This is my experiences and understanding of BPD. I am not a medical professional and my experience will be quite different from others. I am 23 years old, and this has impacted me my whole life – therefore this blog post is a mere outline of my experience with BPD – it would take a whole book to explain it all.
Everything is intense. I feel every emotion, really strongly. Love is blinding, all consuming and magical. Fear is heart racing, life changing and all consuming.
I’ve been ‘in the closet’ with my Borderline Personality Disorder (also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder), because who the hell wants to admit they have a personality disorder? There’s a perception that personality disorder = fake/split personality/psychopath/untrustworthy etc etc. Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
If anything, for me, my personality is the ONLY thing that’s constant. Everything else changes very frequently; my body image, my likes, dislikes, social circle, relationships, goals and opinions. My personality has remained pretty much intact (forever scoring high in the personality sections on the old 2012 Facebook ‘Looks, Personality, Closeness’ ratings).
I’m going to write about the things that impact me the most, and then at the end answer some common questions. I also want to mention that I am going through very supportive therapy at the moment, and my management of BPD is pretty good. However, I have struggled to manage it for the best part of my life, and it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve picked up good management skills. Therefore, the way I write about BPD may not sound as ‘intense’ or ‘scary’ as it can be for some people, but it can be hard for me to write about the darkest times, as I tend to block them out.
Relationships – ie friendships, acquaintances, romantic interests etc can be very variable for me. It’s hard for me to ever know where I stand with people. I analyse every interaction and heavily depend on reassurance and confirmation that these people like me. I can quite easily make assumptions and jump to conclusion from the most minor things, and assume these people dislike me. Equally, it’s very easy for me to think the absolute world of certain people and put them on a pedestal, focusing a lot of attention, effort and energy into their lives.
I am a friendly, sociable person. I have fortunately never been in any nasty or hate driven relationships with people, and I don’t direct any anger at others – I direct it at myself. If someone upsets me or my perception of them turns less rose tinted, my anger becomes self directed and I just feel annoyed at myself. This is obviously a pain for me, but it does mean that I’ve not upset or hurt anyone else.
With all that being said, I would confidently say that I am fairly good at maintaining relationships with others because I can reflect quite well and see where I can improve/work on things. I’m a caring person, I’m kind and I love making people laugh. I hate the perception that BPD people aren’t good in relationships/friendships, because that’s not always true. My love and care for others is probably one of my best traits.
As a teenager I went through a new phase every couple months, but we all do. As a 23 year old, I’m still going through it. I am very, very enthusiastic – which means when I like something; I really bloody like it. I can get quite obsessed with certain things, lifestyle choices or hobbies – for weeks/months at a time, then do a complete 180 on them (see, 1D Phase, Vegan phase, emo phase, gym phase, intense-studier phase, party girl phase, money-saving phase, youtuber phase, yoga phase, etc etc).
This doesn’t mean that I am a sell out, or that I have no integrity. It means that I am just quite intense. My values as a person and approaches are usually quite constant – but I can change a lot of beliefs and opinions on things quite quickly. In one sense, this is good as I am open minded, but it can be quite difficult for others to gauge where I stand with things, and even more tricky to maintain friendships which were cultivated through similar interests.
I have no idea what I look like. Okay, that’s a lie. I know I’m tall, smiley and I have green eyes. That’s about it. My self image changes quite a lot, which is one of the key reasons why I developed an eating disorder as a teenager – as I had no idea how slim I was and thought I was the size of a house.
I change my fashion sense, hair, makeup etc etc really quite frequently. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it is just another symptom of my lack of self image. Who is Heather and how does she dress? I don’t really know
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a long time. This is namely due to my constant uncertainty. It’s hard for me to know what is right or wrong. Do I like this thing or do I not? Am I a bad person for X, am I a good person for Y?
I internalise a lot of things and it’s very very easy for my brain to convince me that I am a bad person. Especially if this is tied in with the relationship uncertainty and instability of knowing where I stand with others.
One of the most frustrating things for me, is impulsivity. I guess this sort of ties everything else up. Having such fluctuating views and perceptions of things in life means that it’s really easy for me to just ‘fuck it’ and do something that maybe I don’t want to. In the grand scheme of things, these are usually minor like buying a new pair of trainers or drinking more than I usually do.
But when I’m in a phase of depression, this can very easily lead to dangerous impulsive actions or behaviours. I’ve struggled in the past with suicide attempts and self destructive behaviours. This is obviously very dangerous and I’m grateful that my sense of self worth and emotional stability is a lot better than it used to be.
Can you trust people with BPD?
Speaking on behalf of myself, yes. I am very trustworthy, especially with other people’s feelings and emotions. I am not a calculating, manipulative person. My care for others is genuine and real, and that’s nothing to do with my mental health.
Having said that, I can’t speak for everyone – just like I can’t speak for everyone in general. Trustworthiness is nothing to do with someone’s mental health diagnosis
How does the diagnosis work?
In England, it’s very bloody hard. As I said earlier in this blog post, I am pretty okay at self managing and regulating. If I went to a psychiatrist now, I probably wouldn’t be diagnosed with BPD as I am quite good at articulating and rationalising.
However, about three years ago I was very much at a crisis point with my mental health. I had to a a big deep dive into my history, which was taken into account by the professionals when going about diagnosis. Even after presenting with poor mental health for a good few months after; I still struggled for a solid diagnosis for a long time. I know myself I had BPD at the age of 16, yet I actively avoided seeking support as I worried a lot about accepting the diganosis.
What are common misperceptions?
The biggest mis-perception that I’ve encountered is that people think I lack integrity or confidence. I am a self confident person, and I have a very core beliefs that never change. But because I change a lot of my external things (eg image, lifestyle choices, friendships etc) it’s easy for people to assume that I’m a bit of a sell out.
The people who matter to me, know me to my core – they know the bits of me that never change and they know who I am as a person. That’s one of the most important things. The true relationships won’t care whether you have ginger hair or pink hair or eat raw vegan food or live off pure chicken for weeks. The true relationships are there for the real you, and not the external bits on the side
Can you get better from it?
Apparently, it’s not possible to ‘recover’ from BPD like say, anorexia. However, it is possible to develop tools to manage it.
My brain is always going to be the way it is, but I can work on re-training my thoughts and perception of my mind. I can keep making 7 positive steps forward, even if that does include 1 step backwards.
Equally, I don’t see myself as ‘broken’ or ‘ill’ anymore. I see my BPD as a mental health diagnosis – but not an illness or something that needs solving. Whilst some aspects of it are the fucking pits, I’m also grateful for the positive aspects of it – like how deeply I feel love, how much I feel joy and warmth, how motivated I can be towards certain things, and the creativity I’ve developed as a result.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without experiencing BPD. I’ve tried to hide or mask it for a long long time, but I’ve realised that it’s just part of me, and it’s not my job to get other people to accept me.
I would like to write more about BPD – be more honest and open with the experiences. For me to post this blog is a biggy, because I know that BPD is a lot more taboo than other disorders like depression and anxiety. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I hope this has helped someone.