Why I'm Not Ashamed of My Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis
After spending half of my life in therapy, trying different cocktails of medication since I was 18 and spending more time in hospitals and appointments than I would care to add up, I'm finally not ashamed of my diagnosis. A diagnosis that has been given to me and downgraded and upgraded and changed and taken away and given back and so on and so forth over the years.
My official diagnosis was borderline personality disorder. I was also lucky enough to win the mental illness bingo and get several conditions for the price of one, including schizo affective disorder, PTSD and severe regressive depression. Borderline personality disorder (BPD), or emotionally unstable personality disorder as some call it in the psychiatry field, is characterized by having an intense fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, unstable self-image or sense of self, impulsive and self-destructive behaviors, self-harm (including, but not limited to cutting, eating disorders and substance abuse) and recurrent suicidal behavior, extreme emotional mood swings, chronic feelings of emptiness, paranoia (and other psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, dissociation and delusions) and explosive anger. I've ticked all of those boxes. Now, whenever you hear or see borderline personality disorder portrayed in the media, it’s as serial killers in crime shows or “crazy” exes who stalk and burn the houses of their beloved. Lots of people might think of “Single White Female” or “Fatal Attraction" or even the "joker" but I can assure you I have never at any point in my life tried to burn down the home of an ex or boil their pet rabbit or blow up a hospital. When you research the conditions online, even made by some mental health professionals, those living with the illness are described as “manipulative” and “attention seeking.” As soon as you receive this diagnosis, every suicide attempt, self-harm incident or psychotic episode is seen as seeking attention or an impulsive act done in the moment. Personally, I believe this to be fucking bullshit. In fact, one of my biggest fears is to be seen as manipulative by the people I love after being manipulated myself for many many years. There are some fucked up horrible cunts out there that behave insanely with the diagnosis of BPD but there are by far more with no diagnosis! When I have an episode, it is not a shallow attempt at getting attention or to get back at an ex who hurt me years ago. It is a symptom of an illness, no different than symptoms of other medical conditions. Yes, impulsivity is a symptom, but not every act I do is due to that. If I choose to go out and have fun with my friends at times, they can tell when I am in a self-destructive spiral. They recognize my signs of drinking, eating, and general reckless, sometimes aggressive mania. But sometimes, I just want to have some fun with the people I love and be a normal dude. Why shouldn’t I participate in what they do just because I am living with a mental health condition? Although I have/am addressing alcohol consumption habits. Some people with borderline personality disorder in the media are stalker-like and creepy. Yes, I have loved hard and fast, and if I love someone, I love strongly. But if I’m searching for a silver lining of this illness, I’d like to think that loving people a lot is probably one of them. Similarly, I can be impulsive and maybe I have an unstable sense of self, but that can also make me more adventurous and quirky. My own fear of abandonment will ensure I always make my friends feel as loved and treasured as I can, so they never feel like I do. I am mindful of my Traits and mindful of other people's potential traits. I wasn't. But I am now. I am more than somebody struggling with this illness, and I am more than the scars you may have seen on my arms. I am a son, a big brother, a boyfriend, a friend and work mate. I am a student, fighting each day to get my DBT path course done correctly, despite being unable to get out of bed on my bad horrible bastard head fucked days. I am a fighter who has overcome so much, it’s no wonder my brain struggles to cope. Unfortunately, I struggle with an illness that doesn’t just go away, but I am also strong, despite the years and years of not being strong enough to cope, totaly fucked without the right support around me, but I'm stubborn enough to start over and beat this affliction and I will fight hard to learn ways to cope, rather than cure. There is no cure.
I am not ashamed about having BPD. Instead, I’m relieved to finally know what I am up against, why I feel the way I feel and that it isn’t my fault. I am not an or ever have been an “attention seeker.”
My brain simply works differently. To tackle this, I take medication and go to therapy and support groups in order to try and control my symptoms. Support I didn't have until relatively recently. But really, I don’t need or care about ridiculous assumptions about my nature just because of my diagnosis. Many people have been shocked when I’ve disclosed this personal fact before. I’ve actually been told I don’t “look like I have a borderline personality” and asked if I was going to “snap one day and kill all of my family.” Shockingly, no, but if that changes, I’ll be sure to keep you posted. I have met some wonderful, beautiful people who share my struggle and fight every day against their own brain. Yet, they are some of the kindest, most loving souls. They go to university, go out with friends and make dreadful shit dad jokes like I do. We have all been through individual struggles and challenges, but somehow we’re all still here. Not only that, but we are stronger and more equipped for what life throws at us. We have a deep empathy and understanding towards the pain of others and will always strive to ensure that nobody feels alone during the dark days. Having to fight against your own brain every day is exhausting and unnatural. Your brain should be telling you how to survive, not suggesting you kick the bucket. Anybody strong enough to deal with that deserves credit, not judgment. We are not selfish for trying to stop our pain in unorthodox ways. We are not attention seeking when we admit defeat on the worst days. And we are certainly not weak for requiring help and medication to balance what is uneven in our brain chemistry. Brain chemistry, in my case and many many others, by abuse and neglect. We got broken. So please, when you next hear of somebody with this illness, don’t judge or joke but instead consider what we’re up against every day. Consider how exhausting it must be to feel 50 different emotions in an hour, or nothing at all. Consider the bravery it takes to embrace this stigmatized illness and work with it, because you haven’t got a choice. Just because we have borderline personality disorder, does not mean we are borderline people.
Peace out. M.
*drops the mic*
The above is unproof read. Typed out as is. Suck it up.