It’s mental health awareness week, month, whatever, and whilst the most frequent personality disorder diagnosed, unless you’re a health professional, you’ve probably never heard of it. ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ can sound quite scary and easy to stigmatise, so let’s raise some awareness.
It never occurred to me that I could have a personality disorder. I knew I didn’t have depression, I knew I didn’t have bipolar and I knew it was too permanent to be hormones. Many people are against self-diagnosis whilst many are for, but that’s a whole different story, but one day I stumbled across this disorder and couldn’t believe that anything existed that could describe me so accurately.
There is a lot of information online about the illness, and it’s so hard to diagnose because so many of the symptoms cross over with other illnesses, so I’m going to talk about my subjective experience in a short a way as I can. Some sufferers will have some of the same symptoms as me, some will have none, either way, it’s something that defines your life. To understand the symptoms, I’d like to start with mine arising.
In 2010, I spent a lot of time on a forum with girls aged from 11-18. Eventually I made friends with one of them who lived in Florida, and it quickly became intense. Her mother was a psychiatrist and she wasn’t without her problems. I wasn’t without fault, but characteristics included her analysing my personality, her suddenly disappearing off the face of the earth for lengths of time and constantly being told I was doing things wrong. Due to feeling replaced, around this time my childhood best friend decided to disappear as well.
For whatever unnecessary reason, my brain decided that mental illness was a good idea. It’s hard for me not to hesitate whilst writing, but ending stigma starts with knowing there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Teenagers get sad, they get depressed, and I was definitely no different, apart from my brain decided to make it a little more permanent.
In 2012, my BPD became extremely obvious, although not knowing it existed I just thought it was being a teenager. Someone came along, and within 6 weeks I had developed an embarrassingly deep crush on them, I knew it wasn’t mutual, but what can you do? They quickly made up their mind about the situation.
I soon ended up in another relationship. By 2014 I started university. I was in the best mental place I’d ever been in. This is where I became confused, sometimes I felt so elated I couldn’t even cope, and sometimes I felt so down I definitely could not cope… within a matter of minutes, constantly. I knew depression was more long term, I knew hormones were more short term, I knew I wasn’t manic for long enough to have bipolar, I can’t remember how I stumbled upon borderline, but everything suddenly made sense. This wasn’t just me or my personality, it was something else. When I could put all these issues to a name I suddenly understood myself better and therefore, how to manage them. Of course, when you’re a borderline and infidelity comes into question, recovery wasn’t going to come anytime soon.
- Fear of abandonment. Everyone is going to leave you. Threaten to hurt or even kill yourself so they don’t, that’ll make them love you, right?
- Unstable relationships. Idealisation/Devaluation. I know I thought you were made of the same things as puppies and tiramisu are yesterday, but actually I just realised you’re Satan… unless you say something nice again, then you’re my soul mate.
- Unclear sense of self. Trying not to cry when given a personality test. Talking about strengths and weaknesses in a career plan? Forget it. I’m whoever you want me to be.
- Impulsive/self destructive behaviours. Yes you can drink that whole bottle of vodka alone for the sake of it, you’re a cool gal.
- Self harm.
- Emotional swings.
- Chronic feelings of emptiness and dissociation.
- Explosive anger.
These are the main symptoms I’ve been experiencing since I was 13.
Recently, I went to the doctors for help with anxiety and was given SSRIs. Whilst taming down my panic attacks, I’ve found that Sertraline and a stable relationship has numbed me out enough that most of these symptoms no longer concern me. It can get better.
I’ve accepted that I will probably always have borderline, and that’s ok, I will continue to manage it. Finding out about it has enabled me to keep working on it, whereas I used to follow my worry before, I now think ‘do they actually hate me and I need to block them forever or is it this disorder?’. Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t shameful to have or something to be scared of when you know someone who has it. I have no shame in admitting I have anxiety disorder, and it’s time people accepted that others exist too.
7/10 people with borderline will attempt suicide, 1/10 will achieve it.
Let’s talk about mental health. If you think you might have Borderline Personality Disorder, talk to someone or check out the page on Mind.