I’ve spent most of my life in various levels of a struggle that was invisible to nearly everyone but me; a hell that only I could hear. I didn’t have a definition for this internal war until recently, but it has been a part of me for as long as I can consciously remember.
I’ve always been a little bit “different.” In elementary school, I spent so many days aimlessly wandering around the playground either jumping between groups or being alone. I spent most of middle school being bullied and tormented. As an adult I find that I have very few actual friends at all.
Every phase of my life has been a new hurdle to conquer, a new fire to walk through. Most people find the drive to keep going from their dreams and goals, but I have never had a clear vision of what those are for me. They are constantly changing; I struggle to understand myself. I have simply pushed through each phase hoping that maybe the next thing I try will be meaningful.
I have always pushed myself towards perfection both because I desire validation and recognition, and also because I dread conflict. When things are not perfect or aren’t going the way I planned in advance, I find myself overwhelmed by surges of anger and dismay. I become engulfed in the fire of indignation, ready to watch the world burn or see blood pour through my arms. Sometimes the anger boils over quickly, becoming too intense for the situation and often alarming everyone else as it doesn’t seem to fit.
In high school I actually got suspended and placed in alternative school for a semester due to my anger issues (I wrote that I wanted to kill someone who was bullying me). My desire for perfection also leaves me often set for failure, which fuels my suicidal desires and self destructive behaviors. My anger can send me spiraling into binge eating, consuming large amounts of alcohol, or physically harming myself.
I struggle with trusting others. I usually put on this mask, pretending to be outgoing, happy, and put together. I try to do whatever I feel will get people to like me. I often assume the worst case scenario: the illusion that everyone is constantly judging, and everyone really hates me. I assume that people are nice because they pity me or because they are genuinely good people. I do not think that I deserve these acts of kindness, though:I am a horrible waste of a body on this planet.
Naturally, when you constantly feel like a worthless, empty failure who is incapable of making any sort of lasting connections with people, you start to consider death as the only escape from the hell inside of yourself, to break free of your silent struggle. I have had thoughts of suicide since middle school, possibly even before. I am not always actively suicidal, but thoughts of being dead or wanting to turn off the world flood into my brain frequently. I’ve made a couple unsuccessful attempts to take my life and gotten as far as having an active plan and means to execute the plan at least half a dozen more times.
I have always known that I was “different,” but what I didn’t know is that I am not actually alone at all in my struggles and that there are actually labels for people like me. Borderline Personality Disorder was first recognized in the DSM-III in 1980 as a bona fide psychiatric diagnosis. Although there’s been lots of research into the disorder, it still is often under or misdiagnosed. I personally was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a teen, and initially labeled as MDD, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder as an adult. As I’ve read, researched, and started more intensive treatment, though, BPD has come to the forefront as a diagnosis that fits me best.
There are so many misunderstandings and a major stigma attached to being labeled BPD, but I have decided to embrace the label. For one of the first moments in my life, things make sense through the lens of knowing about BPD. So many positives have fallen into place by simply taking on the diagnosis and analyzing myself. I’ll wear my label proudly and know that I’m also more than a label, diagnosis, illness, or condition. At the end of the day, I am still me and I still have the power to walk any path I choose.
May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. Want to know more about Borderline Personality Disorder? Click here.
Featured image by Oliver Cole from Unsplash.