Sooooo we are going to start this one off with a warning that this one is LONG. Much longer than I had planned on and longer than I have done before and for that I apologize but I hope you take the time to read all the way through.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. This is my number one mental health struggle and always has been. It is the worst thing I have to deal with when it comes to my mental health.
I have always had a hard time talking about BPD and how it affects me because when I start talking about it I hear myself and it makes me feel crazy because well I sound crazy so I wanted to sit down and write about it and see if maybe I can not only show someone else that they aren’t alone but give someone a little insight on what a loved one may be going through.
I want to start with the basic symptoms of BPD :
- Fear of abandonment
- Unclear or shifting self image
- Self Harm
- Explosive Rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Self destructive and impulisve behaivor
- Feelings of emptiness
Now, these are the most common 9 symptoms you will find when it comes to BPD. These same symptoms are very close to another mental health illness and that is Bipolar disorder. The biggest difference between the two is the duration of the highs and lows. With Bipolar disorder, those highs and lows can last anywhere from weeks to months with BPD the highs and lows can all show up during dinner. It is a very intense fast-paced crazy brain drama.
As we get a little descriptive with each symptom I hope to shed just a little light on what it is like to live with this day in and day out. If you are reading this and you relate to any bit of it at any time in your life remember you are not alone.
Let’s start at the top of my list above with fear of abandonment. Now, this is a fear that comes with ALL of our loved ones. It is an extremely intense fear that your loved one will leave and never return. This is not always in the sense of “find someone else” this is in the sense of NEVER RETURN. Sometimes the story in my head is your dead on the highway others it’s your sick of me and went to start a new life far far away either way you’re gone. Something as normal as being late coming home because you know traffic sucks can often trigger intense and often irrational fear. As well as things like going out or away on a trip no matter the duration. These are moments where I find myself picking a fight so I am mad instead of scared when you leave or getting clingy and whiney.
All relationships in life either are perfect or terrible, with no in-between. Spouses, family members, and friends can often experience an “emotional whiplash” from the rapid swings of idealization right to devaluation hate and anger. This often makes relationships unstable as people will begin to feel the need to “walk on eggshells” around you.
Next, we have an unclear or shifting self-image, this is honestly the simplest of the symptoms. It is very much like it sounds with little sway. One minute I feel great about myself and all the things I am doing and other times I literally at myself and in the past often thought of myself as evil. I to this day do not have a clear idea of who I am or what I want to do with my life. The struggle is real and has been lifelong.
This one is not unfamiliar to my readers as I have talked about my self-harm before in other posts. This one does have an addon of suicidal behaviors. Now, most people think well duh that’s what self-harm is, and well your wrong that is not at all what self-harm is and many forms of SH don’t result in possible death. BPD is often accompanied by depression of some kind which is where the suicidal behavior comes in. When dealing with a BPD-related SH trigger most will engage in harmful sensation-seeking behaviors such as hitting, cutting, burning but some also look for this in other places such as the kink community.
On to explosive rage my favorite and one of the biggest struggles of my early life. I say early life but if I am being honest it has only been the last 7 or so years that I have worked on getting my rage in check. I have consuming anger and a short fuse. I have a hell of a time trying to control myself once the fuse is lit and often can’t regain control of myself which looks a lot like screaming and throwing things and being completely consumed by pure rage.
Extreme mood swings sounds like I am being dramatic but trust me they are extreme. With BPD your brain is always on high alret. The fight or flight response has an extremely sensitive trigger and once it has been flipped it takes over any rational thoughts you had triggering survival instincts that are not always situationally appropriate. Which in the end can often lead to the explosive rage I talked about above. Things feel more scary and stressful than they do to most people so it is difficult to sort out my emotions when they are all coming at once.
Self-destructive and impulsive behavior is anything from binge eating and drugs to gambling and risky sexual situations. These things vary from person to person. Some people develop eating disorders. Drug and drinking addictions. Some end up with so much debt they cant find a way out so they just keep adding to it. There are other forms of this as well that may not be as deadly as an addiction or eating disorder but are just as self-destructive like forced incompetence, social suicide, unnecessary self-sacrifice, and overspending.
Feelings of emptiness is another one that is pretty easy to explain until someone asks “Why”?. At some point in life, we have all felt a bit empty like something was missing but this empty is different. It is a full-body empty like the lights are on but nobody is home kind of empty and this can last for days even weeks. This feeling often triggers other symptoms but that is the nature of the beast. The moments where the emptiness is strong are moments I find myself disassociating or feeling out of touch with the world around me.
There are plenty of other symptoms and whatnot that comes with BPD like feelings of extreme guilt and remorse because if we are anything at all we are self-aware. This is not a blackout can’t remember a thing kind of mental illness; This is very much an I am hyper-aware that I am bat shit crazy and making it worse, I love you, I’m sorry, no fuck you, don’t leave me why am I like this kind of mental illness. The worst part of BPD is the range its damage has. This is not a single person’s struggle. As hard as it is to live with BPD it is just as hard to live with and love someone who has BPD.
As most of you know I always leave a quote at the end of each post and this one is no different. This quote I found is honestly the best way I could ever think to describe BPD in a sentence.
“You are a warrior in a dark forest, with no compass and are unable to tell who the actual enemy is, So you never feel safe ..”