Why did I start this blog?
In her documentary Simply Complicated, Demi Lovato says to “tell your truth, and be okay without all the answers”. I know, such a cheesy, girly comparison- but it really resonated with me! The last four months have marked some of the most difficult months of my life, and as Demi said, I feel compelled to tell my own truth.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 1.6% of the US population is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Yet, I’m the only person I know with BPD. Being the only person I know with BPD is isolating, so I hope that others with BPD might stumble across this and feel less alone. For those who don’t have BPD, I hope my blog can provide insight. While mental health awareness has significantly increased in the last few years, some disorders are more popular topics of conversation than others. Mental illness is colloquially equated to depression, or sometimes anxiety. I’m here to tell you there are a plethora of other mental illnesses that people are struggling with!
So what is BPD?
Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by difficulties in regulating emotion. Here are the nine key symptoms, as described by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family.
- Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (“I’m so in love!”) and devaluation (“I hate her”). This is also sometimes known as splitting or black and white thinking.
- Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships.
- Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes.
- Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts.
- Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
- Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.
- Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
- Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.
For me, borderline means that my emotions are sometimes uncontrollable, and my mood often changes several times throughout a day. I consider myself a morning person simply so I can get as much as I can accomplished before some small event ruins my day. I find extreme pleasure in the smallest things, and for that, I am thankful. I also find deep anger and sadness in the smallest things, so it really goes both ways. That is, until I completely stop feeling. Numbness is a huge part of BPD, especially for me. Often I’ll fake emotions, or I’ll overreact.
I was recently referred to as “fragile” by someone I respect. I suppose from an outside perspective, someone can view my changing emotions and perspectives as dizzying. I’d argue I’m anything but fragile. With borderline, I feel every emotion with heightened intensity. This includes my “lows”. I spend so much of my waking moments in pain, yet I continue to push on. I am not fragile, I’m resilient.
Where am I at right now?
Every day is a struggle, but I’m doing my best to stay optimistic. My medication makes me feel exhausted. I’m sleeping over 9 hours each night and drinking 4 cups of coffee a day to just to make it through everything I need to accomplish. I recently had four days in a row where I felt like I was constantly on the edge of a panic attack. It was awful, frankly. At the end of October, I completed a two-week Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and I currently attend a class once a week on emotion regulation. I’m seeing my individual therapist every couple weeks, and in January, I’ll start Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It’s the gold standard of treatment for borderline, so I’m looking forward to it. I certainly have my hands full with treatment and therapy and all that jazz, but it’s what I need to do for my health.
Below is a video that really resonated with me. ‘Till next time, y’all.