If you google how to help someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, one of the first results that comes up is this extract from Helpguide:
” People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tend to have major difficulties with relationships, especially with those closest to them. Their wild mood swings, angry outbursts, chronic abandonment fears, and impulsive and irrational behaviors can leave loved ones feeling helpless, abused, and off balance. Partners and family members of people with BPD often describe the relationship as an emotional roller coaster with no end in sight. You may feel like you’re at the mercy of your loved one’s BPD symptoms—trapped unless you leave the relationship or the person takes steps get treatment. But you have more power than you think.”
Regardless of what you think about the rest of the article, this one description of people with BPD should be enough for you to immediately click off of the page and never return. Why? Because it’s demonizing, stigmatizing, and untrue. We do have major difficulties with our relationships – that bit is true. The adjectives of descriptive choice in the list of symptoms that comes after it, are the problem.
My wild mood swings, angry outbursts, chronic abandonment fears, and impulsive and irrational behaviours all occur because I was traumatised. Borderline Personality Disorder is caused by trauma. That person that you’re describing as leaving people ‘helpless and abused’, is traumatised for the rest of their life. I, and everyone else with BPD, have a severe health issue, which impairs our ability to function on the same emotional level as a neurotypical. Unfortunately, with every illness there are going to be people who suffer in a different way and they end up being manipulative and abusive. I would know, because I was like that in 2016.
My trauma haunts me everyday. I walk around with it on my shoulders, it weighs me down and I get reminders of it from things that you wouldn’t even imagine to be a trigger. It’s extremely easy to output that pain and suffering into negative things. Manipulation is very easy when you spend so long observing how people work, what they say to get what they want. BPD doesn’t give you much chance to get what you want, so you’ll do anything to get it. The problem is, once you start using those negative mechanisms, you can’t escape them.
I haven’t manipulated anyone purposefully in nearly two years. I spent hours and hours teaching myself how to steer away from manipulation. Obviously, I cried, I self-harmed, I tried to take my own life. I did anything to stop myself from being like that, from being that person. I was abusing people, I was taking advantage of people I loved, and that isn’t OK. When I finally realised that people loved me for who I was, without threats and manipulation, I learnt to be myself.
Two years later, I got called manipulative again. To make something extremely clear – I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I was abusive, manipulative, mean, angry, impulsive and dangerous. I hurt people, I made people feel as bad as I did to make myself feel better. I was also scared, alone, depressed, and anxious. Now, I’m strong, confident in my opinions, able to speak my mind, and emotional in the most healthy way that I have ever been. I am emotional, but I’m not controlled by my emotions. I will never manipulate, or abuse, anyone I love ever again. That has been my motto since 2016, and it remains to be my motto now.
To everyone with BPD: We have Borderline Personality Disorder, but we’re not bad people. Don’t let anyone make you feel as though your trauma means you are inherently bad. Only you can make that realisation, and once you do, I promise you that it’s possible to change yourself for the better. And when you do, don’t let people tell you that you’ve reversed back to who you were. You’re not in that place anymore.