About 14 million people in the United States have a borderline personality disorder (BPD), a stigmatized and misunderstood mental illness. It affects 5.9% of adults in the United States. When someone is a teenager or in their early 20s, it’s easy to think that bad behavior or “teenage angst” is what’s going on when the person is having a hard time.
People who have borderline personality disorder in our community told us what it was like to grow up with borderline personality disorder that had not been diagnosed or had not yet formed.
They said this:
1. I have been very sensitive to everything every time I can remember, even in the first grade. I remember that I always felt different and very alone. A look back shows that it took hold around the age of 14. There were a lot of borderline personality disorder symptoms at that point, like anger and drug and alcohol abuse. I’m 20 now, and I’ve learned how to deal with some things, but it’s still a fight I have to fight every day.
2. It’s about their impulsiveness and reckless behavior, as well as their trouble keeping healthy relationships. The black-and-white thinking, the self-harming behaviors, and so on, Pushing and pulling people into and out of my life, as well.
3. “I always thought I felt everything more than other people did. People didn’t seem to care about things I was excited about. There were times when I was excited because my team scored a point in the past. I looked around and wondered why no one else was as excited. Even when I was angry about an injustice, I was told anyone could do nothing. I was told to calm down and be quiet all the time.
Fourth: “A friend of mine, who I thought was my best friend, asked to sit next to another girl in class next.” Because I thought she didn’t like me, I fell to the ground and cried my heart out. At that moment, I hated her with all of my heart, mind, and soul. Then I cried for days.
5. “No matter how good things were, I could always find a flaw in them.” When the wall that was up kept rising, I could never get to it.
In number six, “extreme sensitivity. I would make people look good, then push them away. I was afraid of being left behind the most. Anger would eat me up, and I thought I could not get rid of it unless I hurt myself. In that case, I’d be very ashamed and guilty about it. I think I scratched at my face and hair when I was 4, think.
How does it feel when you’re a close friend, and then you start hating their guts and start to like them again? In high school, I hurt myself. I had only two or three close friends when you were younger. IT WAS VERY HARD FOR ME when I tried to make and keep friends. I was very sensitive to emotions and would get hurt very quickly. All of these things I can now see as signs of my BPD.
8. “I was only diagnosed a year ago, but now that I think about it, everything makes sense.” As far back as I can remember, I was very sensitive, had a lot of mood swings, and would self-harm when I was angry or hurt. I would freak out if there were any last-minute changes to the plans I had made. I was afraid of being left. After a few years, I realized it was more than just depression and anxiety.”
Moving from city to city and job to job, thinking my problems would go away if I moved to a new city. This means that I now have a very unstable work history, and it is very hard for me to get a job.
ten. “Dissociation.” Some things make you feel like you’re not even in your own body, and that’s what made me think I had something else going on other than depression. There aren’t many people who talk about dissociation, and I don’t know why. It scared me more than any anxiety attack had ever scared me. Brain fog is so thick that it seems like it will never end. You can’t think, talk, or do anything else. You are completely numb from the inside and out, and you don’t feel anything. As it gets worse, I start to think that there is no me, and it’s very scary. Even if you think you’re the only one who felt this way (which was the case for me for months).
11. “I thought I’d always be alone and that I wasn’t good enough to have friends. People say I’m in a better place now and getting treatment for five months. There is a woman named Isobel T.
I was very sensitive and always wanted to be everyone’s best friend as a child. I was also very hard on myself and thought everyone was talking about me behind my back. I loved people too much and thought everyone was talking about me behind my back.
13. “I have been very sensitive my whole life.” The first time an adult raised their voice, I would cry. I also couldn’t seem to have a long-term relationship with my peers when I was a child. My friendships were always very up and down and one-sided in high school. I didn’t believe in myself, and I started cutting when I was 13 because I didn’t like myself. A lot of people at first thought I was depressed and anxious. I was so different from other kids because I was different from other kids. Now it all makes sense to me.
14. “Black-and-white thought.” Am I a good or bad person? I love or hate you. A: Don’t leave me. I want to be alone. “With each of these problems, there is no middle ground; there is no balance or stability.”
There were always ups and downs. None of my friends stayed close to me. There were times when I felt nervous, and I didn’t have much confidence in myself. When I was in social situations, I often felt very strong emotions that overwhelmed me and made me feel isolated and unimportant. I didn’t know where I belonged or if I’d ever find someone who would love and understand me. I felt like I had no place to go. I was so afraid that my friends would leave me that I did everything to make them love me. At 14, I began self-harming to keep myself from falling apart and get people to notice me.
I used to push people away to see if they could handle it and show myself that I wasn’t a good person. 16. My extreme impulsiveness, self-harm, constant suicidal thoughts, and so on were all signs that I was very depressed as a teen. The people around me thought this was just because I was a teenager and wanted to get attention. As a result, I had to deal with it for years without getting help. I’m still in a state of shock that I could make it through that.
17. I’ve had a lot of trouble with overspending money and hurting myself. So many things that were not even really made me cry. I also had difficulty dealing with how my moods would change so often. Then, when I look back, I can see that I’ve had this for a while. It feels good now that it has a name.
18. “I felt lonely, unappreciated, and so very different,” I said.
I’m going to get very emotional about almost everything. CSI and other violent TV shows were too violent for me to handle. Even if I read a book, I would get into the book’s mood right away. It would make me happy or sad, depending on how the book ended. I was and still am more sensitive when I was and still am in touch with other people. I would get very angry even if they didn’t mean to. In the past, I thought I was not good enough. That everything I did was wrong and I was to blame for it. Even when I was nine years old, I was cutting myself. When I was younger, I didn’t like myself and lacked confidence in myself. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. At that point, everything began to make sense. All the things I thought were bad about myself had a name. Not that that made it any easier for me to accept it at all. I’m now 24, and I’m finally ready to accept that this is how I was made. And please don’t assume that it is my fault.