***This has been a hard piece for me to write, and writing it has triggered a lot of emotions for me. To tell my story I can’t skip it, but be prepared for deep emotional trauma, self harm, and suicide ideation. If you fear you might be triggered yourself, please proceed with caution.***
Borderline personality disorder is defined as “a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing mental instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning” (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml). The name is kind of misleading as it comes from the notion that those with the disorder live on the ‘borderline’ of neurosis and psychosis. People with BPD often act impulsively and form unstable relationships. They also tend to struggle with anxiety, depression, feelings of abandonment, self-harm, and suicide ideation.
When you put all of that together, you get a person who desperately wants to feel loved, but is plagued by thoughts of their own worthlessness. You NEED the people around you to validate who you are because you can’t trust your own perception of yourself. Your neediness causes you to feel like a burden on the people you love, and it starts to feel like you deserve pain and abandonment, and maybe it would be better to just kill yourself and remove the problem once and for all.
I know how dramatic that sounds, but you have to understand that it’s not a rational thing. You can have a great life on the surface, but the voices in your own head tell you that you don’t deserve it and that you WILL lose it all. You’re an imposter, you’re just going to let everyone down and they will all leave you in the end, once they realize what a loser you really are. And no matter how hard you try to explain yourself and your feelings, no one will ever understand why you are the way you are. Your own mind is your worst enemy. It’s fucking terrifying and confusing and it’s either hide from the world or die, because dealing with other people is just too overwhelming when you can’t even handle yourself.
But death is scary and being alive means you have no choice but to deal with other people, so you’re just stuck.
This is the predicament I’ve been in since I was 14. 14 year old me was a mess. I’m still a mess, but now I’m more like an overflowing garbage can compared to the dumpster fire that I was at 14. I was too young to understand that I was even in crisis, let alone figure out how to get through it. I was deeply depressed, felt isolated from my family, and had been let down by religion. I didn’t really have many friends, and I didn’t know how to open up to the people who would tolerate my company.
I was in constant battle in my own mind, trying to convince myself of my redeeming qualities. I needed a more reliable source than myself to confirm my self-worth, but I didn’t have one. The few friends I had were easily impressed, though, so I found myself engaging in attention-seeking behaviors to keep them laughing. Shoplifting, flashing cars, and going up to random people and telling them I loved them became my norm. I had no shame, I would do whatever to get a rush, to feel ALIVE.
When my friends laughs weren’t enough to keep me going, I started having sex. Anything to feel like I was loved and had something to offer someone else. This opened me up to new levels of emotional distress, and it wasn’t long before I was drinking to cope. It didn’t make the pain go away, but it made easier to forget about it for awhile.
I let myself be used up physically and emotionally because I so badly needed love. I put myself into situations where all manner of things could have happened to me. I would have given anything for someone to have stepped in and told me that I was being self-destructive, that there was a better way, to offer me guidance. But the only instruction I got was from people telling me to ask God for help. As far as I could tell, God was the voice in my head telling me what a failure I was, so that really didn’t help at all.
When I was 15 I was raped. I don’t like to talk about it, but an older guy I barely knew took advantage of me and made me do some shit that I was really uncomfortable with. What was worse than the violation was the feeling that I couldn’t tell anyone. I blamed myself; it was me that put me in that situation, and it was me who was inherently flawed and only good enough to be used and tossed aside.
I isolated further and started cutting. I DESERVED pain and punishment, and the rest of the world virtually ignored me. I thought of suicide often. It seemed like the only escape from the constant emotional torture I was experiencing. I would drink and lay in the middle of the road in the dark, hoping someone would just run me over and the warmth of the concrete beneath me would be the last thing I would ever feel. One night I drank a fifth of vodka and took maybe a dozen Tylenol P.M. I was ready to be done with this heartless world. I was PISSED when I woke up, but I was scared to try again so I was stuck with being alive.
This isn’t a story with a happy ending. No one came to my rescue. No one took me under their wing or offered me answers to all of my questions. But this isn’t the end of the story, either, so something must have changed, right?
I fell in love.