Tag Archives: mental health

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. 

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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. 


Running from Anxiety

It was almost 3 years ago that I started running. As someone who HATED running with a fiery passion, it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. For the first time in my life o had found a healthy way to cope with my depression and anxiety…that was, until I shattered a bone in my foot. 

  
After a year of running hard, I was sidelined while I had surgery to remove the shattered sesamoid bone. This was the start of my downward spiral. All of a sudden, my coping mechanism was stolen from me and I didn’t know how to deal wmy anxiety anymore. 

Over the last 15 months, I have had 5 surgeries. After months of recovery, I’ve finally been given clearance to run again. But now, I’ve also developed plantar fasciitis. It’s incredibly painful and, at times, I can barely walk. 

I’m frustrated! I miss the feeling of the wind in my hair as I run down the road. Running gives me a sense of freedom that I can get from anything else. Running calms my anxious heart. It helps me decompress when I can’t make sense of my off the wall emotions. Running has done more for my mental health than any of my medications have. 

I’m planning on running a half marathon in 15 weeks – the Saddle Blazer half in Killeen, Texas on February 27. The Monday after thanksgiving, I’ll be starting my official training program. I’m incredibly nervous. But also so excited. 

My biggest fear with this half marathon training is that I’ll re-injure myself and have running taken away from me again. 

Running is a gift, a blessing. Don’t take it for granted. Running helps me to understand the chaos of this world. It helps me find meaning in a life that sometimes feels meaningless. It helps me connect with God in a way that nothing else can.  

   

So if you tell me I need to stop running, that it’s bad for my knees, that I need to find another way to cope…I’m going to tell you that running has changed my life and given me the courage to keep pushing even when I’m tired and scared. Quitting isn’t an option! 


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