I was twenty-four-years-old on my way to a residential treatment center in Chicago for an eating disorder when I got what I thought was devastating news that I had borderline personality disorder (BPD). When BPD hit my brain I lashed out inside. “Not another diagnosis,” I screamed while lines of thoughts trailed rapidly through my head. These thoughts came in all shapes and sizes. Some thoughts of abandonment flew by, other thoughts of suicidal ideation zoomed by. My mood was up and down like I was on a roller coaster, and not the kiddy one. I was a lost soul living in a world of self-destructive torment where everything was wrong. I felt lonely. My body, to me, looked like an inflated balloon. And I felt abandoned, even though I had a loving, supportive family, friends, and support team.
Since that fall afternoon walk with my therapist, when we discussed why I had BPD, I started to understand that having BPD was not a bad thing but a gift. It answered so many questions of why my mood and thought processes were the way they were. It has helped make me a stronger person.
The 6 Gifts of BPD:
- Some days I go through what seems like 100 different emotions. In one moment I’m lonely, the next moment I’m a mixture of angry and lonely with anxiety swimming up my body. Going through all of these moods has created a type of resilience and strength that can’t be explained. It’s almost like you’re Superwoman riding on a magical-like unicorn that says you are strong. This “magical” like quality makes up your resilience.
- I have these unpleasant thoughts of imagined abandonment. It makes me appreciate more the fact that I’m loved by my family and friends — because I’m only imagining the abandonment. However, there are moments where I still feel abandoned, like I am adopted.
- Compassion comes without saying. Dealing with BPD has made me realize how I can use my gifts to help others. Whether I say “you look great in your swim suit” to someone in a gym locker room or just brightening someone’s day with a little art therapy. It also has influenced my professional life, too. It makes me understand what my clients are going through and feel for them.
- My treasure chest is overflowing with coping solutions, from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to self-care. These helped me become more self-reliant. I also like to rely on experiential therapies like art and yoga to help me conquer my BPD.
- I relish pleasant days more and more. A cloud in the sky that seems so ordinary puts a smile on my face, as I sing to the “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. These days just paint a smile on my face.
- On days where I am overwhelmed with emotions I have learned to live in the moment. To make the most of chores and errands by singing to myself, listening to an audio book, or just chatting with a friend. I find that by listening to an audiobook that teaches me something I feel that I am doing something to help myself and others.
When you meet someone with BPD don’t be scared of all the emotions they present, instead look at all the gifts their diagnosis has given to them, which that they can share with you and others. Learn from them as they learn from you, and the world will grow as you grow. Without learning from others we will stay stagnant.
Strength comes in all shapes and sizes. My strength comes from all that I have overcome. Maybe your strengths come from work, school, sports, or just life’s daily little messes. Whatever they are, they make you stronger just like BPD makes me stronger.