For the sake of privacy, let’s call me Clare. So, my name is Clare, I am a graduate student studying psychology, and I live with mental illness.
Now, for those of you who are also in the field of psychology, you are well aware that you don’t seek such a profession without a personal connection to mental illness.
So, why do I think I am so special?
Truth is, I don’t. I think I am the most boring person in some ways. I spend many days drinking beer, watching Netflix, pretending I am doing homework, while my cat sits in a cat-nip fueled stupor on my lap. Not exactly what you would call “exciting”.
However, if you could just hear my thoughts out loud..hoooooooo boy. That would be something else.
You see, while I am spending my days on the couch and texting, watching Netflix, etc. My mind is a complete war zone.
If I am having a conversation with a friend, and he or she doesn’t respond within half an hour, or only responds with “yep”, “ok”, “k”. Here is how it goes:
“Oh my god. That person hates me. I did something to upset them. Why am I like this? Why am I such a fuck up? I fuck everything up. I annoyed that person and now they won’t ever talk to me again. Why does anyone talk to me anyway? You’re fucking worthless. Stop trying and just delete the message and their number so you stop bothering them”. (I think everyone in my contacts has been deleted from my phone probably anywhere between 1-10 times, depending on my relationship with that person).
So, then here comes the tailspin. I start pacing around my apartment, screaming about how terrible that person is for abandoning me. I tell myself that I don’t need that person anyway. How DARE they treat me like that?
Here come the waterworks.
Sometimes this mood will last a few minutes or several hours. My former self would have used this time to cut or do drugs, or become a keyboard warrior and cut that person from my life or try to hurt them the way they “hurt” me.
This is Borderline Personality Disorder. Sounds scary, yeah? It isn’t as bad as it sounds, at least not anymore. By definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by a number of traits such as impulsive behavior, fear of perceived abandonment, history of suicide attempts, history of substance abuse, low self esteem, self mutilation, and a whole clusterfuck of things that belong in the depression and anxiety categories of the DSM.
Why do I write this? What is the point?
I can tell you one thing, it isn’t for attention. I draw enough attention to myself simply by my appearance, my crass sense of humor, and my general presence in the room.
I write this because I feel as though I have a responsibility as a psychologist and as someone living with mental illness to assume all meanings of the term “advocate”. Yes, it is frowned upon in professional settings to disclose your own mental health status. This is something I struggle with at times. But the way I see it is this: we discuss cases, read textbooks, and all of this other shit to learn how to understand people. This is our job. So, why doesn’t it make sense to discuss the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that we all have seen or felt ourselves? There is no one case in the book for how to treat X disorder. There is no template. There is only experience. Why not share that with each other, so we can help the next guy? Not all people are the same, but NOT ALL PEOPLE ARE THE SAME.
So, back to advocacy.
I have learned over the years to be comfortable with my condition after like…. 10 years of being painstakingly embarrassed and ashamed to be this way. I felt like no one understood me, or even if I “came out” with my condition, no one wanted to accept it. So, I accept it for myself.
The most hurtful truth of living with mental illness is that no one wants to talk about it. Those who live with mental illness are silent warriors. It is one thing to get in a fight with another person, but just try to imagine what it is like to constantly fight yourself. Sucks, right?
That is the loneliest feeling sometimes. Knowing that no one can see how you hurt. Or when you tell someone how you hurt, they tell you to get over it.
So here is the whole point of this page: no one should be alone.
As dark as BPD is, it gives me an immense capability to love, to feel empathy, to feel compassion, and to protect those who I love.
Sometimes, those who live with BPD call themselves “BorderLions” as a commendation to the strength, willpower, and fight we put into life day by day.
I write this to share my life as it goes by. To break the ceiling on the misconceptions of mental illness. I am a functional Borderline who is capable of love, relationships, academic achievement. I am capable of survival. No matter what you struggle with, no matter how many times you tell yourself you can’t make it, you are fighting the fight with all of us. With me. And I welcome you.
So, my goal with this blog is to reach out to all of you, friend to friend, family member to family member, colleague to colleague, BorderLion to BorderLion.
You are not, and will never be, alone.