On behest of my Girlfriend, I am here once again. This time I have been encouraged to write about what it is like to be with someone who is BPD. For those that dont know BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder and it is a complicated mental condition that is thought to affect as many as one in seven of us, according to the book “New Hope For People With Borderline Personality Disorder”. Though I have been with my Girlfriend for nearly nine months, and I have read books and researched BPD, I simply cannot empathise with her. Though I understand the hallmarks of BPD, the tell tale signs, the reactions and thought processes, I am not able to put myself in my Girlfriends shoes. I cannot even come close to imagining the mental anguish that she must have suffered, and be suffering. Its entirely alien to me and the majority of people within society.
BPD as a recognised condition is relatively new, having only been defined in the 1980’s. It is not depression, though it can involve that. It is not bipolar, though it can have elements of that as well. It is not suicidal tendencies, though once again, that can play a part. BPD seems to be a tragic concoction of elements of some of the worst mental conditions that there are. It leaves the sufferer, and those close to them, on a roller coaster of emotions that tend to include more downs that ups. Before I talk to you about my own personal experience, let me attempt to educate you on what BPD involves. The NHS states that BPD is where people are at the border of “neurosis, where a person is mentally distressed but can still tell the difference between their perception and reality” and “psychosis, where a person is unable to tell the difference between their perception and reality, and may experience delusions and hallucinations”, hearing voices is also common. The traits associated with BPD are;
– an intense fear of abandonment, real or imaginary,
– having intense relationships with lots of conflict whereby the other person is all good, or all bad,
– feeling unsure of ones identity and feeling empty,
– engaging in pain management behaviours such as going on spending sprees, having promiscuous sex, abusing drugs and/or alcohol, binge eating, threatening and attempting suicide and engaging in self harm
– being emotionally unstable with frequent and fast mood changes, having uncontrolled and intense anger and fits of rage, and at times having intense sadness as well as irritability
– Paranoia and disassociation, feeling numb.
(traits taken from BPD Central.com)
As you can see, this is a pretty heavy list of attributes. Trying to imagine a life whereby you are subject to these sorts of feelings and emotions is not possible for me. Life would be a tremendous struggle and its not particularly surprising that many BPD sufferers attempt to end their own lives. What is surprising to me is that the figure is so high, the NHS has said that between 60-70% of BPD sufferers will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. That figure is huge. It saddens me to think that this is true, that this is a fact. Life is so unbearable for these people that taking their own life is the best course of action for the large majority of them. I wont go into how people become BPD, or acquire BPD, as that is an extremely complicated topic, and one that should be looked at on a case by case basis. If you are interested in learning more about the condition then I would encourage you to do your own research. If you are not suffering from BPD then its almost certain that somebody you know is suffering. Perhaps they need some help, perhaps they need someone to understand their predicament, perhaps they need someone to stop them when it all gets too much and they are ready to do “something silly” (my girlfriends words).
So I have been with my girlfriend nearly 9 months now. Relationships with BPD sufferers are meant to last a very short length of time indeed, and yet I find myself here, heading towards the time whereby this becomes my longest one. Perhaps this says more about me as a person than anything else. Regardless of this I shall impart my experiences and my thoughts. To say that this relationship has been a roller coaster would be an understatement. There have been times where I have been so infatuated, and so blissfully happy that I felt like running away with her, or moving abroad with her. We spoke of the perfect wedding, of names for our children, we dared to dream. In stark contrast to these feelings were the times when the relationship was down, it was low. Not just the low that you get from forgetting someones birthday but it has plummeted to the depths whereby we were both ready to give up. There was anger in our voices and hatred in our eyes. The love that we had for each other had been ripped from us and replaced with a nihilistic urge to just say “fuck it” to everything and walk away from each other. There would be no looking back, why would there be? These low points were when we were making each others lives a living hell. I must be honest here, I am not the calmest and most understanding of people, I try to be, but I am only human. I have my faults but these seem to be amplified by the relationship and the situation we sometimes find ourselves in. Although my Girlfriends BPD is not the cause of all our troubles, lord knows I have made my share of mistakes, I do believe that it is a hugely significant factor.
I dont think my Girlfriend will mind me saying this but recently there have been far more downs than ups. These last few months I dont think we have gone more than two days without arguing. She has threatened to break up with me on at least three separate occasions, and I have contemplated doing the same to her once or twice. In what shouldnt be taken as too serious an analogy, I see my relationship as similar to a story I have heard about a son or daughter that visits their parent who is suffering from a mental condition, I think it was Alzeimers. Every week they would go and visit their parent, and the parent would have no recollection of who this person was. They had no idea that that was their son or daughter. There was no love, no comfort, they seemed strangers in one anothers company. Every week the son or daughter would come and talk to them, tell them stories, look after them, bring them gifts, and every week it appeared to be the same. The parent wouldnt have known if they were being visited or not. When asked why the son or daughter came every week, they replied that, now and then, sometimes for only a few seconds, they would look into their parents eyes and they would see a spark. A flicker of joy and recognition. The person they know and love is still there, somewhere, deep down inside. That was why they came, for those moments. As I said, this analogy shouldnt be taken too literally, but I feel a similar way to the child visiting their parent. Among the arguments, the fits of anger and rage, the distrust, the paranoia, the mood swings, the knowledge that she feels that she is utterly useless, amongst all that I try to see the light. The memory of the fantastic times we have had, the knowledge that she loves me unquestionably and the hope that one day she will get over this, she will be happy and “normal”. I honestly believe she can overcome this.
I must try to understand. I must try to be patient and supportive. There have been times when it has all been a bit too much for me. Whereby I am fed up of being used as a punchbag (not literally), where I think to myself that I would be better and happier on my own. I would be lying if I said these thoughts never crossed my mind. Its hard being in a relationship with someone you love and they suffer from BPD, but I can assure you it is nowhere near as hard as being in a relationship with someone you love and you are suffering from BPD. My girlfriend is not a burden, her BPD is. Our relationship is a molehill compared to the mountain of a struggle she has to go through to try to overcome her condition. We have shed may tears together, and I would be lying if I didnt say that I am quite emotional right now.
My Girlfriend just came home.
I read this to her and we both cried.
I am done.
It is coming to the end of May 2014, and things have changed. This post may not be as relevant as it once was due to the fact my girlfriend and I are no longer together.
I shant divulge too much information as that is between her and I.
All I shall say is that, unfortunately, we are not on great terms. Some very hurtful things have been said and it is doubtful whether we shall even continue to talk.
Our relationship should in no way be used as a “perfect example” of being with a person who has BPD. There is nothing inevitable, there is nothing pre-determined, and by no means are all BPD relationships set to end in hurt and failure.
I wish everyone who visits this page the best of luck for the future. I hope your scenarios produce more beneficial outcomes than mine has.
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