I was unknowingly living with BPD for 25 years. On the day when I received my diagnosis, I was very vulnerable and my mental state was all over the place. I was angry, upset and in denial. It’s taken me a significant period of time to accept my illness but now I finally feel a sense of relief at knowing that my thoughts and feelings have been validated by medical professionals after a lifetime of convincing myself that nobody could ever understand what I feel and think on a daily basis.
What is BPD?
I couldn’t possibly write what it’s like to live with BPD in one blog post and there are aspects of my illness that I do not yet feel comfortable talking about but I do want to raise awareness on this stigmatised illness so I will do my best to explain how it feels based on my personal experiences.
In the simplest of explanations, living with BPD is like going through a minefield every single day. My moods are so unstable that it can fluctuate from feeling suicidal to feeling euphoric in just a matter of minutes. My perception of the world is very different to others. Everything appears to be much more magnified and intense. Additionally many of us BPD sufferers, also struggle with other mental health issues.
What does BPD look and feel like?
- Overwhelming sense of loneliness. I create distance between people and then I’m unable to be in my own company without resorting to poor coping mechanisms.
- Attachment anxiety and a fear of everyone that I know rejecting me. Subsequently, feelings of insatiable neediness and jealousy of anyone who is a “threat” to the chances of my needs being met. This also manifests into paranoia and anxiety in interpersonal circumstances.
- Having zero control. My intense feelings and obtrusive thoughts have complete control of me.
- Strong emotions which have been evoked in me, tend to torment me for a long period of time and can sometimes take several months to dissipate.
- Feeling pain and distress beyond levels of explanation and subsequently feeling that it is impossible to live with these emotions.
- Impulsive behaviours affect my personal relationships. I’m rarely able to “think before I speak”.
- Extreme and rapid mood swings ranging from the darkest depths of depression to delusional bouts of mania.
- A history of suicidal thoughts and threats.
- Caring too much because of the extreme struggles with real/perceived rejection, abandonment and disappointment.
- Self-destructive behaviours (I do not yet feel confident enough to discuss how this personally effects me).
- High anxiety and extreme panic attacks.
- Constant conflict between hating everything about myself and completely lacking a sense of my self which drives me to extreme lengths to conform and define myself by my perception of my external world.
- Struggling with periods of disassociation (feelings of not existing and being possessed by negative emotion.
- Difficulties and frustration with expressing myself appropriately which leads to outbursts of anger and pent-up emotions.
- A highly severe guilt and shame complex in response to every imperfect circumstance and perceived personal failure.
- An unhealthily high perceptiveness of people and situations around me which forces me to be hyper-paranoid and observant.
- Feelings of utter self-loathing, hopelessness and despair, especially in response to things that have gone wrong or have had a negative impact to those closest to me.
It’s important that I stress that not all of it is horribly depressing. My more positive emotions are also magnified and being highly sensitive enables me to become very empathetic. It also provides myself with the ability to experience the deepest kind of love for those around me and that can’t be a bad thing. To be honest, my experiences of BPD often make me scared of myself and petrified at not knowing what the future holds. I’m just relieved that I finally summoned the strength to ask for help before it was too late and am hoping that my soon-to-be DBT therapy will provide me with the tools to navigate through my minefield.