Category Archives: Social Anxiety

Walking the Borderline

About a year ago, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Although I didn’t receive a diagnosis until 27, I have displayed the signs of a borderline since I was probably about 11. I have extreme issues in regulating my emotions, impulsivity and recklessness, and unstable relationships. 

 

I’m writing this to invite you to walk the borderline with me.

The diagnostic criteria for BPD are…

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.  

You see, borderlines do not know how to handle rejection or abandonment. There’s something in our brains that tells us it’s always going to happen and that someone must be abandoning us if that don’t respond to us.

I’ve lived, pretty much, my entire life in fear of abandonment. And my obsession with avoiding abandonment almost certainly guarantees it. 

 

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationship.

When we meet a new person who we connect with, we instantly love them. This often makes us look psychotic and pushes people away. We love deeply, but we are terrified of intimacy and connection. When we want to cling, we often claw instead.   
 

3. Identity disturbances.

People will tell you, “just be yourself.” But that is nearly impossible for a borderline. We don’t know who we are or where we fit in, in this world. Is my favorite color purple because it’s MY favorite color? Or is it because someone else wanted it to be? I don’t know anymore. I try to not wear masks and be real with people…but that’s hard when it’s all you’ve ever known.

To this day, at 27 years old, I have no clue who I am. I am a chameleon. I can fit in with anyone because I change depending on where I am.   

 

4. Impulsivity in at least 2 areas that are self-damaging. 

This is so much more than just “resisting temptation”. When a borderline gets the impulse to do something, it will literally consume their thoughts until they do it. Many of us spend too much, shoplift, drive too fast, drink, do drugs, or have eating disorders. It’s nearly impossible for us to just walk away from a self-destructive impulse. And this sucks! 

 

5. Recurrent suicidal thoughts/behaviors and/or self mutilating behavior.

As many as 75% of borderlines cut themselves and 10% commit suicide. It’s one of the most dangerous mental illnesses. Self-mutilating and suicide are often the only way we can see to get the pain to end. 

For me, self-harm was always a reminder to me that I’m still alive. I get so numb at times, that I just need a reminder that I can still feel.  

 6. Mood instability – cycles of mania, anxiety, irritability, depression, or anger lasting a few hours but no more than a few days.

People around us often live in fear of not knowing what our mood will be like one moment to the next. But we fear that too. We hate not knowing when the depression is going to hit. It’s a living hell. As much as you hate walking on eggshells around us, we hate it too.  

 

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.

We feel completely alone and scared in this world. We feel completely empty, like we’re just a shell of a person. We don’t know how to get away from this empty, numb feeling within ourselves.  

 

8. Inappropriate, intense anger.

The slightest injustice, to us, turns into a great travesty. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ve exploded in fits of anger and been told I was selfish and immature because I didn’t get my way. But it’s so much more than that. It’s so much more than “not getting our way”. We’re not very flexible, it’s not by choice – we try to go with the flow, and sudden alterations in plan effect us emotionally.  

 

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

Have you ever driven a familiar road and once you got to your destination, realized you didn’t remember a portion of the drive? That’s dissociation. Borderlines often dissociate in response to stress that we don’t know how to handle. It’s not something that we do consciously, but our brains do it instinctively as a defense mechanism. Our physical beings continue to function, while our mental beings become disconnected.  

 

Being a borderline is literally like a living hell at times. I view the world much differently than those around me. Because I don’t remember things the same way as others, I’ve been told I’m dramatic or a liar – which leads me to questioning my own memories. 

Borderlines feel things MUCH, MUCH deeper than everyone else. Which means that we’re often criticized for being overly sensitive or too emotional. Which then leads us to feel guilty for our own emotions. That guilt, in turn, causes us to make ourselves numb to our own emotions. We literally only have the two extremes – overly emotional or completely numb, there is no in between. And some days, I’m not sure which is worse.  

