“…I’d like to end this before it gets ugly.” “I’m worried as to how you’ll take all this.” “…you’re going to take it the wrong way no matter how nicely I phrase it.” “I understand your condition means that you may have an extreme reaction anything that is said.” “I want to terminate this friendship.”
It never gets old. People see a side of you that they’ve never seen before, and suddenly they’re convinced that you’re nothing but poison, and the kindest thing they can do for themselves is to get away from the toxic borderline individual before you turn your emotional turbulence on them. And where do they get that idea? Well, there’s enough negativity about us out there, they can take their pick. Once they discover the disorder, it seems like they look over the person, see nothing but destruction and drama, then decide they want out.
(They seem to completely ignore the part where people with BPD struggle with being abandoned, of course…)
Now, I’m not a stranger to this. People have picked me up and dropped me all my life, from way before being diagnosed, and every time it’s like another knife in my back. My old psychotherapist said that treating me was difficult because I had huge mental defences built up to protect myself from being hurt – it’s no fucking wonder when people decide suddenly that I’m harmful.
When do those with BPD stop being people and just become their condition? When did we lose the right to knowing where we stand with people? Why do people seemingly forget all the positive things we do when we’re well and only focus on the episodes? More importantly, why are we treated like we chose to be so emotionally unstable?
Do you know why people end up with BPD? It’s similar to PTSD, as a response to trauma often experienced during childhood, usually abuse. It keeps you stuck with the emotional intensity that a child would feel. When a child has a tantrum, or they do something considered ‘spiteful’, it is usual to correct the child’s behaviour. We don’t hold it against them, we don’t judge their character based on these events – so why is it done to borderline adults? The Husband said that it might be because people cannot possibly fathom the idea that a grown adult could ever be compared to a child being a brat.
Surely, that isn’t the problem of the borderline adult, but the one making such harsh judgements?
If I could wake up tomorrow and not have any psychological disorders, oh man that would be the best day of my life. Maybe even better than my wedding day. To think I could hear some bad news and be able to leave the house and carry on with my day, instead of curling up in a ball and staying in bed all day. I’d be able to show true apathy towards people, I wouldn’t feel like I have to be friends with everyone – I’d even be able to leave the past behind me! That would be wonderful. And with time, medication and the possibility of DBT in the future, that could be something I can learn. I will always have BPD, but I would be able to live with it, and correct my own behaviour if I need to.
But you know what makes that harder? People treating me like I’m doing the things I do purely for attention, and that I’m a bad person because of it.
Let’s get a few things straight. I am a good liar – because I spent years hiding the abuse I suffered as a child from my parents, and pretending that I was happy when I was pretty much dead inside. I can convince everyone around me that I’m fine when I’m really not. I can also be incredibly self-righteous towards people – I feel if someone is acting in a way that hurts others then they should be held accountable, because those who have hurt me were never punished.
I don’t set out to hurt people. I’m incredibly empathetic towards people, and I feel the pain of others as if it was mine. Emotions are agony for me, and often very tiring. I am covered in self-inflicted scars, and I have wanted to die so many times I’ve lost count. And then, I’ve been completely fine. I’ve just snapped out of despair and carried on with life. I hate it, but it’s all I know. I don’t do it on purpose, I just do what I can with what I have.
I’m lucky enough to have family that have come to accept me for who I am. I have a handful of true friends who have seen me at my very worst and have stood by my side. And then there’s my husband, who saw me as a damaged, broken adult and thought, “I’m going to stay with this woman because behind the disorder, there’s someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
And I’m not the only one who has been lucky enough to find such stability. There are other people out there with BPD who have found love, have built lives, had children and lived a life beyond their disorder. It’s the minority of those with BPD who don’t want help or support that make the rest of us look like nutjobs who can’t focus in society – and thus validate the claims that people should ‘terminate’ their relationships with their borderline friends.
And these people will be applauded for their courage. How brave of them to end a potentially dangerous friendship! It must have been so difficult to be so open and honest with someone who could have flipped on a dime like that. Bull. Shit. You are not brave for abandoning someone who needs your friendship – especially when they’re ill and need something to keep them grounded. Something worth fighting for. The only reason I haven’t killed myself in the past few trying months is the simple fact that I can’t bear to leave my husband. That is my reality.
Yes, people with BPD are hard work. We can be unpredictable, destructive, difficult and frustrating as hell. But we’re also people with feelings. And treating us like a growth that needs to be removed in case it kills you – it needs to stop.