Sunday, February 9, 2014

Three Things My Mental Illness Has Taught Me about People without a Mental Illness

I guess the cat’s out of the bag (I wonder where that expression came from?). Some of you knew. Some of you may have suspected. Some you knew something just wasn’t quite right, but couldn’t put your finger on it. Having borderline personality disorder (BPD) isn’t exactly fun. In a nutshell, people with BPD “feel emotions more easily, more deeply, and for longer” than others; there are impulsive behaviors that vary between people with BPD (mine are reckless spending and alcohol abuse, just to name two); there’s also the fear of adornment and rejection; a feeling of emptiness; dissociation; and self-harm. Between the suicide attempts and failed relationships with friends, family, and significant others, I have learned at least three things about how others perceive me (and, of course, those with BPD and other mental illnesses).

One: Having BPD (or any other mental illness) is the only disease where you can get yelled at for having. If you learn a family member, friend, or significant other had cancer, odds are you wouldn’t yell at them and tell them to buck up. Not so with BPD. I’ve been yelled at numerous times, by people who know what I suffer from, to stop acting the way I do; I need to “suck it up,” and “get over it.” Here’s a newsflash: if I could “suck it up,” and “get over it,” I wouldn’t have a mental illness. Yes, everybody gets depressed; however, normal people can get over it, quickly. To skip all the science stuff, my brain is not “wired” like a normal person’s.

Two: People with BPD are manipulative, selfish, dicks. I’m just going to let Melissa Valliant, editor-in-chief of HellaWella, address this one. Go ahead Melissa.

“The idea that people suffering from BPD are selfish, manipulative jerks has probably evolved from those who have been hurt by loved ones with BPD. Recent studies have concluded that people with BPD either have a distorted sense of generally accepted social norms, or that they may not sense these norms at all, according to This leads to behaving in ways that negatively impact trust and cooperation with others.

“BPD sufferers also have difficulty seeing gray areas and tend to perceive everything as black and white, good or bad — which, as you can imagine, causes challenges in communication. People in relationships with people with BPD often feel manipulated, taken advantage of or controlled due to such BPD-typical behavior as ‘threats, no-win situations, the “silent treatment,” rages and other methods [the non-BPD sufferer] views as unfair,’ according to

“It’s important to understand that this is not intentional. BPD sufferers are often terrified of losing the loved ones in their lives; their irrational behavior is usually an act of desperation and impulsiveness stemming from the fear of abandonment. BPDCentral suggests it’s a ‘desperate attempt to cope with painful feelings or to get their needs met without the aim of harming others.’”

Three: It’s OK to label me as crazy and completely decide I should no longer be in your social circle. Now, really, who’s selfish? Ninety-nine percent of my “friends,” some of my family members, and others who fall into a different category of relationships, decided to do just what people with BPD fear: abandon them. Then have the nerve to say, “What’s his problem?” And they can totally blame it on “craziness.” No need to understand. It’s easier to just cut the cord. If I suffered from, say, testicular cancer, and these people did that, they would be the ones society looked down on. But, since I’m “crazy,” they made a good decision to keep me and my “negativity” out of their life, and, most likely, tell everybody how nuts I am, how selfish I am, how manipulative I am, and how much of an ass I am.

Are there more things I learned about people and how they view me? Of course. But, these are the three things I wanted to address. Now, I’m certain people will be upset at me for writing this, thinking I’m trying to do them harm; I’m not. Believe it or not, BPD, and other forms of depression, are quite common. Hell, you could have it and not know it, or somebody you now may have it. Or now you suspect they have it. What needs to happen is to have these myths and stereotypes debunked. I think that can only happen by talking about it. I wish I could “get over it,” and have a relationship where it doesn’t look like I’m treating the person “unfairly.” If it doesn’t get out there, you’ll have people end up like me: feeling worthless, empty, abandoned, never leaving your house and mixing with society because you know that, even though you don’t mean to, they think you’re hurting them and you just don’t want to do that to people.

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