TRIGGER WARNING – TALK OF SELF-HARM AND SUICIDAL TENDENCIES AND IDEATION.
How do you describe what life is like with Borderline Personality Disorder in one post? It’s going to be tricky but let’s give it a go.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition that often begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood. To put it simply, BPD is a disorder where your mood can be so unstable that it can fluctuate from feeling suicidal to feeling euphoric in a matter of hours. The way you perceive the world is very different from other individuals, and everything appears to be so much more intense. Many people with the condition, including myself, have other mental health conditions too and self-harm is a common symptom.
What’s my story then? It’s difficult to write about, but it’s vital people share their experiences of mental health conditions so other people can understand what life is truly like for us and as a result, learn how to effectively support us.
It was August 2015. My moods had become more and more volatile. I was filled with rage on a daily basis, to the extent where I would break objects, shout vile things at my loved ones, and yet I was petrified of anyone leaving me and would do anything I could to prevent this from happening (a common behaviour for individuals with BPD). I had not yet been diagnosed with the condition. I was driving erratically, putting myself in danger, and self-harming on a regular basis. All I wanted to do was to die, to end the years of torment I had gone through with my mental health conditions. I walked to a train track, and waited for the darkness to succumb to me.
When I was found, the police were called and I was placed under a section. It wasn’t until I had been in a psychiatric hospital on two separate occasions that I was diagnosed with BPD. Was I relieved? Partly – I had an explanation as to why I felt the way I did, a reason as to why I felt everything so much. Why I was in so much pain. But it was then that my journey began. Since August 2015, I have been hospitalised on five separate occasions. Most of them I was placed under section. It never gets any easier. It is always so scary, difficult, tiring, lonely.
Life with BPD is exhausting. You never know what frame of mind you will wake up in from one day to the next. Some days, it’s like every fibre of my being is energised and I want to do everything. I talk quicker, move faster, seem more productive. Other days I can’t get out of bed. I can’t eat, sleep, think and I don’t want to talk to anyone. I self-harm to feel something, or sometimes to punish myself.
I’ll be brutally honest – sometimes I am scared of myself. Scared of how I’ll react in a certain situation. Scared of if today I will make an attempt on my life. Scared of if I will put my loved ones through more underserving pain. I am reminded every single day in one way or another about my stays in hospital, the battles I’ve faced.
Another part of BPD is a lack of self-esteem and an understanding of who you fundamentally are. I have changed jobs so many times. Gone to university, dropped out, gone back, dropped out. I have no idea where to go in life. I hate the way I look, and will sometimes restrict what I eat just to gain some control. I feel like I don’t fit in this world, like I am the ‘odd one out’ even though so many people live with this illness.
Fortunately, I had a massive life change that has hopefully put me on the right track for recovery. I moved from Norfolk, England to the Scottish Highlands last year to live with my mum who has held my hand through every part of my journey. I found an amazing GP and a brilliant Community Mental Health Team. I’m now half way through a therapy programme called STEPPS (find out more at http://www.steppsforbpd.com) and I’m learning new techniques to help me cope. I’ve also met a man who is so wonderful, patient and caring and means the world to me.
Whilst some may argue with this, I believe that having BPD has actually given me some positive things too. Feeling everything so much means I also get to experience the deepest kind of love for those around me. I marvel at the small things – a good cup of coffee, a beautiful scenery. It has allowed me to meet an online mental health community which has helped make me feel less alone.
I don’t know what the future holds for me. I have hopes, dreams, ambitions, but whether I will be able to achieve them or not is another thing entirely. I have seen that recovery is possible, and at the very least I can learn to live alongside my illnesses and not let them live my life for me. I want marriage, children, a good career, all that stuff. I will work hard to have these things whilst remembering to also take one day at a time.
If you have BPD, remember you are not alone, that there is hope and there is so much help out there. Sometimes it’s trial and error. I’m often changing medications, trying new coping strategies, and some will work and some won’t and we have to learn to accept that that is okay. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for us. We must talk about BPD. We must do further research. We must get people to understand. We need to stop the stigma. If we all stand together, raise each other up and stand by one another when we feel we can’t manage, then together we can make a difference.