The good, the bad and the ugly sides of Borderline Personality Disorder
Alright, my loves let's get one thing straight shall we? Borderline Personality Disorder is no joke. I'm not here to try and make BPD seem cool or romanticise it in any way. HOWEVER, the internet is full of "how to stay away from people with BPD" bullshit and I think it's about time we got to celebrate some things about ourselves instead of only focusing on the downsides right?
There is a lot of terrifying stigma around all types of mental health. Some of the things I have seen have been soul-destroying. So I'm here to try and balance out the scales a bit!
MH is a struggle only those that go through it will understand. It can seem threatening and crazy to people that have been lucky enough to not go through it. But it's not all doom and gloom. There are some awesome upsides to BPD that I think are worth celebrating.
What is BPD?
BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder. (also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder -EUPD)
"BPD is a type of ‘personality disorder’. It is an illness that makes you struggle with your emotions and this can affect your relationships with other people. Around 1 in 100 people have BPD. It seems to affect men and women equally, but women are more likely to have this diagnosis. This may be because men are less likely to ask for help."
- quote taken from rethink.org
One of the ways you may be diagnosed with BPD is if you have 5 or more of the following symptoms. This means there are hundreds of combinations of symptoms and therefore want to remind you that just because you know one person with BPD it does not mean you understand what BPD looks like in all that suffer from it. Here is a list of the symptoms a doctor may use to see if it is possible you have BPD
(I have taken this list from helpguide.org)
Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone. Even something as innocuous as a loved one arriving home late from work or going away for the weekend may trigger intense fear. This can prompt frantic efforts to keep the other person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, track your loved one’s movements, or even physically block the person from leaving. Unfortunately, this behaviour tends to have the opposite effect—driving others away.
Unstable relationships. People with BPD tend to have relationships that are intense and short-lived. You may fall in love quickly, believing that each new person is the one who will make you feel whole, only to be quickly disappointed. Your relationships either seem perfect or horrible, without any middle ground. Your lovers, friends, or family members may feel like they have emotional whiplash as a result of your rapid swings from idealization to devaluation, anger, and hate.
Unclear or shifting self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, or even sexual identity.
Impulsive, self-destructive behaviours. If you have BPD, you may engage in harmful, sensation-seeking behaviors, especially when you’re upset. You may impulsively spend money you can’t afford, binge eat, drive recklessly, shoplift, engage in risky sex, or overdo it with drugs or alcohol. These risky behaviors may help you feel better in the moment, but they hurt you and those around you over the long-term.
Self-harm. Suicidal behaviour and deliberate self-harm is common in people with BPD. Suicidal behavior includes thinking about suicide, making suicidal gestures or threats, or actually carrying out a suicide attempt. Self-harm encompasses all other attempts to hurt yourself without suicidal intent. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning.
Extreme emotional swings. Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, despondent. Little things that other people brush off can send you into an emotional tailspin. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.
Chronic feelings of emptiness. People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the void with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying.
Explosive anger. If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the fuse is lit—yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time feeling angry at yourself.
Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality. People with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality—an experience known as dissociation. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.
Personally I have 1,3,5,6,7, and 9. Some more than others but all have their hardships. Now imagine all the different combinations of these symptoms. that's why labelling people with BPD as one thing or another is really hurtful and factually incorrect.
Today I'm going to try and cover as much as possible about BPD. My aim here is to help people that do not go through it understand it better. Despite being more common than schizophrenia and bipolar combined, BPD has A LOT of stigmatised and false information being spread on the internet. To the point that even some mental health professionals will refuse to treat people with BPD. I'm very lucky to have a mental health team that is committed to helping me but unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone around the world.
Also, it's worth mentioning that this is MY BPD. No two people experience anything exactly the same and so although these might ring true for some it doesn't mean it will fit with everyone.
So let's start with the good! BPD is a bitch, but there are some silver linings. Here are some of the things I am grateful for that stem from my BPD.
1) We are loyal AF
When we bond with someone, your family. End of story. No turning back. We will do anything for you and protect you like a fierce Mumma lion. Once you have made it past all the walls and defences we have put up for ourselves our loyalty to you is pretty much solid. We are 100% ride or die for our friends.
2) We can love like no other.
Because people with BPD experience emotions with extreme intensity ( the downside being we feel sadness like you would not believe...) It means we have the unique ability to love like no-one else. Our emotions are deep and rich. We live life with full intent and embrace every part to its fullest. Because our lows are so painful, when we get to feel happiness and love we INDULGE in that shit. If you are loved by someone with BPD, I can guarantee they love you with every single fibre of their being.
3)Empathic and compaction for DAYYYSS.
BPD makes you hate yourself. We know what it feels like to be at rock bottom. Because of this, we are extremely compassionate towards others. We wouldn't wish what we feel on our worst enemy and so we make it our mission to lift up and care for the people in our lives as much as possible ( and then a little bit more on top of that). Granted, sometimes this means we don't put ourselves first. Or get beat down when the same level of care is not given to us in return. But that never stops us. We will always look after people, no matter how much we get knocked down.
4) Extremely creative
People With borderline more often than not will use creativity as a coping mechanism. We have a very deep ability to visualise our emotions and so it makes sense that we would express those feelings through different types of art. personally, I sing, dance, paint, craft and oh yeah...write a blog!
5) Insightful (Don't lie to us, we already know.)
