Series

My Borderline | Part 2

pixel art of aa pink azalea flower
Posted by Maria

I would like to take a few moments in these three installments regarding the topic and talk a little bit about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and what it means (for me anyway) to have it. There are many great videos (such as this one) and other sources (such as this site that outlines the diagnostic criteria for BPD) that have ample information about the disorder, and I urge you to check out at least the video I linked if you have any interest in the topic. That being said, I’d prefer a more sort of hands-on approach and talk about BPD from a not-so-clinical point, and more from the view of one having this ailment. To answer the question: What does it feel like to be Borderline?

DISCLAIMER: Contains talk of self-harm and suicide. This is entirely my experience of BPD. We don’t all manifest symptoms in the same way, instead, we all have our individual experience of the disorder, even with the objective criteria that need to be met to be diagnosed with it. Our ticks, their intensity, the type of Borderline we can have (check out this article from Healthline), and other things are most likely going to vary based on the individual you are around. 

Glass Eyes

As I mentioned in the previous article, sometimes the Emptiness leads to dissociative symptoms. This, however, is not the only, nor even the biggest trigger for it. Mostly this happens whenever I get the two worst emotions, fear or anger. I’m going to try and paint a picture of what it’s like to experience dissociation, at least from my perspective. As a little bit of context, Dissociation has caused me to lose days and even weeks, as I do not remember what happened during the time I spend in the haze. 

Sometimes it sneaks up on me when I’m chopping the veggies for our salad. I space out, and snap back to reality, noticing that I have chopped all of the cucumbers without any recollection of ever doing it. Thankfully my fingers are fine this time too. My vision stays out of sync, it’s someone else’s hands chopping. Someone else is holding the knife. I am in the back seat, trying to remind the autopilot that my fingers need to be safe. My husband needs me to stay safe. No matter what the images in my head urge me to do. I need to stay safe.

Other times the clouds don’t bother rolling in gently, but instead, crash into me and take over. I walk in the fog that was created in the collision and it is hard to know what is happening behind it. I hear screaming and I have a faint feeling that my throat is sore, but I can’t really say I know what it is about. Sometimes I see the body walking around, bashing itself to various surfaces, or just sitting there, not able to do anything. Sometimes I see my husband and I want to tell him I love him, that I see him, yet the only thing that comes out is the Banshee. The screams and poison. I want to let him know I’m here but the Banshee snuffs me out, forbids me from surfacing and taking back control. Husband, I am here…

When the clouds dissipate, and I’m waking up from the fog, everything seems like a dream. I try to remember, but the harder I reach for it, the more it slips away from me. 

I have woken up to my arm bleeding, or my head hurting and being bruised, without much memory of doing any of it. It is as though another being took over and drove me while I was on that backseat, helplessly watching through a muddied window and eventually blacking out altogether. Sometimes I woke up on the floor or bed, being detained by someone stronger than me, and while I connected the dots, I had no memory of what I had done to deserve it.

Who am I?

I might be so bold as to say that generally, we borderlines are very good at pleasing people. With the immense fear of abandonment, we do everything we can to avoid it (or to hit before we are hit), and so, this trait of being a chameleon in all situations comes in very handy. We are the people who will go along with things that the target of our affection desires, even if it means giving up our own dreams.

In the past I have forsaken things that I adored, such as reading, writing, and studying, to benefit the people around me. As a child, I did not fight it when I got told that swimming trumps scouts, even if I absolutely loved being in the scouts and having those adventures. I did not tell anyone about my mental issues, as it would’ve become a hindrance and caused shame on my parents, especially my father. I went to school for restaurant stuff, just to try and make a haphazard dream of my ex-boyfriends come true (he wanted to start a bar). I stopped writing because one of my past love interests told me that I spend too much time away from him. I had only asked for one night of writing in the years I knew him.

It is not easy to try and please everyone, to try and be inconspicuous about it. I can say with certainty that I lost myself in those 20-ish years of my life, and now… well now I need to find myself again. I’m over 30, and all of my past aspirations and the imagination and the beauty of my mind are gushing back like no tomorrow. 

One thing people might not think about when trying to rehabilitate from decades of people-pleasing on a whole other level is that decisions are extremely difficult to make. I have no one to lean on but myself (alright, let’s get it straight, I’m married so obviously my husband is in the picture and helps me with things that touch us both. But when it comes to just me, I’m truly on my own, which is new and terrifying). What do you mean I can choose what I like? I don’t know what I like! I haven’t thought about it for decades! I can’t take this pressure!

One funny run-in was in the store one day: My husband and I had decided that I can have a reward in the form of something sweet. I could choose anything I wanted and we would get it for me! Well, all was fine and dandy, I was excited about this opportunity. But when I got to the candy shelves I got overwhelmed. I did not know what to do. I did not know what to pick. I looked at him, asked him what he would like, and he did not give me any input. It was to be my choice and mine alone. The excitement I had had just a moment ago vanished, and I was left with the immense feeling of pressure to make a choice I had no idea how to make. And this was just candy for heaven’s sake! As I fell into a tearful panic we made a compromise – I picked out a few things I liked, and let my husband make the final pick.

Have you found yourself wondering how hard it is to make decisions on your own? Let us know in the comments!

This has been the second part of the three in the mini-series of explaining how my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) manifests itself in my life. The next article will talk a little bit more about why I need a gatekeeper for sweeties and about one of the more dramatic traits borderlines struggle with – splitting. I hope to see you there!

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