Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image and behavior, displaying most commonly as unstable relationships, moods and outlooks on the world. Around 1.4% of the adult U.S. population is thought to experience BPD, with 75% of cases being women.
I didn’t know I was considered mentally unwell. I thought my mood swings fit the stereotypical “teenage girl” narrative. I would have depressive episodes that could last hours to days to weeks but always blamed it on my hormones. It seemed the slightest fight with my friends, inconvenience or challenge would make me spiral into depression. I went from being an honor roll student to barely being able to get out of bed or find the motivation to do my homework. My grades began to slip, relationships became difficult to maintain, and I found myself being my only company. I was able to distract myself from my ever-changing emotional status by creating a structured schedule for myself that included exercise, schoolwork and socialization. I still had bad days, but I was able to function enough to survive.
When coronavirus hit, the productive routines I had built for myself crumbled. My life no longer had a structure, and I felt out of my control. My emotions became more volatile. Bursts of manic episodes lead to online shopping binges, while depressive episodes wouldn’t let me do anything productive for days. I felt lost. I knew everyone around me was going through the same stress, but it felt like my world was crumbling past the point of return. I decided to start therapy in April— a decision I credit with saving my life.
I confided to my therapist the emotional roller coaster I had been on for the past 20 years that was heightened by COVID—constant fear of abandonment, unstable relationships and dissociation were the biggest indicators I was struggling with BPD. Finally hearing there was a label for what I had felt for so many years has allowed me to start working with my diagnosis to live the best life possible.
Creating some sense of normalcy and routine has been vital. By getting daily chores, homework and exercise done, I know BPD does not have to define how I live. I’ve expanded my trust in relationships to trust people’s intentions. Especially during COVID, this has been important to my well-being.
For a long time, I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone about the challenges I had. But gradually, I began to understand that I could risk trusting my friends with this information about my life. Not everyone understands what BPD is about. Some people still don’t believe that it’s a real thing. But most of my friends have listened, and even if they don’t really grasp what BPD is like, they at least listen. Once they know that I’m not just a moody b*tch, they try to be supportive. This has made a huge difference for the better in my life.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 800-273-TALK (8255) If you or someone you know is in crisis—whether they are considering suicide or not—please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.