understanding my BPD
For a long time I truly did not understand why I am the way I am, I couldn't understand why my mood swings were so severe, why I was so impulsive, irrational and unstable a lot of the time. I didn't get why I seemed to come across violent and harmful to others when I was going through an explosive episode of anger, because I am a caring and empathetic person who loves unconditionally. I've lived my life overwhelmed by the strength of my own emotions and how quickly they change, feeling that there has been something wrong with me and that it's always MY fault that bad things happen to me because I deserve them. My world is extremely black and white but also full of frequent change, whether thats hobbies, goals, ambitions, studies, obsessions. Why did I feel things so much more strongly than other people? Why was everything so extreme? I found myself developing an eating disorder and am spending a significant amount of my life binge eating to the point where it becomes unbearable for my mind to cope. I find myself making frantic efforts to avoid real or sometimes imagined abandonment. Long story short, I've struggled with distinguishing between real issues and imaginary issues, I feel like I feel things more strongly and deeply than what is 'normal.'
Discovering I had BPD has truly made me understand myself and my brain so much more, I don't feel absolutely mental anymore! I can understand that what I am suffering from is a personality disorder, and I am not this crazy, broken, mess of a human being that I've been telling myself for such a long time that I am.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an often misunderstood mental illness, which causes significant emotional instability. People who suffer from BPD have a distorted sense of generally accepted social norms, this in a lot of cases leads them to behave in ways which others may see as irrational and also disrupts trust and co operation with other people.
A study published in the journal 'Biological psychiatry' a team led by Anthony C Ruocco analysed data from 11 previous published studies and confirmed the number of important differences between people with BPD and those without. New research shows that the areas of the brain that would normally help dampen negative emotions are under active, and brain regions that process anger and sadness are overactive in people with BPD. " It's not just that they have too much drive from their emotions, they seem to have less of the 'brakes' to try to curb those emotions and help regulate their intensity." People with BPD can cycle through emotions, usually negative ones, very rapidly. In many cases, people suffering from BPD are also living with other disorders, often substance abuse, depression anxiety and eating disorders. Suffering with keeping stable relationships with others and regulating emotions and thoughts are also very common struggles with someone suffering from BPD.
BPD can affect any gender, age, personality. Here are some facts about the disorder.
6 people out of every 100 (6%) will develop this disorder in his/her lifetime
Men and women are equally affected
10% commit suicide
50- 80% have substance abuse disorder
15-30% of those suffering from substance abuse disorder have BPD
Stigmas VS Facts of BPD:
STIGMA- There is no such thing as BPD.
FACT- BPD is a pattern of behaviour and symptoms that can be recognized by trained professionals.
STIGMA- BPD cannot be treated.
FACT- The disorder can be treated by psychological treatments.
STIGMA- People with BPD are unbearable.
FACT- Indeed it is difficult to be around someone who is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, you may view this persons behaviour as irrational, selfish and out of control but they CAN be treated,
STIGMA- People with BPD are attention seekers.
FACT- Sufferers of this illness have unstable emotions which can make them be extreme, but there is no intention to harm or manipulate. If someone is using extreme behaviours it's not to get your attention, its often their unhealthy ways of coping with their overwhelming feelings.
Symptoms of BPD:
You cannot diagnose yourself with BPD, this is just a list of common symptomns and ones that I have experienced. If you feel that any of these are familiar get in touch with your GP or contact someone about mental health.
