I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) a few weeks before our country went into lockdown, due to the coronavirus pandemic. To describe that time as surreal is an understatement.
I had just been unfairly let go of my job in television and seeking legal advice, I was drowning in debt, going through the aftermaths of a break up, it was a toxic relationship and I was recovering from an abortion late last year. I was spiraling into a habit of self-destructive behaviors and there wasn’t a day that went by where I did not think about ending my life. The icing on the cake? We now had to stay home. All of us. Alone.
Prior to all of this, I had always felt ‘different’ growing up. I didn’t have a stop button when it came to regulating my emotions. Even the ‘good’ emotions, exhausted me.
Over the years I’ve heard people say the following statements to me, repeatedly; “ You’re getting obsessed again!”, “You’re so sensitive!”, “Stop overthinking and analysing everything!” “You’re so weird.” “You were really inappropriate last night." “You are too intense." “You are too much.” “You are so over the top."
I was desperately scared of people leaving me and I had a car crash of relationships (mostly short lived) to show for it. I couldn't stay in one job for longer than a year at most, I was drinking heavily and I didn’t know what was going on. I had been in therapy on and off since I was 16 years old. Fast forward to 33 years of age (I am now 34) I was still suffering and I’d say 2018 to March 2020 was the most painful period of my life.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with BPD also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), that I decided to educate myself on this highly stigmatised and often misunderstood condition. I wish I knew the fact that we all are on the spectrum on all personality disorders, but the important thing is if you’re suffering it’s probably a good idea to get assessed so you can receive the right treatment!
Telling my family and friends was the most difficult, but I’m lucky that most of them were very supportive and all of them have been reading up about BPD.
A handful of acquaintances have dropped off the radar since me ‘coming out’ on social media, but I’m grateful for that as they are clearly not supposed to be in my life.
The most important thing my loved ones have come to accept is that I feel emotions much more intensely than others. This by no means is a ‘get out of jail free card’ statement, it's a fact. I’ve learnt how to reduce my suffering by understanding and processing my emotions at a pace that feels comfortable for me. By reducing my own suffering, I’m noticing I no longer feel the need to abuse alcohol or snap at my loved ones or obsessionally text my ex, the list goes on!
I joined a DBT therapy group via Zoom, (we were in lockdown remember) and it was very challenging but also incredibly healing. I completed the module ‘Emotion Regulation', where I met someone who I am proud to say has become one of my closest friends. She has inspired me in so many ways and we have supported each other through some dark times.
I have created a podcast via podbean called OVER THE TOP WOMAN, this was initially to track my own recovery journey but it’s now attracted listeners from all over the world to raise awareness of BPD and hopefully kickstart people’s journey into recovery themselves. You can follow me on Instagram @overthetopwoman.
As well as my podcast, I am currently writing a TV comedy script with another writer and I have signed up to become a DBT Trainer!
The biggest myth about people with BPD is that we are manipulative. If you describe someone as manipulative, you disapprove of them because they skilfully force or persuade people to act in the way that they want. Now let’s think about this a bit more deeply. People with BPD lack the life skills to self soothe most of the time. Their actions are understandably seen as manipulative sometimes, but it is not planned out, not a shred of sinister motivation, it is called distress, Most of us never acquired the skills to self-sooth or resolve conflict in a healthy manner. This distress teamed up with our fear of being abandoned is also due to the unclear nature of our true identity.
One thing I’d like colleagues and my loved ones to understand so they can support me, is to be patient and to understand healing takes time. To remind me (as long as it’s not exhausting for them!) that they are there for me as much as they can be and are proud I’m committing myself to healing. It is okay to ‘mess up’ as long as you have the commitment to reduce the suffering, and don’t underestimate the amazing support in the BPD recovery community on social media. They make me smile everyday with their honesty but more importantly their commitment to healing.