My name is Brooke Marie Bridges and I’m struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. First things first, DON’T look it up on the internet. You will certainly find hateful comments about how a “Borderline Ruined My Life” or how evil, manipulative and conniving those who struggle are. The illness I struggle with is so much more nuanced than that. It’s bigger than just saying that we’re all one way or the other and the majority of us are not narcissistic assholes, we are struggling so deeply with emotions that we were never taught how to deal with. There are 256 different combinations of symptoms that’d label someone Borderline, and I want to share my story and how I fit into this seeming “death sentence” diagnosis.
I feel the need to share for many reasons. For one, the purging that comes with it is invaluable. Being able to get everything out into the open is something that I feel is necessary, at least for me. Some people would say it’s oversharing, and in some cases I’d be inclined to agree – but I’m sharing MY story, no one else’s. I’m speaking through my own experiences, my own process, my own pain…in hopes that maybe people out there struggling with the same issues will be able to find solace, find understanding and compassion, and feel somewhat less alone. It has helped me, so I can imagine it’d help others.
A lot of people think there’s some blanketed way that Borderline Personality Disorder looks, or presents itself. I will tell you BPD looks like me, it looks like the mailman, it looks like your 3rd grade teacher, it looks like your mother, your lover…there is no one face of BPD. And within that – there are people who exhibit stereotypically “borderline” symptoms, who may not – or never – be diagnosed. Not because they aren’t in therapy, but because they don’t meet the “criteria.”
So many people have looked at me after I had expressed my hopelessness, or my emotional pain, or how my life just never felt complete and would exclaim: “Well, you shouldn’t feel that way. You’ve got a lot going for you!” And although I do agree, I also know that I’ve always felt like there was something missing and no matter how many things I succeeded in, how many men told me I was the most beautiful person they’d ever met and gave me all of their love and attention, no matter the family members who had told me I had inspired them…after all of that – still, I felt empty and hopeless and lost without any reason to live. Now that I know what’s up with me and I’m aware of and engaging in the treatments that work I’m realizing for the first time that I have the power to change this. I have the power to break this painful cycle, or at the very least make it manageable. And I also know that I am the only one who can accomplish this lifelong task.
I don’t really know how to word this post, or how to format it, and I don’t think I need to. If you don’t know what BPD is – here is the clinical explanation, diagnostic preview, and the symptoms that go along with it:
- Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.
Having BPD is like having an open wound on your entire body. The slightest emotional threat, and I fall into a spiral. Everything hurts, everything is raw and can easily become inflamed, irritated, and infected and once it is, it takes significantly longer to calm me down and to tend to my massive wounds. I have found that through therapy, good nutrition, exercise, and support from my therapist and friends – I have found my way out of that black hole. Sure, I’m still testy, but I’m nowhere near where I was.
Receiving the diagnosis was so many things – for one it was terrifying because it brought up a lot of shame, and a lot of feeling like I’m this “crazy person with no hope” and at the same time it explained so many of my behaviors and my symptoms it gave me something to identify with, something to work with. It gave me an explanation and a place to put my feet, and with that explanation comes ways to work through it all. Don’t be afraid of your emotions, don’t be afraid to seek help. Help is not only out there but it can quite literally change your life.
This journey is going to be long, and it’s far from over, and it will shift and twist and be gut wrenching and exciting and beautiful and terrifying and so many amazing, full, terrible, real things. I’m excited that I didn’t give in to the temptation to just let it all go and sink into darkness. To some extent I had wised up, and I could no longer engage in the behaviors that allowed me to hide and avoid. I’m now feeling floods of emotional pain that I’ve hidden since I was a child and I’m facing it head on with very little experience but a mind and a heart focused on self improvement. A soul that is willing to take it day by day, and sometimes minute by minute, to deal with my emotions and work through them to the best of my ability.
If you’d like to open up more and never had the space to do so – here it is; a place for all of us to enjoy community and to celebrate the fact that our emotions, however irrational, do not make us crazy: they make us human. Go ahead and write a comment!
I’ll talk to you all soon.