I’ve lived with Borderline Personality Disorder for years. Why I’m finally talking about my diagnosis.

The reality of living with BPD is as unique as the person experiencing it. For me, it means a heartless voice in my head that screams You’re worthless. Sometimes the voice gets quieter, but it’s always here, buzzing in the background like white noise. BPD means being scared easily and often—frightened that I’m one panic attack away from losing a job or losing a writing client, or that something someone says or does, or that I see in real life or on TV, will trigger a downward spiral. (One time I couldn’t leave my bed for four days after binge watching the first season of True Detective.) I know others who have BPD. They hear the white noise voice, too—one that tells them they are fundamentally unlovable. They try to cope by using drugs, alcohol, food, sex, self-harm—anything, as long as it numbs.

We also contend with real voices of health care practitioners. One doctor told my friend with BPD that “everyone feels sad sometimes.” Another told a friend they would have to attempt suicide to receive in any help.

“‘Borderline’ has become almost pejorative in the healthcare system,” says Dr. Jonathan Petraglia, a licensed psychologist in private practice in Montreal, lecturer at McGill University, and my former classmate in high school. In Grade 11, Petraglia’s locker was right next to mine. We would see each other in the morning, though I don’t know if he ever noticed how tired my eyes always looked. After I emailed him about interviewing him for this piece, he became the first person from high school to know about my diagnosis.

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