then I am terrible, awful, they hate me, I am worthless. Why do I even exist? Something negative happens and I can react with unfathomable, and unreasonable, levels of anger. It is important here to remember that anger is a secondary emotion, more often than not masking high levels of pain.

There is no middle ground with someone with BPD. No grey area. That’s not to say I am unreasonable, especially once I have calmed down. But it’s difficult to get there. When I think about things that upset me in Primary or Secondary school, they make me just as upset – it becomes difficult to let go of grudges. And that’s just a few of the symptoms – there are 9 that make up the diagnosis list including: self-harm, destructive or reckless behaviour, suicidal ideation, unstable sense of self, extreme feelings of emptiness (and not the kind of ‘I haven’t eaten for hours’ empty – think more like ‘I feel like there is nothing inside me’ kind of empty), feeling suspicious, feeling out of touch with reality, and fear of abandonment.

I experience varying levels of all of these symptoms at different times. I used to dissociate quite frequently – I’d feel as if I wasn’t real, or that I’d float right off my bed if I didn’t concentrate hard enough.

There are some positives though. When I feel emotions I REALLY feel them. I am good at understanding other people’s emotions also because I’ve most likely felt them before. I have my own set of skills and talents that I am proud of. To me, recovery means living my emotions one day at a time – trying not to be too hard on myself, trying to not let myself get carried away, and – most importantly – trying to see the grey in the middle.