How do I live with Borderline Personality Disorder?


I have been asked to write a guest blog for ‘Thinking Outside the Box‘ about having Borderline Personality Disorder, my journey and problems, so here goes…

My diagnosis in September 2010 came after many years of ups and downs.  I had had psychiatric and psychological assessments before but due to the long waiting times with the UK NHS by the time I had my appointments I was ‘well’ again, as result I had never really had any therapy, medication or a diagnosis.  Having had no choice but to get through each of my ‘crisis’ periods alone and unhelped in any way shape or form.  As result a potentially earlier diagnosis was missed many times.  In addition, I now recognise that I had not in fact ‘recovered’ but was often either ‘masking’ the fact that I still had problems or just going through a ‘remission’ phase – the problem still existed it just wasn’t so ‘prominent’.

I will write about the history of my problems another time, as there is so much to say you would be here forever!  Today I am just going to focus on where I am currently, and the period from my diagnosis to now.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis came after a prolonged psychiatric assessment from July to September 2010.  However, I was not given my diagnosis in a secure, safe environment such as the psychiatrists office – No; I found out by receiving a copy of the report that had been sent to my GP…

Three words leapt from the paper, hitting me like a kick to the stomach ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’.  I was alone at the time and it sent me into a panic.  What is BPD? (I had never heard of it before) what does it mean for my future? who can help me with this? rage bubbled through me, tinged with fear, as I swore at the despicable injustice of being diagnosed by post. How dare the psychiatrist not tell me to my face!? Shouldn’t I have been informed of such a thing in a controlled environment, where someone could explain what this meant? Instead here I was at  home, alone, already emotionally distressed at reading the rest of the report spilling my inner most pains in front of me and rather than having someone to guide me through yet another trauma I had to ‘google’ it and find out for myself what exactly Borderline Personality Disorder means. Surely one shouldn’t have to look it up on the internet?

I was shaking with rage, tears of fury and shame pouring down my face as I simultaneously googled the condition and texted my partner and best friends to inform them of the latest pile of crap to hit my fan.  Of course they all wanted to know what this disorder is and how it would affect me, but I didn’t have the answers myself!

My best mate drove straight over to be with me, whilst others reassured me by text that at least we had a name for it now and I was going to get the help I needed, this was the start, not the end.

Words of comfort and reassurance did not help stave my anger at finding out something so important in such an impersonal way. My mistrust of ‘professionals’ once again compounded by their sheer inability to do a proper job – I should have been told face to face, instead I’m reading a website describing my illness as a kind of ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ and sufferers as ‘unstable’ in mood and relationships. while almost everything I read appears to apply to me – confirming an accurate diagnosis, I am still stricken by fears of being forced to take mind-altering medications, years of therapy, being ‘sectioned’ and flushing my dream of going to Medical School is flushed down the toilet – all before I even know what is really going to happen. But what else can I do? It’s not like I can ask someone who knows!

BPD

Moving on…

The following week I get to see my GP and put some of these questions to him.  But, he doesn’t really have any answers for me, he knows very little himself (typical I think – no wonder they are ‘general’ practitioners, they only know ‘general’ information about everything, no real knowledge about anything) I’m on a waiting list for my therapy to start. It’s October now and it looks likely that it won’t be until the New Year that I am seen, maybe even as far away as March. So I have 5 months to deal with this bombshell on my own – pah! – by then I’ll have virtually treated myself! I’ve already bought and read 2 books about BPD. One, an autobiography of a ‘recovered’ fellow sufferer (Get Me out of Here – Rachel Reiland) and another a ‘Borderline Personality Survival Guide’.

One thing that really doesn’t help (and to this day annoys and frustrates me) is the amount of inaccurate, out-of-date information about BPD that is out on the internet! It is scary that people would read things that are so wrong, such as information on the allpsyhc.com website which has not been updated since 2004. Life is hard enough for Borderlines as it is without further stigma and bad information about our condition to make others fearful of us! We are not ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’ we have a disability that you can’t see, it is not an ‘excuse’ for our behaviour, but it is a ‘reason’ – we hate as much as you do that we are unable to ‘control’ ourselves in certain situations! But please, beware what you read online – check the credibility of websites and the like! One good easy to read guide is the NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health) factsheet on BPD

Throughout the next few months I continue to struggle as yet more problems continue to occur for me (in my relationship especially) along with juggling starting a new job and moving home.

In February 2011 I finally get seen for another ‘assessment’ before I can start my therapy, only to be told that due to moving house I will now have to be referred to a different health authority for my treatment and go on their waiting list before I can start getting any help – GREAT! just what I needed to hear!!

