The Borderline Monster
People suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder are frequently portrayed as monstrous, manipulative people prone to violent outbursts and extreme mood swings. Sadly I see so much of myself in this stereotype that it’s hard to defend or deny it, but I am fighting hard to tame this monster in myself, although I am still struggling.
My BPD manifests mostly in anger or crippling depression. Episodes typically last a few hours, normally triggered by something as simple as me breaking a plate. What to some would be a minor annoyance, can turn into a metaphor for my own perceived failings. I broke a plate so I am a clumsy, useless partner, an unfit mother. If I can’t even wash up without breaking something how can I possibly raise a child? Why would my partner want to waste his time with such a useless person? Suddenly I find myself fighting back tears and thoughts of using the broken shards to relieve the anger I feel towards myself spring into my mind. Lately I am able to resist these urges, but they are never fully gone.
To someone with the ability to think rationally I’m sure this sounds ridiculous, but this is my life. Of course some days are better than others, some days I’m sure I could drop a whole stack of plates and laugh it off, another time I could cry, or even become so overcome with rage I find myself slamming my fist onto the cupboard door until the white hot blinding anger subsides. I think this is part of what makes BPD such a difficult illness to understand, as something that is a non event one day can be the trigger for a severe episode another.
The flip side of this is happiness and is intensely strong too. I can get manically over excited about the little things, often getting carried away and impulsive. Love is fast, burning and breathtaking, I fall hard and often messily, often staying in unhealthy and volatile relationships long after problems start. It took me a long time to realise the intense bouts of love I felt didn’t mean we were ‘meant to be together’. My current relationship is my longest and by far the most stable, he is father to my child and almost impervious to my BPD bullshit. He picks me up in my darkest times and he is worthy of the love I feel for him, even if my disorder exaggerates my emotions. Even though we have been pushed to the breaking point many times we have always come through stronger, and the happy times we have together are just as intense as the dark ones. I think if it wasn’t for that I would have given up, so I can only be thankful.
Life isn’t all manic highs and rock bottom lows with violence outbursts scattered in-between though. A lot of the time is spent in a haze of ‘flat’. The persistent non – emotion that plagues the majority of my hours, pierced by momentary ups and downs like a minutes joy at my sons first smile or a fleeting flood of tears at a bad memory that rears it’s ugly head, gone almost as soon as they begin when the ‘flat’ feeling washes over again.
I’ve spent a long time fighting my mental health, burying my head in the sand, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain or sometimes just to feel something at all. There was a time when I used to think I couldn’t feel happy without relying drugs like MDMA to create that feeling, but I know now that hiding from the emotional dysregulation of BPD just exacerbates the symptoms, and the depression I felt was more likely caused by the reckless lifestyle I was living.
I’m not fighting my illness anymore, or at least not fighting it’s existence. I’m on the waiting list for DBT and other psychotherapies proven successful in treating and controlling BPD and where I gave up before, I now have have a reason to carry on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am going to find it.
I will tame my borderline monster.