When I received my borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis, my world came crashing down. While I was aware of the symptoms I was experiencing, I didn’t see the disorder within myself, or maybe just didn’t want to see the disorder within myself.
As a mental health professional, I knew about the stigma surrounding BPD. I had come across multiple mental health professionals who refused to work with clients with BPD because it is so stigmatized.
Officially, BPD is defined as a serious mental illness that causes a person to have trouble regulating their emotions. But as someone who struggles with this disorder, it is so much more than that.
For anyone who loves someone with BPD, or is a mental health professional, here is what I need you to know about what it’s like to live with this disorder — and why you should hold your judgement.
My emotions are all-consuming
Having BPD feels like my emotions are constantly amplified. Being sad feels like being suicidal, anger feels like I am burning from the inside out and fear sends my heart into a pounding fit. When my emotions feel this intense, I often lash out because I have a challenging time understanding how to experience my emotions in a healthy way. My entire being becomes so consumed in how I’m feeling that I can’t think about anything else.
I don’t mean to be so impulsive
These strong feelings often lead me to impulsive actions, such as binging and purging, self-harm or going on a spending spree. It is during these times of intense emotions that I often do things I regret afterwards, before I calm down and apologize if I’ve done something to hurt others.
I know relationships with me are not easy
My powerful emotions and impulsivity make all my relationships very intense, which is hard on those I love. I sometimes say things I don’t mean, such as “I hate you,” when I feel hurt or abandoned. This is called splitting, or seeing things in black and white, and I will go through cycles of idolizing and disliking anyone I become close with. It is because of this that many of my relationships are short-lived.
But when I love, I love deeply
The good thing about feeling things so strongly is that when I am happy, I am on top of the world, and when I love, I love with my entire soul. When I care for someone, I put my entire being into caring about them and I am always 100% genuine.
And I am always trying my best
I try so hard to regulate my emotions and decrease the amount of conflict and pain I may cause those I love, and I am always worried about how I am affecting others. Living with this disorder is a constant whirlwind of intense and often unbearable emotions, and I am constantly working to ensure that I don’t hurt others or myself. I often make mistakes, and my loved ones need to be patient with me, but it is also okay for them to feel frustrated.
What I want you to know and understand the most is that a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is a clinical diagnosis, and that it should not be used as a judgement. BPD is not an easy disorder to live with and emotional suffering is a frequent occurrence.
As someone living with BPD, and as a mental health professional, I can personally tell you how difficult it is to live with this disorder. It is even more difficult to find help and support. Further understanding is the only way to break down the stigma. If you have been diagnosed with BPD, love someone with BPD or are a mental health professional, I urge you to show yourself, or those struggling, deep compassion needed to heal.
Ashley Nestler, MSW and is a survivor of schizoaffective disorder, quiet borderline personality disorder, fibromyalgia, bulimia nervosa, obsessive compulsive disorder and Complex PTSD. Ashley is an educator on borderline personality disorder and the creator of Releasing the Phoenix and The Ignite and Rise Academy. Website: www.releasingthephoenix.com.