The questions "what's it like to live with borderline personality disorder?" always seems to throw me. I've been asked it so many times in the past two years since getting the diagnosis that you'd think I'd have the perfect answer for it. The problem I find most common is that people always expect a quick answer, as though you can explain it all in a matter of sentences, with perfect clarity. My automatic response is, "It means I'm a little mood and irrational sometimes," which is so vague that it hardly even constitutes as a real answer.
The truth is that I'm scared to truly answer the question. Answering it in depth feels like standing naked in front of the world's most attractive people whilst they laugh at your flabby bits. I guess you could say that I'm a little tiny bit scared of judgment.
Actually no, not judgment but more the fear that if I let anyone know whats truly going on in my head then they may reject me and leave. See that's the first symptom, fear of abandonment. People with BPD tend to have an irrational fear of abandonment, and when they fear a loved one may be on the brink of leaving them they will act out. There are two common ways a person with BPD my act out, the first to cling on to that person; this can be both literally and metaphorically. However I personally act in the completely opposite way; if I fear someone is going to abandon me then I will push them away by means of saying extremely hurtful things. Sadly I have done this to EVERY single person I love and care about at one point or another. Eventually, the paranoia wears off and I apologise for my actions but all I can say is I'm truly blessed with a wonderful support network of friends and family.
The next symptom on my list is the mood swings. Mood swings can last from minutes to hours and can either be slight or dramatic. I can feel perfectly content one minute and then plummet into the pit of the depression the next but that depression may only last ten minutes before I feel erratically happy again. There is literally no pattern to them, no triggers and no warning. The worst one to cope with for me personally is the anger. It's so intense you can feel it burning inside your tummy, like you might explode at any given moment. Most of the time, I can hide my mood swings. I've learnt to mask them from the world and only those who know me really well can tell when they are happening. On bad days, however, I have no control what so ever and just have to take each one as it comes.
The third one I'm going to talk about is the difficulty building and maintaining stable relationships. Now after reading about those first two symptoms is it any wonder why I have trouble with this area. The problem is I may love my boyfriend one minute and not want him to touch me the next and because of this, I worry he'll abandon me, therefore, push him away. In a nutshell, I totally self-destruct and as a result, I've decided to take a break from dating to focus on myself but this doesn't mean that I've lost hope completely.
Unstable self-image AKA my opinions on myself, are forever changing. At times I think I'm funny and smart and kind and all the rest of it and other times I literally can not say one nice thing about myself. Sometimes I even convince myself that I'm actually evil, which is completely ridiculous but what can you do?
Impulsive reckless behaviours. Now I know right from wrong, I really do but if I'm truly honest, the lines do get awfully blurred sometimes. When I say reckless behaviors I mean: binge drinking, drug abuse, binge eating, reckless spending and unprotected sex with strangers. This is the hard part to explain, because I know all of the behaviours are harmful and yet I engage in them regularly. I think the problem is when you pair these behaviours with impulsiveness and don't stop to think about what you're doing until it's too late. I really do try to make good decisions but all too often I wake up with not many memories and a whole lot of shame.
The last and quite possibly the most important thing I was to talk about is self-harm and suicide. Self-harm is, unfortunately, something that does happen and has been happening since I was 15-years-old, although I am learning new and more effective coping methods and my self-harm has significantly reduced since receiving my diagnosis. Same goes for my suicidal thoughts. Although still present almost every single day, they have become a lot more easy to dismiss. However, it was a series of suicide attempts that led me to finally get the help that I needed. I suffered with my mental health issues for about 8 years before my breakdown which finally got me talking to a professional who listened to me, diagnosed, and treated me. That's the main reason I'm writing this article, answering a question that completely terrifies me because if I can help a person to recognise that they might be suffering too and seek the help they need before they are in A&E with a belly full of painkillers, then by god it's worth it.