I find it really helpful having a close friend who, like me, has BPD. She goes through many of the same emotional experiences as I do and is the only person I have in my life who I feel truly understands the intensity of the emotions I feel and how all-consuming my shame, guilt and sadness can be.
Without this friend, I think I would feel far more alone in the world. Many people with BPD experience emotional states that are so strong and so painful that they can feel impossible to describe to others.
When I was first diagnosed with BPD, I found that I could capture the intensity of emotion and the all-consuming nature of my feelings more easily through drawings than words.
Because my BPD episodes and emotioanal meltdowns have strong physical sensations as well as emotional ones, I found that drawing could represent where the feelings took hold in my body. For example, drawing a girl with scribbles on her stomach, limbs disconnecting from her torso, eyes wide with terror or a body plummeting through space.
Sometimes I use metaphors to explain my BPD to others. I talk about 'drowning in emotion', being 'sucked into a vortex', or the extreme opposites of 'fire' and 'ice'. I sometimes am able to verbalise the inner dialogue in my head and explain that there is screaming inside my head: sometimes swearing at myself, yelling hateful or terrifying things about myself.
Over the years, I have come to accept that many people will not accept my feelings or see them as real. Some people struggle to believe that my moods are real when they can change so quickly.
However, I have also discovered that some people really want to learn what it is like to have this condition.
Sometimes, there are people who are open-minded enough to learn and are able to catch glimpses of what it might feel like to have volatile and intense changes in emotion, thoughts and perceptions. These are the people who listen, validate and don't assume that everyone experinces the world as they do.
Many people with BPD experience the world, themselves and other people as inconsistent, fragile and shifting. I lack a sense of safety within myself and I often feel unanchored. Many times in my life, it has felt desperately important to me to have someone (anyone) who understands how I feel to make up for all of the times I felt alone.
More than being able to describe what it is like to have BPD, for me it is about having people who will listen to what I am saying and accept that my experience of the world is not the same as theirs. When I didn't have these people in real life, I turned to social media and blogging to find that sense of understanding.
A lot of people with BPD, me included, are scared of people they know googling BPD in order to learn more about it. When I was first diagnosed with BPD, I was petrified of disclosing my BPD to people I know because I imagined them searching online about the diagnosis.
As you probably know, the results of a simple Google search with the terms 'Borderline Personality Disorder' can bring up horrendously stigmatising websites, videos, forums and blog posts. Some are so horrible that they include hateful images and grotesque stereotypes. They shame people with BPD, misunderstand their suffering and vilify them unnecessarily. Many of them are deeply misogynistic.
Explaining BPD can be tricky for many reasons...its intensity, the identity confusion it can encompass, its shifting nature and the stigma. If you have any tips on how to explain your BPD to others, I would love to hear them.