Bedlam, BPD and Me

It’s easy for people with Borderline Personality Disorder to feel like they are the victims of a very cruel curse. This personality disorder is often characterized by an intense fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, and impulsive behavior that ultimately drives people away. BPD makes me lash out, allowing some of the cruelest things to tumble from my mouth, and believe me, there are only so many times loved ones will forgive a lack of control. This is what it’s like to live with this horrific disorder which many uneducated on the subject suspect is “all in our minds”.

It is hard to offer a simple medical definition of BPD, but I’ve heard it brilliantly summed up as chronic irrationality. Think severe mood swings, impulsivity, instability, and a whole lot of explosive anger.

People with BPD may project symptoms that seem similar to other personality disorders, it is often confused with bipolar, depression, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

BPD sufferers may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and feelings about any recent event can change rapidly.

According to NIMH, symptoms include:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.

Ordinary events may trigger these symptoms. For example persons with BPD may feel angry and distressed over minor separations, such as vacations, trips, or sudden changes of plans, from people to whom they feel close. Research shows that people with this disorder may see anger in an emotionally neutral face and have a stronger reaction to words with negative meanings than people who do not have the disorder.

I personally think it’s this erratic oscillation that makes BPD so hard to communicate, particularly to those who are close. Because on the surface, it looks like I’m just being ornery. Like all mental illness, it’s best treated with patience and empathy, unfortunately, like depression or hypomania, it places the onus on people who are not necessarily in a position to help or understand, no matter how much they may care for you. In a relationship, BPD can leave both parties feeling isolated, angry and misunderstood.

Borderline Personality Disorder sends you into spirals of self-doubt and hatred. It makes you feel like a tangled slinky, forever bumping inelegantly down a flight of stairs. You know something within you is twisted, and even once you’re told what, you are left wondering why and more importantly HOW to deal with it.

Just living or being around someone with this personality disorder can be extremely difficult and exhausting. It especially brings out my mean streak, something that both terrifies and shocks me. I’ve always had an eloquently devilish way with words, particularly profane ones, and BPD is like I have Terminator vision that highlights the chinks in EVERYONES armor, unlike my mania, which tends to make me charismatic and for the most part, a pleasure to be around. A BPD ‘turn’ or ‘moment’ morphs me into the meanest, most evil, crudest version of myself.

Due to the impulsiveness associated with people who suffer from BPD, they tend to change jobs frequently and also abruptly cut ties to people with whom they are extremely close. We sufferers have intense and sudden mood changes, and we have severe difficulty regulating our emotions. Unintentionally, we tend to blame others when we make a mistake, which makes it seem to the ones that we care about the most that we are being manipulative and cruel.

BPD can make life feel unbearable most days. Ones “good days” seem so few and far between. I call it a mirage illness, as it makes you feel like someone with no fingerprints. No face. No identity. Onlookers may be tricked into viewing you as boldly transformative, in reality, you are someone with absolute zero sense of self.

It is very hard for those with BPD to have successful and healthy relationships and stable confidence levels. Our version of ‘logical thinking’ is more often than not, overthinking. We have a very hard time distinguishing between real issues or imaginary issues. BPD is considered to be one of the more serious mental disorders, as it causes a great deal of suffering and has one of the highest risks for suicide of all mental health patients.

This is a lifelong battle that over the last couple of years I have prepared myself to fight.

I will never be cured of BPD, but I believe my disorder does not own me. This is my life, and I know it can be beautiful.

From the inside.

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