People talk about depression and, sometimes, bipolar and OCD and eating disorders and schizophrenia but hardly anyone talks about BPD. It’s the murkiest part of the murky waters of mental health. If you’re lucky, you’ll get people who think that personality disorders are on the spectrum of sociopaths and psychopaths. That we are heartless and, potentially, murderous. No-one on the street has an understanding of BPD. Some professionals don’t even have an understanding of it. It has a kind of shame attached to it, a stigma that isn’t tackled as furiously as the stigma of other mental illnesses. It is marginalised. It is in the background. Sufferers are treated badly both by society and medical professionals. They are called manipulative and abusive, attention seeking and violent. This is not the truth. Would you like to know the truth?
I have BPD. I was diagnosed in 2008. I have suffered wild mood swings. I have reached dizzying highs, when I can do anything, when I am invinsible, when the air is alive with electricity. On the other hand, I have reached they very bottom of the pit of depression, when I feel so sad I can’t move, when I’ve spent hours sitting by rivers, begging a God I don’t even believe in, to give me the courage to drown myself.
I have self-harmed to the extent of needing fifty plus stitches in one go. I have gone through periods where I’ve spent literally weeks at a time going to emergency rooms. I have drank bleach and cleaning chemicals to ‘cleanse’ my insides. I have overdosed more times than I care to remember. I have been reckless and impulsive, not knowing what I want but knowing I want it NOW. I have drank to excess and snorted cocaine with a stranger I met at the train station.
The reasons for it? I guess I should mention those. I don’t even know all of them. My memory is poor but I remember some things. I have suffered multiple sexual assaults. I have tried to cut my breasts off, I have had flashbacks and nightmares so bad that I have dissociated for days at a time, to the point of walking in front of a bus.
I have been psychotic, hearing voices, seeing terrible things, feeling bugs beneath my skin and having thoughts planted inside my head. I have been too scared to watch the television for fear that it can communicate with me.
I am terrified of losing people yet I push them away. I become irrational and delusional. Desperate. I have lost friends because of my illness. Because of my inability to stop being self-destructive.
I have been hospitalised more times than I can remember, sometimes under the threat of being sectioned. All in all, I have spent months of my life on psychiatric wards, I have been injected with antipsychotics and been watched whilst going to the toilet and in the shower.
I have had countless therapists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers. I spent nearly two years in DBT (the specialised treatment for BPD) and nearly lost what was left of my mind in the process.
And you know, this isn’t the end of it, because I have (more or less) recovered. I no longer use destructive behaviours. I am more in control of a lot of things. But that’s not the end of it, either. I will be living with this illness for my whole life. I take my pills, have my injections, go to therapy, but it’s just lurking in the background, ready to pounce.
When I was eighteen I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, another ‘life sentence’, again I have recovered, again it is still lurking in the recesses of my mind.
I have dropped out of university several times. I have never had a job. The only relationships I’ve had have been abusive. I don’t know how to trust. I don’t know how to function. I don’t know how long I’ll be ‘well’. Relapse is always only a bad day away.
It makes me furious that a condition that has robbed me of so much, is so misunderstood, ignored, stigmatised. It deserves to be heard. We deserve to be loved and accepted, despite ourselves. I have never (intentionally) hurt another person. I have got bad and said shit that I’ve regretted but deep down, my intentions are always good.
It is possible to recover. It is possible to stop hurting yourself. You will be okay. I will be okay. Maybe not every day but some days, maybe even most days, I WILL BE OKAY.
So, that’s why I’ve said my bit l, so you can say to someone out there on the street ‘I know someone with BPD and they’re [insert something positive]’