Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has no biases. It happens to both genders, all classes, and all races/ethnicities. In fact, it is widely theorized that beloved people such as Marilyn Monroe had BPD.
One of the hardest parts of treating this disease is empathizing with those who struggle with it.
Therefore, let’s take a look into what other authors with BPD (kudos to “Border __” the documentary listed below and Carrie-Lynne Davis) have provided in their wisdom and experience of living with BPD.
*CAUTION, this is just one empathy piece based on the experiences and understanding of some; it is important to remember every case is unique and different and therefore, these assumptions are just a framework but NOT the only experience of those with BPD*
What it’s like living with BPD:
1. Most people will NOT understand how a BPD thinks, feels, acts. Unless they are a psych nerd, well read in BPD literature. BPD does not make sense to the average or even educated Joe. Therefore, many people with BPD walk around genuinely feeling misunderstood.
2. A BPD’s first AND second thoughts are often wrong (cognitively distorted). It is tricky living with a brain that’s go-to emotional response is haywire. Those with BPD truly have to challenge MOST if not ALL of their thoughts on a daily basis. Which is really hard AND really exhausting. It’s hard to think healthy thoughts and although the desire and will is there it’s like (if not harder than) going on a vegan raw diet after eating fast food for years… super difficult, causes distress itself, and feels impossible.
3. They’ll likely have other co-occurring disorders, as Davis put it “extra baggage”.
Those with BPD typically also have an assortment of addictions and as a by product of the confusing mix of emotions often act impulsively–and in effect, make a lot of bad choices.
4. BPD is not a person’s fault, although many people will try to displace that as a “person’s choice”. BPD does not equal “bad person”, it is genuinely a mixture of nature, nurture, and likely more than we even know. What we do know is that there are genetic components (65% have a parent with BPD), cognitive components (see previous blog for more details) and likely impacted by childhood trauma (and arguably adult trauma as a result of the disorder).
5. When stressed many people with BPD will experience Dissasociation. Dissasociation is scary. Dissasociation is a puzzling situation of feeling “outside of” reality in many ways. There’s Depersonalization, which is a feeling of being outside of one’s body. There’s Derealization which is the sensation that things around you are “surreal”, like when you become aware you are in a dream in the dream state. Losing Time, is that sensation that many of experience driving home from work. “One moment you’re getting into the car, and then the next you’re stepping out without any recollection of the actual drive”.
6. Many with BPD often question, “Who am I? Can you help me figure it out?” Because of the onslaught of constantly changing emotions, being emotionally corrected by others, and dissasociation, many with BPD (understandably) have a huge crisis of “who am I?” It’s part of the reason they depend on others, that feeling of emptiness when left trying to figure out all their conflicting thoughts and emotions can often be very difficult and it’s hard to find their identity.
7. Those with BPD can be incredibly interesting. Because of their impulsive behaviors, and whimsical feelings– many with BPD are often the “life of the party”, and “muses” to the art scene. They are charming, captivating, and the romancers of emotion. This is one of the interesting upsides of BPD, (and can often be a reinforcer to act out for some with the disorder). There’s good and bad to the bunch, but it’s important to remember the positive experiences one can feel on the rollercoaster of emotions.
8. Those with BPD are strong. It is extremely hard to live with BPD. Those who are surviving and better yet, working on themselves through therapy are INCREDIBLY strong. Kudos should be given to the person living with a brain who is consistently trying to trick them into false beliefs/reality.
Alas, there is hope and there is recovery. Although it is a pervasive illness, (again it is a personality disorder–and those don’t change over night or even over years)… there is hope.
There are many ways people can work on restructuring the way their brains think to be healthier and to make better decisions in the long-run. Many BPD’s also see a lessening of symptoms over time, so it is interesting to note that many “out grow” some symptoms (to an extent). Until proven wrong, I believe that many with BPD can work towards changing their thought patterns and challenging this disorder with time, therapy, and medication when needed.
Mindfulness and Dialectical Behavioral Therapies have been shown to be the most effective therapuetic treatments to date.
I fully believe in trying to honor and understand those with mental illness. It is my hope that with this piece one will more fully empathize with those experiencing BPD.
I welcome any feedback from others on their insights, as I am constantly growing and learning myself in this field.
Until next time,