 Many people will walk out of our lives and “give up” on us because it is difficult to love us, but we don’t do it on purpose. We hate that we have to live this way. And often we question God, wondering why He made us with defective emotions. 

Many of us were abused, in some way, as children. This abuse taught us at a young age that fear and love went together. That trust meant pain. That closeness meant agony. So we learned to live shallow lives and never let anyone into the deepest, darkest areas of our lives.  

 

Sometimes, all we need is someone to validate our emotions. We need those who love us, not to enable us, but to reassure us that we’re not “crazy” for feeling the way we do. 

Psychiatrists and therapists fear us the most. Most don’t know how to treat us – they fear treating us due to our high propensity towards suicide. 

We have no “internal governor.” We can feel profound love simultaneously with deep rage – and if that confuses you, just imagine how we feel. We hate living this way. We’re sorry for the effect we have on your life, please know that we don’t do it on purpose.

If we trust you, don’t take that lightly. If we love you, we’re taking a big step out of our comfort zones. And if you can’t handle the bumpy road ahead, get out now before anyone gets hurt.  

 

Like I’ve said before, we’re just trying to get through this world the only way we know how. 


For Those Who Don’t Understand

Living with a mental illness can often be a living hell. Before you try to tell me I’m being dramatic, you should reasses how you view mental illness. The name, in and of itself, says ILLNESS. It’s not a choice I make. I don’t CHOOSE to be depressed. I don’t CHOOSE to be anxious. I don’t CHOOSE to be emotionally unstable. And yet, I am all of those things.  

 I know many people who, although they mean well, simply don’t get it. I’ve been told, “just be happy,” or “stop worrying,” or “can’t you just calm down,” or “just be normal, like everyone else.” The problem with all of these statements is that it completely invalidates who I am and what I feel. What if you told someone with a broken leg to just get up and walk? Unless you’re Jesus, you just sound like an idiot. Same concept.  

 My feelings, while you may not understand them (and don’t worry, because I often don’t understand them either), are just as legitimate as yours. My life might look okay from the outside, so you can’t understand why I feel the way I do. But on the inside, I’m a mess of emotions and chaos. You may not understand my overwhelming fear of being in large crowds or my tendency to completely shut down when I’m upset, but that doesn’t make it any less real. 

We live in a world that caters to healthy people. But when you’re healthy, you don’t realize how true that is. Until you’ve fought a war against yourself, every day of your life, you can’t understand how hard it is to function in a world that isn’t made for you. 

 I’m tired of being ashamed and trying to hide my mental illness. Because you know what, Jesus loves me even with my self-harm scars and anxiety and watery eyes and depression and PTSD and my inability to focus – He loves all of me. And if Jesus isn’t ashamed of my mental illness, then why should I be. 

So next time you meet someone who seems a bit more anxious than you think necessary or more sad than you think they should be, try having some compassion instead of judgement. Those of us with mental illnesses feel our emotions – whether happy or sad, on a much deeper level than most.  

 We’re not trying to make your life more difficult. We’re simply trying to get through life the only way we know how. 


I Have Borderline Personality Disorder

An open letter to those with questions…
I have a mental illness. I’m not crazy and my illness doesn’t define me. I have borderline personality disorder. I’ve struggled with self harm, bulimia, and suicidal thoughts. But I’m still alive and I’m still fighting. 
I know that many of you have wondered where I’ve been over the last few months…so here’s the truth – I’ve been in and out of the hospital since January. I tried to take my own life in April. Thankfully, I was unsuccessful. 

  
Every day is a battle for me. I wrestle with myself and my own thoughts – thoughts that I cannot control. I try, with every fiber of my being, to not let my mental illness effect those around me. But the truth is, if you care about me, my mental illness will effect you. 

