As I listened to my favourite true-crime podcast, they started discussing my diagnosis. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and one of the criminals involved in the story shared it too. The following discussion by the presenters made my heart drop.
Borderlines don’t care about other people.
Borderlines are manipulative.
Borderlines are pathologically uncaring and selfish.
Borderlines are violent.
I thought to myself that if they are saying these things, then others must be too.
BPD is often poorly understood and its existence is also questioned. I am real. My illness is real. My illness deserves to be understood. My illness does not equate with criminality. It has nuances and each person with it is different. To clump us all together with negative connotations is a discredit to us as people and an insult to the suffering we go through.
Some borderlines may display these traits, but so do people with other diagnoses, and so do people without mental health struggles. Just because a criminal shares a trait, does not mean one size fits all.
The media never discusses BPD and it is often ignored in mental health discussions. It is important to gain awareness of it because I deserve to be seen. My diagnosis is not my label, but it helps me understand who I am as a person. It also means I can look for the treatment that is most helpful for me.
By not discussing it in the media it erases people’s experiences and increases the isolation.
I want to be able to see stories of strength, hope, and solidarity from people with BPD. I want to be able to cheer people on from the side-lines. I would also like to see three-dimensional characters in TV shows and films that show the complexity of BPD as individuals. We are not criminals and Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction.
People with BPD have lots of different symptoms such as impulsivity, a chronic emptiness, and a poor self-image. The symptom that affects me the most is the intense fluctuations of emotions. It can be very hard to stay centered because my highs are very high, and my lows are very low. There is often no in-between.
I love deeply, I laugh heartily, and I care very deeply about other people. I also hit the absolute depths of despair and can hurt with my whole being. I have an unstable relationship with people and fear rejection and abandonment deeply to the point where I push people away.
Because I feel so intensely, I feel your pain too. My empathy can overtake my own emotions. I love with all my heart and want to protect people from sadness. This isn’t the most helpful because life is life and life involves hurt. I cannot take away pain, but I am learning I can help others without taking on all the pain myself.
I refuse to let my diagnosis define me though. It is a small part of me, and I have lots of lovely things about myself that patch together to make me. I am determined to turn my illness into something positive and want to help others. I want to talk about my experiences and let them know they are not alone and show it is possible to live your best life despite my illness. BPD belongs in everyday conversation and not just on a true-crime podcast.