I Told Thousands I Have Borderline Personality Disorder
Here’s how people responded to my super stigmatized revelation
On March 4th, 2018, I shared my story about my battle with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a serious and highly stigmatized mental illness, which encumbers my ability to regulate emotions. Going public wasn’t a spontaneous decision — it took strength that I never knew I had. Because, my occasional episodes of extreme anger, anxiety, depression, dissociation, and/or impulsivity do not personify me — my relationship with your dog does!
Prior to publication, I was reluctant, as I reasonably presumed that my mental health revelation would imperil my future relationships and opportunities. Ultimately, I don’t want my struggles to close doors, so I am very cautious about what I disclose and how I disclose it. In fact, I never thought I’d discuss BPD with anyone except for my psychologist.
However, I believed that opening-up about my BPD battle became my only option, in order for my friends to understand me. Due to my acute mood swings, people began to reprimand me, backstab me, and threaten to walk out of my life. In other words, given my extreme obstacles, my friends rightfully equated my impulsiveness — to reprehensible behavior, when I was actually asking them to simply talk, understand me, and let me move forward.
Hence, I wrote an op-ed about my life with BPD, not only for the sake of salvaging my relationships. But, also because mental health is important and relevant to millions of people. Obviously, I can’t change the world, nor help millions — too bad that I’m only a human being and not Wonder Woman! However, I decided that sharing my story was a risk worth taking if my words could potentially help just one person. Aside from my internal dilemmas, I have a lot to say, regarding the unprecedented responses I received to my revelation and its aftermath.
After sharing my op-ed, I was humbled to receive a plethora of heartwarming responses from both friends and strangers across the globe. More than half of my friends on Facebook read my op-ed and most responded with unanimous messages of reverence. Words also fail to describe my gratitude for everyone who commended my valiance instead of defining me by my illness. I’m thankful for the countless people suffering from BPD and other severe mental illnesses who admired me for sharing my story and replied by sharing theirs. I’m very honored that my words inspired, resonated with, and instilled so many people with hope for shaping a prosperous future. In addition, I admire everyone who shared my op-ed on social media, which enabled me to reach more than 100,000 people — and I’m not exaggerating.
Of course, I never expected to receive such an overwhelming response, yet I’m in awe that I did. Above all, it was euphoric to receive comments from readers — who said my op-ed’s significance overshadows my fear of losing future opportunities. Such comments especially put me in an optimistic place because the aforementioned was my greatest trepidation. And, this definitely indicates we’re closer to crushing the stigma, yet our work is far from over (more on that to follow).
Plus, I’m elated to acknowledge that I’m not alone and that there are people who show unbelievable strength, as I inadvertently drive them over the fence. More specifically, in spite of my emotional antics, I’m heartened that people will still hang-out and help me. So, I can find moments of joy and savor life to the best of my ability, as I recover and make a compelling comeback. I’m very fortunate that there are people who I can always call, they share my burden, they try to decipher my histrionics, and they will always be there for me during the worst of times. These people are integral to my recovery and my life in the years to come. In fact, I wouldn’t be here today to share my story, without those who have supported my journey: some occasionally, others every step of the way. Most of all, my very public revelation has taught me that talking can both lead to new friendships and strengthen existing bonds.
Throughout my life, my impediments rendered me to be a tragic example; I was ruthlessly bullied and considered a lost cause. Yes, I have a tragic backstory and I’ve unintentionally done many infuriatingly incredulous things — and I’m apologetic for those particular actions. But, truth be told, sharing my story has proved that I am a role model for setting a powerful example, as my courage has inspired many lives — and I’ve been informed about that firsthand. Yet, I don’t consider myself a hero and I don’t want anything in return for sharing my story, except for people to always be kind, empathetic and supportive since you never know what the person next to you is dealing with.
While I appreciate the ongoing chorus of compassion, empathy, and support, I’m devastated that I still remain in a precarious position, due to the stigma, along with the repercussions BPD can impose upon other people and myself. As a matter of fact, the stigma viscerally shakes me to my deepest core on a daily basis.
