Shock, slight disgust, and a loss for words are the few things I’m met with when I tell people I have a borderline personality disorder (BPD). Is it just not that widely spoken about? Or is it the fact that when it is discussed, you only ever hear the negative side of things? Personally, I think it’s both.
From my lived experience, I’ve learned that the person you’re talking to either has no clue what it means to have a mental health disorder or they know ‘too much’ and will mislabel you with a bad person from what they’ve read or heard. I’m not that bad, am I?
Of course, I know that not every person with BPD is a great member of society – but that’s not just with BPD; that’s everywhere. Every time I meet a person I don’t blurt out: ‘I met someone once and they hurt me real bad, you normal-minded people are all the same.’
Being branded and prejudged hurts, a lot. I’m already being judged for being a mum who is not in work because I’m not with their dad and I can’t solely afford constant, all-round childcare for both my children. Then comes the fact that I have mental health problems, and yes, although it does affect my day-to-day life it doesn’t affect my kids or anyone else around me. I think sometimes outsiders feel sorry for the people I’m close to, especially my children, I think they feel like they suffer for being in my presence. This isn’t the case in reality, I’m very loving and giving and would give my right arm to anyone who needed it.
I hear a lot of repetitive phrases from people who think they’re complimenting me and understanding my mental health, when in reality, they’re hurting me more and make me feel incapable from fitting in.
- ‘I’ve never dealt with BPD before, I’m just trying to understand’. This makes me feel like a burden. I’m not trying to force you to deal with me, I’m just trying to have a conversation like any other human being.
- ‘Why don’t you know what you’re feeling, that’s not normal’. Well guess what? I don’t understand my mental health myself most times, this means I don’t always have the answers to why I want to cry in the bath at 10pm, I don’t owe you that answer, I don’t even have the energy to dive into my mind to find out.
- ‘I would have thought you’d be used to it by now’. I can’t get used to something that changes and differs every couple of minutes, I’m trying.
BPD is confusing as hell, I’m absolutely and positively drained from just existing. People expect too much from me, they want me to fit in but they push the idea that everyone should stand out. Where do I belong? Trojan horse springs to mind, i should put on a perfect exterior all while I’m a completely different person on the inside. I’m not perfect, who is? (apart from Margot Robbie).
I think it’s nice to hear what BPD is from someone who actually has to live with it rather than a medical professional. BPD is flickering between severe emotions, one moment I feel on top of the world and the next I’m painstakingly depressed. Sometimes I have no emotions whatsoever and I’m just moving around in an empty shell. I think I’ve had BPD all my life, but pretty messed up things in my childhood probably didn’t help either. I can sit there and flicker between every emotion you can think of in a matter of minutes and forget important information and conversations. Some people say they can see it in my eyes, others haven’t a clue. A lot of the time I don’t realise I’m going through the changes I just feel so exhausted, other times I can feel the pain of each emotion appearing and disappearing. I’ve found that when I get intrusive thoughts or even when I can’t think at all, grabbing pen and paper helps me to jot down and draw what I can see inside my own head so I can see it on the outside and try and make some sense out of it.
I’ve started a Twitter page to try and help others recognising the signs of BPD, to be there for others who need the support that I so desperately craved, to make a difference and squash the stigma around mental health disorders. I think I’m doing a pretty good job if I’m honest, I’ve had tons of people direct message me for guidance and support and I get back to everyone who needs me.
It’s really hard to recognise your emotions with BPD let alone being able to make sense of them and talk about them. Talking about my emotions and what I was feeling has always been the hardest thing for me to do, I’ve always just ‘masked’ my feelings with a smile and a “normal exterior” as to not upset others or make them feel uncomfortable. I don’t think there a large majority of people who really want to hear what we feel, so it’s easier for us to do that.
Overall, BPD needs to be accepted and spoken about more, not just by professionals but with real BPD sufferers. I will always be a safe place for others to come to and share their thoughts and feelings, because when nobody else is there, I will be.
Sofi is a 23-year-old mother of two who has bipolar personality disorder with elements of bipolar.