As many of you will be aware, the 10th October is World Mental Health Day. In order to mark the day I have decided to create a blog series to publish in the run up to World Mental Health Day with the help of contributors with lived experience. The series will run over 6 days, covering a variety of mental health problems. The aim of the series is to remove some of the 'clinical' feel behind the descriptions of mental health problems and humanise it by describing how it feels to those experiencing a mental health problem. Check back to see the next part of the series; Eating Disorders.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behaviour, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days (NIMH).
"The simplest way to describe how it makes me feel, it was like a human yo-yo, bouncing between states, often quicker than you can flick a switch. It can feel like an out of body experience, though you’ve been dragged from your body and made to look on to the rest of the world, but not being able to connect. It feels like you are being crushed, over and over again, never knowing what is real – it can feel like everyone is against you, they are out to get me, they are mocking me, it's the only explanation – its irrational but it is hard to notice it once you’re in the midst of it.It feels like you are in a constant oscillation between emptiness and being so full that you are spilling over the edge, it causes me to lose touch with my identity, as though what makes me, has been removed, I have no fingerprints, my identity feels a distant memory. Borderline personality disorder is the illness that leads me to feel most confused and doubtful of my thoughts and actions, is this me, is this my true personality, or is it my illness? Relationships can feel very intense, things move at a quick pace, I get stuck between wanting love and attention, fearing abandonment and doing anything I can to push away the people that I love. I hate you, don’t leave me. I can purposely dig and dig for reasons to find why someone doesn’t like me, even if I don’t find anything my mind convinces me its there, just hidden. It makes me feel worthless, like I am unlovable; I fear abandonment, yet I keep pushing people to leave." - Jodie Goodacre
"Having BPD, feels like being in the back seat of the car, knowing your destination but having no clue what route your using to get there. It feels like someone else is controlling your feelings. The symptoms sometimes feel like someone has decided to make a cake, but instead of using the standard ingredients, they’ve decided to use sprouts instead of eggs and washing powder instead of sugar. They just don’t work together. The symptoms clash with each other so badly it can make it virtually impossible to get through a day. It’s like you’re constantly at war with yourself, you don’t know which part of yourself in your mind, is in control that day." - Abbie Brewer
"Never thought I would ever feel this change... They say that the severity of any personality disorder lessens with age, but I never believed them. It has been hell inside of me for so many years, attachments, fear of abandonment, complete rage and the self harm binges that would follow with absolute disregard of anyone else. I couldn't see or acknowledge the pain I was causing others, I was just set on blind self destruction to help me cope with intense and merciless feelings of rejection and rage. But, I have changed, I have grown I am different to the Martha I was age 18, I am work in progress. Change feels so slow but I am changing, there is movement and there is hope. Having a personality disorder is horrific, it is life changing and heart breaking, it is hell. You hate yourself, because whatever you're measuring or counting it is never enough. You need validation, you need love, you need to destroy, you need to be safe and you long for answers and solutions that you search for in the labels they give you, the nurse who sees you once a week, the meds they've prescribed you. You are not your illness, you are so much more. But you are so lost you look to everything and everyone to bring you home." - Martha Jane Hall
"I have always felt like having Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder was an internal war between two different people: me, and “Borderline me”. Except, even to this day, I cannot tell you which is actually me. I never know who I am when I am thinking, or feeling, or reacting to a situation. There are times when I can almost feel two beings inside of my body battling for control. I never know who wins. My emotions are a completely different story, from the sheer joy and bliss I can feel at the smallest of things where I feel like I floating with the clouds and flying with beautiful birds. Down to the most sadness I feel I could ever experience, where I myself feel polluted and distorted. The “psychotic episodes” ensure my head is burning, where thoughts are like bullets on a battlefield: flying everywhere, or as slow as a fog creeping on a wasteland. I feel like I have lost reality and I am not here, everything twists and spirals downwards from there." - Leanne Smith
"Having BPD is like constantly having to second guess your own emotional responses. As if one part of your brain is an enemy constantly whispering negative thoughts in to your mind about people, relationships, and most importantly about yourself. There's also another part pushing you to take risks and not to worry about anything to a degree that's unsafe. The daily challenge is trying to find the middle ground and get out negative patterns of thought. It's hard work but it is manageable." Ruth Sullivan
"It feels like your mind could change at any minute. One moment you are motivated, passionate and productive and high on energy and ready to change the world. In the next moment you are drowning in depression. It’s difficult to maintain a constant mood. At times nothing triggers it, you could be sat in a room alone and feeling happy and content and the next moment you are fighting off urges of ways to harm yourself and trying to drown out the thoughts and feelings of self-hate. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions on a daily basis, you never know when the highs and lows are going to hit. There are many blind corners. It’s exhausting." - Hannah
Hopefully reading the personal experiences from these wonderful people has helped to provide a more human understanding of what Borderline Personality Disorder is, what it means to those who experience it and how it feels to them.
Sending positive vibes,