Living with Borderline Personality Disorder– A Musician's Story
[Editor’s Note: This piece is a personal essay on what it’s like to live with a mental health diagnosis. This piece describes a singular and unique experience; this is not meant to be representative of every BPD diagnosis, but to give us a peek into one musician's mind so we may be more empathetic to all.]
I am not here to tell you that Borderline Personality Disorder is tragic for the millions of people who commit suicide daily, tell you that there is a cure, or that Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has changed my life, though it has been both helpful and remarkable. Instead, I want to assure you that when I received my diagnosis at Sunnybrook Hospital, understanding my disorder became my salvation.
Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a form of mental illness marked by “an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behaviour". People often relate individuals with BPD to emotional burn victims; emotional wounds don’t heal, they are left, open to "infection", and anything can trigger the most intense pain. I feel like I have been on a rollercoaster for years; the ride is enjoyable on some days and stressful on others. Sometimes it feels like there is no middle ground; it’s either all or nothing, good or bad.
People with BPD have an exquisite vulnerability to emotions. Ludicrous as it may seem, I have had most of my life's breakthroughs because of my BPD. In fact, my BPD diagnosis gave me purpose, and brought me down the path of spirituality. All my life, I walked outside without a thought for the people I passed but getting a better understanding of my disorder made me want to help transform the lives of others also suffering from BPD.
Sometimes I will just cry, and the next thing I know, I will be laughing, until I feel nothing. People with BPD are very often misunderstood, they are categorized as over-sensitive, dramatic and attention seeking. Everything they say or do is misconstrued, but we have this incredibly valuable gift regardless of our circumstances. An individual with BPD experiences pain and emotion on a level much higher than your average person (my "expert power level" as I refer to it). What society calls and labels an emotionally dysregulated disorder; I refer to as remarkable.
I was assigned to write an entire day in the life of someone with BPD. While my memory lapses, my amazing moments, my recovery, my panic attacks, and my outbursts of annoyance happen on a daily basis, i am able to live a happy, balanced life. Because of my fiancé and dog Rae, the weekly therapy I do, and the hours of work I do to manage my life, I am eternally proud of where I am today.
When I fight my monsters, I battle five times harder. There is no such thing as perfection, I embrace each day exactly how it is and how I am, past and present!
I am Melanie, a strong resilient artist studying to become a Psychotherapist with dreams of one day opening my own foundation and creating a safe space for others who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
It might be difficult to change our life's patterns and truths, but we can only genuinely change if we work towards our dreams even in the face of our monsters. I'm not here to tell you life will be perfect; I’m here to tell you that once you embrace that it's okay that you are perfectly imperfect, you may find the best version of you and start seeing the beauty in life.
- MELANIE? | @mindovermelanie