I am a 21 writer from Italy who has been suffering from BPD since at least age 10 [pronouns: she/her]. I study at “Scuola Holden: the writing academy”, an Italian writing major for undergraduate students. For about a year now I have had my own blog: “Dysfunctional Girl” and greatly enjoy writing it, as one can guess from my choice of major. It is a cathartic experience that helps me daily.
—Yours sincerely, Dysfunctional Girl
Do you find having a diagnosis of BPD helpful or unhelpful?
I have always known there was something different about me. When the other kids played, I would sit alone and read; I would adapt to people like water in an empty container; I always felt at ease…
I was too young to be diagnosed with BPD [during] my first few inpatient experiences, but when they finally did bring it up, I remember thinking: “Oh god, that’s me. I’m not crazy!”.
[My diagnosis] has helped me. Firstly, it helped me accept and now it helps me understand and try to modify my behaviours.
What do you most want people to know about BPD?
Something very important to me is explaining the meaning of “loss”, “pain” and “survival” for those diagnosed with BPD. Our emotions are heightened: we do not feel anger, we feel rage. We do not just feel happiness, we feel euphoria and, more importantly, we do not just feel anxiety, we feel panic.
These strong emotions trigger a flight or fight response which we sometimes cannot manage, and I believe it is wrong to be judged for something out of your sphere of control.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with BPD?
You may have suspected this for some time and not be surprised at all. You may feel genuinely relieved because you finally received and explanation for your behaviours. You also may feel scared and not know what to do.
My advice? Ask for help. Professional, obviously, but also from those who can understand. There are many communities out there and they have been life saving in moments of difficulty. With all the stigma surrounding the illness, at least those of us who have it should band together.
What advice would you give for the loved ones of someone with BPD?
Please be patient and remember: “It’s not their fault.” We try, hard, to keep our emotions at bay, but just like a child struggling with his homework, we cannot always succeed.
If you are a sufferer’s favourite person, I understand it may be difficult: being everything to somebody is a hard position to be in. Just remember, a single word from you can change the sufferer’s day, so make sure you do not overexert yourself or more harm than good will be done.
How do you feel when you hear stereotypes about people with BPD, such as the myth that people with this condition are attention-seeking or manipulative?
Honestly, I feel mad. I know it is just the result of misinformation, but: needy, selfish, manipulative, clingy… These are all terms I’ve heard way too often referred to someone who suffers from BPD.
The truth is, maybe sometimes our behaviour may appear that way, but it is because we have a disability. That is not us, we are what’s left once all this is removed.
What would you say to someone with BPD who is feeling hopeless and like things will never get better?
This is a poem I wrote recently about one of those bad days. Sometimes you are okay. Sometimes not, however, no matter how hopeless you feel, there is always hope.
Run, I must run.
Run. I'm running, life thrown at me as I glide through time, struggling to reach what is not possible to reach. Flashes, glimpses; shards of spacetime penetrating my flesh, tearing me apart.
Run. I must run. It's too much. Life; uncertain, uncontrollable. A string of senseless senseful events, piling up on my shoulders and pinning me to the ground.
Run. Keep on running. Scream, cry, tear through the mountains of distractions. Ignore, deflect.
Run. I must, and so I do, until I forget why I even started. My weary limbs may be failing, yet I must run. Run on, go on.
Run. I must try. I can't let go. It's important. I'm suffocating; it doesn't matter.
Run, until my legs give out.
Run. I can't stop.
Run. Run. Run.
And that's when I saw the light. I finally stopped running.
Thank you so much Dysfunctional Girl for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I agree with you about how helpful communities of people with BPD can be. I recommend BPDChat (a weekly 'chat' on Twitter which can be found by searching with the hashtag #BPDChat) to anyone who wants to learn from others with the condition. I find it very interesting that you feel you are 'what's left', as though you are the person behind your BPD. Sometimes I relate to this, but mostly I feel that my intense emotions are a key part of me and without them I wouldn't be the person I am. Thank you for sharing your poem which holds a beautiful message. Wishing you all the best with your studies at the writing academy! - Rosie
Read more by Dysfunctional Girl on her blog.