This is what it can feel like to have BPD:
- Trying to walk across a floor covered with marbles.
- Wearing a horse hair sweater in August every day for your entire life.
- Attempting to play a board game with the wrong rulebook.
- Trying to use a map that's writtten in another language.
I used to think everybody thought like me. I assumed, wrongly, that all people saw the world through the same angry lense that I did. It never occurred to me that I was different, that my perceptions might be unique to me, and a little bit out of whack. It's hard to know that your brain is weird when your brain is the one running the show.
This description of BPD, taken from WebMD, is accurate:
People who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have at least five of the following symptoms. They may:
- Make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
- Have a pattern of difficult relationships caused by alternating between extremes of intense admiration and hatred of others.
- Have an unstable self-image or be unsure of his or her own identity.
- Act impulsively in ways that are self-damaging, such as extravagant spending, frequent and unprotected sex with many partners, substance abuse, binge eating, or reckless driving.
- Have recurring suicidal thoughts, make repeated suicide attempts, or cause self-injury through mutilation, such as cutting or burning himself or herself.
- Have frequent emotional overreactions or intense mood swings, including feeling depressed, irritable, or anxious. These mood swings usually only last a few hours at a time. In rare cases, they may last a day or two.
- Have long-term feelings of emptiness.
- Have inappropriate, fierce anger or problems controlling anger. The person may often display temper tantrums or get into physical fights.
- Have temporary episodes of feeling suspicious of others without reason (paranoia) or losing a sense of reality.
Reading this list is overwhelming. It chronicals so much of my past behavior. It's a strange feeling to find a list of behaviors that so perfectly describes my life. It helps to make sense of so much anguish.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder eleven years ago. I believe I have had it all of my life- or at least I was born with the predisposition for it. I was always a super sensitive, moody kid but when I hit puberty the BPD really kicked in. My behavior became erratic. I was depressed, angry, suspicious, volatile, empty and lost. This behavior followed me through high school (emotional torture), relationships (got worse with relationships), college, the death of my mom to breast cancer and a ten year stint as the co founder of a company (how they put up with me, I'll never know).
When I approached the woman who is now my therapist, I didn't know I had BPD. I just knew something was wrong. She agreed to see me. That was eleven years ago. I was pretty full of myself back then and thought I knew all there was to know about everything.
Eleven years later, I am finally beginning to see the fruits of our labor. All of the hours of cognitive restructuring, the endless patience that she has shown me, the gentle yet firm corrections she has applied, they are all beginning to come together in my mind.
My Psychologist is a cognitive behavioral therapist. We work on changing my thought process so that I perceive things in a more balanced and rational way. This, in turn, makes my moods more balanced and steady. We also practice Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a therapy designed by Marsha Linehan, an expert in BPD. I will discuss DBT in another post.
It took me an exceptionally long time to crawl out of this BPD hole (some people can recover in a couple of years)- and I'm still not completely out of the woods- I still have work to do. When I get stressed out, I can revert back to some of my old behavior. But never for as long or as violently as I have in the past.
If you keep reading this blog, you will see that I am not consistently hopeful. I get frustrated with my progress from time to time. But in general, in the big scheme of things, I think I am moving on an upward trajectory.
I feel like I have left out so much and at the same time I feel like i've thrown a whole bunch of stuff in here willy-nilly. I will sort things out as I continue blogging here. Any and all questions are welcome.