*This article is not made for individuals to self-diagnose or diagnose others by any means. If you think you may have a mental illness, please contact a professional*
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized as "a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions. It is marked by impulsivity/impulsive actions typically beginning in early adulthood. BPD is not to be confused with bipolar (I/II) disorder, otherwise known as (BP).
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when I was eighteen years old. I had no idea what it was or what that meant at the time, but it was very confusing. After I researched extensively, it began to make sense, but I was left with emotions of embarrassment, shame, and fear. BPD can be very debilitating as it creates a severe fear of abandonment, makes it hard to control impulses and emotions, and sets up an unsteady or unstable sense of self and identity. Maintaining close, interpersonal relationships is hard, as those with BPD do something called "splitting." Splitting is a phenomenon where individuals with BPD view others in black in white. In other words, they shift quickly from idealization to devaluation. One minute they can think a person is perfect and would never hurt them, and in a split moment, they can go to thinking that the same person hates them and is only trying to harm them.
This is the brain's way of trying to stay protected. Someone who has BPD is constantly in a mode of hypervigilance, which is their tendency to constantly be on alert while looking for threatening information in the environment. We are still learning a lot about BPD and why it is formed, but it is known that it has a lot to do with trauma. Those with BPD have suffered through a traumatic event or past, and in response, the brain has tried forming a defense to fend off any future emotional pain or trauma. This may be the reason why BPD individuals feel a sense of emptiness at times. The emotional impact is too much for the brain to handle, so it is almost like it is wired to turn off to keep itself safe.
Again, it is hard to form and keep close relationships because of these defense mechanisms that are constructed and hard to control. We feel like we have to push people away to avoid being abandoned because at least then the situation seems to be under our control. The fear of abandonment can become so intense that we may say things we do not mean. This causes us to later self-loathe and mentally beat ourselves up because of these actions. It is a vicious cycle because our actions do not reflect how we truly feel, and it makes us feel like we are desperately trying to have control over ourselves, but nothing we do works. It feels like a constant battlefield in our own minds.
Personality disorders like BPD are some of the most misunderstood and looked down upon of mental illnesses. People hear the word "personality" and automatically think there must be something severely wrong with us or that the disorder makes up who we are. This is so unfortunate because we are not our disorder. We may have gone through more traumatic events and situations than the average person, but that does not make us bad people. I have said this in many of my articles, but I will say it again. It does not make us "bad" or "scary" it makes us strong. Our brain has changed to compensate for the trauma and emotional pain we have been through. We are still here despite all we have gone through, and we have to constantly fend off our negative thoughts and emotions so our impulses can remain under control. It is exhausting feeling like you have to fight with your own mind, but that is the reality.
We are strong for being able to manage the symptoms that stem from BPD and we are strong for even experiencing them. Having BPD is not a walk in the park and I would never wish it upon anyone, but I will always advocate for the members of this community, and I will advocate for the members of the mental health community as a whole. Advocating includes informing others and speaking out about what it's like. No, it is not easy talking about my personal experiences but it is necessary for me to cope, move on, and be able to help others with similar situations, and that is what I will continue to do.