I was the stereotypical good girl up until 8 years ago. In essence, I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs or have sex. I dressed how the older generation would describe as appropriately. Although my appearance and etiquette was that of a dignified young lady, I was deeply troubled.
There had been a series of damaging incidents over the years, which ultimately lead to my loss of control. Depression approached, unnoticed. Every negative emotion I felt was amplified. I began drinking heavily. Anyone that pushed my buttons the wrong way set off a ticking time bomb. My sexual appetite was that of a nymphomaniac. Regrettably, almost every decision I made was on impulse. I would implode or explode when my emotions consumed me. There were times I didn’t want to live anymore. Life was grim.
Eventually I was admitted into rehab. During the course of my stay I was diagnosed with BPD (borderline personality disorder). You may have heard of the illness. It is a mental health disorder that causes considerable emotional instability within a person and can greatly effect their everyday life.
For years I found it difficult to describe what it’s like to have BPD. I wanted my loved ones to understand that there is more to me than just a raging psycho. But the right words never surfaced. It was during a night of binge watching one of my favourite shows I finally heard them, the words that perfectly illustrated BPD.
“You feel like you could do anything. Be anyone. Beautiful things are more beautiful. Everything’s heightened, you just live more intensely, love more powerfully.”
“Anger becomes rage. When you’re sad, you’re in despair. Grief. Loss. It can cripple you. That’s why so many of us turn our emotions off. It just becomes… Too overwhelming.”
These two quotes are from a popular TV series, The Vampire Diaries. Although the character is explaining what it’s like to be a vampire, this explanation summarises how raw emotions are of someone with BPD, and ultimately how they feel.
When I am consumed by my emotions, there’s no clear cut positive or negative mental state. The light in me shines bright, but at times it can be blinding. The dark in me is vicious, yet it regularly shields my vulnerability. Every emotion ranges from ordinary to chaotic.
Borderline personality disorder is characterised by the following:
- Explosive rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Fear of abandonment
- Feelings of emptiness
- Impulsive behavior
- Self harm and suicide
- Stress induced paranoia or dissociation
- Unstable relationships
- Unstable self image
Not everyone with BPD suffers from all of these symptoms. To what extent it effects their lives depends on how much control they have over the disorder. It is hard to break out of the cycle of destructive behaviour, but I believe it can be done.
Once I was aware of the fact I have BPD, I understood myself better. Although it was a shock to be diagnosed, I no longer felt trapped by my intense emotions and unhealthy behaviour. Over time, I accepted that I have the disorder. I embraced it. Allowing myself to recognise that BPD is part of me, but not what makes me the individual that I am, granted me the power to move forward and take action.
I then explored different ways to manage my emotions. Throwing all of my energy into something constructive, such as writing, painting or exercise, helped chip away any excess energy that would manifest itself into rage or any other negative emotion. Regarding my behaviour, I recognised that not every one of my actions and reactions were solely because I have BPD. Unhealthy external environmental factors also played a big part in my behavior, so removing myself from them gave me a welcome calm within.
I still struggle with BPD, but not to the extent that I use to. Awareness, acceptance and taking action have empowered me to move forward and start taking back control.