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Living with Borderline Personality Disorder
I had absolutely no idea where to put this post, but considering I already have the depressive disorder, I'd put it here. I have just today been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder on top of the depression, does anyone on here have it and is able to summarise it? I don't quite know how to explain it to people other than by listing symptoms, which I don't really want to do. And you know that old saying, if you can't explain it simply enough, you don't truly understand it. It's a strange label.
Suffice it to say that I haven't been having a good time of it lately, and this diagnosis makes me half relieved and half unknowing, which I don't much care for. I just know it's something I will have to work at to manage, and stress aggravates it, and right now, I am nothing but stressed,
Any help is appreciated.
I've been to the psychologist recently and she wasn't keen on giving me a proper diagnosis because labels can be self-fulfilling, but she did say I have tendencies towards BPD as well.
Maybe I can explain my story and how I feel, and see if you share any of these thoughts, because I'm just as confused as you are.
I've been talking to friends and trying to open up and I always struggle with knowing where to start...it just feels like there's so much wrong! I don't know whether to start with the breakdown of my relationship and being sad, being unable to motivate myself at work but feeling trapped, wanting to tell my friends but feeling guilty about that, feeling angry at myself for feeling guilty in the first place, the millions of faces I put on for people, or maybe at the beginning with the physical and emotional abuse which started basically when I was born.
The best way I can summarise my life is that I'm constantly fighting myself and that is exhausting. I get close to people and then I push them away again purposely but somehow without realising it. So I'm super surprised and hurt when people leave, and then I feel angry and guilty and that just drags me back into my little pit.
I don't know. It's hard to summarise without dragging on, but I really feel like I know whats happening in my life and I know what I'm doing, but I'm really really bad at stopping it, and things just keep spiralling out of control. And most of the time, it's just spurred on by some silly thought in my head that I can't shut up.
Sorry if that ended up being a bit long! I hope it was helpful? I'm really keen to hear your thoughts as well if you are comfortable with sharing them.
Thanks for replying. No worries about length, the longer the better.
You described my thoughts and feelings pretty accurately. Psychologists don't like us to get caught up with labels but psychiatrists sometimes tend to only use labels.
But everything, from the friendships, to the loneliness, to the faces, to the guilt to the constant and tiring internal conflict, to the silly thought in the head that won't be quiet. It is all there.
I, personally, can accept the symptoms, but I can't define it. Which is difficult for me. And since being labelled, well, I'm feeling more like a freak of nature than I was two days ago.
I think you did well with the summary, I appreciate the effort.
From whatever 9 generic symptoms there are,, I don't really have the fear of abandonment thing or unstable relationships. In my head I know I push people away but I always confirm my actions with what has happened, how they have treated me by asking people close to me. I have close friendships which I wouldn't consider unstable. Everything else is there though.
From what I can gather it's sort of not having a clear sense of identity, which leads to a lot of sorrow, loneliness and emptiness, I myself only own up to the mistakes I make, everything else I feel detached from. It just happens as life happens. There is also feeling a fluctuation of emotions and feeling them extremely, and blaming oneself for that extremeness. And it fits into my depression quite well. It does explain my actions but, it doesn't comfort me knowing that this is the factory setting as it were.
But you're right when you say you know everything you're doing but can't stop yourself anyway.
What you said here in particular struck a chord with me:
“I, personally, can accept the symptoms, but I can't define it. Which is difficult for me. And since being labelled, well, I'm feeling more like a freak of nature than I was two days ago.”
I'm finding that really difficult too which is why I was really happy when I saw your thread. I’m trying to come to terms with BPD but, perhaps because I don’t have a strong sense of identity, I keep asking: So what exactly am I coming to terms with? Which bit is me and which bit is the disorder? And which bit is the anxiety or depression that I'm feeling right now?
My psychologist is trying something called schema therapy and one of the things it talks about is different "schema modes" and separating the bad ones from the "healthy adult" one. I'm finding that really helpful because it gives me confidence that there is a "normal" me behind all the walls, I just need to find it. And I think
that's true for you too. There's a "healthy adult schema mode" in you, and you're displaying it now by even posting on the forums and accepting your symptoms and trying to explain it.