  
You see, I don’t view the world the same way you do. I obsess. I worry. I isolate. I cry. I over think. I panic. I hide. Sometimes, I wish I could just run away. 
Borderline personality disorder is a living hell. Those of us with BPD have an extremely difficult time regulating our emotions, an unstable sense of self, and a hard time maintaining relationships. It’s been said that people with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement. I didn’t choose to have BPD. According to the doctors, BPD most frequently develops in children who have been abused, neglected, and/or abandoned before the age of 5…circumstances that’re beyond the control of a small child. BPD develops as a way to cope with a world that makes no sense. It’s our brain’s subconscious way of helping us deal with the chaos in our lives. 

  
I might not be very good at being a friend. I don’t know how to talk to people. I’m terrified of rejection and abandonment. I don’t do small talk. I hate talking on the phone. Most days, I would give almost anything to just be able to interact with the world like a “normal” person. My family often walks on eggshells around me, not knowing if I’m having a good day or a bad day. 
I constantly feel guilty and ashamed for the effect that my mental illness has had on those closest to me. I wish I could give my husband and children more of me, but BPD takes so much from me that I don’t have much left to give. 

  
The biggest thing you need to understand about BPD is that I struggle with emotions. I hate emotions because they scare me. I feel things on a much deeper level than most people. I can feel extreme joy and happiness. But I can also feel terrifying depression and anxiety. I don’t understand emotions. I don’t know how to cope with them. Even when I feel extreme joy, I am overwhelmed with fear about what to DO with that emotion. 
So to sum it all up, if you take only one thing away from this post, please remember that I love deeply and, just like everyone else, I long for love and acceptance. I am only human. You many not understand me – don’t worry, I don’t understand me either. But I ask that you please be patient with me. If I don’t answer you calls, don’t take it personally – sometimes I just can’t find the strength to talk on the phone. Sometimes I don’t know the right words to say – don’t take offense to it. 

  
I love fiercely and deeply. Next time I frustrate you, please understand that it is not intentional. I’m just trying to learn how to cope with this world and handle a life that often makes no sense. 


7-in-7 Day 7: Who am I?

I’m posting this early. Day 7 isn’t actually until tomorrow, but God laid this on my heart tonight. It’s not my usual style of writing, yet every word is deeply true.

Who am I?
Really, who am I?
I could tell you my name,
But that doesn’t answer the question.
Who am I?

I am not my age
Nor my name or my weight
I am not my past
Nor the reflection I see
I am not my mistakes
Nor the things I’ve seen

So who am I?

I am a princess
A daughter
I’m loved by a King

I am an artist
I like to create
I’ve seen hell in my life
But I’ve also seen glimpses of Heaven
I feel deeply
And I love passionately
My skin is too thin
For the hate in this world
I spew words onto paper
And empty my heart
Express how I feel
In stanzas and lines
My favorite color is purple
And there’s something about a yellow rose
That just captivates me with it’s beauty

Who am I?

I’m human
I’m a sinner
I need friends
Not a lot, maybe just one or two
To help me through life
But I’m awkward and scared
Insecure and intimidated
Too afraid that you’ll reject me
Just as soon as look at me

Who am I?

I’m not where I have been
But where I am going
I am not what I’ve done
But what I am doing
I’m learning to give love
And also to accept it.

Who am I?

I am worthy of love.


7-in-7 Day 5: Almost Within Reach

I want to tell a story
Of the power of grace
You may not believe it
But I’ll tell it anyway
At one time I thought
I could be good enough by myself
I didn’t need Jesus
Or anyone else

You see, not long ago
I was lost in this world
Broken by shame
I was a scared little girl
A smile on my face
Would tell the world I was fine
But the shame in my heart
Would tell me that I’m lying
I had endured abuse
And tried to take my own life
I had heard talk of God
But didn’t believe the hype
If He was so great
Why were my arms lined with scars
If He was so loving
Why was I falling apart

So I just kept on reaching
For the next thing I would need
To be happy, find peace
As I watched my soul bleed
At some point I would find it
Joy, love, and peace
If I would only try harder
It was almost within reach

“Almost within reach”
That’s a funny thing to say
It means the same thing as
“It’s too far away”

