After being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a couple of years ago it suddenly became immensely clear how this illness had affected me throughout my entire life. I had been unknowingly living with this disorder for twenty-one years. Now at twenty-three years old I have come to better understand my personality, mood and triggers all to the greater good of my mental health. My mood regulation and mental health may not perfect but it is certainly a world away from the chaos of the past.
With a so called ‘personality disorder’ diagnosis it would be easy to focus on the negatives but I do not see my personality as disordered. I mean what really is an ‘ordered personality’ or a ‘normal’ one? We are all weird, wonderful and have our own quirks- this is what makes us unique. I understand the need for diagnosis but putting people into such boxes encourages stigma, especially with names suggesting ones personality is disordered or dysfunctional in some sense. When in fact people with BPD simply experience emotions a lot harder than others and have often dealt with extreme trauma too.
I am certainly not ashamed of my diagnosis and know that it does not define me. I know that sometimes BPD can take a hold of me, my mental health can spiral and I may act in ways in which I wouldn’t recognise myself if I were level-headed. I really do hate to think about those times. I feel ashamed and guilty, but I know deep down that’s not me. I understand that I need to work on my emotions through mood management therapy such as DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)- an effective type of talking therapy targeted at people who suffer with extreme emotions, mainly associated with BPD. Though a lot of the time I am a calm, relaxed person who often you might not even realise deals with such severe mental health issues. But I am not here trying to hide my mental health illness, or my ups and downs- I suffer and I am dealing with my shit. I am proud to spread awareness and be one of the many faces of mental health online, but I do believe BPD gets a bad wrap so I am writing about the positive aspects about living with Borderline Personality Disorder.
People who suffer with BPD have often experienced significant trauma throughout their life. Things such as abuse (sexual/physical), addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal thoughts/attempts are not uncommon in people with this diagnosis; often with multiple mental health diagnosis’ being the norm. It is extremely hard to explain to somebody without these experiences how it truly feels. Fighting urges and constant mood swings is extremely tiring and can sometimes prevent you going about your day-to-day business. Sometimes just waking up in the morning is a real struggle while other times you can whizz through the day at high speed like Wonder Woman. But Borderlines have lived with intruding thoughts and overwhelming feelings for most of their life so bouncing back becomes second-nature. Borderlines are resilient.
Being a Borderline can make you over-sensitive to a lot of things but I am so grateful to be able to feel and express emotion. My highs are high and lows are low but I am accepting that life is about taking the good with the bad. Maybe I will never know what ‘normal’ feels like and maybe I don’t care, because I know how pain, love and laughter feel.
Yes we may have had some disastrous relationships but who hasn’t? We are human just like the rest of us. Never be defined by a diagnosis, I know I won’t. ‘Can’t maintain relationships’, I call bullshit! The majority of my best friends are from my youth, some of whom I have known and loved for up to twenty years, contradicting this vicious myth that Borderlines cannot hold a relationship- romantic or otherwise.
Not only can Borderlines be long-term friends, but we can be bloody good ones too! Supportive, empathetic and truly caring, we really will go above and beyond for the people we love. Personal relationships are something that mean great value to me and no diagnosis will ever change that.
It would be impossible for anyone to keep all the intense feelings that Borderlines experience locked inside. Creativity can be a great form of escapism for many people who suffer with their mental health. I know that writing has been a great way for me organise my thoughts and declutter my mind. If you are able to channel your intensity into creativity, who knows where it could lead you?
After living with Borderline Personality Disorder for so long I am now able to accept both the good and the bad. I know that this is what I must do in order to survive. If you have BPD, or any other mental illness, I’m sure you are like me courageous, determined and full of heart. We each have our own struggles, but must remain positive and keep fighting the stigma!