I am not my diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) about a year and a half ago.
It made sense. The National Institute of Health classifies it as a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. I ticked off all the symptoms, but nothing made as much sense as “Feelings of dissociating.”
Things have always felt out of control for me, and when they feel the most out of whack, I truly become confused and then hysterical towards myself, but worse, to those around me. I spew out bitterly, most often not watching my tongue, refusing to stop staring at whoever’s soul as I berate them for being such a cruddy person for x, y, and z. Other times, I cut them no slack and they are hit with ugly curse words. Shitty? Yes. Oftentimes I feel as though I need to stop, but I can’t get my mouth to shut up. I suddenly watch myself from afar.
Before being placed on medication, I noticed that my anger and frustration killed everyone with a stare and sometimes with obvious agitation.
I decided that without medication, the brain injury that came from my eight-day coma was making me more volatile. I become hysterically unpleasant to be around. My moods tended to dictate my actions. More notably, I found that when these hysterics happened, it was as though I was separated from my body and saw myself from up high, with as much space from my eye to a camera lens.
That’s as best as I can describe this symptom that made me aware that a bandage could not cure it all. I decided to get help of my own volition. Quite frankly, there were two instances in which two of my sisters told me separately that I had too many feelings from past abuse. An older sister said, “You need to talk to someone, not me, about it.”
As hard as it was to swallow, I understood.
She too endured too much of the same pain, but she was past that stage. She’d gotten help years past and was unwilling to carry my woes into her life. Who could blame her?
I did need to talk to someone.
I needed a good fight with the wall or therapy. I would’ve been happy with either.
At another time, another sister and I physically fought. I wouldn’t dare get out of bed. She embarked on a YouTube career that year and it was becoming harder for her to express herself openly with me stuck in a bed, lying like a log. I felt glued to the bed with a thick cloud of black smoke whirling around my eyes. It was difficult. Sadness is sticky. I was combative and truly tired of trying.
I know that BPD gets the rap as one of the hardest mental illnesses because we are “manipulative and deceiving,” but once I received my diagnoses, it woke me.
I just knew that the way I dealt with rejection was not normal, my unsteady familial and romantic relationships always ended badly, and my crushing self-esteem issues felt like they were the end of the world.
I embarked on finding a therapist with a background in Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT) skills. According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health, it’s a form of therapy that consists of evidence-based treatment using cognitive therapy. It had great potential to reduce “suicide attempts, deliberate self-harm, inpatient days, suicidal ideation, impulsivity, anger, and global mental health problems.” It allows me to practice potential instances when I lose control of myself while having two or three plans to calm myself, like simple breathing exercises or focusing on the five senses, otherwise known as grounding techniques. For a while, I thought focusing on things I could see, hear, feel, etc. felt like a waste, but actually believing that these methods worked helped a lot. There’s power in the mind. Definite mind to belief perception.
Simply knowing that there was a name for my mishandling of relationships made me realize that I needed to take accountability for my past and current behavior.
The misinformation that gets tossed around forums stating that BPD patients are purposefully acting crazy for manipulation’s sake often gets pushed to the forefront and prohibits many from seeking help.
I admit, seeking help is often shame-inducing, because of society’s stigmas, but I was aware that I cried too much, that I couldn’t control my bouts of anger. I scared myself.
I get it. Everyone is dealing with their own stuff, and they prefer not to take on anyone else’s emotional instability. In my case, apologies never worked because the moment I lost control of any situation, my erratic behavior was apparent. I know for some people taking medication is in line with everything that the big pharmacies are throwing at us—the thought that one must rely on medication to depend on medication to treat depression, hyperactivity, nuisances in their brain etc. as opposed to having the willpower to change. People don’t want drugs to keep them level-headed, but this thing that I have is out of control. I truly feel that without medication, I lose sight of reality.
It is not a crutch. It is not an excuse for my past behavior. Without the prescription, I am anxiety-ridden and a sweaty mess. I don’t want useless stigmas plaguing my desire to change.
I can definitely say that meds, along with therapy, have helped me with communicating my needs and desires. Medication is helping me stay afloat while therapy is the fishing line that leads me to safety. I don’t simply rely on medication for change—there is a lot of effort I must put in. It’s embarrassing, scary, and often I don’t know if anything I do is worth it to anyone else.
It took my sisters’ direct approach to allow me to seek help. Being direct is key for me. In this way, it stops all behaviors that I might even think of doing and allows me to breathe and then act. I have BPD, but I am not my diagnosis.