I’m ‘Biting the Bullet’ for Borderline Personality Disorder. There is such pain and loneliness in this disorder. BPD is often confused with bipolar, schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. It’s none of those things. It took until I was 35 to be diagnosed and I wish as a kid I could have understood what was happening to me.
Growing up I was frequently overwhelmed by the intensity of my emotions. It felt like constantly being on a rollercoaster – I would be intensely happy and then like a flick of a switch I would be extremely angry or sad. My moods fluctuated hour by hour. It felt like living my life at 100 when everyone else was at a 50.
I felt others could not relate and it was such a lonely place. As a child I thought there was something wrong with me – I was in therapy since I was 6 and at 14 I was sent away to boarding school in the hopes that they could “fix me”. I felt very strong feelings of abandonment and a chronic emptiness that I was always searching to fill but no matter what I did I still felt empty.
Everything in my life seemed inconsistent and unreliable. I was so desperate to find a sense of stability and security and since I felt I was not able to find it from within I always looked to others for it. I allowed others to hold too much of my self and so without them I lost my own sense of identity. I was continually conflicted – I hated that others felt so important to my survival – I did not trust anyone not to abandon me and at the same time I felt I couldn’t be without them. It was a feeling of being trapped and suffocated and it sent my anxiety in to overdrive.
My entire existence became about trying to control everything in my environment. It was not done with any malicious intent – it just stemmed from the fear of constantly feeling out of control.
In my 20s I looked to others to “rescue” me. I felt if I just found the right guy I would be ok and the emptiness and loneliness would disappear. Of course, like my own instability, I ended up with an unstable dating life. I was the “other woman” or dating men with drug addictions. I often put myself in dangerous relationships – where I just confirmed for myself that I was fundamentally unlovable and everyone would just leave eventually. I did not at that time have the awareness I do now – and I could not see that I was setting myself up for failure by playing victim and not taking accountability for myself and how I was contributing to these relationships.
Like most of us, at the core of myself, is a strong desire to be loved, accepted and feel security but since I have a hard time depending on others I would eventually start to do things that pushed them away from me. It was incredibly painful because I was destroying any chance I would ever have at stability by my own inability to be stable and yet it was what I craved the most.
I was afraid to speak openly about it because I hate the idea of people having preconceived ideas of me. As humans we are all very complex and none of us fit neatly in to any labels. I never want to just be a label to someone. Ultimately though, I have found some peace in my 30s and if I am able to help even one person find theirs then I have to talk about it – especially since it seems to be a disorder that most know nothing about.
We all have a responsibility to help break the stigma and empower ourselves and others. Getting a correct diagnosis helps lead to better treatment options like DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and Mindfulness.
Learning tools to better regulate your emotions is key.