I’m on edge pretty much all of the time. I’m calm when I want to be. I have a constant need to be organised. I don’t mind leaving my clothes on the floor. I become snappy when I’m in a supermarket for too long. I crave distractions. I’m sometimes reckless. I’m the walking-talking definition of a teacher’s pet. I have dyed my hair so many times that my natural hair colour probably won’t come back. I recently decoloured my hair. I enjoy sending drawn-out emails to anyone in my contact list. I’m annoyed by mass emails. I trust the loved ones in my life. I become paranoid if someone is running late to meet me because I think they’ve ditched me.
I’ve made it sound like I live in contradictions: life with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is just that. I wake up, go about my day, and change my mind more than a child trying to pick which sweet they want in a candy shop. There are times I’ve been more upset about losing a pair of tattered gloves than obtaining a less-than-stellar grade. I can be elated one minute and then the next feel like shouting at a bunch of trees which can’t shout back. I was diagnosed with BPD last year, and I was recently discharged from my psychiatrist. I manage my condition with medication, and I have therapeutic support available to me.
Being a young woman trying to pursue her ambitions in a patriarchal society is hard enough as it is; add BPD into the mix and it’s a process of trying to convince yourself that you’re good enough amidst a pool of charming, beautiful, and talented people.
Personality Disorders don’t have the best reputation. I’ve had several people tell me that they were shocked I had this sort of illness, exclaiming “your personality seems more than alright to me”. Well, that’s because it is. It’s comfortably more than alright.
Having a Personality Disorder doesn’t mean your personality is dangerous or worthless. It’s just that I’m a bit more sensitive than the average person and my emotions can often become a bit too overbearing. I’m still a funny, confident, and determined person who wants to make a difference in the world. This period of lockdown has been hard on every single person, irrespective of any conditions or ailments they may have. And now more than ever, it’s been ever so important to look out for the people around you: partners, parents, neighbours, strangers, and so on.
So, I want to share some superpowers that come with having BPD and how they’ve helped me in this strange time. I hope that I can give an insight into how the things that makes us quirky and misunderstood are the things which make us more special than we’ll ever know. My close friends call me an empath: someone who can feel and relate to the emotions of another individual. I’ve been hyper-aware of the loneliness that has crept among us over the last couple of months, and so I’ve made an effort to regularly check up on loved ones, cry with them over a Zoom video call without any embarrassment, and offer a supportive ear whenever they need.
I’ve always been a loving person, and so I’ve tried my very best to reconnect with people who haven’t been in my life for a while to let them know that I still think of them fondly. Like so many others, I lost two people who were extremely dear to me recently. I’ve experienced every emotion under the sun over this loss: anger, sadness, pity, and indifference, to name a few. But above all else, I have embraced those emotions, no matter how intense and confusing they’ve been, because they show that I care. And I’ll never stop caring for others or being attentive to how someone else is feeling.
The next step for me is learning to be attentive of how I’m feeling. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities in life, none of which I want to take for granted. I’m looking forward to the next chapter, continuing my education through graduate studies. I’ve got an amazing support system around me, as well as a community of fellow quirky and misunderstood people who have their own stories to tell.
And if there’s one thing that having BPD has taught me, it’s this: having a mental illness does not stop you from living a fulfilling life. If anything, it inspires you to spread positivity and make your voice heard, no matter who the audience is. Speak up, speak out.