I never knew how to describe how I felt inside or how I experienced emotions. I’m sensitive, but it is so much more than that. I could never just “take a joke” or “brush it off” because words left me in physical pain.
I’m writing to spread awareness of what living with a mental illness actually looks like. It’s not beautiful, dramatic, made up, or a trend. It’s an illness. However, because we are each unique, everyone diagnosed with a mental illness will experience it differently from the next person. My experience is not intended to be generalized to all those struggling, but instead to shine some light on an important and often neglected conversation.
I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, like many mental illnesses, there is a stigma or a set of assumptions about the disorder. I hope to decrease these assumptions by sharing my symptoms, and what BPD looks like for me. The symptoms will be described in four groups and four separate posts: the first group: excessive, unstable, and poorly regulated emotional responses.
I experience emotions to a high intensity. Anger becomes rage. Embarrassment is humiliation. Sadness becomes overwhelming despair. Shame, guilt, and fear are always present and can send me down a negative spiral. My emotions shift quickly. I automatically react to what is said to me. I view comments as personal attacks. Basically, I think everyone intends to show me my unimportance. I often struggle with keeping emotions in, but it can’t be seen. I’m not always visibly emotional because I’ve learned how to hide them. When I’m tired, hungry, or having an off day, my emotions spill out, and I’m left feeling raw and hurt.
I get angry over the most unimportant things. Honestly, the anger takes over, and I’m often unaware of where it is coming from. Sometimes there’s no source except for the symptom. I used to feel guilty for getting angry, but after being diagnosed, I’ve learned to accept my symptoms and understand why they’re there. I no longer have to blame myself.
“Chronic feeling of emptiness” is something that once consumed my life. I have huge gaps in my memory due to this and periods of my life I floated through. Dissociation, emptiness, it’s like I didn’t exist. I experience this feeling of emptiness today, but it’s very different. It used to last weeks or months even. Now it may be hours, a full day, or a period of days, but never how it was. Today I feel empty, but I know the feeling will pass, eventually.
BPD is extremely stigmatized, I’ve experienced it first hand, and because of that, I want to explain my experience as well as I can. Normalizing the conversation will lessen the stigma. This group of symptoms I covered is part 1/4.