Living the life with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is like living in two personalities. However, it is not being bipolar. They’re two different things. Though this mental illness can change my personalities in two different extremes in a matter of seconds. And nobody knows about it until recently.
Since I was a young kid, I have been wondering about my extreme sensitivity over small acts or mistakes of others.
Even little signs of neglect or uncaring I thought they’re not caring about my existence. Just because my classmate talked to her seatmate instead of me can make me feel abandoned. That’s how dramatic it was.
For people who normally think, it was nothing. It was like “Oh, okay. She’s busy. I will do my own thing then.” Unfortunately, my mind interprets it as “Oh, okay. She’s busy. She is sick of me.” So, I start becoming distant to her.
I didn’t understand how my mind was working at all. All I can remember was my tendency to stay alone all the time. In grade school, I preferred staying alone in the library and enjoyed reading books than talking to my peers. It wasn’t only because I was an introvert. But fear that they’ll do something bad towards me.
I have always feared being attached to people and build relationships with them. Most of the time, I make friends during the first few weeks. And if I feel the “acquaintance” phase turns deeper, I lash out, slowly push them away leaving them to wonder why.
Many of them told me I have this weird personality they don’t really understand. They said I am friendly but I sulk all of a sudden as if I just met them like a complete stranger.
What they didn’t know was that I ask myself the same question.
I didn’t have any idea that I have an undiagnosed BPD.
So, how I live my life with Borderline Personality Disorder?
Honestly, it wasn’t easy. This kind of mental illness itself is quite difficult to handle, even psychotherapists will say that. Until now, I am slowly recovering from it though I still have these tendencies of doing self-harm.
What I couldn’t control oftentimes is my irrational mind, especially during the episodes I do have which lasts for a few hours. The only way to calm me down was to press something sharp on my skin. Last month, I bit myself so hard that it left scars on my arms. Just days ago, I pressed a pair of scissors to my skin and left new wounds.
My life with such disease is extremely hard, given that I just recently discovered about it more than 10 years since it struck me. In the past, I have tons of questions with no certain answers at all. I don’t have connections to psychotherapists or psychologists nearby. My mind was convinced that all I had was depression. That’s all. But it was way deeper than that.
Because I was desperate for answers for a very long time, I decided to do an intensive research since 2016. I read every article published online about depression and other mental issues (in different clusters). I knew it was about personality. During my research, I found two that seem to be close from how I experience.
Avoidant Personality Disorder, and
Borderline Personality Disorder.
Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Borderline Personality Disorder
When I first found out about Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD), I thought I had it. I checked its symptoms and tried to examine myself if I do possess them. Yes, I do have the majority of them.
But there are some that were not included on the list.
My tendency to self-harm and to do reckless behaviors because of impulsiveness wasn’t included.
According to Mayo Clinic, Avoidant and Borderline Personality Disorders are commonly misdiagnosed. Because of their thin-line differences, experts tend to confuse the two. However, they’re actually different.
Avoidant Personality Disorder belongs to Cluster C. It characterizes anxiety, fearful thinking or behavior among persons.
- Extreme sensitivity to criticisms and rejection
- Frequent feeling of inadequacy in many forms (mostly in terms of work and appearance)
- Tendency to isolate and avoid meeting new people because of the fear of getting hurt
- Extreme shyness in social circumstances and personal relationships
- Fear of being embarrassed, disapproved, and ridiculed.
Whereas, Borderline Personality Disorder belongs to Cluster B. It includes disorders that possess overly dramatic or emotional reactions to different stimuli and unpredictable thinking or behavior. Sadly, this is where my illness belongs.
