Monday, 5 December 2016

Let's Have A Chat About Borderline Personality Disorder.

Tonight's post is not going to be the most festive thing in the world. It's also probably not going to be massively coherent, as I'm just letting the words flow out of me - that sounds so gross, but you know what I mean. But I just feel like it's about time we had a little chat.

Note: I'm including some screenshots of things that have been written about women (it's almost always directed at women) with BPD which might be damaging and/or triggering to those of us suffering with it - please be careful of your own well-being and remember these people are idiots.

Mental illness is a funny old thing. It makes you feel completely isolated and alone, and like no-one understands you which is patently untrue. I mean even if they haven't suffered from them, most people will be able to get their head around the concepts of anxiety and depression. But every so often I'll stumble onto the horrible part of the internet and read things that make me realise that nope, a lot of people just do not understand Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder (obviously) that in general can be summed up as being characterised by instability in relationships and emotional responses. There are a lot of different criteria for the disorder, and obviously people experience it in different ways, but for me the main things that really have impacted me are my ridiculous and highly changeable emotional reactions which I find hard to control, my absolute terror of being abandoned, black and white thinking (meaning I can go from loving someone to be hostile and 'hating' them if I think they've "done me wrong" in any way), self-destructive behaviours, and recently dissociation.

Basically, my way of perceiving a situation can sometimes be what a 'normal' person might call inappropriate and intense, but will seem justified and totally rational to me. For me, it just feels like I feel everything so much more intensely than people around me, so whereas someone might get a little upset about something, for me it'll destroy my whole day and change my mood for hours. 

BPD can make you act in ways that are outrageous, and are really embarrassing and hard to admit to. I've done crazy things like turn up uninvited where my then boyfriend was, because he wasn't answering my texts (we were arguing) and I was terrified he was leaving me. My fear of being abandoned is intense and very real, even if there's no actual evidence that it's going to happen. (Also before you start judging me for this can I just say - I know that mental illness is not an excuse for acting like a dick, but if I was able to clearly and rationally think and act 100% of the time, I wouldn't have a mental illness at all).

Abandonment issues feature really heavily in my experience with BPD, especially mixed with my anxiety; I can read a fairly generic tweet and within seconds I've convinced myself it's about me and everyone hates me. I also think that this abandonment thing is a large part of why I've struggled with friendships so much - it makes me feel left out constantly and that's a feeling that really affects me mentally. As soon I see people I care about with other friends I'm convinced they hate me, which is very isolating.

Example of the articles online about women with BPD.

I'm not going to deny that living with, or being, someone with BPD is stressful. It can be overwhelming for both me and my husband, but there is so much utter pedalled about people with BPD that is just not true, and it makes dealing with your diagnosis so difficult. Like the websites telling men to basically avoid all women with BPD because they'll trick you into a relationship, abuse you throughout, if you happen to be married they'll put you through the most painful divorce imaginable, and if you've had children they'll completely damage them. There's even the implication that if you're with someone with BPD, they'll kill you in the end. Nice.

When I first saw comments like these it made me think I was doomed to be a terrible, abusive person who ruins peoples' lives. Yet, here I am, a few years on, in a much better place in my relationship than ever before. Maybe it's the wedding ring on my finger that has given me a sense of stability, or more likely it's that I've been able to be open and honest with the most caring and patient man I've ever met, who has put up with so much because he knows that one eternal truth: YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT DEFINE YOU.

You don't have to believe this bullshit that suggests you can be boxed up, labelled 'DANGEROUS' and packed away forever just because of a health issue. I know this might blow your mind, but it is entirely possible to live a happy life and be a good person, even with a personality disorder - who knew!

Why am I talking about any of this? Because these things constantly play on my mind. I stopped going to counselling because comments like these made me believe that I was manipulating her. Yes, I truly believed that being honest about my feelings was somehow 'BPD Me' trying to make her feel sorry for me. The fact that some people will see that BPD label and think these things about me is horrible.

Anyway enough about what idiots think of me and my illness. How am I doing? Well, lately I've got much better at regulating my emotions, about exhibiting stability in my reactions and relationships. What I have really struggled with lately is dissociation. I didn't even know this was a thing before I started having it! Basically, dissociation is a state of feeling disconnected from reality. For me, sometimes I feel completely zoned out, like I'm not really present in my surroundings. I often feel like I'm having an out of body experience; I can see what's going on but it feels like a dream, I'm not really there. This is usually when I'm very stressed, anxious or facing some sort of emotional pain. It's my brain's way of coping. It's massively disconcerting, and I'm working on ways to deal with it. It's so hard to explain what it's like, which brings me back round full circle to feeling alone.

Lately I've felt so lonely it's like a physical pain in my chest. I don't know how to explain to people how I feel, I don't want to be a burden to anyone, and honestly I don't want to admit to how weak this disorder can make me feel. I feel trapped in my own head, with a diagnosis that makes people think I'm a horrible person.

I know I'm not the only person who feels like this. I know there are so many people going through what I am. But I also know that the stigma around BPD is so intense and hurtful that many people are hiding it away like a dirty little secret. I did exactly that for years, but I can't do it anymore. I won't let people put out an image of this disorder that portrays us as manipulative, abusive, unfeeling people, because that's not who we are. We struggle, and yes sometimes our struggles will impact other people, but we aren't evil and we aren't setting out to use and abuse you. We are humans who just want to be loved, and I feel so unbelievably thankful that I've found someone who can see underneath all the symptoms to who I truly am.

If you'd like to talk more about BPD feel free to email me at any time or check out the Mind website for professional support resources.


  1. Please don't delete this Beth!! I've not experienced the effects of BPD personally so this really helped me to understand where you're coming from and how it affects you. I admire you for being so open and honest online about your experiences - I wish I was brave enough to do the same! I can't imagine how horrible it must be to read the articles and comments you included about people who have your condition - but that's exactly why I feel like blog posts like this one are so important! They give the other side of the story and help to counteract the negative press that people with BPD receive.

    One thing that I'd really like to know is: how can I help? What can I say that would make you feel better? Is there anything I can say to help? I would really like to support you but I wouldn't want to say the wrong thing and make it worse - I try my best at the minute if I see you're feeling down on social media, but I'd like to understand more and do more!

    Sending love 💖
    Abbey ✨

  2. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal. This is so helpful for others to understand various mental illnesses. I am learning about my loving boyfriends needs right now and this has helped understand how he may feel. I need to learn hust like everybody else. Thank you my dear. Best.

  3. This is such a relatable post, thank you for doing this. I'm recently diagnosed with BPD & finding it confusing and reading this really has helped. It's given me hope that my relationship will be able to work through the mental health issues we both face. Please keep inspiring! Happy new year xxx

    Robyn Sparkles


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