A Real and Courageous Voice About Mental Illness (BPD)

McKenna BPD Sotry

My life with borderline.

 A few months ago, back in February I attempted suicide. Yes this may or may not come as a shock to most. I was very sick of always feeling alone and feeling like I would never be good enough. My feelings were always so confusing. One minute I can be on top of the world, the next I am anxious, the next I am depressed. My emotions are unpredictable and I am on a constant roller coaster. I can’t control how my emotions change. I still find it very difficult to tolerate my emotions. I could go from loving someone so much to hating them in an instant. I have always only ever been able to see things in black and white. I always feel every single emotion known to mankind all at once, multiplied by a million. I have struggled with self-harm and eating disorders, mainly anorexia, and many other issues in my life. That night in the hospital doctors told me that I had depression, which I had already assumed. So they started me on anti-depressants to help regulate my emotions. About a month into it I still did not feel like anything was helping. I was still upset all the time, and always so emotional (which I am sure also had to do with the fact that I am a girl). So my mother and roommate talked after her psychology class one day about a mental illness she had recently learned about. After doing an extensive amount of research, my mom called and made an appointment with a psychiatrist. The day of my appointment came and I went. We talked about how I feel and things that have happened to me. Near the end of my appointment he told me that I had what is called Borderline Personality Disorder, or Emotionally Unstable Disorder and also a few other things. When I tell people that I have BPD, they assume I mean Bipolar Disorder. I actually mean a disorder that affects 1-2% of the population: Borderline Personality Disorder. I find that people tend to not know the first thing about it. It’s also VERY difficult to explain, so I thought I’d write this blog post to help with BPD awareness. So I will tell you more about my story and things I feel.

Imagine you’re on a never-ending roller coaster, with no possible way of getting off of it. That’s how our emotions are, always up and down. Things are always black and white, hardly ever in between. You can go from loving you, to hating you in a short time period. It is scary; because you never know how you’re going to feel when you wake up, and you always seem to push those close to you away. I feel very badly for my family because they have to deal with it every day. At times I would lash out, and it was only because I did not how to regulate my emotions and feelings. Good thing they have been patient enough to put up with me for 18 years (and even more to come). It does not affect only me; it affects every single person involved in my life. I am very sorry for that, but there is nothing more I can do about it. I am seeing a therapist and I am getting help, but it will be a very long journey, for the rest of my life. For me, Borderline Personality Disorder has made me terrified of abandonment. As much as I hate to say this, one of the worst things about having BPD is the constant fear of abandonment that we have. This is one of the biggest reasons why our relationships are so rocky; we always feel as if we’re going to be abandoned, so we make ourselves out to look like the victim. It’s harsh, but it’s the cold truth. Often we feel that if we destroy the relationship first by pushing boundaries, we are the ones abandoning them, which somehow seems more satisfying in a weird, twisted way. I know that in my past relationships, I pushed everyone away. I tried to close off my feelings because no matter what, I always felt as if they’d be used against me. Other things that I feel include being more sensitive than other people. My emotions are so intense at times that I feel consumed by them. It’s like drowning, or being strangled by feelings. As the feelings become more intolerable, you end up choking on them. When you are this distressed you are desperate for it all to stop, to be able to think clearly again, to do anything to end the pain. My BPD means I am unable to tolerate negative emotions in a healthy way. Without DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy), I would be finding other ways of coping that are not very good, like in the past restricting, purging, and self-harm. DBT is a long process of which I am still in the early stages of. Sometimes, DBT doesn’t always work. Like right now – the emotions are so intense it physically hurts. Distress tolerance is DBT’s way of teaching me how to cope with those negative emotions I struggle to tolerate and it is not a quick fix. I’m not going to lie; sometimes it hurts that there is no quick fix. Sometimes I don’t want to tolerate the pain because I’ve tried to tolerate it long enough and I want it to go away. Sometimes it hurts so much that acceptance feels impossible because I just can’t accept that it’s all right to have these thoughts and urges.  Determined to get rid of my pain, and then I am then told that I can’t fight or get rid of the pain and have to accept how I feel, it’s made me feel hopeless. I can accept the thoughts and urges sometimes – mostly when they are not that intense or intrusive. That gives me the opportunity to practice it, so I guess I have made progress there, no matter how small. Right now, accepting the thoughts and urges when I can barely function because of them is hard. There’s a constant battle going on in my head right now: one side is telling me to just accept it, because they are thoughts and urges and it’s okay to feel them, but I don’t have to act on them. The other side is screaming at me to just get rid of the pain, but I am tolerating it a little bit more. At times it is just much easier to just give in. I just want a break from my head. I can’t name the emotion I’m feeling, because I don’t know what it is. It is unbearable and it hurts.  I am consumed by emotional pain so extreme that I just stop functioning.