So, playing the waiting game again, I continue to have problems – exacerbated by my partner being away with the Army. I see in myself that I am deteriorating; I self harm in many ways – I don’t eat, don’t sleep, party all night, drink to excess, sleep around, cut myself.  I obsess over things, make foolish life changing decisions, start another new job.  Then in April 2011 it all comes to a head when I take an overdose of 45 Tramadol tablets mixed with Port and WKD…

36 hours later I am in A&E, homeless and wondering why I’m not dead yet. I don’t want to live, don’t deserve to live and now I have nothing to live for as I’ve thrown it all away…

Now

2 months later.  I’m back home, my partner is back and doing what he can to help me – how he was able to see beyond the awful things I did and still want to be with me I don’t know, other than he has read about BPD (something he hadn’t done before) and has ‘hope’ that I can recover from this.  He loves me (though I still don’t feel I deserve it) and I do love him (even though I have difficulty showing it at times).  We are engaged. Lot’s of our friends and family (especially his) think we are both crazy.

I’m still off work ‘sick’, but due to return shortly. Though this is a struggle to deal with in itself, as I am clearly still not doing all that well, but if I didn’t agree to a phased return now I would have been looking at losing my job – which would have been even worse as it would make it difficult to get another job in the future, and even though I am scared and worried about it I need my job as an ‘anchor’ to help me progress.

I’m still not getting any ‘medical’ help. I still haven’t heard about the waiting list I’ve been on since February, I’ve been for a ‘private’ assessment at my partner’s request to see if we can speed things up by going private rather than waiting for the NHS – but even this has not been forthcoming yet.  And while I know it is part of my BPD all this waiting is making me feel like it’s just going to be a waste of time (and potentially money) and my willingness to work with ‘professionals’ and talk about my problems is diminishing as I sink back into my own ‘coping’ mechanisms (block it out and keep busy mainly).  I know this won’t do me any good as the BPD hasn’t gone anywhere – evidenced by my still poor eating habits, excessive spending, obsessing over things and even my latest desire for a ‘career’ change – I want to just write for a living (but this is just another symptom of my BPD – constant career changes). So ‘when’ the time comes that I get an appointment for therapy, I have to be strong and fight myself to work with the therapists rather than against them. This is a battle I can’t win alone – even though I live by the mantra ‘It’s me against the world’. I need help, now I just wish they would hurry up and give it to me before its too late!

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50 comments on “How do I live with Borderline Personality Disorder?

  1. If its any consolation at all mate I have met loads of sufferers who have near identical stories so you are not alone, its scant consolation but it did help them top realise this. The therapy you are waiting for is most likely Psycho therapy and this is best done in groups, sounds crazy when its written down in front of you but it does have an amazing affcet hearing from other BPD sufferers and then telling them your story, it opens up a new world where dialogue is possible and gets you out of your internal space for a while. I hope you get everything you need and recover a part of the you that you want to be again. stay strong and keep on writing you do it beautifully.

    • Thanks Steve 🙂

      Do you have any experience of Dialectal Behaviour Therapy? It seems almost non-existent despite being highly regarded as an effective treatment for BPD!

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  3. Great post.

    I can relate.

    I have been in the hospital now (first time hospitalised) for 5 months. I tried to go from inpatient to outpatient and go back to work once and it was too difficult. Now I am back in hospital full time and hope that the second tine around will be easier. It’s not easy, but has to be done.

    I hope you are feeling well.

    Regards,

    The Quiet Borderine
    http://quietbpd.wordpress.com/

    • Thank you!

      I think I am very lucky to not have been in hospital for more than trips to A&E with OD’s! How I’ve avoided a longer stay I don’t know. Good luck with your stay, hopefully you will gain the strength you need to at least become an outpatient again soon!

      I am feeling good at the moment – hope it lasts! 😉

      Best Wishes x

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  6. thanks for posting this. i can relate to much.

    its so unbelievably crap that you got a diagnose through the post. i don’t htink i would have coped with that.

    you’re right, there is so much crap online. although i am so glad for online resources. i dread to think how i would have got through if i’d been like this in the days before the internet.

    the system is so shit. if it was a physical condition you would never have been waiting so long. i really hope they sort things out for you soon x

    • Still waiting! If nothing sorted by next month the MOD (army) are gonna get involved and kick the NHS arses into gear! hehe

      It’s hard to find the good info amongst the bad online sometimes though :/ but yeah, without the internet it would be even harder – we feel ‘alone’ enough as it is but at least with blogs, fb, twitter etc we can find ‘others’ to chat to about it who understand a bit! x

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  14. Thanks for posting and sharing your lived experience. I enjoyed reading about your experience from the inside out. Keep up the good work of writing, reflecting, and creating a life that works for you.

    Best Wishes,

    Ronnie

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  21. Hellooooo! Found your blog through a friends blog. I find reading other ppls experiences very helpful. I was Xx BPD in may have been assessed for psychotherapy but am too “fragile” apparently. So am stuck in catch 22, not well and need help but need to be better to get help!!
    Anyways keep writing is god to read!
    Nx

    • Hi Nicci,

      Thank you, I’m glad you are enjoying my blog. I hope you will be able to get out of the Catch 22 situation and get the help you need soon! 🙂
      Best Wishes
      Sharon x

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  26. It is really comforting reading this coming from someone with bpd. The internet makes me feel like a monster as if people should be “cautious” around the terrible borderline. I am still learning about this disorder, I wish there was a better support system

  27. 9 months from trying to rip my own face off and i’m still waiting for diagnosis and treatment. i can understand the frustrations you’re experiencing, it seems most people are struggling to get treatment and like you, i worry that by the time i’m seen i will have ‘recovered’ enought to mask my problems once again.and so the cycle continues. my G.P have been worse than useless and my faith in the medical profession wanes a little more everyday. i wish you all the luck in getting treatment and support.

