What It’s Like Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Two hands shaking with the shape of heart symbol on teal green background, symbolizing gratitude concept. (3d render)

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Two hands shaking with the shape of heart symbol on teal green background, symbolizing gratitude concept. (3d render)

Abbie Kraus, Staff Writer

When you google “most painful mental illness” or research psychological pain, the disorder that I live with is what is widely accepted to be the answer; borderline personality disorder (BPD.)

According to Mayo Clinic, and my testimony, BPD is characterized by warped perceptions of yourself and others, intense mood swings, disproportionate emotional responses, and an intense, life-controlling fear of abandonment. There are a lot more symptoms, and little nuances that affect my life in the most unnoticeable but impactful ways that others notice in me; the difference between a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and a personality disorder is how ingrained your behaviors and actions are into your everyday life. I did not think there was (and still sometimes don’t notice) anything wrong with the way I think, react, and interact with people. This doesn’t mean I am not affected by the disorder; it affects every single aspect of my life in great ways, and there are periods when I am nonfunctional due to the turmoil this disorder causes in me.


It is very difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t have it just how painful it is. Normal sadness feels like grieving the loss of a loved one. Anger feels like every fiber in your body is on fire and you just want to scream and kick and cry. Happiness feels like a drug-induced mania. Jealousy, a big player in BPD, makes you feel so inadequate that you don’t want to continue breathing. Now, imagine a dartboard randomly picking an emotion, sometimes up to every few minutes. A random reaction to random (usually ordinary) events. It is exhausting and painful, suffocating even, but what makes it all the more painful is how these reactions and the things you do to others you love when you are being tortured by your warped perception of reality.silhouette of hands


The deepness and sensitivity of emotions allow us to feel almost a debilitating amount of love for people around us. And without proper treatment or management of our reactions, we have the chance of seriously hurting people we love due to how much we hurt (“Splitting”, a behavior consisting of seeing things and people only in black and white, makes it so we can go from absolutely loving someone more than life itself to utterly hating them, but still begging them not to abandon us. Confusing, but the BetterHelp link clears up this notion.) Despite many social media forums claiming people with BPD do not feel love, this could not be farther from the truth. The love we feel is honestly suffocating. The sensitivity of our emotions makes us the highest of empaths and our capacity to feel for others is unlike any other.


Despite the pain and suffering that comes with Borderline personality disorder, I would love to highlight the many strengths and great things that people with BPD can offer to those around them. This article interviewed people with BPD and asked them about things they considered “gifts” within themselves. For me, however, I find there are a lot of positives and gifts stemming from BPD as well. As stated earlier, I am extremely empathetic and can relate to anyone; I am very nonjudgemental because of this, and I am an amazing listener. I care so much about the people around me and I would do anything for them. I am devotedly loyal and never would switch up or completely abandon or ghost someone and I am proud to say that I make a pretty great friend, a comforting safe space because of the aforementioned reasons. I’m also extremely creative and love to put my heart and soul into the things I make and do; I’m so extremely passionate about the things I love. It is difficult to put into words how much excitement I feel just thinking about my capacity to love! Under all the suffocation of emotional instability, there is a large part of me that has a personality larger than the world (pun intended?) and enough passion and excitement to make a massive impact on the world around me.red heart and man hanging drawing


Living with BPD is and will continue to be a struggle. A very interesting thing about BPD is how it seemingly dissipates with age; an astonishing 33% to 99% of patients will enter “remission,” or a state where they feel functional and are on a linear road to recovery. The future is very very bright for me and others suffering from BPD. I already am hitting a point in my life where I can manage my emotions and mood swings with years of medication and therapy. I’m very glad that I am here to tell my story. There are many other resources to learn about BPD and how to support people with it. The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality disorder, https://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.org/, offers hotlines, resources, and support groups.