Borderline Personality Disorder: What Does it Feel Like? (Part 1)

Borderline Personality Disorder: What Does it Feel Like? (Part 1)

This guest post was written by Elisa Camanhom, all views expressed are a personal view of BPD and Recovery and in no way should be considered professional advice. If you disagree with anything in this post, or have your own thoughts do let her know in the comments below. For all other questions and issues relating to BPD do use the Contact Us page. Take it away Elisa…

I think it all started when I was a high-school senior. My parents went abroad for a year; I refused to join them and stayed with my grandmother. Later on some people would blame my parents, but I don’t think their departure was a cause or a trigger; I’m just mentioning their temporary absence as a fact.

Everyone thought I was just having some attitude problems, and, hell, when you are 17 you are almost expected to have an attitude. I definitely thought of myself as this charming rebel, someone who only attends classes she likes and doesn’t really care about such things as teachers, grades or her future.

My teachers would spend hours talking about me, trying to figure out what was going on. I knew that and I liked the attention. I mean, there were almost 40 kids in a classroom, and my teachers spent their meetings discussing me – that made me important, didn’t it?

Borderline Personality Disorder: What Does it Feel Like? (Part 1)

Then, for some reason, I began thinking about death, and to be more specific – about self-inflicted death.

I don’t even remember today what the original trigger was; it probably had to do with my confused identity, though. You see, my father is Jewish, but my mother is not; I was living among Jews and just felt I don’t belong anywhere and will never be fully accepted.

I told my mom over the phone that I was thinking about suicide, so she took the first plane back home and took me to a psychiatrist. I was almost 18. No one would tell me that I have Borderline Personality Disorder; not until years later.

Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is a crappy condition and even a crappier diagnosis. Most people don’t know what it is and never bother to find out. Others Google the term, read a lot of contradictory information and end up thinking you are a manipulative bitch.

Yes, the disorder is diagnosed mostly in women, although this probably has a lot to do with social biases. The name of the condition is misleading – no borders are actually involved – and the doctors cannot even agree on the symptoms required to join the BPD club.

PsychCentral says you must exhibit at least five of the following symptoms. This is a rather vague list, and some people go over it and then say: Oh, everyone deals with this shit at some point or another!

Maybe that’s true (although I doubt everyone has paranoid thoughts or dissociates from reality), but when you have BPD you experience this shit too often, for a long periods of time and with great intensity.

One of the psychiatrists researching the disorder says people with BPD have to struggle to create “life worth living,” that’s because most of the time a life with BPD feels unbearable, unworthy of living. Yes, “life unworthy of living” is a frightening term, almost a Nazi one, you might argue. However, other terms are not powerful enough to convey the pain.

So what does this medical criterion feel like in real life? First of all, I must say not all apply to me. I don’t dissociate (detach from reality) and I don’t have particular issues with my sense of self, so I cannot say anything about these experiences. I have great familiarity, though, with all the other ingredients.

Frantic Efforts to Avoid Abandonment

This one has to have my picture attached to the definition. When I care for someone, I really want to get close, to become that person’s best friend, his lover or her protégée. I feel intensely and get hurt when the feeling is not mutual. It can never be mutual, though, because most people don’t need to have such deep feelings.

I probably expect something close to parental love from anyone I care about. More than that, I probably expect something close to the love of perfect, unreal parents. So when the person leaves (and you will soon see why is it that she inevitably leaves) I feel lost, naked, abandoned, vulnerable to anything and everything, unable to go on.

I have never resorted to violence and have never damage property of any sort, but I have called, texted and emailed people relentlessly, disregarding any feeling of shame, ignoring angry, vicious and snide responses.

One of my therapist had to file a restraining order against me (probably the lowest point of my life); my thesis adviser had to strongly advise me against contacting her further; one of my estranged boyfriends had to call my mother and tell her I won’t let him go.

My story continues with part 2 (sorry, I had a lot to say about my life with BPD)

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