“Was I ever crazy? Maybe. Or maybe life is. Crazy isn’t being broken or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me, amplified.”
– title and quote from Girl, Interrupted
Mental illness has been somewhat romanticized in the media lately. Depression? Aww, poor you, you’re sad. Let me roll you up in a blanket sushi roll and give you snacks and Netflix. That’ll fix everythinggg. Cute lil’ sad sushi.
Not all disorders get such a cutesy image. When borderline personality disorder (BPD) isn’t being confused for bipolar disorder, it may bring to mind a woman who manipulates everyone she meets, a wild, reckless party girl, seducing men only to ruin their lives when the sex goes stale.
I was diagnosed with BPD by my childhood psychiatrist when I was 18. Now that I’m older and hopefully a little wiser, I’m beginning to see how it has shaped my life since the symptoms started to emerge in my teen years.
If you believe everything the internet tells you, the future for a BPD sufferer looks pretty bleak. 75% of those diagnosed have attempted suicide, and 9% complete it. There are cancers with greater survival rates than that.
I’d like to think I’m fairly well-adjusted, compared to the outcome that was predicted for me in high school. (My guidance counselor told me “You’d be lucky to find yourself a good institution. Forget about college.”) Screw you, Mr. Nelson. I finished that degree. It took me five and a half years, rather than the traditional four, but financial aid is to blame for that, not grades.
I spent 8 years receiving a mix of SSI disability and Social Security Disabled Adult benefits, but now I am working a traditional, 40 hour week job with no assistance from vocational rehabilitation programs.
I’m surviving, but since I don’t qualify for mental health insurance in my home state of South Carolina, I’m fighting my demons without much outside help. In the next few days, I plan to dissect the 9 classic BPD traits and explain how they effect my life in a simple, honest way. I have a point to prove here. Borderlines may be fragile, but that doesn’t mean downright evil. Movies and novels aren’t right about everything.
For future reference, the 9 characteristics for diagnosing BPD are as follows. I have (or have had) all 9.
– Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, both real and imaginary.
– Unstable and intense relationships.
– Identity disturbance, an unstable sense of self.
– Impulsivity in two or more areas.
– Recurrent suicidal behaviors.
– Emotional instability
– Chronic feelings of emptiness
– Inappropriate, intense anger
– Stress related paranoid thoughts