As I said before, one of the most disheartening things to discover after getting my diagnosis was how little information there is on what it’s like to live with Borderline Personality Disorder from day-to-day.
Welcome to my life
The usual disclaimer, this is just my own experience and understanding, I am in no way a professional. I have several comorbids, most prominently ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. I do also have PTSD, but it’s been under control for the most part and the ways that it affects my life at this point are mainly faulty wiring and memory problems.
In therapy we put a lot of focus into finding the causes of my feelings and actions. Certain things act as “vulnerabilities,” meaning they make me susceptible to my less affective coping skills. That’s shrink talk for bad. These are the things that I do that don’t actually help me, or end up hurting me. The most obvious of these are the ones that leave scars, but I’m learning that there are plenty of other things I do that fall in this category. When I push people away, pick fights, willfully neglect my needs, or purposely trigger myself, I’m not coping affectively. I’m still learning about my vulnerabilities, but I know that alcohol is one of my primary ones. I don’t have problems with addiction, but rather I have to be in a very good mood otherwise I get incredibly depressed and hopeless. Because of this, and other reasons, ours is a reasonably sober household, aside from the occasional celebratory bottle of wine.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride
One of the earmarks of BPD is emotional instability. Some people try to describe it as being an emotional burn victim; every touch feels like a slap. I prefer the simple, it’s like bipolar, but faster. The term and disorder bipolar are more understood than BPD (which isn’t saying much, but still), but instead of the weeks of up or down, a borderliner will feel it in minutes. It’s exhausting. So much so, that I developed a numbness to everything. It makes sense that my brain would do this. I live with chronic physical and emotional pain, so the only way to function is to ignore it. But that doesn’t work long term, and I’m feeling the effects of it daily. I didn’t notice so much of my deterioration that I have several joints that won’t move and now might be at risk of nerve damage, but I don’t know for sure because getting into a doctor to establish care takes a month or so unless you’re really lucky and there’s a cancelation. I can deal with the physical though. What breaks my heart is that when I come home and see my beautiful girlfriend, who I know for a fact I love deeply, sometimes I feel only the whisper of emotional love.
Over my life, it’s proven safer to leech off of the feelings of others instead of having my own emotions. My theory is that this is why I developed into an empath. My own emotions are both unpredictable, and in the past, unacceptable, so it makes sense that my brain would rewire a network to accommodate. Like most maladaptive coping skills, it served a purpose at one point. My intense empathy has kept me out of trouble, and it still makes me a kinder person. Because I not only sense other people’s emotions, but feel them as my own, I’m good at validating and giving advice. This comes at a cost, however. If someone gets angry at me, I tend to fall into a pit of self loathing. Sorting through what is mine, what is someone else’s, and what I feel on someone’s behalf is a task that takes focus and active intent, and it’s exhausting. You would think that because so many of the emotions that I carry aren’t cohesive that it would be easier to sort out which ones are actually mine, but thanks to borderline ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Have I mentioned how draining it is?
Having relationships, platonic, familial, and romantic, with numbed but wildly fluctuating emotions is hard. I want things, but sometimes I can’t tell if I want it or just want to want it. The intense fear of abandonment tells me to do my worst and drive everyone away; we all end up alone anyway, right? Then I remember how lonely I’ve been before and how much better my life is now, and I use any bit of energy I can find to keep the urges at bay.