- Extreme fear of abandonmet
- Intense and rapid mood swings
- Impulsive and risky behaviours
- Strong and explosive anger
- Suicidal thoughts / self harming
- Unsure sense of self
I can only describe my experience with BPD as extremely tiring. It's a daily wrestle full of a hell of a lot of confusion. It's quite scary to be so unpredictable. Its spirals of self doubt and hatred, I find unhealthy ways to distract myself from feeling painful overwhelming feelings, I am often in disbelief things are as good as they are as I feel I do not deserve it. It hurts those that are close to you, my nearest and dearest have suffered SO much because of my disorder, I can be unbearable to be around, I can be extremely rude and abrupt, I can be extreme and unfair, I am so insecure that others have to suffer with my constant fear of abandonment which can understandably get very draining. I feel so intensely, sad isn't just sad for me, its rock bottom, and happiness is not simply happiness, it's the greatest high. My changing moods can seem extremely conflicting for anyone who knows me, and trust me when I say I know its frustrating because most of the time I cannot make sense of it either. However, I will not let my illness define who I am, it explains an awful lot of why I AM the way that I am, but it is still part of who I am. I refuse to only see the negativity in my disorder. I feel everything so strongly all the time which makes me exhausted and miserable, but it also has given me the ability to be extremely passionate. I am empathetic, I am loyal and I am compassionate and kind. My life is intensified because of my BPD, but I am learning that through all the negatives this disorder may bring to my life, I can learn to love parts of my BPD. I shall force myself to experience the best parts as well as the bad. BPD allows me to love the hardest, and to dive deeper into my emotions. As a result of my own hypersensitivity and pain, I can show a lot of empathy and understanding to others. I live free and I am open minded, I have a strong sense of awareness and curiosity. I am interesting, sometimes I don't know what I want and that's totally okay, it makes me more likely to experiment with new things. I love with my whole heart, I always wear my heart on my sleeve. I love truly and deeply, I pour myself into any relationship I see is worthy, I care so profoundly and will never give less than 100% in my relationships and friendships and that is something I would never want to change about myself.
"I still get very high and very low in life, I've accepted the fact that sensitive is just the way I was made, I don't have to hide from it, I don't need to fix it because I am not broken."
I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, because of you I didn't give up. I want to teach you to love parts of yourself that all you've ever known to do is hate, I want you to get excited about who you are and what you are. I want to show you that you are going to get so much further than where you are right now. I want to show you that despite how many times you have shattered or failed, you're growing into the best version of yourself, living learning and loving. I want to challenge you and your thoughts and help you find your voice and your power. There are SO many times where I could have quit, I could've ended everything, I could've put all my pain to rest and stopped fighting, but I didn't and I'm here and I'm living breathing proof that YOU are so much stronger than you know, you are special unique and wonderful. You have been put on this earth to shine and let that be your intention when you wake up every morning. My life right now still has a lot of work, I have a ton of work left to do on myself to allow myself to live a healthier happier life, but I am getting there. Recovery is a slow and steady process, embrace it. Every part of this is making you stronger, and more understanding of who you are as a person.
You should never be ashamed of your illness, the same way we wouldn't be ashamed to have a broken leg, why should we be embarrassed of our suffering minds. My mental illness is a part of me, self love is a part of my recovery, talking about my illness makes me feel empowered not ashamed, I won't let it destroy me. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not be sorry for being mentally unwell, it is okay not to be okay.
I am going to finish my first post here with a list of things I do for self care when I am having an episode of extreme anger/sadness/frustration etc, I hope this will reach someone who needed to read something like this today, I hope like I said this page can be a secure safe place for you to come if you are feeling scared alone or upset. Please know help is always near. <3
Self Cope Strategies:
- Create a mood diary - Become aware of your emotions, understand why and how you are feeling this way, this may help you find out your triggers and help you prevent yourself from these negative emotions.
- Online support- There is SO much online support! You truly are never alone if you have the internet. There are tons of support groups, online chat rooms etc that can always help soothe you if you are feeling distressed.
- Speak up - Talk to someone. A friend, a family member, a random person from a support group online. A few years ago I chatted with people online who were also suffering with severe depression, we helped lift each other. My mother always told me a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking about things and getting things of your chest will most likely make you feel better.
- Reading - In the past month I have hit one of my lowest points ever, luckily for me I am getting treated with great groups and therapy, however I cannot speak to my therapist 24/7 and when I am in times of crisis I find reading extremely helpful. I recommend books on mindfulness, radical acceptance, self acceptance and any sort of mental wellbeing books, there's a ton of free ones on iBooks and loads on amazon etc.
Emma Lucy xxx