I Did Not Choose to Have Borderline Personality Disorder
Up and down. Energized and then extremely sad. It’s feeling happy and content and feeling irritable and agitated one moment later. Sometimes there is a trigger, sometimes it simply happens. It is very clear to me why Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is difficult to diagnose. The similarities to Bipolar Disorder can make it tricky. Recently I even wondered if I really have Bipolar Disorder but I see now that it truly is Borderline Personality Disorder. I am frustrated though. The mood swings which can change 5 times within one hour are exhausting and sometimes debilitating. Yes, I can use my great skills I am learning in my DBT group but sometimes, I choose not to, which is called being “willful.” Everyone is willful at times and I am when I am angry and upset and feel as if I don’t care anymore. This is when I may challenge my therapist with anger and irritation only to then feel tremendous guilt and sorrow hours later when I realize my behavior was inappropriate.
As Shari Y. Manning states so clearly in her book, Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, those who have BPD “are like sponges for pain.” We take on the negativity which then brings us to utter hopelessness. My emotions scare me and I often feel out of control, that my emotions are out of control. And then there is the fear which can be constant at times. I’ll fear for everything and everyone. It is all encompassing. My thoughts move swiftly and my mind does not rest. By late afternoon, I am already exhausted and only recently truly realized that living with BPD is exhausting in every definition of the word. Mentally and physically, it saps my will and my strength. While it was better controlled over the past couple of years, it does not feel so now. It coincides with going off of one of my medications which caused dizziness and nausea so I will not be re-starting it.
It is very frustrating to not be able to use my skills. While there are times when I simply do not care enough, there are also times when I want to use them but struggle. Again, this is not how I want to be. The past several weeks have been a kind of awakening for me though. How I have been feeling these past weeks was once my everyday reality. Since a couple of years ago, this is how I lived, day in and day out, I just did not know that it was not healthy and/or that it could be changed. Perhaps, this is why my frustration level is so high right now. I know I can feel better I’m just not sure how to make that happen.
For those who either do not understand BPD or simply believe it is a made-up illness, I challenge you to try to understand the biology involved. I would never choose to live like this, with quickly changing moods and sporadic self-hate. Who would? This is why it is so important to educate people about BPD. It is a complicated illness and, yes, it is a real biological illness. I am not ashamed of it and I will continue to work through it in therapy and with medication. It is a heavy load to carry and I cannot imagine anyone wanting to carry it along with the stigma. Having BPD is exhausting and it preys on every characteristic of who you are. It can be relentless and mean and lead you to believe the evil things it puts in your head. This is not a “chosen” illness…I never asked for this. Who would?
Risa is mommy to a fabulous 6-year-old girl and wife to an amazing husband. She has lived in Boston, New York City, and now lives in Central CT. She has an MSW from Fordham University and a BA from Columbia University. She was featured in Women’s Health Magazine’s May 2016 issue regarding mental health and was a panelist on AOL Build discussing the effects of stigma on those with mental illness. She has written for Huffington Post, Psych Central, Keshet, The Mighty, Bring Change 2 Mind and Stigma Fighters and on her own blog, sillyillymama.blogspot.com.