This post was written and submitted by Chloe – a reader of this website looking to share her experience.
Living with a mental illness of any kind is a horrible struggle that most of us experience at any one point in our lives. It can be something that is very difficult to be open about because of the stigmas that surround mental illness. I feel proud everyday to see people open up about their mental health and say “hey I have/have had a mental illness and that’s okay”. But there are some illnesses that are more stigmatised than others.
I’m here to talk about what it’s like to live with a controversial mental illness. I was diagnosed last year with EUPD/BPD, otherwise known as emotionally unstable Personality Disorder or borderline personality disorder. For the duration of the post I’ll just refer to it as BPD. Medical professionals in the uk are trying to steer away from that name and prefer to call it EUPD but as someone with the diagnosis when I call it by that name I feel like it just screams “IM EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE” which can feel a little demeaning and insulting.
I once saw someone describe having BPD as being like the “emotional version of a burn victim” and I honestly don’t think anything describes it more perfectly. If you’ve ever experienced a burn of any kind, you’ll know how painful it is whether it requires medical attention or not. It’s very sensitive to touch, much like my emotions. Everything hurts me more than it seems to hurt other people, and that in itself is a difficult concept to grab for someone with BPD.
I won’t delve too much into detail about my childhood or my past as I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to discuss how my BPD affects me now. For what it’s worth I had quite an okay childhood, a stable family home and a good upbringing. The only thing that screwed me over was bullies, but I don’t feel they affect my life too much right now. However, I do understand how they can have contributed towards my mental illness and the way my brain processes things now, but I don’t think that is the cause of my BPD. I’m living proof that BPD doesn’t need to affect people who’ve experienced trauma, much like people assume.
I’m going to first discuss relationships as I feel that is the thing my BPD fucks up for me most. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful boyfriend right now and a fabulous relationship but it’s not always as great as it looks behind closed doors due to my illness, and it’s also taken a long time for me to find someone who understands me and my illness and doesn’t take advantage of me. I was never great with boys. From a young age I’ve felt I wasn’t good enough and that no boy would ever truly want me. As I got into my late teens and starting dating properly, I noticed I fell quite hard for people. If you have a stable relationship, that’s no problem. Sometimes it’s nice knowing you love someone with your whole being and want to give them the world. But when you’re in a “kind of relationship” you’re asking for trouble. I’m not sure what was worse; loving someone you always knew didn’t love you back, or the emptiness and feeling of abandonment when they left.
Due to so many relationships like this and my illness, I suffer badly with abandonment issues. If you’ve ever had a small doubt in your head that your partner might leave you, multiply that by 1000 and imagine feeling it everyday. That’s what it’s like for me being in a relationship and having BPD. Therefore it makes my relationships extremely difficult and I need someone who has patience and understanding.
Alongside abandonment issues, I also struggle to find a sense of who I am. I feel I don’t belong anywhere. Looking back, I’ve always fleeted between different friend groups because I’ve never felt like I fit in with anyone. I’m a bit of a lost spirit. Along with that comes feeling empty. That’s something people with BPD feel quite often. You either feel all emotions very intensely or you feel nothing at all but chronic emptiness.
This makes it very hard to figure out what you want from life. Do I feel empty when they show me emotion because I no longer love them or is this just my BPD again?
Since my diagnosis last year, things have started to make some more sense for me. I sometimes act impulsively, doing things I wouldn’t normally do. Things I sometimes didn’t even know I wanted to do, but did them anyway out of impulse. A lot of my suicide attempts have been from impulse. A lot of my self harm has also been out of impulse. Impulsivity probably doesn’t sound that severe but when it ends you up in hospital, it makes you realise how dangerous it is. I sometimes couldn’t understand why I was doing these things at the time. “I haven’t planned or thought about killing myself, so why did I just attempt suicide?” It didn’t make sense until I received my diagnosis.
Despite all of these things that I struggle with on a daily basis, if you know me or you spoke to me, you wouldn’t even know I was struggling. People with BPD get a lot of bad stigma. They’re branded as attention seekers and being manipulative, but I know many people with this illness and have never met one that would meet those descriptions. Sufferers of BPD do not do these things for attention, they don’t even realise they are doing these things most of the time. It is also very difficult for us to receive help as we are stigmatised by medical professionals too. But I’m here to encourage people to speak out about this illness, help people with this illness and break the stigma surrounding it and other mental health problems.
Surround yourself with friends and people who understand and accept you for you, and learn to accept yourself. It’s hard finding out you have an illness and knowing there’s so much stigma attached to it, but don’t let that detach you from who you are. If you ever want to talk about my experience or think you might be suffering yourself, contact Sammi to let her know you wanna speak to me and she can hit me up with your details. I’m more than happy to help anyone or give out anymore info if I can.
Thank you so much WFAD for letting me share this story with others, and for helping others by sharing these stories about domestic violence and mental health.