I’ve mentioned being Borderline in passing on this blog before, in addition to having Bi-Polar Disorder and other co-morbid fun times. I wanted to do a little post about what that means in real life terms since I’m toeing the edge of an episode or a downswing or whatever and ready to chat about some of the things I’ve been feeling and thinking recently with regards to mental illness and interacting with the Neurotypicals(TM).
Borderline Personality Disorder is a Cluster B Personality Disorder, and it hinges on instability with regards to interpersonal relationships, emotions, and identity, among other things. Upon hearing this, a lot of (neurotypical) people try to say that everyone gets mad at their friends, or needs validation they are doing a good job, or feels lost sometimes as to who they are and what they want. And you know, on a good day, I know that everyone does.
But BPD is not that. It’s not that for me, and I don’t think any actual Borderline would agree with it, either. And it is very hard to not get pissed off when you have to hear it again and again, and are expected to listen patiently like a “good mentally ill person,” since they are “just trying to help.”
If you are chronically or mentally ill in some way, hearing things like that undercut your very real symptoms and the very real impacts they have on your very real life. It’s near gas-lighting, and for myself having or being BPD, this especially grates. One of the worst catch-22s of BPD is that it can become your identity so quickly once you finally have a diagnosis or a name to call how you’ve been feeling that even if you hate it (and boy, do I hate it! 🙂 ) having someone try to take that from you is like changing the forces of gravity. I don’t want to be sick, but in some ways I feel like I have to be in order to “be” in many senses of that word. If I’m not Borderline, who or what am I then? What is left if you take that part away?
Worse yet, because BPD makes you question who and what you are, a lot of Borderlines question that diagnosis anyway — that they’re making their symptoms up, or feeling like they’re just doing this “for attention” — but that very train of thought is a symptom in and of itself; constantly questioning the validity of the diagnosis is part of living with the diagnosis. When my experiences get re-framed in the context of “everyone is like that, really!” I don’t know if I can adequately express how disorienting it feels, and what that can trigger.
(Yes, everyone does that. Why am I so weak I can’t handle it like everyone else? What else am I making up for attention, what else am I using as an excuse? How can I be such a bad person to think my experiences are so much worse than everyone else’s? People have it much worse than I do, what do I have to complain about, really? I couldn’t tell you, since I now know I’m making not only my BPD symptoms up, but also my BD symptoms, my anxiety, the swings, splitting, all of it. Maybe even my PCOS and Endo. I’m making those up too, why not?)
I can try to understand why some neurotypical people feel the need to do that. Maybe they think they are being supportive, to let me or other people know they aren’t alone. I think more often because of the way BPD symptoms are described, people misunderstand them and orient them in their own experiences. Because, for example, if the DSM says one of the characteristics of being Borderline is “an instability in goals, aspirations, and career plans,” they all flash back to when they changed their major midway through undergrad and don’t understand the depth of what that means or feels like to someone who cannot regulate their emotions with any consistency and lacks a centralized sense of self. That’s not an isolated incidence of existential panic or debating a career change, it’s a chronic state of being.
Anyway. A lot of this was prompted by me mass-unfollowing a lot of borderline-centric tumblrs recently due to this type of Discourse(TM), and I wanted to share my thoughts and also maybe give people who wouldn’t otherwise get one a look at what BPD looks like in real life.
On my face:
- Hard Candy Sheer Envy Pore Defense Primer Serum. Since I am coming out of an episode that left me unable to wash my face consistently and on the verge of a dermatological revolt, the willow bark and witch hazel in this primer help me stave off the inevitable bad brain breakout. That I deserve, you know, because what kind of adult can’t get up to at least rinse the grime and dirt off their face? 🙂
- Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Color Correct Cream in Sheer Nude. Since not being able to wash my face has also left me flaky and dry, the soothing ingredients in this aloe based cream help hide the flakiness where I’ve scratched or picked at my face trying to self-harm my guilt away post episode.
- Glossier Boy Brow in Brown. Since I seemingly lost my favorite Jordana brow gel (that left me crying for several minutes this morning, unable to stop myself from looking for it even though I knew it was lost, and I can’t even keep up with a little tube of makeup), this overpriced impulse buy keeps my brows visible on my puffy, bloated face, from all the water I haven’t been drinking and junk food I’ve been eating.
- Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer in Brightener. Since my episode I’ve been sleeping maybe two hours a night the past week or so, since the thought of sleeping triggers my paranoia. I don’t want anyone asking me about it at work — because what would I say? — so this lightweight, easy to blend formula helps hide the evidence.
- Glossier Stretch Concealer in Light. This is another overpriced impulse buy, since I literally cannot help myself from spending money irresponsibly 75% of the time. The emollient formula glides over the scabby, flaky parts of my face I cant help but mess with.
- Pacifica Aquarian Gaze Water Resistant Mascara in Abyss. Who knows when my next outburst or meltdown will be? I could split on my Bein, my co-worker, or my dog at the drop of a hat, and this lightweight, smudgeproof formula keeps me from those melodramtic racoon eyes when I have a little cry in the bathroom at work.
- Revlon Kiss Balm in Juicy Peach. Since I’ve been gnawing at my lips constantly, trying to internalize all my shit and assimilate with the Neurotypicals(TM), a nice hydrating, sweet-smelling balm will help heal the scabs and dry patches I’ve got lingering.
- A smile! Two weeks ago my coworker started talking to me about his friend’s “crazy, Borderline wife” who was ruining his life. No way I would let them know I’m struggling with the same illness that apparently only matters in the context of making other people’s lives harder. BPD folks are manipulative and abusive, don’t you know?