Advice

On having borderline personality disorder

First off thank you. I’ve been feeling more actively suicidal lately, as opposed to my typical passive approach, and I just received your book a couple days ago, which has been a god send (don’t worry I am also working with my therapist and psychiatrist). I have a feeling your book will be my go-to when these terrible invasive thoughts creep in uninvitingly. I am curious if you have ever known anyone with Borderline Personality Disorder that wasn’t completely terrible?

After years of resisting this label, I have finally succumb to the fact that I am sick. Being borderline can be complete hell, I feel everything so intensely; any perceived rejection or “abandonment”, no matter how slight, results in me collapsing to the floor, alone in my apartment, sobbing and hyperventilating. Some times this is accompanied by cutting up my legs and punching my arms and head so hard that it results in huge bruises and bumps. It feels like absolute hell. I never do this in front of people and almost all of my friends know nothing about this side of me (it is not an attention thing or manipulation tool, but more of a release). I am trying to learn how to embrace my “crazy”. I often feel hopeless, but I also know I am a unique individual who has a lot of great qualities. I am smart as hell and am working on great and important research in grad school. I am very intuitive and possess a great ability to understand others. I am extremely dedicated, giving, and loyal. I know how to have a great time and have always embraced a work hard, play hard mentality. But this doesn’t change the fact that I am bat shit crazy and have very problematic behavior patterns.

At this point I have basically been single for a year (the longest since I have been 17), besides for the few guys that I’ve dated that think they fall in love with me within the first couple of weeks of knowing me, only to quickly find out that I am way too much work. My earliest memories all have to do with realizing how alone and separate I felt, so it makes sense that I prize intimate connection so much. Is there any chance that I am ever going to find some one that kinda gets me (or at least wants to), that sees the ugliness in me, but also the beauty? How do I find people that understand craziness, or mental illness does not automatically equate dumb or worthless?

Is my diagnosis as hopeless and terrible as it is portrayed? Am I a manipulative piece of shit that everyone should steer clear of? Are all these pathetic men that write on the internet about their horror story with a borderline girlfriend actually right? My mind tells me no to all of these questions, but then again my mind is sick and not to be trusted. But if borderlines are the absolute worst than how come so many people are trying to save us from committing suicide?

 

First off, let’s dispense with the self-stigma. You are not batshit crazy. Hell, you’re not even mentally ill. You have a personality disorder. You exhibit a few maladaptive patterns of behavior that meet a certain set of criteria. That’s it. That’s all. Big fucking deal.

While we’re at it, fuck this whole “being borderline” bullshit. You are not borderline. You have borderline personality disorder. Huge difference. Would you say “I’m irritable bowel syndrome?” Fuck no. Then why would you go around saying “I’m borderline?” Stop identifying with your disorder.

Now, to be clear, I have known many people with BPD, and none of them are terrible. Actually, most of them are lovely people and a shit ton of fun. Sure, they can get emotionally dysregulated as all hell, and their abandonment issues make dating a nightmare, but generally speaking, folks with BPD are just fucking up their own lives rather than actively fucking up anyone else’s. Y’all are your own worst enemies, and the pain you’re experiencing internally is an order of magnitude worse than any pain you might be inflicting on the people around you. That’s kinda what makes BPD different from the other cluster B personality disorders. People with narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders tend to fuck up other people’s lives, which is why I’ll take someone with BPD over a narcissist or a sociopath any day of the fucking week. (Trust me, I’ve dated all three.)

As you can well imagine, I’ve been in a serious relationship with someone with BPD. It was someone I loved very much, someone who in our best days I actually considered marrying. I say this to point out that your romantic situation isn’t hopeless. You are worth being loved as much as the next person. Having BPD will be a struggle, but it doesn’t spell certain doom. While we’re on the subject of relationships, there’s a book you should run out and get called Loving Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder. This book really will help, and not just the person you’re dating. It’s an incredibly useful book to read if you actually have BPD.

In the meantime, quit it with all this suicide shit. You’re not going to kill yourself. You’re gonna have some of those feelings from time to time, but you’re not gonna act on them. It’s good that you recognize that they’re just invasive thoughts and that you don’t actually want to die. You just want the pain to stop, and it’s okay to acknowledge that, but it isn’t okay to think that being dead is a fucking solution. It’s not.

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41 thoughts on “On having borderline personality disorder

  1. Pained Daughter says:

    Oh shit. Can I send this to my mother with borderline AND narcissistic personality disorders? (And the worst part is, she won’t admit she has either even though it’s as clear as day.) There’s a touch of pure malice in her, too – she spends most of her waking hours attacking those who love her. Maybe this golden wisdom will snap her out of it.

    OP sounds kind, proactive, and empathetic. Keep on truckin. <3

    This sort of thing kind of reminds me of the chemicals Captain America was injected with. It just amplifies your human-ness. It sucks that you're hurting, but it seems that this is just making your inner beauty shine brighter.

