Borderline Personality Disorder: What They Don't Tell You
Most people now know what BPD is, but what do you not know about it?
Being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) was both a relief and a living nightmare for me. On the one hand, I knew I had most of the symptoms of the mental illness, and it explained a heck of a lot for me. I knew deep down that now I had a diagnosis, I could get the much needed treatment. But on the other hand, I knew I'd be living with a stigma looming over my head. I knew that people would judge me once they found out about my diagnosis. I was to become the "crazy" one of my friends and family.
I've had this diagnosis for way over a year now, and there are some things I've realised about being borderline that people simply don't give us credit for:
- We're full of love: the thing with being borderline is that it makes you experience your emotions much more intensely. You don't just feel happy, you feel ecstatic. You don't just feel sad and down, you feel like your world is completely crumbling around you and there's nothing you can do about it. This intense experience of emotions is often touted as a bad thing, but it can have its benefits. It means we love people way more than the average person would. We'll show you love in ways you've never been shown love before. You'll become our world, and we'll never risk giving that up. I've occasionally heard the phrase, "There's no love like a borderline love" - and it's so true.
- We're loyal: borderline people are loyal to those they care about. We'd do anything to protect and cherish those that we love. I, myself, would give my last penny just to know I'm taking care of someone I care about. I'd never do anything that would jeopardise losing someone, not intentionally at least. We may take a while to get used to due to our regular mood swings and fear of abandonment, but once you let us in we won't be going anywhere because we care about you.
It isn't all rosy living with BPD however, we have our bad days and there's plenty of things that make us difficult to get along with. The problem is that many people don't understand us and our diagnosis. People vaguely know what BPD is, but they don't know what it really is.
- We have mood swings, a lot: the average person could tell you that someone who is borderline has mood swings, but they often confuse this with being bipolar. Our mood swings differ in that they can happen several times a day, several times an hour, several times in ten minutes. Our emotions don't remain constant for very long. One second we're feeling hyper and bubbly, the next we're feeling like taking a blade to our wrist - Literally, I've had this mood swing so many times now and they happen so randomly. Often our mood swings don't even have a trigger, and this can lead to problems in treatment. Therapy tries to teach us to look for our triggers, but what happens when your mood swings have no trigger and just, well, happen? There's nothing you can do about that other than keep on top of your medication and try your best to ride the mood swings out.
- We are impulsive, ridiculously so: I know from personal experience what impulsivity is like, and it's crazily scary at times. I get these impulses to buy things I don't need, but if I see something I want and I'm in an impulsive mood then I will do everything I can to get it. For me it's phones, I see new phones and I just have to have them. I take out new phone contracts to secure these phones, or I go out and buy them. My credit record is appalling due to my impulsivity. The thing with being impulsive when you are borderline is that you don't really think of the consequences of what you're doing. You just know you want it so you do it and then the consequences hit you and it makes you want to self-harm, or worse. Borderline people are often pegged as people who sleep around a lot, and whilst some are like that, it isn't a sure-fire way to describe someone who is borderline. People often fear dating a borderline out of worries they'll be cheated on because of the promiscuity associated with us, but remember what I said about being crazy loyal?
- We rarely mean those bad things we say: as the saying goes, "I hate you, don't leave me." We have a huge fear of abandonment and will often say and do stupid things when we feel we could be abandoned. We act out because we're scared, not because we don't actually love you or care about you. We say things we feel will trigger an emotional reaction and get you to stay. People say we're manipulative, but we don't mean to be and often aren't trying to manipulate you. We literally just don't want to lose the people we care about. Those with borderline are terrified of being abandoned and left alone, and they'd do virtually anything to prevent it from happening. If I was to write about all of the stupid things I've done and said just to get someone to stay in my life, I'd be here all day - and do you want to know the sad thing? It rarely works and we get abandoned anyway. All too often people just can't cope with our sensitivities.
This is only a small insight into the world of a borderline. It can be a lot to take in at once, so I've kept the amount I reveal to a minimum. But remember this:
Don't judge people who have BPD because of what you've read in the media or seen reflected about us on TV. The media has painted an awful picture of us. We're mostly dangerous to ourselves rather than other people, and when we know we've hurt someone we typically hurt ourselves even more. You may know we exist, but please take the time to read up on the facts of the mental illness.