Not so long ago I wrote a post regarding my BPD (borderline personality disorder) and it was the first time I’ve made a public declaration of my mental health. I’ve always kept it under wraps, but it was so refreshing to read your responses and know I’ve helped a small few. Since then I’ve been asked questions here and there so I wanted to make this mini Q&A. But before I start I want to express that I’ve come to terms with my disorder to a point where I’m comfortable with it. That doesn’t mean to say I wouldn’t take a cure if it was handed to me. On the other hand there are people who may be at the beginning stages of diagnosis or further along the lines that aren’t as comfortable so please keep that in mind. I also want to say this post isn’t here for you to self diagnose, I highly suggest seeking professional help when it comes to both physical and mental health issues. Please don’t take my opinions/experiences as fact because everyone experiences things different and this is only my viewpoint. I just wanted to answer a few questions to help people understand such an unknown mental health disorder.
What exactly it is?
If you are interested in reading into my experience further please see the original post linked above but here’s a mini summary. It’s kinda hard to explain but it’s basically a disorder that directly affects your emotions; kind of like a daily roller coaster. Not to be confused with bipolar, but it can be similar in some ways. I found a simple web page to show the differences (here). In my case it makes my emotions erratic daily and I have little control over them. Some of the general symptoms can be abandonment issues, unstable/intense relations, self image issues, impulsive behaviours, mood swings, lack of dealing with stress & paranoia. Sounds fun doesn’t it?
How did I know I had it?
I didn’t in particular know I had BPD but from a young age I knew I had something. It took a long process to get to a stage of noticing my symptoms and issues. During my therapy and diagnosis period I read into bipolar and initially discussed that with my therapist but they did express that my symptoms fitted more into the bracket of BPD. I began the process by identifying my issues and expressing them to a professional which enabled us to come to a correct conclusion.
What initial symptoms did I get?
I have to admit I began with more depression like symptoms but after a while I knew there was something more. I wasn’t just feeling negative, I was experiencing both ups and downs. I think the most obvious symptom at the time was my lack of control over my emotions and how often they changed during a 24 hour period. This was the key symptom to diagnosing my disorder.
How did I get diagnosed?
As stated it was a long process from school counsellors, to CAMHS, to adult services. I was in the system for years, It took me coming to terms with myself and my issues to fully express them to a professional. Once I was able to really talk about what was going on; not only in my life but in my head, I was able to get the correct help and diagnosis.
When was I diagnosed? How long did it take?
I’m pretty sure I was about 18 when I got the correct diagnosis. I had a few previously including depression. I was in the system from the age of 14, so as you can see it’s not a quick process. The mental health services don’t want to stick a diagnosis on someone too early because you’re still developing so don’t be disheartened at any stage.
What made me want to get diagnosed?
I don’t think anyone particularly wants to be diagnosed. But in my case I needed to have a correct diagnosis so I could move forward and understand who I truly am. I wanted to understand myself more and this pushed me to keep going through the system.
How did it change my life?
My life hasn’t particular changed in the sense that I’m still the same person. I’ve matured like anyone else but I’ve come to terms with who I am. It helped me develop my sense of self, because I could finally understand what I was feeling and why I was acting certain ways. It made me able to develop coping mechanism and allow the people in my life to understand me too. It has enabled me to live a healthier lifestyle and stop hating the person I was/am.
What are my coping mechanisms for ups/downs?
I am totally rubbish at dealing with myself in a sense. I know how to get through things I guess but I haven’t got my disorder in complete control. The way I deal with the majority of my unhealthy behaviours is accepting them and not allowing them to have any control over me. Essentially that’s the way I gave up self-harm because I stopped giving it power. Once I took back the power, it didn’t have control over me and it reduced it to the point where it’s not a coping mechanism. When it comes to my downs; I now ride the roller-coaster. I accept the fact I can get overwhelmed and have a mini crying sessions and sometimes get angry but I can’t help that. I do pick myself up and brush it off and allow myself to continue functioning without beating myself up. As for my ups, I’m more cautious as I can be reckless and I know it’s only time before it ends. However I also need to enjoy those moments because I am at a happy period and that can only be a good thing, if I deal with it effectively. Everyone is different and some people have really good coping mechanisms but I’m still at an early stage of my recovery so I’m sure I’ll learn more.
What were people’s initial reactions? How do people act around me?
I think initially people didn’t really change their view on me as they grew up around me. They knew my personalty already and loved me for who I am. Getting diagnosed didn’t change me or how I acted so they didn’t have to deal with a new me. Some people don’t know and other’s do. I think it’s easier to be open with people I spend a lot of time with, as I know they are aware of my issues in case I have a wobble. Some people ignore it and let me be and others are more involved in trying to be there throughout. I guess some people have reacted badly but those aren’t people I need nor want in my life so it’s good to weed those out. Don’t panic if people don’t like you for who you are, not everyone will and not everyone has to. That’s life, you’ll find people who adore you even with your quirks!!
