When I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder earlier this year, I learned it was the same as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I had been married for 12 years, and the psychiatrist said it was quite unusual to be in a long-term relationship. I think he meant that as a compliment, but I wasn’t sure if he was actually questioning the stability of my relationship.
When I got home I instantly Googled it. I think we all tend to Google our lives in the digital times we find ourselves in. We believe the answer to every question is a click away. I soon found out people with BPD were known for “intense and unstable” relationships, according to the Mind website. Every booklet or website I looked at said it was virtually impossible to maintain a relationship with some with BPD. We were described as needy, manipulative and difficult. As I looked back over my 35 years, I could identify where so many relationships had gone wrong. Not all, but many friends and family found it difficult to be around me. I need to be someone’s world and when I’m not, I instantly assume they hate me. It’s black and white thinking, love or hate - I don’t see grey. I am so lucky to still have my best friend, from when I was just 11 years old. 25 years and still going strong having spent last weekend with both of our families in Peebles, on the Scottish Borders. How has she put up with me? You’d have to ask her, but I’m so grateful she has.
I was fortunate to meet my now husband when I was 19. Looking back, I can now see the signs in our relationship too. I was constantly trying to end the relationship to see if he cared, but he never gave up on me, even when I’d given up on myself. He lives in the here and now, and sometimes he has to drag me back here when I’m off on my anxious journey and living three weeks, months or even years in the future. He makes me laugh, all the time and for me that helps so much. He doesn’t always understand, he still gets frustrated, but he tries to be supportive. He orders me books to help build my confidence with the condition, he cooks for me because he knows I won’t eat anything if he doesn’t, he sometimes finds excuses for me to have to get up and go out just so I’ve done it. He is honest with me and however hard that is to hear at times, it means I trust him, something everyone with BPD struggles with. He can see signs of my deterioration before I do.
I have to work hard, too. I had to learn he wasn’t my carer, not to take him for granted, and to make sure he gets time away with his friends. I also had to lower my expectations from the fairytale fantasy that had to be perfect. I had to realise that laying around all day feeling sorry for myself wasn’t good for me and I had to learn to listen to him.
Together we nursed his dad and my mum through their battles with cancer, which is also something that has cemented our relationship. And it was hard, but it means we have empathy for each other and another bond. Our two daughters also bring us closer every day.
So it’s not a dead end. Your condition doesn’t define you, you do. Don’t believe what you read, listen and learn and change how you react. You need honesty, love, support and humour - a lot of humour!
Is it easy? No. Do I still get paranoid and needy? Yes. Do I still frustrate him when I lie around in bed? Yes. Is he going to leave me? Honestly I’ll never know, but I’m learning to live more in the moment and enjoy it.