My psychologist said she’s worked in hospitals and the subtleties of people's BPD symptoms can vary a lot. So I hope that can give you some comfort that whatever you're feeling is real, is difficult and needs to be addressed. She says the best way is to not focus on what should a BPD person feel, but ask:
- how do you feel in specific situations
- what parts of your reactions are justified, and
- what parts of your reactions are overreactions
Can I ask if you've tried explaining it to any friends and what treatment your psychiatrist wants to give you?
Thanks for sharing your experience, even if it is difficult.
I'm glad I started this thread then, we can figure some things out together. I understand what you mean about questioning what you are coming to terms with. I have been questioning what qualifies as "my" thoughts and actions lately. It feels surreal to be living like this. Like knowing the name of my disorder makes me more aware of it, but less sure of myself.
Thank you for pointing out to me that reaching out is "healthy adult" and of this therapy. Sessions with a psychologist have had to be delayed for various reasons, and they are very rare to find, let alone finding good ones. My psychiatrist knows I need one and is supporting my search but he knows the limitations of the mentall health culture where we are.
That will be hard for me, because I often rely on myself for answers, and to trust someone else in terms of justifying my own actions...well, I've been fighting to not have to justify my actions relentlessly, and I have reached a point where I have achieved some semblance of that, so to be told that there are limitations to wat I think is the right way, just makes me feel as if on shifting sand. I'm not sure if this paragraph made sense actually. I guess I have to approach people I trust and ask them if my actions/interpretations were corresct, thing is, is my version of events skewed? How can one objectively tell their own story?
I told my friends and family. My parents are quite ignorant when it comes to mental health so they laughed at the name of the disorder for a while, kept making jokes about me having it. My bro sort of knew more than I did, but no more than the internet can tell you, he was understanding and gave me words of encouragement, which was a pleasant surprise. My friends all did what I did and googled it. I couldn't actually explain what it was, but told them if they read up on it, they would agree I had it as I had, they did.
My psychiatrist has kept me on the antidepressants I have, changed up some meds for my sleep and put me on a mood stabilizer. I've been having a rough go of it, so he told me they would help. And I have the psychologist to go see. He told me methods of giving myself emotional release fro the extremes I feel by journaling, and exercise and ways to circumvent self injury. He told me none of what I did or felt was my fault, and told me to try and recognize and focus on my achievements, to build up my sense of identity based on what I have accomplished.
It’s certainly difficult to find a psychologist who suits you, especially if you’re a bit further out. It’s also very expensive! You might be aware already, but your GP can refer you to a psychologist which then entitles you to Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions per year. So rather than paying ~$200, you pay ~$80. It’s still expensive, but better than nothing I guess.
I think understand what you mean by feeling like you’re on shifting sand. I’ve always tried to make decisions for myself. But now that I’ve been told my brain is wired wrongly, which I was actually mindlessly aware of (paradox, I know, but I can’t describe it any other way), I just don’t know what to trust anymore. Apparently I can’t trust my own opinions, but I’m
not used to completely trusting other people’s opinions either. In some way, I feel like being given my pseudo-diagnosis made my depression worse because now I really have nothing I believe in, not even my past because all of that was done by a version of me that I don’t really trust or understand anymore. So I’m just…stuck and that sucks. (Sorry, that was a long paragraph!)
I’m sad that your parents weren’t more supportive, but it was very nice that your brother was understanding. Do you feel comfortable talking more openly with your brother? It sounds like you two are somewhat close.
I think the idea of focussing on your achievements and building your identity around that is a good start. Have you had a chance to give some of the suggestions a go? I tried journaling but that got tiresome because when I’m depressed, I don’t really have a lot more to write other than: “Yep. Same story. I’m tired and want to sleep all day long.”
But to finish on a more positive note: I find walking around really helps. So every night now, I go for a walk for about an hour and I just listen to music. I kind of wander aimlessly until I get tired then I go home and sleep. It’s pointless, but it’s a comforting pointlessness.
I'm not in Australia actually. I joined these forums while I was, and remained on them after leaving, because leaving was a big blow for me, and there is not mental health awareness where I am.
I'd like to say, you don't have to apologize for a long paragraph or post. We are here to speak, and I am definitely here to listen as much as I speak as long as the person wants to speak. All is good on that front.
