Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a Cluster B personality disorder that causes emotion disregulation, making it hard to manage relationships with yourself and others. Like all mental illnesses, BPD is a serious condition. What’s scary about BPD for me is that around nine percent of people with BPD die by suicide. What’s even scarier is the fact that people with BPD are so misunderstood by both the public and doctors. I hope this list of struggles helps people who don’t have borderline personality disorder understand what many of us go through, and I hope people with BPD can find comfort in knowing they are understood.
Here are the struggles I face as someone with BPD:
1. Having to explain borderline personality disorder to people because some people haven’t heard of it before.
2. Attempting to explain how it differs from bipolar disorder.
3. Hoping people don’t look up BPD on Google because the results will scare them.
4. Having to reassure people you’re not dangerous to be around.
5. Having to “prove” to others that you “aren’t crazy.”
6. Struggling to get help because many therapists won’t work with someone with BPD.
7. Having your mental health team treat you like a child.
8. Traveling and spending more than you’d like to find therapy that will help you.
9. Having to commit months of time and dedication if you choose to enroll in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
10. Feeling patronized in every therapy session, as if you don’t know how to act like a functioning human being.
11. Being given a handbook in DBT that teaches you how to express emotions, step by step, yet still “messing up.”
12. Practicing all of the DBT skills, only to find they don’t all work for every situation, and your environment impacts their effectiveness.
13. Having people ask you if you’re like [insert pop culture character with BPD].
14. Being seen as “attention-seeking” every time you self-harm.
15. Being initially misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.
16. Going on medication for bipolar disorder that do nothing for you… because you don’t actually have bipolar disorder.
17. Wondering if you’ll ever be able to function in society.
18. Appearing to be “two-faced” because your opinions on certain people can drastically flip back and forth.
19. Being exhausted at the end of the day from all of the emotional changes you experience daily.
20. Always feeling like you’re overreacting, even when you aren’t.
21. Having to constantly ask yourself if your reactions are justified.
22. Second-guessing your reactions, even when they are justified.
23. Not standing up for yourself out of fear of sounding “crazy.”
24. Wondering if certain events actually took place, or if you’re just perceiving them that way.
25. Not always knowing why you’re upset.
26. Not knowing who your friends are, what you identify as or what to call yourself.
27. Being criticized for identifying using labels when you rely on them to understand yourself.
28. Feeling confused when you don’t fit within the assumed boundaries of certain labels.
29. Basing your identity on what other people say about you, and how other people treat you.
30. Forcing yourself to think with more logic in situations where following your heart makes more sense.
31. Impulse shopping.
32. Other impulse actions that don’t make sense 15 minutes later.
33. Discovering there are books, forums and websites dedicated to “dealing with” and “recovering from” people with BPD.
34. Feeling like a monster.
35. Worrying that a bad day is the start of a relapse.
36. Having other mental health issues on top of BPD.
37. Struggling to find validation within yourself.
38. Feeling the need to “warn” people about your condition.
39. Feeling the need to apologize for everything.
40. Being told you’re a “drama queen,” when you have no intention of starting drama.
41. Being told to hide your diagnosis because it may scare others away.
42. Having your diagnosis actually scare others away.
43. Feeling like a burden.
Although this list sounds discouraging, I do want to highlight the fact that recovery is always possible. Dialectical Behavior Therapy was actually very effective for me, even though it was frustrating. I eventually got the help I needed. As more people begin to understand borderline personality disorder, I hope the stigma decreases so those who are struggling aren’t afraid to seek help. Above all, remember you are not alone. There are many others who struggle with BPD, and you don’t have to struggle in silence. If there are no resources for those with BPD in your area, utilize online communities and national/global resources that will connect you with people who understand what you are going through. There are BPD-specific communities that can be very validating.
Keep on fighting the good fight. It’s hard, but I know we can get through our struggles together.