Student Describes the Daily Struggle of Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Anonymous, Staff Writer

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As an individual suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD), finding strength to cope with reality is a constant struggle.

One aspect of the disorder entails mood swings that drag me from extreme euphoria down to depressive despair unfathomably quick.

Swings sometimes occur second by second, where my thoughts follow each other in extreme contradiction like a pendulum in my mind being maliciously thrown back and forth by a devil and angel on each of my shoulders. My headspace changes sometimes more gradually like day to day, month to month, year to year. My inner dialogue is congruent to a California seismograph.

An overwhelming fear of abandonment also stems from my disorder, preventing me from forming relationships. To my own accord, I wasn’t comfortable with making friends until about the eighth grade. Not to say I was in total isolation; I talked and had fun with plenty of classmates during my early childhood but never dared to make afterschool plans because of the potential rejection.

Approaching adulthood, the fear of abandonment and rejection now collides with unrelenting loneliness culminating to calamity as I dare search for a significant other. This will be difficult, if not impossible. The disorder uses such profound logic by telling me in order to keep my sanity I must never form a bond with someone who could ever threaten it. I take it as a survival technique; hurt myself first before anyone else can.

A strong feeling of emptiness because of BPD leads way to me being a perfectionist in hopes of rectifying my own lack of value. This hinders a lot of my education, especially as I move further and further into higher pressure courses in my collegiate career. I tremble while submitting projects because I am ashamed of their quality. Often times, I find I receive high marks, even perfect marks, leaving me completely dumfounded to the point of convincing myself the professor made a mistake.

In elementary school, I would shut down my brain during test taking, usually after a trivial mistake. I would cruise through the test with ease, but if I got stumped on just one question, I would form a mental blockage that prevented me from going forward and very often pushed me to rip up the test.

Once I noticed my grades dropping in high school, I developed complete dissociation to classwork and gave up on any chances of succeeding.

I arrest my own psyche with scrupulous introspection, leading to my own mental trial, which always returns a shameful verdict that debilitates my ability to value any effect I have on society or my life. The attorneys within my psyche represent optimism and pessimism, and they have been arguing cases for years, leaving me in the wake of exhausting depression.

Every time it seems optimism just might win the jury, pessimism provides sheer logic in the closing statement. This proves to me that the negative voices my head aren’t only real, but accurate. Living in hell is easy if the demons convince you to stay. My thoughts are like a thousand moths trapped in a lamp shade, and I pray that someone shuts off the light.

This is where self-medication makes its mark on my life. Abusing a laundry list of substances on a day-to-day basis during sophomore year of high school, I drove myself to the brink of insanity featuring violent angry outbursts. Eventually, I landed in an involuntary psychiatric and drug rehabilitation hospital during the fall of my junior year.

That was when I was diagnosed with BPD. After I had been cleared to leave after some days, there was extensive follow-up programs that prevented me to go back to school for well over a month. The aftermath of the hospital discharge was nothing along the lines of rehabilitating.

The psychiatrist I was ordered to obtain prescribed me antidepressants and a highly addictive narcotic known as Klonopin used to treat anxiety. This was a little puzzling as he was aware I was a patient who had high risk for abusing drugs, but who was I to complain.

Now with a constant flow of mind-numbing narcotics, I upped the ante on “advised addiction,” courtesy of the doctor by supplementing his stash with street-sold Xanax making for a decent and relatable sedated state.

This lasted for several months until he became aware of my rabid alcoholism when I showed up drunk to an appointment. Not being one to lie, I told him of my dependencies on pills, pot and bourbon. I was told I had to make a choice: stop drinking every day or stop seeing professional help.

I was dropped from his clientele that afternoon. I then hit my bottom so hard I bounced twice.

In the coming months, cursing senior year, I dropped out of high school leaving my honor roll and advanced placement classes in the dust. Thankfully the administrators were kind enough to usher my way to a diploma by sending teachers to my house allowing me to complete my baseline classwork in a relaxed setting. This was a saving grace because it allowed me to attend Brookdale where I now study journalism and have the potential to be a success after such a turbulent educational past.

      As far as dealing with BPD today, while I am in my third semester of Brookdale, much progress has been made, but the fight is never final. Official treatments are more or less damage control rather than cures.”

— Anonymous

The good news is after many years of denial, I have come to terms with the fact that drugs and alcohol make my life worse with each passing bender, and it must come to a stop soon or it will come to a stop soon.

Furthermore, I must limit all extremes in my life – positive or negative. For example, I cyclically engage in diligent and routine exercise alongside healthy eating thus exhibiting self care to such an obsessive degree that I eventually slip out of my depth and crash into a degenerative lifestyle.

One tactic I learned along the way to remedy this is simmer my happiness and excitement down whenever it becomes too strong. I must give myself my own buzzkill. If I don’t, I’ll have used up all my serotonin and dopamine for the day and need to sleep in order to reset.

My life so far is a roller coaster of emotions that leads to such erratic behavior it’s painful to go about daily life. Numbing oneself, I now know, is negligent. It takes patience and understanding of my emotions in order to firmly grasp how I can deal with the trials and tribulations I have faced and will continue to face.

Currently, things are on the upswing in the grand scheme, despite recent setbacks. It is no matter, as recovery is not linear. I have made the dean’s list for two consecutive semesters. I have found joy in life, and I try to spark joy in others when I am able. I have eradicated nearly every angry bone in my body and face the world with a smile.

I do not use Borderline Personality Disorder as a scapegoat for disappointing life choices I’ve made. I know that if I keep copping out, I will never find the strength to move onward and upward. Finding a support system through others who are on the same path is integral, whether it be through group or private therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or even literature.

A favorite poem of mine that stables my mind reads, “If you would only start to live one moment at a time, you would I think be startled by the things that you would find. Like scents you never noticed and many subtle sounds. Like colors of the landscape and textures of the town. The winds would lift you up into the sky above and treat you to a view of everything you love. And if the moment passes, you should try it once again. For if you do it right, the moment never ends.”

For anyone else who struggles with mental health issues like me, it is important that we recognize the fault in our ways and remember to slow down and take it one day at a time.