My Struggle With Borderline Personality Disorder
After years of experiencing instability in my mood and self-image, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the age of 21.
Receiving these diagnoses caused me to feel a million different emotions at once. On one hand, I was relieved that I was not making it all up and that I was not alone. But on the other hand, I was terrified as to what these diagnoses meant for me and my life. I thought that if I researched and found out everything I could that I could somehow beat them. I was wrong.
So, I began my long journey of trying to find psychiatrists, medications and therapy that were right for me. I had no idea how much time, money and effort this would take. Although the town I live in is a great little community, our mental health services are definitely lacking. We simply do not have enough funding to get the amount of therapists, social workers and psychiatrists that are needed for this community. I had a few decent therapists, but they were just overworked and couldn’t offer me the help I needed.
Despite my effort to get help, I still struggled for many years. I was always good at putting on a smile and pretending everything was okay, so other than those who were close to me, people had no idea the depth of how much I was actually struggling. People probably just assumed I was just a normal moody woman, but it was so much deeper than that. Every single day is a battle inside my mind. The mood swings, anxiety and depression caused me to be in a tremendous amount of pain and often left me in a state of pure exhaustion.
People who have not experienced this simply do not understand the emotional and even physical toll mental health issues cause. Suicidal thoughts and ideations became the norm for me. It is not that I ever truly wanted to die, I was just tired of living. I was tired of the pain my behaviors caused myself and others. I honestly believed that I was just “too much” and that my family, friends and this world would be better off without me. I had to be hospitalized a few times and I attempted suicide twice. Before I had the correct tools to fight my battle, I used many unhealthy coping mechanisms. I self-medicated with alcohol and drugs for a while. I also starting using a very unhealthy way to cope with my pain, and that was to self-harm. I hurt myself on the outside to lessen the pain I felt on the inside.
After a couple years of college, I felt like my life was out of control, so I developed an eating disorder. I wanted to maintain some sort of control in my life, but I had no idea how much it would end up controlling me. Many people didn’t know just what I was doing to lose weight. I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten until my hair became thin and brittle and I started blacking out every time I stood up because I was so malnourished. My weight ended up fluctuating with my moods. I would go through periods of times when I had high energy and an elevated mood, and during those periods, I would restrict calories, exercise, purge and lose a lot of weight. However, I also had periods of time where I had minimal to no energy and all I wanted to do was lay in bed all day and eat everything I could find.
While going through all this, I managed to work and go to school. During a stage of intense depression, I did take a break from college and worked for a couple of years. Three years ago, I got back into college, brought my grades up and finished all but seven hours of my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Political Science. Last semester, I hit rock bottom again. I was under an extreme amount of stress and I wasn’t getting the treatment I needed, so I ended up in an inpatient facility for over 20 days. My medications had to be adjusted by the psychiatrists at the hospital, and I finally got into Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) with an amazing therapist in Little Rock. I have been stabilized on new medications and have been seeing my therapist twice a week for a little over a month now. Words cannot express how happy I am to finally be getting the treatment I need. I am certainly not where I need to be—and it is going to take a lot of hard work—but I know that I will reach my main goal of becoming a successful, productive member of society.
I plan on finishing my degree next semester, going to graduate school within a year or two, and becoming a mental health professional. The founder of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is Marsha Linehan who recently told the world that she previously struggled with BPD.
One of my long-term goals is to somehow acquire more funding for mental health services in my area. Although my struggle has made me stronger and the person I am today, I do believe that if there were better services where I live, I would have been able to get the help I needed sooner. I hope my story can shed light on the reality and seriousness of mental health conditions. I want anyone who may struggle with any type of mental health condition to know that receiving a diagnosis is not a death sentence and is nothing to be ashamed of. With the correct treatment, you can live an exciting and successful life.
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