When we think of mental illness we often tend to get dragged down by the idea that its all bad. That’s not always the case, we are allowed to be happy sometimes, we love unconditionally, and we do even laugh (I know, crazy right?!). Disorders like BPD are no exception, in fact, there are even some very positive traits to come out of it…
People with BPD are often described as 'manipulative' and 'toxic', which is something I, and I'm sure many others, find highly offensive and can be very damaging to hear, especially from professionals. Yes, some people with the condition might have manipulative traits, but so might someone else without. That being said, we are probably amongst the most caring, empathic and compassionate people you will meet. Having experienced such intense sadness and pain gives us a great knowledge and understanding of the people around us, we want to help and share our knowledge, and being as intuitive as borderlines tend to be, we pick up on emotions easily. Yes, the unbearable sadness is a bummer, but what comes from it is beautiful and, for me, its so important to channel those feelings into helping others and being an all round good person.
Borderline Personality Disorder is often confused with Bipolar due to the fact that the intense lows we feel are matched with intense highs, the difference being with Bipolar is that highs and lows can last for up to weeks, sometimes months, whereas with BPD these mood swings can occur several times in one day.
The excitement we may feel about something as small as remembering that chocolate cake you’ve been saving in the fridge can make us feel like we are literally bursting at the seams and bouncing off the walls. The love we feel for our pets, partners, family and friends make us feel like we are floating on a cloud, that intense passion for someone or something can even hurt (in a good way!). Yes, we have abandonment and attachment issues that can cause a lot of problems with relationships, but catch us on a good day and we are full of love that we only want to share with you. Something made you chuckle? We're probably on the floor in hysterics laughing because this feeling of complete euphoria needs to present itself in one way or another.
Of course, as we know, its not all jazz hands and confetti all the time. In fact, these feelings of euphoria will only last a short amount of time and its usually overshadowed by the bad, but its so important to hold on to these feelings and remember we are capable of happiness, even if it is just for 20 minutes before the inevitable crash.
Passion is a huge positive trait of BPD. For me, its what keeps me going, it gets me out of bed in the morning. I am probably one of the most passionate people you will meet, talk to me about musical theatre and you'll have me rambling for hours, its like a release. If you can tap into someone's passion and show an interest, you will instantly see their face light up, their eyes widen, their smile grow as they talk about that one thing in their life that is 'okay'.
I've been told by many different people, including people who know me very well, that as soon as I'm in the vicinity of a theatre, whether it be to perform or to watch a show, I can become a different person - a better version of myself. That’s because it is my one constant, its safe and familiar.
Of course, there are so many things to be passionate about in the world: people, TV shows, music, cars, make-up, animals. I will guarantee you that if you know someone with BPD, there will be something, and if you ask them about it you might just make their day.
I consider myself a very creative person, I like to sing, act, craft, paint…… The list goes on! BPD sufferers are often fairly intelligent people, and with intelligence comes creativeness (in a round-a-bout way). Sometimes its something those who are lucky enough to access therapy come to learn, any kind of creativity can be very mindful and aid in their recovery. In other circumstances its instilled in their make-up as a person. Personally, I have always been creative, as a child I was always making something and getting busy with glues sticks and glitter. Some people throw themselves into dance or drama too, all of these creative outlets are perfect, and you'll often find that someone with BPD is very talented in at least one of them.
I am currently on a waiting list to start a group therapy course called 'Therapy Through Activity' under a team specialising in personality disorders. On this 2 year program patients get the chance to learn new skills, often artistic, whilst exploring their emotions. This' unorthodox' method of therapy has proven very successful in patients with BPD (amongst other personality disorders) and I'm really excited to get started.