In What is BPD? Part One I provided a brief explanation of Borderline Personality Disorder, the nine characteristics that form the diagnostic criteria and the prevalence of BPD in our prisons.
I then covered each of the nine characteristics and how they relate to David and I, in What is BPD? Part 2. In this, the final part, I’m going to tell you of some of the ways we are blessed with BPD.
We live an extraordinarily intense life of both highs and lows – higher than the highest of the highest highs and lower than the lowest of the lowest lows.
We don’t take the ‘little things‘ for granted. We have a profound understanding of beauty and feel the world with a different vibration. We know deep love and ecstasy. Our extreme, intense and irrational emotions apply equally to happiness, creativity, love and empathy. Our emotions are a challenge and a curse, but they are also a blessing and a gift.
We are healers, lovers, and most of all, we are warriors!
We are Warriors
Many people with BPD have been exposed to ACES (adverse childhood experiences) and/or have battled with drug and alcohol addictions, self-harm, suicidal behaviour, and eating disorders. We’ve been through so much pain and trauma and the longer we live with BPD, the more resilient it makes us. Not only do we win the daily battle with BPD, but we have to deal with all the other sh*t that ‘normal’ life comes with and win at that too!
BPD is one of the most painful hidden disabilities anyone could have, and we are smashing it! You only need to look at the 50 years we’ve survived thus far to see how strong and powerful we are!
We might have been broken, but we’re unbreakable now.
We are Healers
We know what could lie beneath your mask and our experiences have given us a deep well of compassion. We have experienced internal and external turmoil, and this give us the ability to recognise, with greater insight, others in similar situations. We share stories of our emotional pain to encourage others to open up. Perhaps, of equal importance, is the sense of belonging that comes from sharing our experiences, free from stigma.
Our personal experience means we know what it is to be in emotional pain. When others are sad, anxious or in fear, we give them our unspoken understanding. We can make others feel soothed on a spiritual level. They know we can speak their language. Trust me, a Wonky can spot a Wonky!!
Without exception, all my closest and bestest friends are a bit wonky. No, I didn’t meet them all on a Wonky Bus, full of Wonkies, on a Wonky outing to Wonky Town! But, somehow, we just know, before a word has even been spoken, that we’ve met a Wonky. My kinda people. I love you all!
We can read facial expressions and the most subtle change in mood, a million times better than other people. We’re often told we have ‘psychic abilities.’ Perhaps, we have. Our hyper-perceptiveness means we can spot hypocrisy, injustice and deception from miles away. You can’t pull the wool over our eyes! We do try to use our intuition and perceptiveness without causing offence. But we really don’t find it easy not to call it out – we only see right and wrong!
Many people with BPD will heal themselves by channelling their pain into the arts and refuse to be a victim. By expressing our emotions creatively, we can reach out to the world, whether poetically, musically or dramatically.
We use our creativity to heal others and encourage them to explore their own creativity. Once we have found our own way to express our emotions, we can inspire the world. Many people with BPD become gifted and talented activists who champion for the rights and voices of others. This blog counts, right? Actually, I don’t want to be an activist, it all sounds a bit too ‘Greenham Common’ to me.
We are Lovers
When we love, the love is deep, highly committed and loyal to the relationship. We love and care with our entire being and everything we’ve got to give.
When we manage our emotions, we are bubbly, lively and funny. We have an amazingly, quick witted sense of humour and very self-deprecating. This is common in everyone with BPD, we look for the funny side in everything. This means we can seem offensive at times. I can assure you, we really don’t mean any offence to anyone, ever! Somewhere along the line we have trained ourselves to look for the funny side of any situation to distract from the bad side.
We use it as a defence mechanism too – if we’re cracking jokes, of course we’re ok. Having said that, it gets us into trouble when we are anxious and make the most inappropriate remarks ever!! Blurting out the wrong thing at the wrong time, wrong place and wrong person. Obviously, I make it a million times worse by giggling at what I’ve just said. I can’t even begin to imagine what the f*ck I would say if I had to go in front of a Judge. Let’s just pray I never find out.
In Part Two of What is BPD? I said I would dispel some of the myths around BPD. I think I was a bit strong there. What I should have said is, I’m going to tell you about some of the ways in which we are misunderstood.
Are we narcassistic?
People with BPD are often described as narcissistic. We’re not, our self-image is way too low for that. Being egotistical and self-absorbed is how we try to deal with our poor self-image and our lack of self-worth.
We may look like we’re showing off with our inflated egos, but you couldn’t be farther from the truth.
We are not saying “Look how good I am” what we are actually saying is “Look how bad I am not.” You will also find that, wherever possible, we will provide evidence of any achievement to back up our claims. We are not saying “Ooooh, look at me in this photo” what we are saying is “I’m not lying. Please believe me. I’m not making this up.” When you’re not believed as a child, there is an expectation that nobody will ever believe you. We are compelled to prove our honesty.
If you tell us that you were caught in a thunderstorm and got soaked through, there is a big chance that we will interrupt you and tell you about the time we got soaked through in a thunderstorm. We’re not trying to ‘out-do’ you, shut you up or divert the attention to ourselves. What we are trying to say is “I understand you; I know exactly what you are saying, I am normal like you and I can prove it by telling you my own story.” We are just trying to show you that we are the same as you. We spend our lives trying to be the same as you.
