A couple years back, I sat myself down and realized I needed to change. I began seeking help. Help outside of friends and family. Help outside of myself. The only person who knew I was seeking any type of professional assistance was my now ex-boyfriend. I never told anyone else and, to this day, still have not. It is not because I am ashamed of seeking help. No. I work in a field where asking for help is encouraged. We nurture that part of a person’s soul. I understand the importance of seeking help. See, I was ashamed about what I learned. Let me back up for context purposes. As I have mentioned before, I am a nursing major who accidentally minored in psychology. I have taken over 7 different psychology classes throughout my time in college. I have seen how different professors, professionals in their fields, speak about different disorders and people. I know the stigma that certain disorders have even within the professional community. I know the stigma associated with Borderline Personality Disorder. After I was diagnosed, I took a class surrounding personality disorders. I tried to learn from Google and books, but each time I was met with subtle yet obvious hatred.
For those of you who do not know anything about BPD or know very little, when you google BPD the definition that appears goes as followed:
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships
I do not have a problem with the definition itself. However, the stigma behind the definition is one that cannot be ignored. Just because I have difficulty managing emotions, behaviors, and my relationship does not mean I am a danger to society. This does not mean that I am going to hurt those around me. This does not mean that I will threaten to kill myself or others for attention. While this last sentence may seem extreme, every website will mention this at least once. Yes, this can happen, and there have been cases, but this is not the majority. Reading about BPD online hurt every single time. My then-boyfriend would spend hours combing through websites with me trying to remind me that everything is a spectrum and that these sites were not directly speaking about me. It never helped. I began to hate myself even more. I began to wonder if I was even a good person.
I wanted to try and see if maybe in a classroom, it would be different. It wasn’t. I heard the professor speak on BPD as if those who have it are less than human. As if they are manipulative. As if they have little remorse or empathy. Things that I hope and pray are not true for me. I would never forget one professor’s comments. He went on a rant about how he hates working with patients with Borderline. He referred to them as two-faced. He said one wrong word, and they would snap. He went as far as to compare us to the villain Two-Face from Batman. I remember sitting there, wanting to shrink away to nothing.
When you google BPD, a list of questions appears, from this list, a majority of the most asked questions related to questioning the humanity of someone with BPD. I decided to go ahead and answer some of these below.
Can a person with BPD really love?
I am a huge believer in not one person speaks for everyone, so what I am saying next I know may not be the case for everyone. But yes, I can love. It is difficult and hard, but I can. My trust in you may be continuously tested within my own head. I may make rash quick decisions based on little to no action on your part. This does not mean that I do not love. In fact, I want to be able to say that I love too hard. When I do fall in love, I feel it consume me. But at the first sign of trouble, my body reacts on primal instinct, and I will destroy the relationship. I do this hoping that I can trick myself into believing that I left you. Not that you got tired of me and abandoned me. While yes, the way I love is different and “dramatic” to most people, I am not incapable of love.
Are borderlines aware of their behavior?
Yes, I am aware of my behaviors. This is almost a harmless question because when you click on the dropdown, the paragraph agrees. However, the paragraph is shaped in a way that implies we chose to act in specific ways on purpose. We operate “irrational” on purpose. This is not the case. Yes, I am hyper-aware of what I am doing and saying. I feel myself lashing out for no reason. I feel myself turning cold. But I have little control. I am screaming in my head each time to stop. I am yelling at myself to control myself. It hurts. It hurts when someone says something or breaths in a certain way, and my brain creates stories. Stories in which my mouth responds violently. Words that once said are hard to take back. I watch myself as if in the third person, destroying things around me. So yes, I am aware, I just cannot stop myself sometimes. Somedays I am in control and can stop myself but some days I can’t. I am sorry.
Do borderlines have empathy?
Yes. I do have empathy. Instead of diving into this topic, which one day I do plan to. I am going to link the article that Google itself linked in the dropdown.
Are BPD childlike?
No, I am not childlike. I may seem like I throw tantrums at times and have a “hissy” fit. But once again some days I cannot control these actions. My body lashes out before my mind can stop it. It feels almost like instinct. So I guess in a way it is me acting childlike. But not because I am immature or anything else. I like to see it as a lack of emotional control. When I am referred to as a child because of this it feels as if I will never be taken seriously. Like in your eyes I will never be able to be apart of the adult conversations.
Why do therapists hate borderlines?
In my experience, therapists do not hate working with me. It is just tricky. See, once again may be different from others, with me, my emotions about people can change on a dime. With friendships, I tend to be more stable. However, in situations with authority, lovers, or doctors, I can go from adoring them to hating them. I can go from never wanting to leave their side to wanting nothing more than their attention to wanting them to leave and never talk to me again. This makes it extremely difficult to treat. One day I am participating and working on myself, and the next, I think everything you are saying is a load of shit. What makes it even more difficult is that I refuse to tell anyone. So medication, long-term therapy, and other treatment options are a no go. So instead, I would doctor jump or just stop going for specific periods of time.
How does a person with BPD think?/ Do people with BPD lie?
I think like you or anyone else does. I work through problems in my head. I daydream. I worry about money and school. I joke with friends. The only significant difference that I have noted through the years is that my mind likes to play tricks on itself. Some days it wants to take any words it hears and twist them as an attack on ourselves. Other days it is paranoid that the world is plotting against it. Emotions change even faster. On my worst days, I can change moods so much that once the day is over, I have lived through 10 different days. In one conversation, I can go from happy, mad, sad, back to happy. It is exhausting for those around me. I know this. But putting that aside, my mind is the same as yours. I am not thinking and plotting ways to hurt those around me or make them dependent on me like so many sites say. I have never manipulated someone for attention. I may have shared a white lie but never something that would cause significant distress. If you go to any website, they mention how those with BPD will lie and manipulate everyone they meet. For me, this isn’t the case. Looking at these sites and reading things like this or things that call people with BPD a danger to others is one of the main reasons I fear people finding out. I fear them wanting to do their own research to try and understand better and becoming afraid of me or not even trusting me.
Can someone with BPD ever be happy?
I do not know if I can ever be. I try to be. I work towards it every single day. I want to be open with my friends and family one day about the things I have seen, done, or been through. Yet, looking at things like this and knowing that this is what they will see terrifies me. I refuse to let my image be tainted like this. I refuse to have them look at me like I am less than human. I want to be happy. I work for it every day, but I know this is going to be a long-fought battle.