This is What It’s Like to Live With BPD

I’m very open about living with Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s a lot more common than people assume, with 1.6% of the general population living with BPD, most of whom are women. Unfortunately, due to the stigma surrounding such a mental illness, a lot of Borderlines feel ashamed and scared to identify themselves or reach out for help.

I consider myself a proud Borderline, and I say proud because of the sheer amount of strength it takes to live through the kinds of experiences that many Borderlines face. Between the psychotic episodes, addicting coping mechanisms, and the seemingly endless mental fog that comes with BPD, its incredibly difficult sometimes to maintain a healthy life. But we manage. We live what appears to be normal, healthy lives.

Thanks to social networks like Tumblr, there’s a whole network of bloggers that share their experiences with BPD. There are certain words used to describe certain phenomena that many mental health professionals are often not even aware of. Even my therapist had to ask me to clarify when I used Borderline terminology such as “Favorite Person” and “dissociation” because he didn’t know what they meant. The fact that I have learned more about my illness from Tumblr than someone with a Masters in psychology made me realize that not enough people were talking about it.

This is the reason why I remain so open. Fostering a conversation about mental health is so important, especially regarding the ones that are often overlooked or dismissed as “crazy.”

One factor of BPD that I’ve been openly mentioning a lot recently is the idea of having a Favorite Person. This is a term used by Borderlines to define an intense attachment that they feel in regards to one person, whether that’s a friend, a significant other, or even someone they don’t know that well. They place this person on a pedestal, and revolve their entire mood around them. If the Borderline feels ignored by the FP to the smallest degree, they immediately feel like the FP hates them and as a result they are a terrible person and don’t deserve love. I’ve personally dealt with the struggles of having a Favorite Person many times in my life. Before I was diagnosed, I genuinely thought that feeling this way was how love was supposed to feel, but after learning more about BPD I began to understand that relying on one person to make me feel loved and appreciated was something I needed to monitor.

Another thing that clued me into my actual diagnosis was the tendency to dissociate when things get too stressful. Once again, learning the term for this gave me a definition to align my symptoms with. For as long as I could remember, I’ve had a problem with spacing out in public places, making up entire worlds in my head that would confuse and distract me from my reality. I would dissociate while walking around and end up in new places, not remembering how I got there. I thought this was normal. I thought losing myself completely until I felt out of my own body was a common thing that people did when they were dissatisfied with the world around them. Learning the reason why I was doing this allowed me to become aware of what I was doing, and focus on learning to deal with it.

The most terrifying thing I’ve learned since being diagnosed was the fact that nearly 4% of all Borderlines end up completing suicide. It’s something that a lot of us think about all the time. When you’re dealing with debilitating anxiety attacks and extreme paranoia assuming everyone hates you and wants you dead, it’s no surprise that many just want a way out. It can feel hopeless, without any sort of cure, and wanting to die as a result is extremely common. The extremities and ultimatums that Borderlines constantly face as a result of their mentality can make every minor inconvenience apocalyptic in nature. On top of that, the stigma attached to BPD can make the person suffering afraid to ask for help, causing them to suffer in silence. This is exactly the reason why a dialogue needs to be initiated.

Something I’ve been told by many of people in my support network is to not “label” myself with any particular illness. But after finding a network of Borderlines that could relate to me and my emotional struggles, I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone or the only person dealing with these kinds of thought processes and mental states. It allowed to pinpoint what was “wrong” with me and gave me the tools to find a way to deal with it. Even more importantly, it gave me the courage to speak out about my feelings and instilled in me a passion to educate people about what it means to have a mental illness.