Borderline Personality Disorder: On the Border of Psychosis and Neurosis

Mental health has recently become a sort of joke on the internet. People are idolizing being sad and engaging in self-destructive behaviors. However, the people that struggle with mental illnesses know that they are not something to be idolized. Mental illnesses can be detrimental to how a person thinks and feels, and can negatively affect how they function in society. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a “mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning” (“Borderline Personality Disorder”). Those with BPD also have “high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, [and] suicidal thinking and behaviors” (“Borderline Personality Disorder”). With BPD, there is an overwhelming fear of abandonment which leads to self isolation. People that suffer from BPD have difficulty managing relationships because they often push people away in fear of being left. This is “related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them” (“Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms”). A person can reassure me hundreds of times that they love and care about me, but I will never be able to fathom the idea of someone loving me because I believe I am undeserving of love. Borderlines may also be viewed as manipulative but this is not intentional. Many people with BPD need constant attention and validation because they believe that no one cares about them. They can become completely dependent on another person, and their view of themselves reflects how the other person views them. We are unsure about who we are. In this photo essay, I am going to show a glimpse of what it is like having BPD.

This is a picture of me hearing the voice of someone I don’t like. Anxiety can trick you into hearing things that are not real. These feelings can be very overwhelming and can make daily activities difficult. (Williamson, “Steve”)
Every morning I take an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), which acts an an antidepressant and helps with anxiety. Antidepressants work to fix the chemicals in the brain that are unbalanced because of these disorders. This helps block out some of the negative thoughts and feelings I would otherwise experience and makes it easier to get through the day. Having anxiety is different than just being “stressed” because anxiety is persistent worrying that can prevent you from doing normal things and can even cause sleep problems.
If you are a psychiatric patient, you must meet with your psychiatrist every month or so to discuss how your medications are working. These appointments are mandatory so your psychiatrist can make sure your medications aren’t altering who you really are. It is important to note that medication isn’t supposed to change you, it’s supposed to help you get back to who you were before your disorder took over.
The person in the middle of the crowd on the left is me “performing” or acting. Being someone else for the crowd. The small group on the right side are the people that love me. They see past the person I am for everyone else. This photo also reminds me of dissociating. When you dissociate, you block out everything around you and you feel like nothing, including yourself, is real. Many people with BPD dissociate frequently when they are unable to understand or process how they are feeling. (Williamson, “Attention”)
Even in social settings, I experience feelings of loneliness. Body contact makes me feel safe and less nervous. It is calming for me to have touch, even if it is just our arms or legs touching. By having someone touch me, it reassures me that they are my friend and they like me. This is important because when you have BPD, you think that everyone hates you.
This is a photo of my ex-girlfriend. I took this after I had a breakdown and was crying on her face. After I was done crying, I realized that I had gotten makeup all over her. I chose this picture to show how people with BPD can have their mood change in a split second. I went from being extremely upset and emotional to laughing at how silly she looks. When struggling with a mental illness, it is important to have people around you that support and try to understand you.
I chose a picture of a light bulb to symbolize that many people with BPD see things in black and white. We often view something as either really bad or really good, there isn’t an in-between. A light bulb like this one is always either on or off. Personally, I have trouble looking at the good side and the bad side of a situation because I zero in on only one. I am unable to see a middle.
In addition to the antidepressant I take in the morning, every night I take an antipsychotic. I take this to help with some of the symptoms more closely related to BPD; helping to reduce mood swings and increasing concentration. This medication is also very sedative so I am able to sleep easier at night.

Living with BPD is something I am unfortunately always going to struggle with. I have to put in extra effort if I want to maintain a relationship with someone. With that being said, many of my relationships do not last very long. People with BPD can go from being completely in love with someone one day to not feeling anything for them the next. Antidepressants are helpful as well as atypical antipsychotics which help with other BPD symptoms, “specifically anger and hostility, intense mood shifts, and cognitive symptoms, like paranoid thinking” (“Antipsychotics… Personality Disorder”). Borderlines are unable to manage their emotions effectively and this causes them to dissociate often. Because of this, we can either be viewed as emotionless or too emotional. There are times when it feels like I’m feeling every emotion at once, and there are times when I feel absolutely nothing. I hope this essay showed that mental health is something that should be taken seriously. It isn’t fun being sad all the time.

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