Although writing my story felt cathartic, it’s cost me tears, strength, and courage to share my life with BPD. Thus, I’m still legitimately apprehensive about my voice inevitably destroying my opportunities, relationships and everything else that I’ve worked so hard to reap. The anguish and sacrifices that I’ve endured — to share my story, within itself proves we’re nowhere near eliminating the stigma, which will officially cease, once every person can comfortably discuss this topic without fearing for their safety, wellbeing and/or future. In all due respect, I doubt that will transpire in my lifetime, yet if it does — I’ll be the happiest person alive.
Obviously, it’s not a pleasure to have a friend who’s socially awkward; who repeatedly thinks about committing suicide; who’s severely anxious and depressed; and who’s impulsive to the point of self-destruction. Nevertheless, I still believe it’s much more important to talk about mental illness instead of letting people deteriorate in silence — that’s the only way to sabotage the stigma and instill momentum in those who are suffering. And, yes, there’s inarguably a proper time and place to discuss mental health, which isn’t at an office or at a party, as it’s a very personal matter. Hence, to thrive in the face of mental illness, everyone (including myself) must separate our personal and professional lives. Additionally, it’s pivotal for us to refrain from expressing disparaging attitudes towards people who are feeling suicidal and/or depressed.
As human beings, we must respect each other, regardless of our mental health symptoms and/or diagnoses. In fact, I adamantly believe that there’s a silent conundrum perpetuating the stigma. For instance, I’ve witnessed thousands of people jump on the ‘anti-stigma’ bandwagon for the sake of engaging in a cultural phenomena. Yet, most of these people are obliviously part of the bigger problem — because they neglect and/or deny opportunities to those who disclose their mental illness, which is the exact impetus that’s driving ‘pro-stigma’ predispositions. Thus, the stigma is the most detrimental obstacle to treating mental illness because it catalyzes prejudice and harmful objectifications of people as being detrimental and/or incompetent. In turn, such shame and isolation obstructs people from living fulfilling lives and seeking the necessary resources to do so, especially those with BPD. Yes, suicide and trauma are very uncomfortable and distressing topics to discuss — but it’s on all of us to eliminate our pejorative proclivities, for everyone to thrive, and to make a life-changing difference.
So to those who believe I am not worth a chance, I won’t tell you to go look at everything I’ve accomplished. However, I only hope you can become as strong and courageous as I am. Though I have a long way to go, I hope you end up like me because I am finally becoming proud of who I am. And, I hope you have endurance just like me to keep moving mountains under nearly insurmountable circumstances. Moreover, I hope our future generations will no longer tolerate stigmas by educating themselves and each other — to understand people who are different. Those with mental illnesses are not some tragic aftermath; they’re resilient individuals who are determined to succeed, make a difference, and set an example for others facing excruciating obstacles. Once again, I’ll never reach millions of people. But, I am grateful that I have knocked thousands out of the torpor and indifference towards mental illness that causes the stigma to prevail.
To conclude, if you’re ‘moved’ by my revelation and desire to make a difference for people suffering from severe mental illnesses — there’s so much you can do without making large sacrifices. In my personal situation, I really appreciate people for just being my friend, spending time with me, talking to me, and fueling my life with happiness. But I am much more fortunate than most people in my situation and it took me a very long time to get here — I currently have a stable life, the resources I need to survive, and a whole army of new advocates.
Unfortunately, most people with severe mental illnesses aren’t as fortunate and my heart breaks for them every day. As a matter of fact, too many people in my shoes remain ostracized by their family and friends because their loved ones likely lost patience and/or do not care to understand them. To make a profound difference, simply befriend a person dealing with complex emotional turmoil. Give your spare change to a homeless person and have a conversation with them, rather than dismissing them. Or perhaps apologize and make amends with someone you eschewed from your life, due to the repercussions of their mental health. In addition, asking someone who’s isolated, “how are you?” — can make a world of difference because all people desire and deserve to feel loved and cared for, in spite of who they are, what they’ve done, or where they are from.
Regardless, I hope everyone who read my story will take it as an indelible reminder to always be kind, it’s the most empowering form of self-gratification and it makes an ineffable difference, especially to those who are very depressed and/or looked down upon. Once again, I’m very proud that thousands of people now recognize me for my courage, empathy, kindness, and strength, rather than my illness.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much to my family, friends, and people across the globe for supporting me, as I continue on my unpredictable journey.