A Brief Look at My Life with Borderline Personality Disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

A Brief Look at My Life with Borderline Personality Disorder

By Jamie Gilmore

My name was stated here originally, but due to the fact that all of my personal rights to this story are irrelevant the moment I post this, I have decided not to give it. I briefly contemplated not telling my story because of that very fact, but have decided to post it despite that fact. The reason being, that it is common knowledge for those with mental illness to understand how damaging social stigma can be, but I believe it is just as damaging to read numerous “success stories” about people who have suffered themselves. It can indeed be inspiring to read these stories. However, when they are presented in a manner as if the struggle somehow evaporates at the end is not logical, because life is never so linear. There are ups and downs for everyone, mentally healthy or not. The struggle may get easier, but it will always be there.

This is an open letter to anyone willing and/or needing to listen. I am 26 years old, I live in Wichita, KS, and I live with my father because I cannot live alone. Currently, my BPD symptoms are worsening.

I was diagnosed with BPD about seven years ago. When I was told what it was, I went home and researched everything I could about it. I was excited because all of my problems finally had an explanation, and just maybe I wasn’t such a bad person. Maybe it wasn’t all my fault like I was always told and I always believed. And most importantly, maybe I had a chance to get better.

Unfortunately, a few years later, the societal stigma against mental illness reared its ugly head. People started telling me that I was using my diagnosis as an excuse for my bad behavior. I started to believe that. It’s like every step I had ever taken to better myself since my diagnosis, just never happened. All the feelings of worthlessness came flooding back into my head. I quit writing. And it felt like nothing I could ever do to try to improve myself would ever matter to the people I cared for, because of everything that had happened in my past.

Most of my family doesn’t believe in my diagnosis, and any friend I ever made has left because of the brief periods of time when I couldn’t control my emotions. I could never blame them for not wanting to be around me, but this all left and leaves me with absolutely no support system. Yes, I live in my father’s house, but we barely speak, and I harbor so my anger toward him that sometimes I can’t talk to him because I don’t know what awful words could come out of my mouth. My surroundings have left me feeling like there is no hope, because no one wants to help. Not someone like me. Not someone with questionable actions in their past.

I read The Art of Asking by my favorite artist Amanda Palmer, and it was absolutely wonderful. That book made me see that there are good people in the world. That some people really are willing and even eager to help, and that makes me smile every damn time. I need frequent reminders of this, because if I don’t it feels like I will lose faith in humanity completely, and that will shatter every belief I have ever held dear. I want there to be love in the world. I want to know that humanity can be beautiful. I want to know that honesty and loyalty exist. I need them to… but as an outcast to society, I don’t see it. My belief in it is fading.

Imagine the most intense feeling you have ever had in your life. Maybe it’s the first time you fell in love, or the worst argument you have ever had with someone you love. The intensity with which you felt those emotions is probably equivalent to what a person with BPD feels on a regular basis. Now, multiply that feeling times ten and that is what a person with BPD considers intense emotion. That is what a fight with a loved one feels like, or how intensely they can feel love for a single person. The emotion can easily become unbearable, which is when the BPD takes control. Your mind, your body, are completely taken over and you end up doing something you regret deeply but have to live with. People will tell you that whatever you did was your fault, and you will believe it, but they don’t and can’t understand how hard you fought to keep control.

It can easily end up feeling hopeless and you feel helpless. There is nothing you can do to fix it. You believe you can’t get close to anyone because you will love them so much, and they will inevitably hurt you in one way or another, and you will overreact and do or say something that ensures they decide they can’t be around you. You are toxic. Your lack of emotional control leads you to damage your relationships, leading people to walk away from it, which exacerbates the abandonment issues that are a part of your disorder. It’s a cycle of negativity. I truly believe that I will never get better, because I am surrounded by negative people with negative feelings toward me that I then reciprocate toward them.

Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to a dear friend of mine, because I became emotional and said things I never should have. I tried to be responsible. I walked away so she wouldn’t have to deal with that; because no one should have to. I told my siblings what I really thought of them a couple days before that, because they always use my past against me, and lie about me. And a couple days ago I put my guitar away and said, “I’m done.”

The stigma. The disregard/disbelief. It is killing my spirit. My will. I just wish more people were aware of how damaging the things they say really are to anyone with any kind of mental illness. The more people are aware and care, the more people we can help. I may feel hopeless, but I don’t want other people to.

I am aware there is a shift in the middle of this brief description of my experience from talking to people with mental illness, toward talking to those without it. Originally, I had intended for those without it to read and hopefully gain just a grain of understanding. But that will only happen if others that share in the experience find this and share it with others. My intention was to describe the difficulty while remaining brief.


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