How do I function with day to day activities?
I wouldn’t say I function normally, but who really determines what’s normal. I am highly organised to keep myself calm and regulated. I don’t always stick to my plans but having my days mapped out prior keeps me sane. Sometimes I get overwhelmed over the tiniest things, but I can’t help it. Some days I wake up on a complete high and just enjoy my day or get loads done. Sometimes I wake up feeling pretty rubbish but I have to push on because I have a life to get on with. I love routine but it can really tire me out or make me ill when I push myself too much so I have to be careful. I am under constant pressure from myself, so I do wobble rather often but I can’t function without pressure at all. I do have to take breaks every so often just to wind down and it really benefits me. Don’t forget that getting up and doing your daily tasks is enough. Don’t feel like you have to constantly accomplish big things to be successful. Being you, healthy and happy is enough. It’s tiring as hell living with mental health issues and the smallest things are a accomplishment as well as those big triumphs.
Do I have a constant therapist?
I’ve had many therapists, most not to my liking but I’m not currently in therapy. I am currently waiting for a psych appointment to get new medication and hopefully go on a treatment course. Now I’m finally settled, I feel it’s time to try out new treatment!!
Does talking about it help?
In my case yes!! Talking about it like this makes me feel better, because I realise I understand myself better than I think. That doesn’t mean sometimes I just want to say bugger off and leave me be. Sometimes I just want the world to disappear and pretend it’s not real but in reality I have to be open because it doesn’t just affect me. My disorder effects those people close to me so I can’t shut everyone out. Remember you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t feel comfortable. Learn to accept it yourself and get to know you, before trying to explain it!!
How does it affect my personal relationships?
A huge part of my condition is maintaining relationships. I find it hard as hell; it just feels ridiculous sometimes. It’s hard to get why people like/love you when you don’t always feel it towards yourself. I find I cause a lot of unnecessary issues to express my underlying issues and push people away. At the end of the day I don’t want people to leave me but I test them. Really mean right? I find being open and talking through my issues, allowing them to know how I work really helps. They need to understand how I view myself, them and the relationship to make it work. People do get it but they won’t just know how to deal with everything, so tell them what you want/need in different situations. Don’t use your disorder to explain away every negative thing either because sometimes you have to admit you’ve just acted like a dick (mind my language), It’s true though; BPD can explain a lot but it doesn’t define you!!
What’s the best thing about having it? Are there any positives to my disorder?
Very odd question right?? But such a good one because there’s not only bad things. There are good aspects. I may not have full control over my emotions, but guess what I feel so strongly. I feel love ten times more, I may feel low ten times stronger, but imagine all those good emotions. It’s amazing. I’m also highly organised and determined (in my opinion). I don’t think I would be those things without my BPD because it’s shaped me. I’ve grown up with it!!
How do I like to be supported by people around me?
Difficult question so bare with me. Please don’t take this as how you should deal with someone with BPD because we are all very different. I wasn’t initially going to answer this but I thought it was only fair. Here goes, I like people not close to me to kind of ignore my blips. If I’m acting hella stressed or moody leave me be, because at the end of the day you aren’t close enough to me to really made a good impact. When I’m in a royally stinking mood I prefer everyone to back off even Kane, because I’m not nice and that’s not fair on anyone. When it comes to friends it’s all very different. My friends who I’ve grown up with kind of just know me so well they just go with what’s going on. I don’t even know how to explain it but they’ve grown up with me and know me through and through. My new friends are fab at dealing with me. Louise is great at kicking me up the bottom in the nicest way, making sure I know all the rash negative things I’m saying are in the moment and I can do anything I set my mind to. Simeon is great at just letting me experience any mood I’m in and not batting an eyelid. We can laugh about how erratic or moody we are because we both get it!! As for family I think they are the best at pushing buttons which can either really help or get you royally wound up, pushing all those emotions out. Sounds horrid but we all need a good argument and in my case my family kiss and make-up in seconds!! The closer you are to someone the more you recognise the people who love you develop their own ways of getting you through. Kane and I have chatted about when I’m looking for advice, a hug or him to back off. We’ve discussed what to say and what not to say and he is fab and noticing those moods. Hats of to the wonderful people in my life who take me as I am and keep me smiling!! I honestly have the best people surrounding me and couldn’t really do me without them.
I really hope this makes sense to you guys, sometime talking about my disorder seems simple to me but I don’t know how it comes across. If you have any further questions feel free to pop them in the comments and I will try my best to answer. If you want to chat privately feel free to contact me on any of my links or my email 🙂