My mind was convinced
That I could fix all my problems
I didn’t really need to face it
In order to solve them
I could push them away
And ignore the burning pain
That rose in my heart
With the break of each day
It was almost within reach
I had almost achieved it
I was almost enough
I really couldn’t believe it

“Almost within reach”
Means I’d still fall on my face
When I jumped out to grab it
I’d land in a pool of mistakes
If I had only tried harder
If I had just been better
I’ll reach it one day
I’ll just try over

What was I reaching for?
What did I want to achieve?
Every time I thought I made it
I still landed on my knees
Peace, that’s what I wanted
Peace in my heart
Peace that would stay
In spite of my scars

That’s when I met grace
It was “almost within reach”
Almost, but too far
So God reached out for me
He said, “this is yours,
Stop trying to earn it.
Let me love you where you are
And you can have it.
You are a sinner
You can’t be good enough
But if you’re willing to see it
I’ll show you true love.
Look at the cross
And the love that was shown.
My Only Son gave His life
To make you my own.
To you, new life is given
It is freely yours
Only because Jesus died
To conquer the war.”

New life, grace, mercy?
What exactly did that mean?
Could I really stop trying?
Could I really “just be”?
The answer was yes
That’s all He wanted from me
God simply wanted
To give my soul peace

“Almost within reach”
Was always a lie
Peace couldn’t come
From clinging to my life

I don’t pretend to understand
Why God is who He is
I can’t fathom His greatness
All I need to know is this –
I’m not who I was
His grace changed my heart
Jesus loves me, He saved me
And He’s healing my scars
Day after day
His mercies renew
And day after day
I find peace in the truth


7-in-7 Day 4: Hope in Redemption

She was broken
But didn’t understand why
She smiled and agreed
Looked good on the outside
She tried fitting in
So she hid her hurt
She was afraid to admit
She was getting worse
She was starving herself
She longed for beauty
She ached to be perfect
Assuming it was her duty
Who could she tell
The horrible truth
She wanted to die
She felt broken and used
Every once in a while
Someone would notice
So she’d open her heart
Just to later regret it
She wanted to be happy
She wanted to be okay
But she had accepted
She’d never see the day

That’s when she found relief
In breaking her skin
For just one moment
She’d forget the pain she was in
She would watch the blood fall
And for a moment feel strong
But that small bit of strength
Never lasted too long
So she kept on doing it
Over and over
It became an addiction
She needed more to feel better
That’s all she knew
It’s how she dealt with the pain
It bubbled up to the surface
And she pushed it away

This only lasted for a season
Until she needed a change
She had to find a better way
To hide all her shame
So alcohol and drugs
Made their way to her hands
And in those moments
She found strength to stand
But she was standing on rocks
That would soon leave her shattered
And she was left to believe
Her life never mattered

Why couldn’t she shake
This feeling of being lost
She kept trying harder
No matter the cost
She worked herself to the bone
She had to achieve more
But was this really something
She was willing to die for?

That’s when something changed
God showed her grace
She saw who He was
In light of her mistakes
His love covered her
As she dropped down in tears
His arms embraced her
And pushed out her fears
“Why do You love me?
I’ve sinned way too much.”
She cried through her tears
As she clung to His love
He replied to her gently
“You are My daughter.
There’s nothing you can say or do
To lose the love of your Father.
Yes, you have sinned
And you’ve made big mistakes.
You’re broken and human
But I offer you grace.
Come humbly to Me
Give me your life
And I’ll give you hope
A future, a life.”

So she did as He said
She laid herself down
Before the cross she bowed
And He gave her His crown
She still has her struggles
This world is still broken
But she clings to the truth
Of hope in redemption


The Socially Anxious Introvert

In a world that seems to be dominated by extroverts (of course, because introverts don’t generally have as much of a desire to fill the limelight) it is hard to be an introvert without feeling like there’s something wrong with me.

Let me start by explaining what an introvert is and what an introvert isn’t.

An introvert isn’t just someone who is shy and doesn’t like people.

