What is BPD? To be honest I’m not sure myself but it’s a diagnosis I’ve been given and so I’ve been trying to find out more. According to MIND, BPD is a type of personality disorder – a mental health problem where your attitudes, beliefs and behaviours cause you longstanding problems in your life. Although I was only officially diagnosed aged 19, I have experienced many of these symptoms from an early age and researching them now I have had many ‘ohhh… that explains a lot’ moments. There are many symptoms but I’ve chosen those that resonate most with me:
You have very intense emotions that last from a few hours to a few days and can change quickly. Recognising this as one of the symptoms has helped me make a lot more sense out of my emotions and behaviour. Since I can remember, my emotions always seemed to be more intense than those around me. Sometimes I could be incredibly hyper, laughing, shouting, dancing around as if I didn’t have a care in the world then something seemingly insignificant could cause me to be in the most thunderous bad mood. What I now realise – and one of the traits of BPD – is how easy it is for me to go from 100 to 0 in an instant (or vice versa).
You don’t have a strong sense of who you are, and it can change depending on who you’re with. I think many people who know me well would consider me to be quite opinionated and stubborn and I guess they would be right. However, I tend to find that some of my opinions/morals/general views on the world can easily shift. I could find myself agreeing with my sister over one matter, then having a completely different opinion when discussing the same matter with a friend. Some people may think of it as being fickle, but I’m not pretending to agree with someone, I cannot help the fact that my beliefs genuinely shift and it can be hard for others (and even myself) to fully understand.
You act impulsively and do things that could harm you. Impulsivity has been a major issue I’ve been working on, especially in the last year. I found myself having the urge to act recklessly, often landing myself in a sticky or dangerous situation. This links very closely with the next symptom of having suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviour. Often my self-harming behaviours can be very impulsive and there’s often a short chain of events that go something like: internal or external trigger, causing very strong intense emotions such as hopelessness. Then feeling like I can’t possibly cope so I have to do something to relieve it, leading to self-harm. Suicidal behaviour can come about from impulsivity too, however, in the past, some suicide attempts have been planned after weeks, months or even years of instability with my emotions.
When very stressed, sometimes you might:
- have psychotic experiences, such as seeing or hearing things other people don’t.
- feel numb or ‘checked out’ and not remember things properly after they’ve happened.
Both of these symptoms first occurred when I was in the Psychiatric Hospital. I remember one night I walked past a girl I didn’t recognise crying on the floor of the corridor, but when I looked back she seemingly vanished. Just after my first discharge I heard voices which seemed to be narrating what I was doing. It was scary to say the least and the lack of help and empathy I received when I told the nurses didn’t help. Since being out of hospital I fortunately haven’t experienced hallucinations but I have been ‘checked out’. I had an incident in my second week at day hospital which involved me being blue lighted to the general hospital where I also harmed myself further, but I have absolutely no recollection of those events.
Experiencing all of these symptoms and more, it is easy for me to start feeling like I’m ‘crazy’ or that I’m never going to lead a normal life. However, I am starting to do all the things other people my age enjoy. I’m going out again, seeing my friends, I’m even hoping to start a part time job in the next few weeks. Things are hard but they are looking up, I have intense therapy for the next year to help and I’m slowly but surely getting my shit together. So yes, BPD can make daily life a challenge; but no, I will not let it stop me from being me.