I found his favorite shirt, and with a rage hotter than the flame before me, tossed it into the fireplace. Invisible claws scratched the inside of my throat and a cascade of tears drenched my cheeks as I ran to the closet to find more memorabilia to incinerate. One by one: the ticket from the first movie we saw together, *hiss*, the box he had made and decorated for me on my birthday, *woosh*; any item related to love, sex, or loyalty was destroyed. Once the fireplace ritual was complete, I sprinted to the knife drawer with the intention of using the butcher knife on myself, but instead plunged it into the wall, right next to the spot where I had written in blue paint, the words neminem crede, or, “trust no one” in Latin. Branches and pine needles were thrown indiscriminately throughout the apartment, and just in case the chaos I had created was not enough to make him feel sorry when he returned home, I urinated on the floor like an abused dog.
The above scenario happened in March of 2013. The subject of my vengeance was my boyfriend at the time. His crime? He said that he didn’t want to have sex with me that night.
This is my life with borderline personality disorder. No one that I know now would ever suspect this behavior in me, because once I have an “episode” in front of someone, I make it a point to never see them again, purely out of shame. For months at a time, I can live a completely normal life—going to school, playing with my nephew (who I completely adore), telling fart jokes with my friends — but something as small as a coworker’s rude comment at work or a B on a test can send me into an emotional fit that I have no control over.
Borderline personality disorder is characterized by the DSM-IV the presence of at least five of the following:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in (5)
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. This is called “splitting.”
- Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
- Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
- Chronic feelings of emptiness.
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.
These traits manifest in different ways in different people. My BPD reveals itself primarily in my romantic relationships (which are always stormy and short-lived) and in my working life. I have never had a job for more than 6 months, and almost all of them have ended with me either running out the door in a fury, or disappearing completely and never contacting my supervisor again.
My years at home were marked by frequent outbursts and trips to the emergency room. My bedroom reeked of decay from the large plastic tubs and a garbage bag filled to the brim with my own vomit. Empty containers of peanut butter and frosting, along with greasy pizza boxes and bottles of liquor were hidden underneath my bed. I would often run away and find myself hundreds away from home with my Honda out of gas and my cell phone battery dead.
As an adult, I am finding it much easier to cope, although adulthood is extremely difficult for me to adapt to. The truth is, even though I feel “normal” most of the time, I am terrified that my borderline personality disorder will completely ruin my life. I am constantly wondering just how long before I am caught stealing pills at work, or if I’ll ever be able to have and raise kids. My life is much more stable than it once was, but the tedium of it all is beginning to ignite that impulsiveness in me; the kind that often drives me to endanger myself and sabotage whatever it is I’ve worked so hard to build. When I look to the future, all I see are endless disappointments and great opportunities that could’ve been. I just hope that I survive the journey.