To say it’s living hell is an understatement. This is the reality. This is what it is like to live with borderline personality disorder: unpredictable. One day you can be coping really quite well with it, then the next, you struggle to cope. We hear people say “happiness is a choice” so often. Although, they are just trying to help, it’s important to understand that for us, no, it is not. Just like mental illness isn’t a choice. You don’t choose to be depressed, you don’t choose to have BPD, and you don’t choose to have anxiety.  You don’t choose to have a mental illness. Happiness is not a choice for people with mental illness. However, being positive is a choice. I know it’s tough, I know the battle is exhausting, but you don’t have to feed the “demons” in your head. You’re stronger than that. You can try, you can fight it, and you can go against it. These are the people I look up to and empathize with, the ones that constantly fight, and yet still struggle at times. I understand it can be hard not to give in, believe me, as someone with BPD, a survivor of suicide attempts and a couple years of self-harm. Constantly being negative will not help. It only helps me with being able to empathize or feel badly for myself, because I have fought my whole life. We can do this. Be patient with yourself. This is where we are going to start to learn to love ourselves. And we are going to go slow and look for our beautiful qualities we all have inside us. We are going to learn ourselves. Know ourselves, enjoy spending time with ourselves and find the things that make us laugh, and be lame, and silly, and fun. We are going to learn to love and accept our flaws and our strengths. We are going to be fine with the quiet and be with the noise. We are going to learn how to talk to people and what when they talk back. We are going to learn to make eye contact and if only for a sec. And we have no limit, no time frame, and no pressure. We are going to go at our own pace and we are going to be supported. We are going to learn what it’s like to live. It all may seem like a bad and negative thing, and I am not going to lie, it feels like that to me all the time. There is so much progression and lessons to learn from this.  

Although, I may feel like it is not fair that I have to deal with all of this, I do know that I am not the only one out there with BPD, or any other mental illness. It is a very common thing that many people struggle with. That is why I feel it is important to be aware of what is out there, so we can help each other overcome these extremely hard trials. Recently I have been so blessed with some of the greatest friends of my life. I do understand that I am not fun to deal with at times, or even a good friend. So I appreciate all those who have stayed in my life no matter how I have acted or treated them. All throughout high school I never felt good enough for any one. I never had a steady group of friends all the time. It was always changing because people did not know how to deal with my “drama”. Turns out it wasn’t just drama, (YES I understand teenagers in high school, there is drama, I was dramatic) it was borderline. So before assuming an individual is sad because they want the attention or are choosing to be that way, think again and ask what you can do to help. Take action and make this world a more accepting place to live. I do understand that talking about my disorder will seem very weird to most. This culture makes it seem taboo. I am not writing this for sympathy or attention. To be honest that is the last thing I want. I am just writing to help people to be more aware of what is out there. I became an expert at putting on a mask for others so no one could “judge” me for my issues. Smiling at people although inside I wanted to scream. No one would have ever known, even now. I didn’t have to post this, in some ways it may have been easier not to. To continue living my “normal” (fake) life that was acceptable to all. To most I am just a normal 18-year-old girl living the college dream at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. That is why it surprised many to know what I have been struggling with this for a few years. I have chosen to take the rough climb to the top. I am getting better every day, and will continue to get better. I am very excited to see what my future holds, and to see where I go in life. Mental illness is real, and tons of people struggle with it. Be patient with one another, and love each other.

Story written by: McKenna Rapier

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This story was seen on Real Imprints.