- Having impulsive and risky behaviors harming self like having unsafe sex or binge eating
- Have no clear sense of self
- Unstable and intense relationships because of the fear of abandonment (friends, relatives, and family)
- Frequent and uncontrollable up and down moods
- Threats of self-injury or suicide
- Extreme reactions to subtle signs of abandonment or left alone
- Always feeling empty all the time
- Stress-related paranoia
I hate being abandoned in many ways like when my husband left the Philippines to return to his country, Germany, days after our wedding day. Any signs of leaving will make me feel both neglected and abandoned. And his leaving was too much to handle though I tried my best not to show how terrible the feeling was.
In fact, Katie Kent of The Mighty wrote that the highlight of BPD was the “frantic attempts to avoid real or perceived abandonment.” It’s true.
By simply recalling the moment when my husband stepped into the entrance of the departure area and saw him standing in front of the counter of the airline was already enough to trigger the episode. My body trembles from extreme anger which later cause rage and riot, in severe cases.
What I also find freaky in my life with Borderline Personality Disorder is my mind’s ability to feel love and hate in seconds. I love my husband so much, but when he does something bad, although how small it is, triggers it causing me to hate him at the same time.
This happens not to him only. But to everyone, including my own family.
And I hated myself for that.
Because no matter how much I wanted to control my mind, I still can’t do anything especially during my episodes.
What usually happens during BPD episodes?
I don’t know how others show BPD episodes. But my research revealed this blogger who had similar experiences like I do have. Based on my personal experience, the episode happens too fast most of the time.
For example, a minute ago, I felt happy because of something. And then just because something triggered, I suddenly feel so bad that I couldn’t manage controlling it anymore. In seconds. 60 seconds the maximum.
My mind starts to feed all negative thoughts like “He doesn’t really care about you,” “Nobody cares about how you are,” etc. It was like in an F1 race for around 45 minutes to 2 hours until I calm down. Years ago, my rage almost stopped our college retreat in a nun’s convent.
I wasn’t able to finish the whole program and ended up having one-on-one counseling with the facilitator, who apparently was the main reason (the trigger) behind my mental collapse. I was enraged, locked myself in the comfort room creating a commotion. It caused my batch mates worry about me.
They didn’t know my status inside until the door opened and there were some tried holding me to stop me. But I was too strong for them. They got thrown away. The main facilitator, the professor, a man, forced himself to wrestle with me and held me tightly from behind until I slowly stopped. I didn’t know how long the episode was. I just felt drained.
In the past, I did self-cutting many times since I was 16 to relieve the on-going psychological pain. It was the first time I did that. I repeated the act when I was 19 and then recently.
Living the life of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is painful not because of the act itself but my head convinces itself that people will hurt me and abandon me though in reality, they aren’t. It tends to push people away, including my loved ones.
My life with BPD now…road to recovery
I had a recent heart-t0-heart talks with my younger sister and my husband about what I’ve been through. It was tough. I had a series of emotional breakdown during those times.
Talking about my condition was tough. Yet I reaped its positive benefits. At the end, it cleared my mind and made me feel relieved. They gave me positive responses and accepted me amid my mental illness with all their heart. I really appreciated their efforts, especially my husband.
He was there during my episodes, held me tightly in his arms during each attack and hugged me with passion and love afterward. And then, he fed my mind with positive things every single day. Until now, he still does on Skype. Although we’re in LDR (once again). It really helped.
Days ago after the recent episode, he advised me to slowly learn controlling it. “I want to meet you again in one piece, I don’t want you damaged.” “I don’t want you to hurt yourself, Schatz (German endearment),” he said. I know each event made him feel worried and I always feel sorry about that.
Yeah, he’s right. I have to do conscious efforts to manage it.
And that’s what I am doing. I realized that it is the right time to do so. I succumbed to this mental illness for a very long time. Honestly, I’m tired living with it. My recovery is my all-time wish for myself now that I am already married to the man I love.
I can’t say I am completely recovered. But I slowly changing my habits to reach that goal, although I am aware that my recovery will take a very long time. Yet, I am positive to attain that.
In general, my life with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a hard and painful way of living. With the help of the positive people around me, it’s possible to heal.
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