Are we hyper-empaths?
We are often described as ‘hyper-empaths’, because we experience other people’s emotions as if they were our own. Most likely, as a result of ACES when we ‘trained’ ourselves to become hyper-vigilant and detect early warning signs of anger.
I’d like to share my own recent experience of being hyper-empathetic. In David’s recent blog Letting Go he described the moment when he ‘let go‘ of his Mum. I’ll wait here while you read it, so you can understand what I’m about to tell you.
Ok, you’ve got the picture. David was absolutely sobbing his heart out in the kitchen, he was ‘letting go‘ of the guilt he had been carrying for the thirty years since his Mum sadly passed away. I cried too, feeling sympathy for the man I love who was hurting and in obvious emotional pain. Nothing to blog about, I know. But, it was the next day that shook my entire world.
The following evening, David was watching a video on his phone when, as if from nowhere, a Church choir started to sing Amazing Grace, the song played at his Mother’s funeral. Time stopped, the World stopped and without thinking, we both sat bolt upright and listened. It went beyond goose pimples or a little flutter in our tummies. We were both racked with sobs, there was an actual physical pain in my heart, I could feel it. I felt ‘something’ being pulled from my body, I felt ‘something’ leave. All the time, the only sound I could hear was the beautiful choir sing Amazing Grace, nothing moved, nothing changed, it was just the music and the emotion. We listened to the choir again, just to make sure it hadn’t just given us the ‘feels’ to hear such an incredible rendition of a favourite hymn. There was no significant reaction from either of us at all, the hairs at the back of our necks may have stood up a couple of times, but nothing remarkable or unexpected.
I’ve never lost a parent, or anyone close to me. I have no point of reference or comparable experience. I have never believed in ghosts or the paranormal. I’ve cried for others who have cried in front of me, but I’m over sensitive, so I accept and expect to behave like that. But physically feeling the emotional pain of another and that feeling of ‘something’ leaving me was so, so real. I can’t prove it happened. I just know it happened. We both do.
Are we self-absorbed?
Well, yeah, kinda. We are permanently on high alert for threats, risk and danger. Looking for perceived or real triggers. Wherever we are, whatever you say, we protect ourselves by calculating the immediate impact on ourselves. It’s part of our resilience and survival skills. We are much more self-aware and self-protective than other people. If that’s self-absorbed, then we most certainly are.
Are we Manipulators?
You might think that we’re pulling your strings and being manipulative, but we’re really not. It’s our desperate attempt to cope with overwhelming fears of abandonment and rejection. It doesn’t come from a place of malice or spite, but one of distress from our inability to regulate our emotions.
We are doing what we can to communicate our pain and try to protect ourselves from it. Even when we know we are pushing away everyone around us.
Are we liars?
Before I admit to anything, I would just like to point out that when it comes to BPD, telling lies is not the same as being a Bullsh*tter and we are not full of sh*t. But there are some circumstances where we may, or appear to be, telling lies.
Our feelings can be so intense that they cloud our thinking, so when we view things with our emotional mind, it may be completely different to the view of others. We aren’t consciously lying, we truly believe our viewpoint is correct, even when it’s blatantly false.
Lying can often be linked to our lack of identity. When David was at school, he joined a new football club and lied about his name and told everyone his name was Tony. When I was at school, I lied and told everyone that my Aunty was my real Mum and that I’d be going to live with her soon!
We feel such a deep, entrenched shame and may tell lies to conceal our innermost feelings. Our fear of abandonment and rejection means we may lie to cover up mistakes so that others will not reject or abandon us.
Sometimes lying may be the result of our impulsivity and just not thinking before speaking. I don’t count that as lying – it’s just being a twat!
On the converse side, we are not dishonest people. We have grown up with people lying to us and we know the devastating and long-term effects this dishonesty can have. We don’t want history to repeat itself and we avoid lying unless we deem it absolutely necessary to protect ourselves. We can be brutally honest, almost to the point of being offensive. If you want us to be diplomatic, pragmatic, sensitive and kind in our honesty, please make sure you specify that first. If you only ask us for honesty, then that is all you will get – brutal honesty.
A relationship with someone who has BPD can be described as challenging, at best. But, what happens when it’s both of you? Carnage? Never ending conflict? Full on drama?
Absolutely not, because by both of us having the same challenges, the challenges cease to be and they no longer challenge us.
Meeting each other was as if we had both been living abroad for most of our lives and had finally met someone who spoke the same language. We’d both tried to speak the same language as everyone else, but frankly, half the time we didn’t have a clue what other people meant, and we still don’t. We had tried to fit in, to speak the same language, to look the same and dress the same, but we knew we weren’t the same. All of a sudden, we found someone who is the same and everything slotted into place. We finally made sense, as individuals and as a couple. We both belonged somewhere. The emptiness went for us both, before we had even met!
We are truly, truly blessed. After all, nobody else can put up with us – we’ve proved that many, many times over!
And that concludes my answers to the question “What is BPD?” I’ve only given you a snapshot of the more significant aspects of BPD, so let me know if you have any questions, comments or would like more information.
I’ve previously told you how excited I get when I receive positive feedback on my blogs. The excitement is real! I must say a huuuuuge thank you to everyone for giving my self-confidence such a boost. I’m feeling more and more confident with every blog.
We’re not all bad.
We are misunderstood.
True love conquers all.