What is having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) really like?
Today is the third instalment of my series of interviews with people who are diagnosed with BPD, and today’s guest is ASP (name changed to protect the interviewee’s identity).
Firstly, will you introduce yourself?
You can refer to me as ASP. I’m 43 years old. I haven’t worked in almost three years, and I’m fighting for SSDI. I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, BPD, fibromyalgia, and tinnitus, even though I have 100% perfect hearing (on paper). My depression and tinnitus (super loud 24/7) began around 13 years old.
Talk us through your experience with getting your diagnosis. How did you feel about it? Was it difficult to get an official diagnosis? Have you been treated differently by professionals or family/friends since your diagnosis? Does it change how you see yourself?
I was diagnosed with BPD in 2017. I had reached the point in my depression where I believed with all my heart that my depression would NEVER get better. I had given up and ended up on a 36-hour hold that lasted 5 days. That was the first time a psychiatrist had actually seen me turn from angry, sullen, suicidal, desperate, into me… I was the former for about a day an a half. He asked me if anyone had ever told me I may have BPD. No. Never. I also come from a rural area where treatment options are limited… when I looked into it later I discovered that every single symptom and most of the causes applied to me. It was like being given a key. I’ve wondered wtf is wrong with me all my life and now I know. At first, I was really angry because I realized how much trauma and abuse I have endured. I had been gaslighted by my mother mostly that my childhood was perfect and she was a loving mother. Over the last two years, I have put a few things together and even though what I’ve been going through is tough that key I’ve found has given me a new outlook, and the strength to stand up to my abusers. Which are alarmingly many.. so now I’m trying to figure out how to have healthy relationships. I’ve cut ties with all but my son. I feel like I’m starting over with a clean slate. I can now see abusive behaviour and avoid it. I’m learning to choose better people to surround myself with.
Have you undertaken any therapy? If yes, which? And what was helpful/unhelpful about it? Have you learnt any new skills to help you manage your mental health? If you’ve not done any therapy, was that by your choice? Is there a therapy you’d like to try? Why?
I have been through years of therapy. Depression is a symptom of BPD so I spent years treating a side effect and never making progress. I have tried EMDR and cognitive behavioural therapy and I’m taking meds. I haven’t been in therapy for 6 months because I kind of just need to think about everything I’ve been learning about my past and how it’s affecting my present… it’s A LOT. So in ways, I don’t feel therapy is helpful just because I’m still broken. How many years do I need to talk about all this before I’ll be healed? I want to heal but I’m also aware that as a person with BPD I won’t ever think or feel like a “normal person” and that’s really disappointing. I would really love to participate in an Ayahuasca healing ritual just because of what I’ve seen and I believe DMT puts you in touch with your spirit and that combined with therapy could be amazing but I’m not entirely convinced that there’s really that much I can do but manage it.
It has been suggested that medication is not really effective at treating BPD. What is your experience?
I think meds help but don’t offer complete relief. I can still be triggered into what I call an episode but they happen less frequently and I can make better choices about being around people who trigger me.
How does BPD affect your day-to-day life?
I basically don’t leave my house. I only leave if it’s a necessity. Groceries and doctors appointments. Being away from my apartment makes me anxious. So I feel I’ve got a long way to go to be healthy.
What helps you get through the bad times?
I try to take care of myself. I’ve got a dog and a cat to keep me company, and I remind myself how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and have such a great kid.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with the same mental illness as you?
It’s hard for me to give advice because I don’t feel successful or inspiring in any way. I would just say that getting that diagnosis and addressing it is the sooner the better. It took me 30 years and the things I didn’t know royally screwed up my life. But that’s all over now.
Do you have experience with BPD? Maybe yourself, or a loved one? Let me know about your experiences in the comments.