To people who just got diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder
Trigger warnings: Talks of suicide
Borderline Personality disorder is a crazy diagnosis because very little of society is educated on the disorder itself and most of the information out there is not hopeful/completely accurate. It's also very scary, 10% of people with the diagnosis take their own life, and 70% of people with the diagnosis have attempted suicide at least once.
I do want you to know that even with the negative stigma around the entire disorder there is tons of hope not only to survive, but to be thriving. I want to share my experience and the lessons I have learned that have helped me to give you hope or something to look forward to.
First I will give you some background information so you can know a little about me. I am 22 years old, I was diagnosed with BPD when I was 17. I got the official diagnosis as an older teen but I remember suicidal thoughts all the way back from second grade. I had every single symptom of Borderline. I self-sabotaged in every way imaginable, drinking, drugs, speeding. I threatened suicide to friends/partners if I thought they were going to abandon me. My emotions felt so intense and permanent that I would be stuck in bed for months on end. I had such a negative view of myself and the world. I people pleased to the point where I would sell everything in my possession to buy things for partners. I disassociated through school, sports, and conversations. I never pictured myself alive so I never pictured a future for myself at all and had no identity of who I was. When I was 18 I had my most severe suicide attempt, I took all of the medication I had in my bathroom. I was in the ICU for a week and all the doctors explained to me how lucky I was to be alive.
The moment I thought I was going to die was the first moment of my life I knew I did not actually want to die. I wanted to get rid of the person I was inside as well as the intense feelings. The constant feeling of what I would describe as hell. It would take three more years after that moment to be close to where I am today.
I want you to know that everything we have to deal with is not our fault. It is not only created by severe trauma, it is also the fact that the trauma itself is invalidated by the people around you. People who harmed you in disgusting ways try to convince you that it didn't happen, or that you are the problem. YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM AND YOUR EXPERIENCES ARE VALID!!
The hard part is though that even though nothing is our fault we still have to heal ourselves for ourselves. For 20 years of my life, I didn't have a single shred of hope that there would ever be a time in my life when I wasn't completely debilitated by my disorder. I thought it was just how life was for me.
I went through DBT therapy. I think DBT therapy is great as long as you go in with the right mindset. There are steps to healing. The first is to just get out of hell and I think DBT is a great start for that. It teaches you skills to deal with your emotions without doing any self-sabotage behaviors. It gets you in the habit of getting ice on your forehead or other heathier ways to calm down instead of going and doing something reckless and impulsive. It will not fix the core of it all though and I think some people get disappointed, but healing is a long journey and it is a good first step so you aren't constantly making decisions you will regret.
The second step for me was moving. Once I was in the habit of pausing and not letting my emotions control my behavior I got out of that environment. You cannot heal in the environment that traumatized you. It did get worse before it got better. Your brain is a powerful thing it will do everything it can to protect you. When I was going through DBT therapy I was completely unaware of any childhood or current trauma going on. Once I moved out of that environment and I was in a safer space, it all came to the surface. It was the hardest year of my journey, I had migraines constantly. I got triggered every day from something as well as remembering memory after memory. I couldn't afford a therapist because during that time I couldn't keep a job. I was lucky enough to have a super safe space to get through it although there were a lot of nights I had to be my own shoulder to cry on and I think that helped show compassion for myself and love for myself that ultimately helped in my journey. People around you who love you can't take it away from you as much as they'd like to sometimes. I ended up going through exposure therapy for all of my trauma and my therapist validated me all the way through. I can't even describe the feeling of the weight lifting after a couple of sessions. I feel so much lighter and happier for the first time in my life. I think the biggest connection also that helped is that I learned 1000% that emotions always change, I use to hold onto emotions for months. Now anytime I get sad or mad I validate myself and I say this will pass. And it always does.
I've now been able to hold down a job, even when I'm having a really bad day. I have found my own passions and have been less codependent. I cook recipes I want to cook, I write, and I work out almost every day. Doing things you are passionate about increases happiness so much. And for most of my life, I didn't even know what I liked at all. I started by just cooking one recipe. For my first workout I did three knee pushups in my living room, and the first time I wrote I just sat down and wrote for 20 minutes. Now they are huge pieces of my life. I have also tried many things I haven't gotten more into. I took a pottery class, I bought some plants to take care of. Just try things and some things you will become more interested in. I don't feel like everybody is born with a passion for a certain something. Some people have to try things out and see what happens. Don't feel shame for not knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life. Just focus on today and baby steps. That perspective shift changed my life.
I had such a black-and-white mindset. Many times I repeated my life will never get better, and that I would be like this forever. And it's just not true. It may be shitty for a long time but life can change so drastically at any moment you just have to take baby steps towards your goals. It's so possible to heal if you prioritize it and find that respect for yourself to cut toxic people out of your life. I believe in you so much. It is so much easier said than done but I know it can from experience. You won't have the same experience with healing as me but I know if you focus your brain on healing it will start your journey.
If I would have died when I was 18 I would have missed out on the love of my life, my beautiful house I just bought, my cats and dog, the music that I've found, and the places I've seen. My self-love and appreciation. So many beautiful experiences I have cried during because I'm so thankful I survived and can experience. I survived long enough to show my inner child that we are thriving and it is the best feeling in the world. I tell her I'm proud of her every day. Please no matter how intense your emotions feel and it feels like there's no chance of a better life. There always is. Never give up on that. Learn to love yourself and validate yourself. You are enough always.