Let Loose the Floodgates

Before I was formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, several counsellors suggested I might have it. Unfortunately, the wait list for psychometric testing was long, there were no counsellors in my small town trained in appropriate treatments, and I had no medical coverage. Desperate to find a way to manage my symptoms, I scoured the internet.

Plenty of sites detailed definitions, symptoms, traits and treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder, but there were few first-hand accounts from people experiencing BPD firsthand. I longed for details of daily living that could help me prepare for what I was about to go through.

You might ask, “If you have BPD, don’t you know what it’s like to live with it day-to-day?” That, dear reader, is the perfect question.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was in a stable eight-year relationship. BPD is characterized in large part by a fear of abandonment. Often, someone with BPD will push people away to avoid being abandoned, resulting in tumultuous relationships and frequent breakups. Several doctors said I couldn’t possibly have BPD and also be in a stable marriage. There outright dismissal because I didn’t fit the norm was perhaps why it took so long for me to be properly diagnosed.

What my doctors, my husband, and even I didn’t realize is that I had not allowed myself to be wholly vulnerable to my husband — ever. Rather than pushing him away, I kept my spouse at bay by never letting him get to know me. I didn’t share the dark thoughts in my head, or let him see the emotional turmoil I experienced day-to-day. I became very good at bottling things up, and couldn’t see that masking my vulnerabilities was a way of protecting myself from being rejected.

Naturally, that marriage ended in divorce. Any relationship built on a foundation of deceit is bound to fail.

I met someone new soon after. Fearing the same outcome, I decided to share with my new lover all my scary thoughts and all my bad behaviours. I expected him to run away screaming, really the best outcome for everyone involved, I thought. Instead, he told me we could leave the past where it was and move forward together as long as I could be open and honest with him.

The turnabout shocked my system. I had made myself vulnerable to someone and he hadn’t rejected me. This should have been good news, but having opened that door, I let loose the floodgates of emotion that I had held back for years. I proceeded to fluctuate between every emotion possible in a matter of minutes – from anger to sadness to fear to joy – and try as I might, I couldn’t regain control.

These events and the emotions that came with them lead me to seek out answers and, eventually, a diagnosis. Though I (thankfully) never regained full control of my emotions, I have learned to manage them. Now, I can add my own experience to the online first-hand accounts of living with BPD.

This blog, On the Borderline, will be dedicated to sharing my experience of living with BPD. Hopefully, dear reader, you can find some answers here.