Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mindMay 24, 2016
So May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month, among other things. And that got me thinking maybe i should write something. It’s funny though, i wholly believe that mental health is something that we need to address in a new and different way in our society. i think the stigma attached is shitty and perpetuates the cycle. But here i am wondering whether or not i should keep writing because i don’t know if i want this piece of me out there for the world to see. If it were something like a cold or sinus infection or even my migraines i wouldn’t be embarrassed. And i’ve talked enough about my depression monster. But there is something different about BPD.
There’s a lot of literature out there about BPD, i’ve only read a small fraction. But most of it is ridiculously negative. It talks about how manipulative BPD’s are, how even therapists don’t want to work with us.
But i don’t want to talk about the negative stuff out there, i want to talk about me and my experience. Because before i was diagnosed BPD was something i knew of but it didn’t live with me. Now that it does it doesn’t feel fair to keep that to myself as scary as sharing it is. This is who i am and i’m trying to be better. i can only do that with help.
For those of you not familiar, to be considered Borderline you “must show ‘a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following’:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
- Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., substance abuse, binge eating, spending sprees, unsafe sex, and reckless driving)
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
- Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms”
(from the DSM-V)
i’m in a class/group currently where they prefer the term Emotional Intensity Disorder rather than Borderline Personality Disorder because so much of what we deal with is our emotions not working in the same way as other people’s. There has been research to show that our brains are actually wired differently.
But like i said, i’m here to talk about my experience. Usually i would say that putting a name on something doesn’t change anything. This time it did for me. Before being diagnosed i knew i had issues with my emotions, i knew that i fell into five or more of the DSM-V symptoms. But i didn’t know that’s what they were. i thought that’s just who i was and that it wasn’t part of anything. Now that i understand it, that it’s part of something bigger, every single feeling i have feels like work. i don’t say that in a way to complain or whine. i just mean, now that i’m aware of things, and growing more aware, i find myself having to examine every feeling i have to see if it is too intense, if it comes from a distorted thought, what kind of filters i’m seeing the world through at that moment. And i’m trying to learn to do all of that quickly enough to not look like i have to sit down and study for finals every single time a strong emotion hits me.
i worry about hurting my friends because i haven’t figured everything out yet. i know, realistically, that they don’t expect me to have everything figured out. But emotions can suck. They can be big fucking balls of suck. And they can hurt people when you least mean to. i find myself feeling guilty for either having feelings in the first place or for not knowing how to deal with them. Throw in a very real fear of abandonment and i seem to fight this recipe for disaster over and over again.
Because i’ve been so incredibly lucky, my friends who i’ve opened up to have been so supportive. They tell me constantly how proud they are of me for trying to fight this and for dealing with therapy when i’m frustrated and just want to curl into a ball and disappear. They make me laugh when i think i don’t know how anymore. And they listen to me when i cry over things that logically probably don’t need to be cried about. But there is always that tiny cruel voice that reminds me that it could all go away. And i just know the wrong outburst of emotion could make it happen.
So where does that leave me? Grasping at tiny silver friends i don’t actually want in my life? Sometimes. Not talking to anyone? Often. Trying to understand how to manage these shitballs of feelings? You bet.
i could say more. And maybe you want to know more. Let me know. But for now that’s all folks.