What even is BPD? That is what I imagine most people would think when first hearing of this illness. I know that was my reaction when I first saw the letters.
BPD, or, Boarderline Personalist Disorder is best described as a illness that affects our mood and interaction with other people.
According to NHS Direct there are four main symptoms for BPD. They are:
Emotional instability – the psychological term for this is 'affective dysregulation'
Disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – ('cognitive distortions' or 'perceptual distortions')
Intense but unstable relationships with others
As with all illnesses, any individual experience could draw on any one of those symptoms more so than others. Personally I feel I continue to be affected by all four. While having greater struggles with emotional instability and unstable relationships.
My BPD is not something I talk about too much. Unlike my depression my BPD is not professionally diagnosed. For that reason I feel less able or less entitled to talk about it. Not having an official diagnosis can be hard. So Im taking the opportunity this Mental Health Awareness Week to talk about part of my Mental Health Illness.
My emotional instability is a strange one. I have always been very thoughtful, overthinking and very sensitive. Traits that were and possibly still are stereotyped as female attributes. That in itself could make some people insecure about themselves.
I have always had trust issues, which counselling would love to tell me is because of my childhood. To be honest, this is probably one of those occasions when that is actually true. My parents divorced when I was around 8 I think. For years (about 20) everything had to be separate and toys could only be in one place, family friends picked sides, it was not nice. I can understand how, as a child I could have interpreted that as people change, dont trust anyone. However I think I was a fairly open and friendly young person. I just became guarded about somethings and realised that certain things you didnt talk about, or only talked to certain people about.
While I saw my dad regularly and my mum's new husband was around (though he worked abroad most of the time) I lived mostly with my mum and my sister as I grew up. Could this have led to being more feminine? I really dont think so. It may have made me more comfortable around girls and subsequently be why many of the people I am drawn to are female. But I do not believe it led me to any emotional instability. I honestly feel until the summer of 2014 there was no issue here.
I guess thats where we move on to my next trigger point, coming back to the UK from Australia fed into what became my depression. This made me less sociable and definitely affected my relationships. Not long after this my wife left me. We had been together for 8 years (married for two of them), she had been my best friend. The person I trusted, I talked to, I respected, I loved. She decided that she didn't love me anymore. I didn't know it... no I knew it... I guess it would be more accurate to say I did not acknowledge the fact that that broke my world.
According to therapy my marriage breakdown sits on top of my parents marriage break down. While I can understand their thinking. I disagree. They feel VERY different. Even as a child I knew and appreciated that my parents were not leaving me and didn't not love me. They just didn't like each other anymore. This time, I am the one being rejected and by the person I loved and trusted.
I felt failure, rejection, loss. So I can definitely see how that could be a trigger for my BDP.
Since then I have have friendships and relationships that have become very full on very quickly and then ended. Often because I am afraid and scared of what might happen. I worry about being a burden on the other person. I worry about being a failure again. I worry about someone caring for me. I worry about loving someone again. I worry about it working. I worry.
I used to say "I live in the moment, Im all about the now". But that was what I was trying to do, rather than what I was actually doing.
I have learnt to manage my friendships better, I think. I try not to put to much on anyone person. It makes the relationship more balanced and manageable. It also probably helps because it protects me if they leave. I have realised that I am often the one leading my friendships, which sometimes I find hurtful and sad. Other times I don't pay attention. Then theres the occasional time when I get a message from a friend asking how I am. It actually does mean the world. It means they care.
I feel like my emotions are more stable now, after 15 months of anti-depressants and an array of episodes (Ive since been told by my Therapist these are likely a version of a panic attack). I still struggle, but I feel more...balanced. Walking every day, running each week, getting fresh air is all helping. Its also managing the changes. I feel much better about work when I don't get the park and ride bus and walk. It gives me that time to adapt. I suppose I have had to learn a lot about my mind and my body, in a way that I've never had to before.
Since my BPD and depression got worse have I lost friends or become less close to some people?
Since I've tried to talk about my mental health, have I meet new friends that better understand me?
Does my poor mental health make life harder?
Yes, but(!) I still have life...my life.
I don't like 'better', so rather lets say, do I feel improved?
Yes, talking about my mental health has helped me so much. In fact more than any counselling or therapy. It has allowed me to acknowledge, my illness to myself. Which I think had been a problem for over a year before I spoke to a GP (the first time I felt like I acknowledged my illness). It has also facilitated me talking to, meeting and befriending so many new people. Who have in their own right informed, educated and supported me.
So lets talk about mental heath, lets raise awareness, lets stop the stigma. Lets support and inform.
Thank you so much for reading my post about my struggles with depression and borderline personality disorder. If you are affected by any mental health illness please talk about it, see your GP. You are not alone!