What you have said rings true. This diagnosis has shattered what was left of my sense of self rather than helping me identify a problem to find the solution. After all, maybe having a lack of identity is an identity. Certainly enough for there to be a psychological diagnosis for it. I have always described the feeling of depression, when it hits me again, akin to getting hit in the head with a bat. Not the overall feeling, the immediate feeling of being in shock and disbelief that you just got hit in the head with a bat. There is numbness and an expectation of pain. But absolute befuddlement. This diagnosis is like the next bit. Where you feel the effects of being hit, being caught up in the pain and the consequences. Still in shock but feeling everything. Only, this time, someone has pointed out to you, that you've been hit in the head, that your head is wired differently so that entire experience of being hit in the head is skewed and you have to learn how to properly experience getting hit in the head. It certainly is very frustrating.
With my parents, it is what it is, if I let myself feel their reactions toward my mental health, I would be worse off than I am now, and that's a bad state of affairs. My bro, well, his reply was quite a surprise to me actually. He hasn't shown the most sensitivity towards those with mental health issue like depression, the intangible ones. So close but in different ways, not in a way where we talk about out emotions to each other. Things have to get pretty drastic for us to do that, or emote. For me anyway. He has cried in front of me and told me his feelings on occasion, more than I have to him. So, new territory, and I will take it slowly.
I tried the achievements bit. I cannot do that well at all. I recently found I got an HD on the last math unit I did. I was elated for about 4 minutes and proceeded to have massive anxiety about the unit I'm doing now. It doesn't even register as mine anymore.
I have started exercising, but I don't sleep well, even on my meds so I'm always exhausted. And the journaling. I do that, but I write letters to my Nan who has long since passed away, makes it better somehow. Like I am talking to someone. I am quite alone here, no friends and you know about my parents, so this, takes the edge off slightly. But, I have reached those moments where I say the same thing and get fed up. I some times sketch or write things obsessively in place of writing feelings. Scribbling angrily can be quite cathartic.
I will say that logically, if you find comfort in you walks and aimless wondering, it ceases to be pointless and possibly the most fruitful thing you can do in the day. I'm glad you have it.
I forgot to say earlier that stress management is also recommended, because when we are stressed our symptoms can become more severe. This seems almost unattainable now, because stressed is my entire personality at the moment, hah.
Hi Joelle and James, just so you know we also have a long-running thread on BPD below. It hasn't been too active recently, but you might find some helpful posts and insights in there:
Managing borderline personality disorder
I really like your analogy. It sounds dark, but I found it a bit funny in a black humour kind of way yet the feeling is really true for me.
I remember talking to a friend once (when I was in a better mood) and I said that what I was afraid most of all was sinking back into depression. I’d had two really bad episodes before and I was just so afraid of going there again. This time, I was shocked at first that I was there then really sad and angry that I’d let myself slip. Then, that learning process you described is the bit where I fight myself for control – one part says “you just got hit – can you feel the pain”, and the other says “you think you got hit, but you should just ignore it”. And flipping between the two is just so exhausting that, now, I just feel empty like I’m too tired to care that I’m here again. And it was this last stage that I was always really afraid of.
I’m really glad that you and your brother are starting to open up to each other. I have a sister who’s 7 years younger than me and by and large, we keep out of each other’s way (not in a bad way, just because we don’t have a lot in common). But we’re always there for each other in difficult times, and that’s nice. I agree – slowly sounds appropriate given it’s a new situation.
Would you want to move back to Australia or do you feel more at home where you are? It can be really lonely just being in another country. I mean, I find it really hard even living in Australia with all my friends, let alone separate.
I understand how you feel about the writing. There comes a point where you just realise you’re saying the same thing and that makes me wonder if I really am getting better or not, and that’s not a thought I want to entertain. I also tried writing angrily which was nice, but I’d berate myself for it afterwards. So I’ve started colouring in and going ice skating. I find that with both, I need to concentrate just enough that I’m distracted, but not enough that I’m stressed. Have you given colouring a go? I guess it’d be a bit like sketching, but (for me) easier.
Haha yes, I get frustrated when people say “calm down” or “relax”. I’m not dumb – I just can’t do it.
I thought what you said here was interesting: “maybe having a lack of identity is an identity”. What are your thoughts? I was discussing this with a friend and he seemed to think it was true, but I just can’t bring myself to accept that maybe I’m a person who…isn’t a person?