To My Loved Ones:
I am writing this letter to help you understand what those of us with borderline personality disorder (BPD) go through. It is a severe mental illness, and yet describing it is often very difficult to put into words.
Studies have shown that people diagnosed with BPD actually have brains that differ from that of the general population. The part of our brain that deals with emotional responses is overactive, meaning that we are highly sensitive and our emotions are extremely intense and unstable. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for reasoning and logic. It is this part of the brain that will stop people from behaving in a certain way due to consequences. In those of us with BPD, this part of our brain is underactive—meaning we are unable to think rationally and often act out without thinking of the consequences.
I feel this is important to tell you, as so many people are misinformed regarding this disorder, with a few questioning whether BPD is even a thing, due to the fact that you cannot “see” our mental health. If you were to see inside our brain, however, you would realize that BPD is there.
I know you are probably fed up with hearing my apologies and sick and tired of the emotional roller coaster that I always seem to be on, often dragging you along for the ride, but there are a few things I need you to know.
I hate the way that I am as much as you do. For all the pain that I cause you, I am suffering ten times as much. I struggle daily with the fear that those I love are going to leave me, often desperately attempting to avoid the inevitable abandonment. I know that you think my fear is irrational—and maybe it is—but it feels so real to me.
Every day I wake up never knowing what sort of day I will have. Just like you, I wish I could live a happy life, free from the chaos that seems to follow me wherever I go. The chaos that I feel is best described as like having a beast thatlives inside of me. Sometimes the beast is sleeping and it is easy to forget he is there. Even I can begin to fool myself that maybe the beast has disappeared. I never know when my beast is going to awaken, ready to wreak havoc on myself and everyone I hold dear to me—all I know is that he will awaken. Just like you, I feel as if I am walking on eggshells most of the time—except that you are walking on them as you fear me, and I walk on them as I fear my beast.
When my beast does rear its ugly head, my world is turned upside down and I lose control. I may self-harm, jump into a relationship, fight, drink, or use any of the other coping mechanisms that I have taught myself over the years. You see, to you my behaviors are simply destructive, but to me they are survival skills that I use when I don’t know how to cope anymore.
To the outside world, I behave in a way that is completely unacceptable. I understand why people have this view—except that nobody knows what is going through my head or how I feel, yet these are the driving forces behind my behavior. Yes, I am highly emotional and no, I do not consider the consequences of my actions, but I know no other way to be right now. This is who I am. This is me.
When I scream at you that I hate you, it is only because I am being torn apart inside and unable to deal with the immense pain. I know I am not a child, and yet that is exactly how I feel—as if I am a child trapped in an adult’s body, being expected to live a normal “adult” life but feeling as if I am a lost and frightened child who desperately needs to be looked after and protected. But because I am not a child it is easier to walk away from me, leaving me to fend for myself.
There is help out there for people like myself with BPD. There is no cure but it can be managed. I need recovery as much as you need me to recover, but it will be much easier for me if I know that I have your love and support.
I must also tell you that recovery takes time, and there will be times when you feel as if I am going backward—I am not, it is just part of the journey. I hope there will come a time when together we can look back on the way that I was as a distant memory.
I know that we can get through this and come out the other side stronger—all I ask is that you have understanding and patience. I know that my behaviors are damaging, but please know that I am not a bad person, I’m a person struggling with a disorder that I never chose to have but am choosing to learn to live with.
Lots of love,
Your Loved One with BPD
NOTE: Above is the excerpts from the book : The Big Book on Borderline Personality Disorder by Shehrina Rooney. I can’t recommend this enough. This is one of the best books out there that explains what does it mean or how does it feel like to have BPD. Shehrina also includes suggestions of coping skills that can be implemented for each BPD traits.