So, the most honest thing I can do in order to start writing these lines is recognising that there are many things I do not know about borderline personality disorder; many I do not understand and a couple I find hard to believe. Are you born with that condition? Is it developed with time? Why do people say it affects more women than men? Whatever the answers are, the purpose of this text is not to discuss the medical or scientific facts, but to share my very close relationship with someone who belongs to that small percentage of the world population and lives to the limit every day.
During this exercise of me writing my experience, I cannot stop wondering many things about humans, the societies we group ourselves in, and many things about me and about Mariana, my beautiful friend diagnosed with BPD.
When we found each other over 15 years ago, I knew without a doubt there was something special about her. She was very real, spontaneous, intelligent and strong. I have known very few people like that. We connected immediately, despite coming from different backgrounds and carrying the social stereotypes that seemed so important at that age.
Neither of us knew that there was a condition inside her that was going to change the course of her life. After one big crisis she had, our paths split and even though we were not together for several years, our love for each other was constant and even grew while we were apart until we met again and became a family.
Sincerely, I do not believe that those amazing things I saw in her the first time are part of BPD, although with time I have started to understand it as a whole. Our relationship has always developed naturally, with very few judgements or questions. It is what it is, so when I found out about her diagnosis, I only took it as one more of her many characteristics though it is true that I could not avoid sharing some opinions about the medications she was prescribed. I never regretted it, because I always did it with the best intentions. I did not want my sister to turn into a zombie. I wanted to be able to keep my friend without her losing her unique spontaneity.
Like every story, this one also has two perspectives. Extremes and intensity are a two-edged sword. Her bad times can be quite dark, but the good ones are very bright and each one of the beautiful and even euphoric moments are worth more than a thousand of the difficult ones.
Maybe the hardest part of these kinds of relationships is dealing with their almost permanent feeling of abandonment. It sometimes seems impossible to make them feel our company when we are more present than ever, even in the same room sometimes. It appears as if we are invisible, but in reality we are screaming, “I’m here! I’m here for you!” It’s really satisfying when they realize, when they can finally see it.
There is also certain frustration in the middle of a crisis when it seems really hard to get a message of calm through. In reality, I have noticed we only need to let it flow and they will eventually be able to see it by themselves. It’s not possible to convince anyone that a certain cake is delicious until that person decides to try it.
No matter your efforts to try to let them know everything is fine, they won’t notice until they can truly feel it. During this process, you can only lovingly wait.
Most of the articles I have read mention how hard it is to have a relationship with someone who has BPD and how very difficult it is for them to be able to have stable interactions. If this is true, I am deeply happy to know I am an exception to the rule because we have a very close and solid foundation. Its makes me feel I have been able to inspire on her enough trust, comfort and love to want to stay by my side rather than running away.
In my experience this has not been a disadvantage at all. It has been an asset. I have discovered a lot through our relationship. I have learnt to love unconditionally the same way I expect to be loved, I have learnt to feel more free regarding my emotions. I have learnt to recognize that the lack of something can become an opportunity. Most of all, though, I have learnt to give more, even when people have not requested it.
I could carry on writing for longer. The more I read and the more I found out about BPD, the more I was shocked to see how very little is truly known about this condition and how very little people talk about it.
Have these disorders always existed or have they increased due to the crazy amount of stimulus our brains receive daily?
Maybe we will learn more about this when we grant mental illness the appropriate importance it deserves.
Let’s make room for emotions in our lives. Let’s accommodate them in such a way that they do not disturb our way of life. Let’s recognize that somehow we are all living to the limit and we all need support and respect. We need to stop believing that we all think and feel the same way. But overall, let’s understand that we are all the same species, the same animal, the same machine. Let’s embrace and love each other.
“A crucial element of the real self is its unconditional acceptance of itself.”
― Michael Adzema