They think people with BPD will kill you, or burn down your house, or stalk you until you need to file a restraining order. We lie, we manipulate; we’re “difficult” and “treatment-resistant.” People think we’re crazy, in the classical sense of the term.
I have borderline personality disorder. Here are 6 things I wish people understood.
by Eliza Hecht on September 25, 2015
“You don’t seem like you have borderline personality disorder,” people often say to me.
They mean it as a compliment. I don’t fit into their idea of what borderline personality disorder looks like. They think people with BPD will kill you, or burn down your house, or stalk you until you need to file a restraining order. We lie, we manipulate; we’re “difficult” and “treatment-resistant.” People think we’re crazy, in the classical sense of the term.
Over the past eight years, despite several doctors diagnosing me with borderline personality disorder, I resisted identifying with the disease. I latched on to other diagnoses with lesser stigmas — bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder. This summer, I finally looked up a list of symptoms. It was so in line with my experience that I finally had to concede: I have borderline personality disorder.
1) Interpersonal relationships can be really hard to manage
What comes intuitively to a person without borderline personality disorder isn’t always so obvious to those of us who have it.
In school, I had trouble making friends. I was a know-it-all, correcting teachers’ grammar and demanding my way with my classmates. One time a potential new friend came over to my house. “I didn’t like you at first,” I told her over snacks, “but you turned out to be okay.”
2) Our impulses are really hard to control
Things that feel good in the moment are the hardest to resist because for people with BPD, a want doesn’t just feel like a want — it feels like a need. Every impulse feels like an urgent concern that I have to address immediately.
3) We experience our feelings more intensely than most people do. Sometimes this triggers self-harming behaviors.
When I got home the summer after my first year of college, I started to feel unbearable sadness.