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**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer
Most people would admit that there is such a thing as “having an emotional day” and that they can be painful and exhausting, such as when funerals are attended, or someone you care about is undergoing major surgery. Most of us would probably agree that these are some of the hardest experiences to have because of the ongoing emotional intensity. But what would life be like if you had to endure these kinds of emotional trials on a daily basis, even when nothing out of the ordinary was happening?
Every day I have to decide if I am going to “do the emotional work” or if I am going to “spiral down.” What does this mean? It means that daily life has become a matter of finding the will and motivation to practice skills to work through Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or otherwise giving up on the BPD challenge and reaping the almost guaranteed consequences (guilt, shame, drama, conflict, impulsiveness, self-destruction, etc.).
BPD is a life challenge that doesn’t go away quickly or easily, and it persistently remains hard for others who don’t understand the depth of the challenge to appreciate. And since it is so persistently hard for others to appreciate the extent of the challenge, this also means that others are usually of no assistance in dealing with it (in fact, often the opposite).
The reality of living with BPD can be so continuously difficult that merely knowing that someone else “gets it” can help a person living with the condition to persevere through yet another day. I hope the words in this article reach those who are needing this specific kind of validation and that it serves the stated purpose. You are not alone: I get it, I hear you, I see you, I believe you, I am with you!
Living with BPD has much to do with RE-learning how to live in your body and with your emotions. The realization that this RE-learning is required usually comes later in life when you’re expected to have already the ability to live in your body with no problems. Nonetheless, the difficulty level of RE-learning for BPD, in my opinion, is comparable to RE-learning how to walk after being paralyzed. That being said, the difference between people who are paralyzed and those who have BPD is that those who are paralyzed receive the benefit of the doubt that they have a “real challenge,” whereas people with BPD do not usually receive the same benefit. In other words, it is easy to see and appreciate a paralyzed body, but it is not so easy to recognize the truth of unbalanced brain chemicals and overactive emotional areas in the brain that require ongoing adjustment (issues associated with BPD).
In any moment of the day, whether alone or around others, an emotional wave can emerge that creates a vicious circle of thought and emotion that is hard to stop. The initial emotional wave can happen by merely having a thought about something, or seeing something, or hearing something (almost any internal or external stimulus). It is extremely easy and common to be thrown off your emotional balance when you have BPD, and therefore, just as consistently hard to continue re-balancing. It takes energy and concentration to keep doing this balancing work, and it can only be done when you know exactly how to help yourself and can see what needs doing.
Many people in the world who are suffering from BPD don’t even know what’s happening or how to help themselves. At the same time, the people with whom a person suffering from BPD shares relationships with also don’t know what’s happening or how to be helpful. Mental health ignorance to this extent means that all parties in the relationships will most likely take actions that make matters worse. In other words, the chances of experiencing ongoing and multiplying emotional distress for persons suffering from BPD increases dramatically when no one involved has any understanding of BPD. No wonder Borderline Personality Disorder has one of the highest suicide rates!
Even as I write this article, I can feel the vibrations of difficult emotion that connect with thoughts about current events and thoughts of many things and people. I even feel emotions about experiences that could (but have not yet) happened. Without a developed awareness of all this internal activity about how the mind is wandering, where it can lead, and how to effectively manage it, I would be prone to all kinds of unwise decision-making and acting out (verbal and potentially physical). It is, therefore, any wonder that people suffering from BPD may seem “needy” or want to talk about emotions “too much”? People who have BPD are often in desperate need to stabilize themselves and usually alone and unskilled in the challenge.
The painful emotions that are common to my BPD experience include fear of abandonment, guilt, shame, rejection, and worthlessness. I have learned at this point that these emotions can settle and pass if they are observed and understood (mindfully validated). I also know that it doesn’t take much for the feelings to reappear, but that is OK because I can follow the same process to settle myself once again. It is OK that this is happening and I am NOT BAD for having this condition and life challenge. If you are reading and have BPD, I hope you realize that you too deserve understanding and compassion, especially from yourself, because BPD is one of the hardest and most misunderstood mental illnesses of all!