This past year has been a mental health challenge to say the least. Back in October I had depressive episode bad enough that I finally went on antidepressants. Though my depression did get better after that, my struggle was far from over.
Fast forward to January of this year and things started going downhill again. I was medicated, I didn’t have the same stresses I had back in 2018, so why wasn’t I feeling better? It all came to light when a friend mentioned a topic I didn’t want to talk about and my emotions went off the rail. I had a complete meltdown and I didn’t know why. That friend grew more concerned as I pulled away from her and shut off my phone so I could ignore her and the rest of the world.
I had so many thoughts and feelings and the emotions were clearly clouding my judgement. I wanted to immediately go see my friend and hear her say everything was going to be okay, but at the same time I had pulled away, so clearly she hated me now. Right? Wrong! This is just one of the many lies my brain tells me.
Turns out it wasn’t just my depression and anxiety that were kicking my ass. If you follow me on twitter and saw my outburst this month after I had some anon asshole tell me I shouldn’t tweet about such a “volatile illness”, then you already know this, but for the rest of you, I have Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. Don’t know what that is? You’re not alone.
BPD is commonly mistaken for bipolar disorder, and although similar, they aren’t the same. I could give you some clinical description of BPD but honestly those never make it sound great. I did way too much reading after the diagnosis, as the only things I knew about it were from watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which is amazing and you should all go watch it!). The reading just sent me into a downward spiral as a lot of books and articles really villainize it. People with BPD are seen as volatile monsters that can’t control their emotions or maintain friendships or relationships.
Let me just say, this isn’t true. People with BPD love big. I once told a friend we have so much love in our hearts for our close friends and family that we don’t have any left for ourselves. I personally don’t really seem to have trouble maintaining friendships, but that might be because my friends (especially the select few that know I have BPD) are stubborn and refuse to let me sabotage any of the relationships in my life. The only person I struggle to love is myself, but I’m working on that. Despite the title of this blog post, I don’t suck, even if my brain lies to me sometimes and tells me I do. I’m trying my best.
Struggling to deal with emotions is a huge part of BPD. I suffer from emotion dysregulation and black-and-white thinking (using always and never statements about yourself and others that may be harmful. Example: I’m never going to be able to do this). Add my anxiety and depression into the mix and my brain is a hot mess of emotion at any given point and time. I’ve cried more in the past few months than I ever have in my life. And considering the amount I cried last year, that’s saying something. I use a mood tracker and the vast amount of sting emotions I can go through in a single day is a little crazy.
But back to my point, once I found out I had BPD and cried for a while (followed by listening to “My Diagnosis” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on repeat), I realized the past year (longer, if I’m being honest) suddenly made so much more sense. Suddenly I knew why I was struggling to “get over” emotional situations.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s been rough. I’d like to express nothing but gratitude to the people I’ve broken down and cried on because I just couldn’t handle all the emotions anymore. Nothing with BPD is a quick fix. I meditate, do grounding exercises, see a therapist, go to a BPD support group, and do daily Dialectical Behaviour Therapy homework. I work out even when I don’t want to. I journal nightly. I work so hard to maintain my mental health, and sometimes it still fails. But I don’t give up. I’m in this for the long haul.
Now, I’m not saying any of this for sympathy. There’s nothing I hate more. I’m here to break down stigmas. I want nothing more than to spread awareness about a terribly stigmatized but not well-known mental illness. Talking about all this feels like coming out all over again (actually worse, cause I never really “came out” I just started dating women and didn’t care anymore who noticed). This is worse, because I don’t want anyone to think less of me, but the only way I’m going to break that is talking about it. So I refuse to be quiet anymore.