By: Marie Fielding
I am realizing that with borderline personality disorder (BPD), there are various stages which we go through.
First of all, there is the pre-diagnosed stage where we are acting out constantly from our impulses and “emotion minds.” This is where all the symptoms are strong and seemingly unexplainable. We may come off as erratic, dramatic, unpredictable, even a little “crazy” and toxic with our rapidly changing moods, opinions and behaviors. People may tire of us and leave us. Our relationships may crash and our jobs usually do not last; that is if we can work at all. At this stage, we are unaware of why we are even like this and it is not a happy place to be, either for us or for the people who care about us.
Then comes stage one — “The Victim.”
We get a diagnosis. Usually, for many of us, it brings a kind of relief — a massive glowing lightbulb moment. This was certainly the case for me. At last, I had an answer to why! Despite the unpleasant thoughts of having a mental illness hanging over me, I could now also look for the support and help I needed.
Unfortunately, for a lot of us, there is precious little local support, and even fewer therapists trained to work with BPD, so we can quickly become disheartened. This is why I think there are so many Facebook BPD groups. They are full of thousands of people, all struggling with the same demon.
We have finally come home.
The ugly duckling becomes a swan.
Suddenly, we have so many people we can connect with, who validate us, who tell us that our symptoms and feelings are “normal” (for those with BPD). We may finally feel an acceptance. We gain sympathy and after years of not having this understanding, it can feel like balm to our burning souls. We can post whatever we want in these groups and there is always someone who will validate us. Great, right?
The danger is, we can then get caught up in over-identifying with our disorder. Over-identifying with the symptoms will eventually make us feel far worse. It’s a paradox. We can find temporary comfort in these groups, but at the same time we get triggered a lot, either by others’ posts or by the fact we can act out our BPD, and then we continue doing so because that validation feels so good. For a while, I became my BPD. There was no Marie. There was just this “Borderline” woman. Everything began and ended with Borderline. My entire life story was published as “Borderline – A Memoir,” even though there is so much more to more story than BPD. I was borderline.