    • A year on from writing this post and I have still had zero help and support from the NHS, I paid privately for some therapy sessions which were a little helpful, but mostly it is through my own determination and learning about BPD that I have now reached a point where I am virtually symptom free – no thanks to the medical profession. I hope you manage to get some help xx

  28. Heya I have just been told that I have got bpd just 1 fing a really wanna no how can a help my self cope with this illness as av got me girlfriend n the fings av dun to her coz off this illness n me not knowin how to controll it its really not fare on my girlfriend havin to put up with all the nastyness n that that comes from me can sum1 plz help n tell me how a can controll it it wud be really appropriated thank u

    • The best advice i can give on controlling it is to learn as much about it as you can, then start analysing events so you can figure out how & why you reacted badly, as you get to understand how your emotions work then you can begin working on trying to control them better, it’s hard work and having a therapist or someone to help you work through it can make all the difference, but you can learn to control it better with time, reading some of my more recent posts about how I have got better may give you some more ideas 🙂 Hope you manage to get some help and control x

  29. I understand what you have been going through and have suffered with BPD for most of my life. I was only diagnosed the begininning of last year and since then have undergone DBT therapy whih has helped enourmously. I still have periods of confusion but am determined to understand more about the illness so i can live a normal life. The main thing that has changed is my determinatio to keep fighting and not give up on a sucsessful good quality life.,More than anything. I agree that by recognising the triggers and helping others to raise awareness it can be easier than trying to do it alone. i really appreciate your honesty and has given me inspiration to acheive what you have in learning to control such a challenging illness. Best of luck and wishing you all the love,joy and happiness there is XxX

    • Thanks Louise, it is very much a case of trying to learn as much as possible about yourself and BPD to enable as normal a life as yo can. Like you the determination is what keeps me going, it is our greatest strength and best hope for a successful outcome living with this difficult condition 🙂 xx

  30. hi i have just been diagnoised with this recently after 10 years of doctors misdiagnoising id love to speak to other that have this and maybe help others

  31. I have been waiting since july 2012 when I asked for help after being diagnosed twice with bpd (the first time 8 years ago I refused to accept it and did not know what it was) its now may and I have finally heard I will be starting mbt which is very simular the dbt mentioned by others and even tho I am extremly nervous about starting it I am trying so hard to stay positive and see it as a good thing and that it will help me in the long run it may sound wierd but it helps to read/hear others stories of how bpd affects there lifes it can be a very lonely illness and it helps to open your eyes that your not the only one suffering and things can get better. With time help and support good luck hope all goes well for you when you get your therapy

    • Good luck with the mbt, I have heard that is quite good and helpful too! I had to resort to getting a private therapist in the end as I was not getting any help through my GP and the NHS. Indeed reading/hearing about others experiences with BPD does help you feel less alone and make the load a little easier 🙂

  32. Nice blog, very well done. I have a 27 year old daughter with BPD…we’re all learning how to cope!

  33. Hi, thanks so much for posting your insights…I think I have BPD too, although my therapist swears its PTSD. I am beginning to lose all hope that anything will ever change…I’m a mess…I only work 6 hours a week…I feel like a waste…I hate myself, etc. etc. I am back to cutting myself again. I seriously am so tired of this. DBT is supposed to be really good, but I can’t find anyone who knows how to do it. How do you go on each day? 😦

    • I also couldn’t find anyone who can do DBT locally to me, but finding a good therapist who works with you and understand can be just as good, I have found. I am doing well now, I am so much better. Maybe you need to find another therapist if the one you have doesn’t seem to be helping? :/

  34. Like you, I feel like the NHS has failed me. I’ve suffered with depression for years (nearly 10 years, in fact), and it’s only been diagnosed for the last 3 years. I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall with recovery, and the GPs and the psychiatrists seem to ignore everything I say. In fact, your posts about BPD have been really insightful and helpful. I have a friend who suffers from it and I basically knew nothing about it, and the medical criteria don’t really explain anything. I did wonder if I suffer from it myself as I have a few of the symptoms but it seems to be much milder than you describe – mostly these days I just feel numb.

    • I think we all have a bit of BPD in us, as it is after all just heightened emotions in the 9 criteria areas, if what you feel is much milder then it is probably in fact ‘normal’ as mine described in this blog was ‘mild’ in comparison to many other blogs I have read myself. I hop you manage to get the help you need, but can fully expect that is unlikely to happen with the constant cuts to NHS services (despite their claims to be increasing help for mental health!) Good luck xx

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