“Shouldn’t you be less open about borderline personality disorder? People will think you’re nuts.”
I vividly remember my sister-in-law condemning me shortly after my formal diagnosis, appalled that I publicly shared my borderline personality disorder (BPD) so quickly. At the time, I simply gave her the middle finger in my mind and went on my merry way. However, when a friend asked me about my openness a few weeks ago, I remembered that previous backlash almost immediately.
I knew that announcing my diagnosis and sharing my illness so openly would attract negative attention, but I didn’t understand to what extent at the time. I never dreamt that anything I had to say would get published, let alone get views. I take the criticism and wear it with pride, though, because the reward of sharing my story surpasses any backlash I could ever receive.
So to answer my friend’s question as to why I share about my borderline personality disorder so openly, and how I am able to share it so freely without fear…here’s what I say:
First and foremost, I share in the name of acceptance.
I spent my entire childhood hiding. People told me that I was abnormal for as long as I can remember. I was always that person who didn’t quite fit in, no matter how hard I tried to conform. So, I hid many of my beliefs, I hid my mental illness and I hid my sexuality. Although I let my true colors shine through in my clothing and musical tastes, I still felt like I could never let people see who I really was or just how deep my illness lurked.
When a social worker at the psychiatric hospital first suggested I read more about BPD, I felt like I finally found the words to describe myself completely. I finally found an explanation for myself. Despite all the disparaging words published online about people with BPD, I vowed to accept my diagnosis and accept myself as a person from that point forward. For me, part of that acceptance process included openly sharing my diagnosis and the way it impacts my life. Through sharing my story, I’ve learned to embrace the person I am, for better or worse.
Also, I share with a desire to change the conversation.
My blood boils every time my significant other sends me threads on Reddit filled with BPD bashing. I also once threw my phone when someone sent me a hurtful video series on YouTube describing people with BPD. None of those awful fallacies on the internet are true, and it’s time we start changing the picture that’s been painted of borderline personality disorder.
I want people to see the reality of life with BPD. People need to see all the compassionate, considerate and completely delightful people I’ve met both online, and in person, who struggle just like me. I want people to know that there are people walking around with BPD who look and act nothing alike. I want us to stop using words like toxic and manipulative to describe borderline behaviors, and really understand what these same actions look like through the eyes of someone living with BPD day in and day out. I think we need to all work together to change the conversation surrounding mental illness as a whole, but especially the misunderstood conditions like BPD.
And last but not least, I share because I’m finally free.
I spent so long trapped with thoughts and feelings I could never discuss. I hid my scars and my urges under layers of clothing and silent suffering for over a decade.
But now? Now I found my voice and a place to speak freely. I have friends who understand dissociation, self-harm and suicidal ideation. I can write about what my impulsivity looks and feels like, and connect with others who feel the same way. I can label my emotions, I can use dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills to process and I can finally understand myself in ways that I never could before. It’s all so incredibly freeing and I never want these feelings to end.
I feel incredibly blessed to be alive, and even more so that I can write something like this and cast it into the world. I know that I’m never safe from criticism and that I may never recover from BPD. But I know that I’ll always have my voice, and with it I can collaborate with others to work toward changing the conversation surrounding BPD.