The first time I spoke in front of a crowd about my mental condition a man approached and said “You don’t look like you have BPD”.
People often say I don’t look like I have borderline personality disorder. Whatever that means. Yes, I have a steady job. I live by myself. I pay the bills on time. I’m funny. I seem confident and independent. I am driven. I have had amazing and enriching experiences of all sorts. I have solid friendships. I’m not into drugs. I do yoga. I love caring for others. I read a lot. My cholesterol is low. But it is what happens indoors by myself that might seem less “common” to you.
I make sure I’m alone in the comfort of my own home to release the steam. Sometimes I rush back as quickly as I can because I need to explode. Very rarely will this happen in public, in front of people, as I feel quite self-conscious and it makes me feel that I’ll be judged.
If you could see what happens in the secrecy of my space, you might understand a bit better, but I’m hesitant to tell you. Most of the time, nobody would know. I keep it for myself. Crying desperately on the floor while strongly holding my entrails in as I’m sure they are escaping my body, like going through some torturous surgery, raw, with no anesthesia. At least that’s how it feels.
The frustration invades me, and pushes me to hit the walls, myself, anything. Sometimes it would even convince me to inflict some kind of harm on myself, but this is only a desperate measure to try to pull my mind out of that difficult trance, like when you slap someone in the face to bring them out of shock.
The emptiness possesses me. There’s electricity running through every inch of my skin. My whole body is committed to convulsing. I get dizzy and nauseous; sometimes I do throw up. I literally see lightning every time I close my eyes, little serpents of light behind my eyelids.
Most of the time my legs faint and bring me down to the floor, where I scream, covering my mouth (the neighbors must not hear), pull my hair, drool and try to surf the wave and allow myself to go with it as I know it will soon pass.
You could imagine something really important has happened. But no, most probably someone simply said something harmless that my insecurities and self-destructive voice interpreted the way they always do, the way that triggers my unreasonable fear of abandonment. You are worthless. See? Nobody will ever love you. The voice repeats endlessly.
Sometimes I am able to ignore it, but sometimes it does take over and I need to rush to lock myself away somewhere to expel the poison from my head. Sometimes I believe it’s a natural way my body reacts to that type of infection.
You need to know it’s not your responsibility. I am accountable for my every action. Like anyone else; borderline or not.
Borderline personality disorder is the characteristic of feeling too much. Too extremely sometimes. This can be both fantastic and painful. But fortunately, crises are always temporary. Eventually I’ll clean up myself, drink lots of water and take a nap – afterwards it feels pretty much like being hungover – wake up and carry on with life as usual. No aftercare needed. Just an understanding mind if you are ever to witness it.
With the help of a wide range of tools (therapy, mindfulness, exercise, etc.), but specially a personal commitment to do what it takes to feel better, these episodes take place less often and I can happily say that they are more manageable every time.
So keep in mind that there is not one obvious set of symptoms for people who live with borderline personality disorder. Diagnosed people have to comply with at least 5 of the 9 main characteristics, so you do the math on the diversity of profiles that exist, plus the individual experience. Therefore get rid of stereotypes. People with borderline personality disorder are not necessarily what you have seen in movies or what you have read (honestly, there are so many horrible websites that describe us in an awful way and that only strengthen stigma. Fuck stigma!).
I am me. Proudly me. With all that entails.
So there’s my secret.
Thought it was just about time you knew.