Thanks so much to Jay for sending this great post about Living with Borderline Personality Disorder. I met Jay in one of my work venues and have been struck by the openness and creativity. It’s great to be able to share some of the art and craft work here.
“I was diagnosed with depression in about 2004 and then diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder almost ten years later; I do believe that all along it’s been BPD and not depression because of how my behaviour has been ever since my teenage years. Not many have heard about BPD but it affects a great number of people and a lot go undiagnosed. Some of the more common symptoms are fear of abandonment, emotional imbalance, impulsiveness and self harm; these are symptoms that I’ve definitely struggled with for most of my life.
In how it’s affected my life in the long term I do believe it’s made interacting with family and any potential friends/romantic partners rather difficult. I do have a strong fear of abandonment so in some cases I push people away before they can do the same to me; this has destroyed many friendships I’ve valued. I still feel deep regret how things have ended with those friends.
As for living with it day to day I pretty much just have to take each day as it comes. A good day I can get up, take my meds and be productive whereas a bad day is probably why it was believed that I had depression. I don’t get out of bed, I don’t bother with brushing my teeth or even getting food when I’m hungry, on those days I don’t see the point of doing anything and worse is that I don’t care. I don’t care because I don’t see the point of maintaining my appearance or my house or my health.
Once in a while I’ll have a really bad day; I am usually aware that these are coming by how I feel in the days leading up to it, but there are times when I get blindsided by them. My bad days are when I have explosive mood swings, usually excessive anger, that can lead me to hurting myself, damaging furniture or even attacking people. I don’t have these days as often as I used to and I do believe that as I’ve gotten older I’ve become better at how I handle and react when it happens. I have danced my anger and frustration out to avoid acting on it, I’ve tried CBT and other therapies that are recommended to help.
One thing I’ve found that has helped me deal with BPD and distract me when I am feeling low is being creative. It helps me because I can create rather than be destructive; so I draw, paint, knit and sometimes do stone or wood carving. I get a sense of achievement when I complete something no matter how small and sometimes I like making things for others. These hobbies can be quite solitary at times but I’ve been able to meet other people who share my interests and it’s led me to making good friends.
Another hobby would be my interest in ‘fandom’; I consider myself quite a geek when it comes to TV shows and films of various genres and this too has led me making good friends. I go to comic cons, usually with my brother because I don’t feel comfortable going alone. I get quite excited when these events are coming due to the fact that when I’m there I’m among like minded people. Also many of my friends also attend so it’s nice to see people who I talk with online but I don’t get to see face to face.
I’ve found that the support from medical professionals can be hit and miss at times. In my personal experince, it’s been more miss than hit. There was one memorable supportive counselor that I did have a very good rapport with as she was giving me CBT, but the company providing that service was taken over and I was assigned someone else who had different methods and I ended up stopping the CBT. The rest of my interactions with medical professionals haven’t been all that positive. I’m not sure how other people who suffer from mental health problems feel, but I’ve found that some professionals who are trained to help can be rather harsh in how they view their patients; in one case I’ve had a psychologist who was quite cold in wanting me to explain something – so much so that I became deeply anxious about saying the wrong thing or giving the wrong answer and in the end I just stopped talking for most of the session. I put this down partly to the lack of understanding about various disorders and mental health issues, and partly down to the services being stretched thin from not enough funding. You can wait several months to be seen by a counselor or psychologist and you never know if you’ll be able to build a rapport and level of trust with them when you meet them. In some cases there’s no one else and you have to just deal with your issues under your own initiative. This is what I’ve found that I’ve had to do: I have somewhat of a routine and a support system that I can fall back on but generally living with my disorder has been something I’ve had to figure out myself.
‘Jay’ is an alias to protect privacy. Thanks again for talking to us about this – and also for the pictures.