Borderline Personality Disorder Doesn’t Mean ‘Crazy’, It Means Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve Every Day
By Jessica Wilson
I read somewhere tonight that 18 million Americans live with Borderline Personality Disorder.
That means, the rest of the population are the ones out to get us, the ones calling us psychopaths, the ones who can’t believe there are 18 million mentally ill patients walking the streets without straight-jackets.
Except it doesn’t. The way I see it, there are 18 million Americans living with their hearts on their sleeves. 18 million Americans who are misunderstood because they feel so much more than the average person. 18 million Americans who are probably a lot like me.
I’m not sure how far my diagnosis goes back. They didn’t give me one until my second (failed) suicide attempt. I didn’t even know what it was until I read my paperwork 3 years later and googled “Borderline Personality Disorder”. And it was kind of an “Ah-ha” moment. For me anyways, because everyone else doesn’t really understand. I’ve always seen something super beautiful about people who feel beyond comprehension. Those people that cry at the sights of waterfalls and stare out the window at the stars at night. The people who hear a good song and get goosebumps when everyone starts screaming the words. I admired those who loved beyond words. I read an article in Cosmopolitan earlier that listed things not to say to women with BPD. It was funny because it was true. But I wondered how she got the courage to tell these guys her diagnosis. I coined the word ‘crazy’ and laugh about it, making it seem less serious than it really is.
In reality, though, we are terrified of someone leaving. We love so hard but fight so much harder, and then dive into the bliss that comes with making up. We run ourselves dry giving and then lash out when we don’t get anything in return and well, it doesn’t matter if it’s going to the gym every day or getting hooked on hard drugs but we will more than likely fall into whatever path a crowd is walking. Not all of us are lonely. I have an incredibly supportive family but I still found myself straying from them for no good reason other than to self-medicate because I don’t have emotional skin, I’m totally transparent and everything is felt the utmost extreme. There have been times where I was so lonely I convinced myself there was some sort of connection between myself and someone else who was really into a friend of mine. It broke my heart for like a day, and then I got over it. That’s just one side of being Borderline.
It’s a constant struggle to have a happy medium. It’s difficult to try to feel only a little bit of this or a little bit of that. Every single emotion feel likes a tsunami wave. Sometimes it will last for a day, sometimes it will last for minutes. We seek outlets, whether it’s drinking or drugs or partners, the phrase “something to take the edge off” is all too relevant for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Some people are clingy and needed and codependent, this was me at the beginning. I realized now I am more comfortable daydreaming in my own head and pretending I’m the only who really exists. I built a wall from stones and when it breaks, I rebuild it over again. Day after day after day.
Is this exhausting? Sometimes I blame the bags and dark circles around my eyes on my diagnosis.
BPD doesn’t discriminate and when I say this I mean that there are liberals who are borderline, republicans, democrats and we all deal with our thin skin individually. We are white, black, big, small, loud, quiet. Our hearts are similar but we won’t always be on the same wavelength, thus, we won’t always get along. We feel differently toward different things but we are the same in that we feel to the extreme of feeling. Sometimes it’s too much, sometimes it’s too little. Sometimes we don’t even know how to feel at all. To me, that has been the absolute worst. Feeling so much you don’t even know how you’re feeling.
At the end of it all, this isn’t anyone’s final definition. No one just has Borderline Personality Disorder and dies. Feeling so much often leads to great creativity. Some of the most idolized people in America carry this diagnosis. Angelina Jolie-Pitt, Amy Winehouse, Princess Diana. Incredible souls that don’t wear straight jackets that will live on forever. Incredible souls that have produced things that we will hang onto for years to come. Mental illness doesn’t have to be scary, or frowned upon, or blamed on anything other than the fact that some of us are chemically altered in our brains to where we are considered “borderline.”
I don’t understand the wording of this disorder. Borderline what? I don’t know. What I do understand is that it’s near impossible to hold a normal relationship, I lash out at my parents and my siblings have a history of calling me crazy or telling me to chill out. It’s hard to explain without my dad cringing or anyone actually taking the time to listen and engage and think that maybe this is a real thing.
They don’t understand why I make a big deal out of things that are minor to most people. They don’t understand why being called ‘dumb’ is like a knife to my back or a slap in the face. Small word, big consequences.
Truth be told, they don’t have to understand.
They don’t have too because my disorder doesn’t control me. It isn’t who I am. The time I take to step back and breathe and manage my symptoms isn’t their responsibility. It isn’t their responsibility, and it isn’t my excuse. My greatest apologies go out to those who I’ve lost due to my disorder because they didn’t deserve it. Just like a diabetic is responsible for checking their blood sugar, I am responsible for checking myself.
Does this grant an outburst? Does this grant 30-minutete sob-session in your room? Does this grant a burning bridge?
The odds? Slim to none. We can control our emotions and we can take a step back and we can stop our brains from taking an inch and running a mile. Harder than most to think rationally? Maybe. But we can do it. With knowledge, comes understanding. Understand your diagnosis, don’t be defined by it.