My name is Joy, I'm 29 years old, and I've suffered from a debilitating mental and emotional condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder for a majority of my life. If you type that into Google, you will find terrible things with that search, and I am not terrible things. I am not a stereotype, I am not a stigma, I am not a list on a health database online or in a book, and I am not crazy or psychotic. I do not hurt myself and I do not deal with rage. I simply go through stages of thinking processes that often render me incapable of maintaining and keeping close relationships. In short, I run people off. I am terrified of being abandoned, so I make for damn sure that I leave people before they can leave me. Problem is, most of them wouldn't have left me. I am just always so convinced that they are going to abandon me that I make sure I don't get hurt and instead am the "leaver". I always end up hurt anyway, but I like to tell myself that I got hurt because of what I said and did instead of what the other person said and did.
One of the main characteristics of Borderline is a concept known as "switching". No, that doesn't mean that I have more than one personality. What it means is that Borderlines often go back and forth between adoring and loving someone almost to the point of being obsessed, to being angry with and almost even hating someone. When I start to feel that a close friend is falling out of my life, I start to get bitter and resent them to the point that it makes me angry with them and think and say nothing but bad things about them. If they start to come back around, I love them again and all is right with the world…and repeat. This thinking is hazardous and it is often this mindset that completely tears apart my close relationships. It is a terrible, awful thinking process, and sometimes I have no idea how to make it stop. I know that I hate it, and I know that my thoughts aren't real, yet they still always manage to make an appearance and confuse my hurting little heart.
I was first diagnosed with this condition when I was about 17 years old. Looking back I had had this problem for much longer than that. Diagnosed by my therapist once again at age 22, no one bothered to tell me that it was placed on my permanent psychiatric record. I did not find out about it until six years later, and I was appalled that I had been given this label. I was really convinced that this condition did not apply to me. But as I've worked through therapy and coping techniques as well as done a lot of research on the subject, I've realized more and more that the diagnosis was completely justified. It was a hard truth to swallow, and it continues to be.
When I am in a good mental and emotional state, I can recognize my thought processes and I attempt to stop and/or reverse them. I have read so many books and I have had so much therapy on the issue, and I know how to handle it. Most of the time, anyway. I try so hard to keep my close relationships healthy so that I don't end up sabotaging them from the inside out. Most of the time I succeed at this, but sometimes I still completely fail. It makes me afraid to make new friends and terrified of getting into dating relationships. Borderline is a lifelong process and sometimes it goes into periods of "remission" which I am lucky to have had for long periods of time as I've gotten older. Occasionally it still comes back to haunt me, though. Those times are hard, and they involve lots of tears and lots of fears. There is obviously no cure, but it is a condition of the heart and mind that I am now no longer trying to hide. Instead, I am openly sharing my journey with Borderline, knowing that others have these same issues and they don't need to be suppressed by society. Mental health stigmas are so very, very ugly, and those who suffer need not be ashamed.
If you have been a good friend of mine and the relationship suffered an ugly, bitter, or sometimes only silent end, I am so very sorry that it happened that way. If you currently are a good friend of mine, please know that if I haven’t already, I will likely attempt to throw you out of my life at one point or another, and it is never your fault if that happens. If I have already managed to or do manage in the future to hang onto you, or if you have managed or will manage not to let me scare you away, God bless you and I am more grateful for you than you could ever possibly imagine. I will not use my condition as an excuse, but I will admit to succumbing to it from time to time, and usually have no intention of doing so. It’s just the way I am programmed, and I am constantly trying ever so hard to conquer the thought processes.
We all have issues. It is a fact of life. I spent a long time trying to hide mine, but at some point I decided that it wasn't so bad to be an open book. To openly hold out my hands and share my wounds, in hopes that the world can see that being transparent is not so bad. I don't want to be a label. No one should be a label. Don't be a label, and don't give labels. Instead, own up to your own suffering. Mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice. We are all in this together, and no one can change your past or mine. So embrace it. It makes us all better off in the end. And that is the truth. Press on, my friends. Nothing should hold you back from loving and being loved!
(***If you suffer from or think you might suffer from this condition, there is help and there is hope. Go find it, and if you can't please come and ask me. You don't need to nor should you have to do this alone. There are books, therapy, and support groups that can help you cope. Utilize them!!***)