My best friend, Mariana, was diagnosed with BPD a couple of years ago. Somehow, when she told me so, it was not shocking at all; a little explanation of what BPD is and a bit of Google search were enough to realize that the diagnosis just clarified what I have been living with her for years and years.
We met in elementary school when we were around 10-11 years old. I didn’t get to know her much back then because we had different groups of friends, but her image was that of a restless-troublesome girl. I do remember her fights with teachers and other kids, yet I never imagined to watch her becoming the fighter she turned out to be later on.
A few years later, in high school, Mariana and I became close friends. Sitting behind her was the best stroke of luck in my life, as I had the opportunity to really know that wonderful/fun/mysterious/nuts woman. I must say that I didn’t have a very delightful childhood, as two people that I loved passed away during those years. But Mariana brought back the smiles and laughs to my life since the beginning of our friendship. We became friends, best friends, confidants, partners in crime, basically inseparables.
Mariana has always struck me as a hurricane, for better or for worse. She has all the energy to create or destroy, to change and shape her surroundings or bring them to ashes. I have witnessed the power she has to lift people up or to crush them, to become someone’s pillar or someone’s worst dream. And she almost always moved in these two poles, rarely in middle zones.
For me, Mariana has always been the archetype of “intense”. She can love with all her heart, be loyal to death and take care of a beloved person as almost no one else would. Luckily, that has been my case. But when it comes to standing for her believes or for justice, or to defend herself, she can inflict serious harm to others, even to the point of self-harming. That’s how I started to find out that there were no boundaries for her, nor half ways.
These aspects have made Mariana’s life completely different from the rest of us. Before being diagnosed with BPD, she could barely have control over her emotions. She was that powerful hurricane that would arrive in the middle of any venue not happy, but full of joy; not sad, but depressed; not angry, but belligerent… And somehow, she has been always capable to spill her mood and state of mind over the rest of us. Now, she learned to know and control herself better, and the work she has done regarding her condition is absolutely admirable.
For these reasons, with Mariana I have laughed as with no one else in my life. With her, I have cried many times, especially when she reached her own limits by trying to commit suicide (maybe I haven’t told her how these episodes have broken me because I always choose to stand strong to be her solid support instead). With her, I have learned so much about how different minds work, so much about diversity in the sense of people who don’t fit mentally the social standards or expectations.
Coincidentally, Mariana is not the only person with BPD that I know. Many of my friends have been diagnosed either borderline or with any other type of mental disorder. Thanks to them, I have done research on mental health problems in order to understand better the genius people living with them, who happen to be full of creativity and imagination. Even when they are all different, I can assert that they all think out of the box because the box is very tight as society has stubbornly worked to make it as narrow as possible.
Thanks to them, I have forced myself to think in that manner too, and I have learned to get along with different personalities, mindsets and moods. Each one of them unique, they never try to fit in; on the contrary, they are just true to themselves and to the rest of the world. They try to be just the way they are in an extremely judgemental world. In this sense, I would actually want the rest of the world to be like them.
Mariana opened my eyes to this “different” reality and made me aware of the little awareness and understanding we have of mental health and its importance. She made me conscious of how uninformed we are regarding this matter and how scared people are to be informed. She made me understand and be empathetic with others like her and their everyday struggles. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude with her for making me part of her battles, and for being so transparent (even if it’s unintentionally) and such an inspiration to be better every day.
To everyone out there who has the fortune to have a borderline (or with any other mental disorder) friend or acquaintance, I can only say that it’s time to get rid of your prejudices. Let them impress you with their beautiful and powerful minds, let them be just the way they are. Respect them and be wise enough to make use of your privilege of being able to have a certain control over your emotions in those times when they just can’t. Integrate them and, most importantly, never be a judgemental jerk, as you can miss out so much by losing the chance to grow next to one of these outstanding brains.
That restless-troublesome-crazy girl is my sister, one of the people I care about the most in my life, and I could never imagine living without her lessons of life, without her energy, without that hurricane standing next to me.