  2. BPD, in the field of neuropsychology, is now widely considered to be a form of PTSD that occurs with childhood abuse and neglect; specifically sexual abuse. PTSD and cluster type personality “disorders” share many traits in common. People with BPD might find great relied by starting to think of this emotionally overwhelming disorder as trauma-based, not just an inescapable genetic scarlet letter. Treatments for PTSD work WONDERS for BPD; dialectical behavioral therapy is nearly identical to PTSD therapy.

    And for the record, people with BPD are not monsters. We feel more empathy and emptiness than you can possibly imagine. Rock on, crazypants. You can get better, and you will.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      “BPD, in the field of neuropsychology, is now widely considered to be a form of PTSD that occurs with childhood abuse and neglect; specifically sexual abuse. ”

      Interesting – I had not heard this before, and my husband has both PTSD and BPD. My understanding is that not all people who have BPD have experienced trauma, but has this been debunked? Can you direct me towards some sources to read more about this? I’m always looking for more information!

    • WhoAmI says:

      The two are definitively linked. The foundations to my BPD first appeared when I was 7 years old, certainly from the same trauma that triggered my JIA.
      It started to spiral out of control after I was arrested and incarcerated several years ago (again, big trauma here).
      BPD definitively relies on strong, traumatic experiences.

  3. Nina says:

    You’re not crazy. Every single one of your emotions is in response to something. The people who are worth having around will see the good parts of you.

    One of my friends has BPD. She’s a very intelligent and sweet person. She struggles mightily sometimes but that is much better than the alternative.

  4. Chelle says:

    I have BPD. I am afraid to admit this to anyone because if you google it, the outlook is grim. I have been seeing someone amazing for 3 months and haven’t told him. Most likely my fear and need to hide this will end up ruining it. This really is great advice, and thank you so much for the book recommendation.

    • OP says:

      The internet can be a very damaging place when it comes to BPD, I try to avoid reading comment sections or forums that have to do with BPD. When I do read all of that stuff, I end up falling in to the black-white thinking that Coquette highlighted, where I identify as being borderline entirely instead of just someone who has some shit to work out. I really hope you are in DBT or some type of therapy. 3 months is a pretty good indicator that he’s not just a flake who will skip out, but you can never be certain. I am certain though that if you continue to hide it, it will cause unneeded issues. I am all too familiar with the anxiety and fear, and it always ends up building up until I snap and do something I regret. Take care of yourself!

      • Chelle says:

        Thank you for the kind words. I totally agree with you about avoiding forums and comment sections. I am in DBT, with an individual therapist, but I don’t go to the group sessions. The individual seems to be helpful. I might tell him about it at some point- better than the anxiety of waiting for the other show to drop. Thanks again, and all best to you!

        • My daughter didn’t like the group sessions, but 2 years later, told me that it was where she got a ton of help. YMMV, of course.
          Best wishes.

    • Karen in Montreal says:

      With several years of specialized treatment, over 80% of people with BPD no longer meet the diagnostic criteria, function tons better, and feel way better as well.

      So get to work, the outlook isn’t that grim at all! And the qualities of sensitivity, empathy and sheer intensity of living that most people with BPD have don’t go away with the treatment! Yay!

  5. OP says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. I’ve read your reply over and over, with tears in my eyes (the good kind!) and it is reassuring to know I will have this to go back to when I am experiencing those ugly thoughts. Of course all my suicidal ideation is bullshit, at the end of the day it is not going to happen, I know this. There is too much I want to do, want to accomplish, want to experience. I just ordered the recommended book and look forward to reading it. Thank you for sharing your experience and thank you for providing me with some hope. Your words mean so much to me. Also, thank you to the commenters here for your understanding and encouraging words. Cheers!

    • Apricot says:

      Thankyou for posting your question OP!
      I really needed to read this as well. I’m wondering if I have borderline- going to see a therapist this week and hopefully we’ll figure out a solution to whatever mess is going on upstairs.

      Good luck to you on your journey through life. You sound very self aware, so I have no doubt that you’ll make it through life and find peace, love, and joy along the way.

  6. Giselle says:

    I have to say I’ve been with someone with BPD and he really did fuck up my life for almost the entire time I was with him. Sure he was sweet and nice, when he wanted to be. When the switch would flip, nothing brought him back to the person he was before. I could say the same things about him that you said about your relationship Coke but in hindsight all I can say is I learned a SHITLOAD about being in an abusive codependent relationship from being with him.
    My current BF also has an ex who has BPD, she pretty much destroyed his life too, he literally had to disappear and move somewhere secret to get away from her. She still occasionally harasses him and this is years later (mine quit stalking me about a year after I went no contact).
    If there are people with BPD who can keep their shit to themselves and not let it into their relationships, I’d love to hear from their SOs. At least with the narcissists (I’ve dated them too!) you KNOW they are evil. I couldn’t fathom how my ex could do so many awful, hurtful things to me and pretend they never happened, over and over and over again.