An introvert is someone who very much loves people, has a great deal of compassion and affection for others, but who also is physically and emotionally drained by spending time with other people.

An introvert isn’t a shut-in who avoids the world at all costs.

An introvert is someone who, although he/she enjoys spending time with family and friends, desperately needs to spend time alone to recharge and relax.

An introvert isn’t a rude person who simply doesn’t want to talk to you.

An introvert is bad at small talk and finds small talk tiring and uncomfortable.

I am an introvert and I also have social anxiety.  Social anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, dread, or apprehension about social interaction and presentation. Introversion and social anxiety, when combined, can be a toxic mix.

The weird thing about me, even though I am a socially anxious introvert, is that I enjoy public speaking and performing. I love talking in front of people (as long as it is planned out and practiced) and I love performing worship on Monday nights at Celebrate Recovery. But as I say I enjoy these things, that doesn’t make them any less emotionally draining on me. I need quiet, alone time to emotionally recoup from this level of interaction.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I HATE talking on the phone. If I don’t answer my phone when you call or I don’t call you back, don’t take it personally. If you text me, or contact me any of the other 10 ways I can be contacted through my iPhone (technology humor, lol) that don’t actually require me to talk to you, I’ll probably send you a pretty speedy response.

Here’s another thing about introverts, we communicate much more effectively through writing or other non-verbal forms of communication. I have some friends and family who get frustrated by this, but what you need to understand about me (or whoever the introvert is in your life) is that I love and I care about you very deeply, but I will never be able to express that in the same as my extroverted counterparts.

Due to my social anxiety, I also find it hard to make true and lasting friends. I get anxiety at the simple thought of making a phone call to someone I don’t know…and sometimes even to people I do know. I have anxiety about going to the grocery store, going to church, attending Bible studies, taking my daughter to school, going to family events at my husband unit…you name it, if it involves being around other people (especially people I don’t know) it causes me anxiety.

Now, combine my introversion and social anxiety…what you get is a lot of anxiety attacks and tears.

So we’ve already covered that introverts have a desperate physical NEED for quite, alone time…away from ALL other people. Let’s talk about how hard this is as a wife and mother.

As a wife and mom, I spend almost all day, every day with either my kids or my husband. I have very little, if any, time to tune out the world and refocus myself. What happens when days, weeks, or even months, pass without being able to find that quite time to recharge? Anxiety skyrockets and tempers soar. Social anxiety becomes exacerbated and social interactions become fewer and fewer.

An introvert who isn’t able to fulfill the very deep need for alone time becomes a ticking time bomb. My husband, and most of my family, has seen this side of me on many occasions. I try to hold it together and do things like normal, but with each passing day, my heart beats a little faster and my head pounds a little harder. I can, physically, feel the effects of it in my body. An introvert CANNOT be expected to function like an extrovert, at least not for very long.

It’s hard though, to explain to the people I love the absolute most – my husband and children, that sometimes I just can’t be around them. Sometimes I need them to just leave me alone so I can pray, cry, write, think, read, take a bath…just recharge my heart, mind, and soul. But one BIG lesson I’ve learned in recent months is that it’s better to apologize to them for retreating to the back of the house or out on a run for an hour or so than to have to apologize for angry words that cannot be taken back. You are not a bad parent or spouse just because you take time off to take care of yourself – in fact, that makes you pretty awesome!

Introverts, my advice to you is to accept who you are as an introvert. We cannot be extroverts, we never will be. God made us this way for a reason and the world needs us just as much as it needs extroverts. Take pride in who you are. Learn to know your limits. Know when it’s time for you to spend time alone, but don’t use it as an excuse to shut out the world completely.

Extroverts, don’t try to pressure your introverted loved ones into being an extrovert. Acknowledge that we have different personalities and be okay with that. The world needs us both.

But whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, that’s not your identity. Although your personality is one or the other, our identities are still all found in Christ…after all, that’s what truly matters.


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