Research has found people with BPD can read facial expressions and subtle shifts in moods more accurately than those without. We analyse and pick up on EV-ER-Y-THI-NG. This means we are really good at coming up with solutions to things and pointing out the small things that others would not notice. We also make amazing PI's. Need to find that hot guy you saw at the bar last week? Come to us girl. We got you.
This also means we are amazing at working out plot twists to films and TV shows. We will try to keep it to ourselves...but you know...its hard. The annoying side of this is that I also notice every inconsistency also. I wish I could ignore this cuz it takes me out of whatever I'm watching.
6) Superhuman strength
I don't mean physically (surprise, I'm not Wonder Woman), and we might not always belive it in ourselves. But damn we are strong. We have been through a lot of trauma and are still standing here. We've had to deal with things we wouldn't wish on anyone and still can get up in the morning and keep fighting. Life's been a bitch. The kind of backstories you hear in supervillain stories, but I can still smile, still care for and love others, still hope to make the world a better place. That my dears. Is real strength.
Remember to see the good in people. We live in a cancel culture right now which means we are very quick to judge peoples faults. But when was the last time you praised someone instead? It's easy to see someone make a mistake and brand them a failer, but it doesn't make it true.
Ok...time for the bad.
bare with me, this is gonna be tough... I apologise in advance if this gets confusing.
I feel things at a much more intense level than your average person. this means that when something bad happens, to me, it's like the world has ended. this is seen as overreacting but to me, it is VERY real. If you have ever felt the pain of losing a loved one. that pain you felt in that time. that is what all bad emotions feel like to me.
As mentions above, my emotions are very black and white. There is no in-between. Something either feels awesome or horrifying. This means that I can go from extremely happy to deeply sad and back again very fast. This will sometimes happen over the space of a day or as little as minutes. As the name suggests, splitting will appear to others as a snap change in mood in a split second. This is a defence mechanism. When you go through trauma at a very young age you label things very simply as "good" or "bad". This is because your brain is not developed enough to see it any other way. The same way children's shows and films have very clear good and bad guys in the story. It's how a young mind can comprehend what is going on. When trauma gets added to this way of thinking it follows through into adulthood. You know when you are watching a Disney film and you go from laughing to crying in the space of one scene? that's how my brain works 24/7. You can't tell me to "get over it" when I'm sad the same way you can't tell me to calm down when I'm happy. This is exhausting for people I am around. I imagine it can be frustrating to not know if and when my mood might dramatically change.
3) fear of abandonment
Personally, I find this SOOOOOOO hard. If someone is upset with me in any way, I can't help but focus on it and will 100% believe that person hates me forever.
Growing up with the sense that you are alone causes people with BPD to CLING onto people very easily. we are in constant fear that you will realise we are trash and leave us.
sometime we might even try and you push away before you get the chance to leave us. that is at least something that is in our control. - personally, I don't THINK (the pushing away part) I do this, however, I could just be in complete denial...
I'm not a person that will instantly believe others are the bad guy (that can be the case from some people with BPD) I'm very much someone that takes on all the negativity onto myself. For example - say you owe me £5. simple enough. I could just ask you for it back, right? Nope. I'm so blinded by being labelled as a "bitch" for asking for it back that I will beat myself up for weeks without ever saying anything. Meanwhile, you've completely forgotten you owe me the money and have no idea I'm crying at home because I think you will hate me forever if I ask for the money back. Rationally, I know this isn't true. but the fear of you no longer wanted to be my friend is way too terrifying to me. This can also lead to me getting taken advantage of a lot. When people know you are too scared to speak up, they know they can keep asking ridiculous things of me and know that I will always say yes because I don't want them to think I'm a bad friend...
4) I don't believe I'm real
This one is hard to explain...because I KNOW I'm real...but I also don't believe it.
My sense of reality is very hard to navigate. Because of the added stresses of flashbacks and hallucinations, knowing what is real can be very hard to put my finger on. I once had a flashback that in reality, only lasted around 5 minutes. To this day, to me, that flashback lasted two years. It was so real to me that it's hard to not question if the here and now isn't just a flashback too. I can look in the mirror and know I'm looking at myself, but to me, it feels like I'm looking at an alien. I don't feel I even look human. This can bring my mood down a lot. I can be having a great day where everything is going great and then simply catching my reflection in a shop window will send me spiralling. I can't see what everyone else sees. To me, I look like a monster.
Ok... I'll be honest, I've tapped out now. I'm sure I've left loads out nut I'm officially far too exhausted to talk about this any further.
(man, I hope at least some of this makes sense)
Look...the main thing I'm trying to get across here is that BPD, like any other mental illness, is complicated and scary. The things online that label us all as toxic, manipulative, narcissistic, crazy, and all the rest are simply not true. Yes, they might be true for some, but that does not mean we should all have these negative labels over our heads. If one teacher steals from a shop. We don't automatically assume all teachers are thieves. So please don't assume that because you know one person with BPD that is "a horrible person" that all of us will be just like that one individual.
If you have BPD I hope you were able to find a level of understanding here today. maybe you can share this with your loved ones to help them better understand you. If you are someone with BPD that has different symptoms to me then I hope it might help to see a different side to your condition than you are used to.
If you have someone in you life that has BPD, I hope this helps you to understand them a bit better. I can't guarantee the way I feel is the same as their own feelings but at least its a start to being more open about what it can be like to have BPD.
Be kind to one another
Until next time bitches xx