Every once in a while I wonder if I’m actually Borderline or if the world is just a giant asshole.
Okay, here’s a big concern I have about “coming out” as someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.
When someone knows you have a mental disorder, your credibility is the first thing called into question. When you have BPD as the mental disorder people automatically think you’re overreacting…. Even if you have a LEGITIMATE issue. Yes, things do tend to hit us harder, but that doesn’t mean that some of those things aren’t significant problems that would create an upset for anyone even without a personality disorder. Except when people know you have a disorder of emotional regulation you essentially have to convince them that that it’s not just all in your head. You have to convince people that your concern is valid before they take you seriously.
This is one of the reasons I don’t like telling people about my struggles with BPD (in real life), unless I’m very close to them, and they understand me and my personality as a whole, and not just a disordered part.
Take this weekend for example. I had a really, really bad weekend. I was in an unfamiliar environment, with people that weren’t “my kind” of people (read: racist) that I had never met, physically sick, miserable from the climate, more miserable from the intolerant company, running on no sleep because Tech Boy and I got into a fight the night before about how I chose to interact with (and avoid) some of these new people, got my ankle smashed by some clod that didn’t pay attention to who was next to him, hit by a thrown beer can, and sprayed in the face by another. Missed the one event this weekend I actually wanted to go to because I was so exhausted and overwhelmed from the prior two miserable days, and then Tech Boy had the nerve to ask me if my weekend was really so terrible? Really? Yes, it was a fucking tragedy. I was actually looking forward to coming into work today just to escape my weekend.
Some things bother me. Legitimate, valid issues. Issues that have nothing to do with my mental issues. It legitimately pisses me off when people think I’m overreacting to something that is a real issue of principle to me. I was raised in a very liberal and progressive household. My father led marches and protests on Washington D.C. in the ‘60s and ‘70s fighting for the equality and civil rights of ALL United States citizens; women, minorities, GLBTQ, you name it, we believe in equal rights for all. My sister and I are not heterosexual. I’m a woman in a male dominated profession and I have run into A LOT of gender bias and discrimination because of it. Some things I have a very strong opinions on, that are legitimate concerns and issues in my life are sexism, sexual identity discrimination, and racism (this one maybe not on my own behalf but certainly on the behalf of many I care about). I have very little tolerance for bigots, and yes I see the irony in that statement. I am also not quiet about my beliefs and support for equality. So when I’m faced with racist comments, even “jokingly”, I don’t find them funny. I don’t pretend to laugh, and unless I’m grossly outnumbered by people I think will physically assault me, I’m perfectly okay stating my opinion that “jokes” of that nature make me uncomfortable and I think they’re in poor taste. I realize this can be awkward for people that grew up in an area of the country where this is acceptable and they’re confronted with a stranger that doesn’t see eye to eye with them. I don’t get nasty and mean, but I do let them know that I am not okay with comments of that nature and if they persist I will go elsewhere.
It legitimately pisses me off when someone tells me I’m overreacting to something that I believe is wrong. You can’t tell me that I need to accept the beliefs of other people while at the same time disregarding that this sentiment also applies to me. I understand that people hold beliefs that differ from mine. I can accept that. However, it does not mean that I must agree with it. By that same sentiment they in turn need to accept that I do not believe as they do as well. They don’t have to agree with me, but they have to accept it.
I won’t sit here and tell you I’m not a judgmental person. As human we make judgments on people, places, and things around us. It’s how we assess or environment as compatible or incompatible. Personally, I choose to do that on an individual basis. Not a general one. When I haven’t gotten to know or interact with every person being generalized, I’m not interested in making an uninformed judgment. It’s not my way. I wouldn’t want to be lumped into a category with every other female of mixed western European background, not because I hold anything against people that share my ancestral background, but because I would prefer to be judged on my own merit, and not by the geography of my predecessors. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Something I know that a lot of us with BPD deal with, is that when there is a legitimate concern people will often dismiss our concerns because they automatically attribute it to us getting overemotional as part of the emotional dysregulation. It can be nearly impossible to be taken seriously even when we have valid problems because we are automatically dismissed. Unsurprisingly this often leads to us getting more frustrated because even when we convey our concerns we can’t be taken seriously. Why would we want to disclose our mental struggles to people when this is what we can look forward to? It’s difficult to ask for help, it’s difficult to remove our masks, when that would expose us to ridicule and the kind of judgment that would lose us our credibility as intelligent human beings. Just because we have a dysregulation of emotion, does not mean that we don’t also experience dilemmas that should be taken seriously and not dismissed as being overemotional. In a healthy environment none of our concerns, emotional or otherwise, would be invalidated, but it’s even more hurtful to have credible issues invalidated because we’ve been stigmatized by the label of this disorder.
It’s something to consider and something that I think people will keep in mind when interacting with loved ones with BPD.
I may turn this into an occasional series as things come to mind about opening up about BPD to the people in our lives.