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  • Writer's pictureSonia Neale

So, tell me what does BPD feels like? Thank you, I’m glad you asked that question.

Active BPD feels like being lost in a desert, falling down sand hills and being swallowed up by the endless shifting sands of fiery feelings and hot emotions where there seems no respite, and all this without even the optical illusion of an oasis to spur you on.

Recovered Lived Experience feels like a peaceful, bubbling stream, flowing over and around obstacles with ease, and the joy of Zen flow. I’ve spent a considerable time in both states. Mostly I live as the stream, but occasionally I am stunned by how quickly this water can turn to fire.

It is very unusual to find a registered mental health professional, a counsellor/psychotherapist with a recovered lived experience of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is because of this that I can provide unique and personalised help and support for people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.

Here’s a few more questions.

Do you have intense emotional reactions way out of proportion to the event? Such as when a family member in a jolly mood rolls their eyes at you at dinner and you want to smash their spaghetti bolognaise over their head?

Or your car breaks down and you’re not sure whether to call your partner, the RAC or Lifeline?

Do you suffer deeply when criticised or invalidated, like when someone says, “do you really need another glass of wine?” or “You do know BPD is all about temper tantrums and bad behaviour.”

When someone cancels a movie night because they have a “cold,” do you call 000?

Do you love your partner unconditionally in the morning and then in the afternoon they bring to your attention several credit card items and ask you to please explain, so you tell them you hate their guts and want them to drop dead?

Do you feel as though you are empty, without substance, with ever shifting goal posts sucking up the energy of whomever you are with?

Do you feel the overwhelming need to merge with the person in front of you, and take on all their values, ethics and beliefs because you feel yours are not just missing but are not actually there, so you “steal” their personality?

Do the intense emotions you feel about people turn into physical pain where it feels like your blood has turned to molten lava and you want to rip like the Hulk and drive your car into a tree because you know deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness and hugging a teddy bear just isn’t going to do it for you?

When your partner goes to the shops, do you flip your lid, send a dozen text messages because you are terrified they may never be coming back to you? Or in some cases terrified that they will come back……….and stay?

I’m guilty of all of the above. Guilty, but not ashamed, at least not any more. This is about feelings and emotions flaring up due to a perceived life-threatening situation. This reaction is not my choice same as it is not someone else’s choice when they rupture an artery and bleed everywhere.

Validation and understanding are the bandages on a wound. Regardless of the psychological, emotional, internal and external causes of BPD, no one should have to live like this. The biology, the physical effects of an emotional disorder is a brain hijack where, as someone said, it feels like you’ve just been charged at by a bull, but when he is just about to hit you, you realise his target is behind you. Your body has released enormous amounts of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, those corrosive chemicals and neurotransmitters, but not because a bull has charged you, but because a criticism or an invalidation was pointed in your direction which can feel just as life-threatening as an angry bull. I kid you not! This embodied unstable, unsafe dangerous state of mind permeates every cell in our body and goes higher than Charlie Sheen’s cocaine habit, stays longer than an unwanted relative and comes down slower than a politician’s apology. It is ongoing, relentless, debilitating and steals your mind, your body and your soul.

This disorder is not about values, morals, ethics, beliefs or tantrums and bad behaviour, it’s about having an innate exquisitely sensitive nature coupled with overwhelming trauma events mostly from childhood or as a teenager. There can be sometimes an invalidating environment, or perhaps a mismatch between parent and child or absolutely nothing anyone can pinpoint. All of which leaves one susceptible and vulnerable to further traumatic events later in life, doomed and compelled to repeat the unconscious patterns, until there is a therapeutic intervention.

BPD is not your fault, but your recovery is your responsibility.

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