Some of you are visual learners. Today’s post is a lesson on what it’s like to be a person with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Someone with BPD feels everything, all the time. Much like a burn victim whose skin is trying to heal, everything feels overwhelming and raw. I’m not going to post a picture of that, but I think you get the idea. Many things hurt, even when they’re meant to help. That is why someone living with BPD can often be perceived as being over-sensitive, or over-dramatic. Some people may interpret this sensitivity and feel that it means they need to walk on eggshells around the person with BPD. This is not so. If diagnosed, the person with BPD is well aware of their sensitivities and is doing everything they can to stay calm and not overreact to a situation. They don’t expect special treatment, but are grateful for extra patience while they attempt to deal with their feelings. Living with BPD is overwhelming and exhausting. As difficult as it may seem for you to maintain a friendship or other type of relationship with them, I guarantee you it is worse for them. For me, being aware of my alienating behaviors is the cruelest part of the disease. I recognize my actions make it hard to be around me, or be friends with me; and I am doing my best to control them, but sometimes I just can’t. Knowing that, knowing that I am my own worst enemy, that this disease causes me to be someone I don’t believe I am or want to be – is very painful.
As with many mental disorders, the causes of BPD aren’t fully understood. Experts agree that the disorder is a result of a combination of factors – genetic, environmental, and brain abnormalities. In addition, there may be other mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, bipolar, alcoholism/addiction, and eating disorders. (2)
If you are reading this, you likely already know about me. I wrote this today to help my family and friends understand what it’s like for me. I don’t think it’s a complete picture, but I think it gives you a fairly good snapshot. I have another analogy I like to use, the “hamster wheel of thinking”. Much like a hamster running on an exercise wheel – a path with no end in sight, my thoughts often spin out of control. This is the beginning of a vicious cycle of thought for me. Some days it’s easier than others to slam on the brakes and move to another path (of thought), but some days it’s not. Sometimes there’s a trigger (an event or situation), sometimes it happens just because. There’s no rhyme or reason.
Ways you can help:
You can’t. Only I can help myself. But knowing I have you as a tool in my toolbox of skills is of great comfort. Knowing I can call you, or text, or have an in-person visit just to get myself out of whatever it is that’s plaguing me that moment is invaluable. It may seem boring or uninteresting to you, but letting me hang out with you even if you’re just folding laundry can be a life saver. If you’re running to Stockton or Modesto on errands, call me. I would LOVE to go! Even if we’re just hanging out doing our own separate thing, just being in the same room as someone, knowing I’m not alone, is all I need to function.