Nothing Has Changed But Everything is Different by Davs

By July 12, 2016Blog

Three weeks after my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) I sit alone in my studio apartment hovering my finger over my keyboard. My screen set to Google search. I’m hesitant to type, terrified of learning what behaviors I display that are the result of this new, to me, mental illness.

I was diagnosed with bipolar in 1993. I was so young that I never had a grieving period for the person I thought I was pre-illness, I had not yet gotten to the point of defining myself. Throughout the years, I’ve lived my life through the lens of someone who is bipolar. It is not who I am, but a distinctly undeniable part of what makes me me. It never scared me because it was always there.

I struggle with Agoraphobia, I have PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. But this (BPD) feels different. All of the mentioned illnesses I’ve acquired were undeniable and obvious when they struck. When I became ill with each new disorder I still knew who I was, I still understood my own triggers, ticks, and quirks. I was still there, sometimes barely recognizable, but I never lost hold of this basic understanding I’ve formed about who I am as a unique, individual person.

Borderline Personality Disorder is not blatantly obvious, if you do not know the hallmarks to look for. It’s a lot like bipolar, not in all the symptoms, but in the stigmas. People generally understand anxiety and rarely fault you for it. PTSD is widely talked about and almost never seen as a personal fail. Agoraphobia, is basically the need to isolate, or fear of public spaces, again, not seen as a personal fail. Borderline though, like bipolar, comes with a lot of assumption and judgment. They are both often misunderstood and treated as a personality flaw.

This new diagnosis makes me feel like I don’t know anymore, who I am. I learned for the first time in over twenty years that there are behaviors I show that are the result of an illness that I know nothing about. I could not stop crying when I got home from seeing my therapist who confirmed what my boyfriend had suspected and even researched for six months prior. He kept saying, in hopes to comfort me “nothing has changed, you’re still the same person you were before the diagnosis” but, what I could not put into words was that, maybe nothing has changed, but everything is different. I may still be the person I was five, ten, even fifteen years ago, but how I think of myself has shifted. I feel upside down, as though the grasp I thought I had, of my own identity, was false. As if I have to relearn what and why I act the way I do, and learn new ways to cope, deal, or curb actions I thought were under my control, or in the very least within my understanding.

I reached out to someone I trust, who in an attempt to comfort me advised that I pay no attention to the new diagnosis. As if ignoring it would somehow make everything ok. I would love to ignore it, but this is not something I can unlearn. Now that it is confirmed, that I have this illness, it is my responsibility to understand it, because how else can I get better or learn to navigate myself if I deny the root of my behaviors?

I don’t know. I like to wrap up my writings like a present, you untie the bow, open the box, and have some sort of satisfactory ending like a shiny new toy. But today, it’s like I didn’t have time to buy wrapping paper. So here it is, in a paper bag, the price tag still hanging off the side. I don’t have an easy way to end this post because I am still grieving for a perception of myself that is now gone. Maybe next time I will have had a revelation, good news, a shiny new toy. But for now all I have to give is the truth, and it isn’t pretty.


  • Maria says:

    I thank you for being brave enough to share your story. Please know that you will inspire so many people to do the same. You are not alone in this journey. Stay strong.

  • Shirley Jo L says:

    I suffer from the disorders you mentioned. It is so hard. Next to impossible without a suport system. Sometimes I just want to give up. Often actually. Two months ago I once again tried to commit suicide. Once again I wasn’t successful. Thank God. I hope you do well. Education is the key. Or at least helpful. Good luck to you my friend.

  • Marylou says:

    Everyone experiences growth and thus new horizons whether they have mental illness or not. You are correct that you need to embrace this dx, learn about it as it relates to YOU, and figure out how to incorporate this new understanding into your awareness and life. I hope you can integrate this new information in a way that helps you better understand your emotions and rise to another leg on your life’s journey.

  • Carrie N says:

    I have suffered from depression since childhood (I am 46). I have anxiety disorder. Recently I had an episode that triggered me to cut for the first time in more than 25 years. My therapist has suggested that I may have BPD, although he is waiting until I’m stable before evaluating. I reacted much like you did. I have been comfortable with my depression diagnosis and am getting familiar with the anxiety and panic attacks, but BPD feels much scarier. Mental illness is so prevalent, but also so ugly. At least to me.

  • Gretchen says:

    you is what you is = the whole package as one…hang tough

  • Marina says:

    I was diagnosed almost a year ago and I understand the mourning period. On the one hand it was some measure of relief to have an explanation for why it was that I suffered so much and so deeply, and on the other hand I wept because I was something different now, and there was no going back. I’d like to say it gets easier, in some ways perhaps it has, but I think it’s more accurate to say that as time passes my life with BPD becomes “less hard.” The skills I’ve learned through DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) have helped tremendously with my coping skills and destructive urges, but it’s taken a lot of practice. A lot of times it feels like I’m learning to be a “different person,” and on my good days it feels like I’m getting closer to the person I was always meant to be: at peace, less afraid, less sad, and kinder to myself.

    The stigma and labels we’ll encounter will hopefully dissipate in time, but I’m pretty sure they’ll always hurt. I hope that by speaking out and starting to talk openly about mental illness we’ll be able to reshape the world into a place in which my children, should they inherit any aspect of my mental illness, won’t have to be afraid or ashamed of who they are. I hope the same for you.

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