  7. Laura says:

    I just had my first experience with suicidal ideation and it scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know what to do, where to go to, so I just cried until I felt I was ok. Pretty much everything you described was what I felt, but I couldn’t find anything online to help me. I’m really grateful to be able to read this blog, CQ. Thank you.

    • Chelle says:

      I totally get how it seems that way. I know from my own experience having BPD, and from what I hear on the rare occasions I go to group therapy, suicidal ideation is really common, and a bit different than being suicidal. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like a way of trying to manage anxiety and other “features” of the disorder. Like stressing over an exam- first thought is something like “If I fail, I have to kill myself”, or suicide as a way to punish yourself.

      • Lin says:

        I have my own experience with mental illness and suicidality. I actually attempted once after being told essentially the same “you’re never going to do it” line. Perhaps it features differently in BPD, which I’m not diagnosed with, but this attitude is unhelpful in my experience.

        • Strangely Rational says:

          It depends on how it’s said. If someone in your life says, “You’re never going to do it” in a dismissive tone, sure, I could see that might be problematic.

          Coquette’s voice here isn’t dismissive. To me, it sounds more like a command: “No, you’re not allowed to commit suicide. You’re going to get through this.”

      • SP1 says:

        I don’t know if suicidal ideation feels like punishment, at least not to me. I find it sort of soothing, like I am still here by choice.

        • Chelle says:

          I have the same feeling as you, I think. I nodded my head when I read that. For me, it’s often my first impulse or thought and I hate that.

          • Apricot says:

            For me it’s soothing and almost gives the anxiety purpose. Like, my subconscious knows it’s overreacting so it sends out suicidal ideation to justify the extreme anxiety.

        • Karen in Montreal says:

          Suicidal ideation can be a big relief, in the beginning. The person realizes they DO have an ‘out’ from their suffering, if they can’t stand it. But that relief is a reward for the brain, so over time, when the suffering is intense, it gets easier and faster and more frequent to go for the suicidal ideation, and that may ramp up, leading to repeated attempts, etc. Chronic suicidal ideation is basically a stress reliever, and like many stress relievers, can become ‘addictive’ or compulsive, a very bad habit indeed, and a dangerous one. But also like other bad habits and compulsive behaviours, it can be unlearned, replaced, changed.

  8. Bunny says:

    Thanks for this CQ, esp the book recommendation. Currently dating someone with BPD and some days I can’t tell the difference between my asshole and my elbow and what’s left and what’s right. He’s so resistant to helping himself, but I love him and I think understanding the condition better might help us along.

    • Karen in Montreal says:

      The good thing about BPD is that often the person who has it seeks help or accepts help, because they are so unhappy themselves, and can (eventually) see that they’re contributing to create some of their own problems. If the person you’re dating doesn’t get less resistant to helping himself, there’s NOTHING you can do to help him; you can’t love or reassure people out of this disorder. (And if he’s mostly blaming others and feeling entitled to other people helping him or cutting him slack, you’ve either got a narcissist or a person with BPD and narcissistic traits – MUCH less likely to improve with time, MUCH less likely to seek or accept treatment, and MUCH more destructive to those around them.)

  9. JNK says:

    Thank you so much for this answer! I’ve been struggling so much lately wondering if I’ll ever find someone to be loved by, that could deal with all of the baggage I come with. After my last relationship ended pretty horribly I’ve completely isolated myself from others because I feel like I’m always going to be the one to get burned in the end, since I care to Nth degree . It’s hard to convince myself to keep trying to find someone when I feel like they are going to bolt the instant I hit a rough patch.
    I definitely ordered the book you suggested though, I’m sure I’m still in recovery mode from my last relationship but I know I’ll pull out of it eventually.

  10. Jessica Sen says:

    I’ve dated three boys with BPD and I must say, channel their love of drama into dates at the theatre and skateboard park and let ’em loose on their daily runs around the basketball court and you’ll be just fine.

  11. Courtney says:

    All hell? Y’all? Coke, you are either originally from the south or you definitely relocated there. Don’t worry, takes one to know one.

  12. A says:

    For what it’s worth, I am happily married to a person with borderline personality disorder. Sure, life is a bit different, but we manage together. I’m strong for her when she needs me, and she’s strong for me when I need her.

  13. person_no_2 says:

    Adding to the commenters stating their successful relationships with people with BPD: my current boyfriend has BPD. We have been together for a few years. He can be unstable, but he is also beautifully intelligent and emotional. We balance each other. It works.

  14. Mentally ill people can’t analytically reflect on their dysregulation outside of a guided environment. You sound like you’re on the spectrum with Aspergers and can’t get diagnosed because you’re a girltype. I had BPD dx before realizing too. Also believe that Dr. Linehan is autistic, not BPD, for the same reason.

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