Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden

My Emotions Are Too Big – Living with borderline personality disorder

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It’s hell. In one word. But I am not on some twitter 140 character limit and so I can expand further than hell. Crap. Sh*t. Horrible. Adjectives (and even the words I write) cannot describe what it is like.

There is the inevitable “oh no I’ve made this up, I’m a fraud” when you see someone reblog/repost something that is specific to BPD. But there is also the toddler snatching back the toy because “it’s mine! You can’t have it!” If I see someone relate to a feeling I have, it’s a hard time not to completely hate them because they’re trying to take away what’s mine.

A massive criteria for BPD is the inability to create an identity of your own. You start to cling to the diagnosis because it’s all you have. It’s all you know for sure – and even then you don’t truly know. When you meet a new friend, you begin to become them. Although not the only time, when I was nine I watched Cheaper By the Dozen and I copied how Kim Baker (portrayed by Morgan York) talked, walked, sat, ate, and spoke. Of course my mother thought this imitation was adorable and creative, not the beginning of what I would soon find out to be a nonexistent-yet-ever-changing personality. Another instance I had hated the colour pink (thanks society) but I found out that Dakota and Elle Fanning’s favouite colour was pink. So suddenly I loved pink. I constantly try to find what is “my personality” but it always fails. No matter what I try, I am nothing. The very definition of the word. I don’t mean that in a negative way (not anymore anyway). By being nothing, I am also everything. I am a writer, a reader, a singer, I like colours, I hate those same colours, I talk like someone, I talk like someone else. I am nothing and I am everything.

If I were to explain BPD, I would say it’s big. Everything is big. Enlarged. Multiplied on a magnified scale. I don’t have any other way to explain it. It’s not, oh I’m really upset. It’s the worst you’ve ever felt. You have no emotional permanence, every emotion is the most you’ve ever felt. In today’s society we tend to have this nihilistic view that is exaggerated for humour and even as a stress relief. But for BPD it really IS that exsketch-1487512166904aggerated. Maybe not necessarily in the grand scheme of life and ‘there’s kids starving in Africa’ but to me in that moment, it is the most horrible I’ve ever felt. I imagine it like this: an average, neuro-typical persons emotions are a circle. A nice, neat, compact size circle. Someone with Bipolar takes two of the human emotions – mania and depression – and performs them on a much larger scale. (I am not clear on bipolar as it’s not something I struggle with so this is just my understanding.) Borderline personality is almost as if your brain has taken bipolar and gone, “you know what? let’s just do it with everything!” So all your emotions are drastic. All of them are at the tip of scale. They’re all too big and too much. I’ve lived through deaths and still I will swear that my cat getting up and leaving my room is the most lonely and sad and hurt I’ve ever felt. I feel everything on a  drastic scale. It’s being sensitive, but enlarged. I used to hate it – why was I made like a glass gone through one too many washes, almost about to shatter at all times? But now I like to think that it makes me a nicer person. I may feel my emotions on a big scale, but I also feel other people’s emotions on a big scale too. It helps me be empathetic and sympathetic. And I love that part of me. So I have learned to love the part that cries when my cat leaves or the part that wants to die when a friend is busy. I’m learning to love those parts because they’re a part of me.

There’s the attention side. It sounds about as horrible as it is. Please know that most – if not all – people with BPD don’t want attention in the sense it seems. Somewhere between birth and puberty, their mind confused attention for love and affection. So when they’re seeking and striving for attention, it’s really just love they’re looking for. A misguided, miscommunicated love. When I’ve overdosed, it was never because I wanted people to look at me and say that I’m not okay, or because I wanted them to know I was hurting. I wanted the hug that came with it. I wanted the love that they gave because suddenly they realise you could be gone. That love is the love I’ll spend my whole life trying to safely create. It’s – to me – the epitome of love. Acts of attention are not acts of school girl, my boyfriend isn’t looking at me, acts of attention. They are bids to receive love and affection and acknowledgement. Misguided because our brains don’t work the same way…almost like we have a mental disorder…

Then there’s the part where you have to function among others because god forbid you are different. Existing, simply waking up and going about your day, is 100x harder with BPD. Before breakfast you’ve already gone from wishing you were dead, to hoping you will live forever, being the most distraught human on the planet to being the happiest person alive. And then you get to the kitchen and there’s no milk in the fridge so you cry because it’s the worst thing to have happened to you ever. And non of this is a millennial exaggeration. It literally does feel like the worst thing ever. Whenever anyone finds their milk empty they’re upset a little. So magnify it. Not by a hundred but by thousands, billions, and that’s how it feels. It’s almost like your body can’t feel anything so when it feels a tiny emotion it just HAS to make it big. So imagine feeling that every second of the day. Each action leads to an exceptional (in the nicest way possible) over reaction. It’s exhausting. And we haven’t even left the house. Imagine just getting to work? Drive down the road and a car comes out of nowhere? Never been more scared in your life! Driver toots their horn at you? I WANT TO DIE! It never ends and it’s too big and too much and to exist is hard. Sometimes I wish I could just find the “infected” part of my brain and get it removed. I don’t care if I can’t write some things, or if I can’t see out of one eye. I don’t care if my left side never works again. It would all be worth it if this would stop. It would be easier to have my right side overwork to compensate for my dead left side than to live with this. But I can’t do that because it’s not possible and it feels like it’s spread through my whole body anyway. So I have to learn to live on a small scale so my big emotions are as little as they will ever be. I feel like I have to live half of my life and never get to experience much because I get too overwhelmed. I get to scared, too sad, too angry. You can only be too much of something for so long before you have to get away.

Part of me wants to evade all responsibility and hide away because functioning and acting like a reasonable human being is too exhausting. The other part knows that I have something to offer and that one day this will all be worth it. Maybe a kid will come to me and say they feel things too big too and I will be able to show them they can be just like their friends too. They can live and they can be okay. Maybe it will be someone feeling upset and I lend a helping hand because it’s heartbreaking – of course literally heartbreaking – to see someone so sad. I’m not sure. But I have to believe it’s going to matter. So what if I tell myself a little lie to get me by? I have to make my body get out of bed and exist. I have to force my body to feel too much and be too much because I want to live.


PLEASE: Do not read this if you are not diagnosed (excluding appropriate self dxers) and think “Oh I have BPD.” Chances are, you don’t. A lot of today’s society is viewed in an exaggerated state. It is very hard for people with BPD to hear neurotypical people say they have BPD. See the identity paragraph. It’s like a blow to the stomach. We are toddlers on the playground – this disorder is ours. Please don’t romanticise it.

Art by Jake

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Author: ryebreadspeaks

20. Hopeful for a future free of war.

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