My blog has been full of a lot of negativity, it’s hard to talk about Borderline Personality Disorder without getting into some pretty hairy topics. And on top of that it’s been a really rough year. Through all of that, however, there’s been someone who has consistently had my back and helped me get through the worst of it.
People think that those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder aren’t capable of loving others, or that others can’t really love us for extended periods of time. Many people believe that once you get in too deep with someone who has BPD you’ll realise what a terrible mistake you’ve made and need a thorough exit plan consisting of body doubles, a parachute and a change of passport to get away from us.
I’m here to say, confidently and without a shred of doubt in my heart (most of the time), that this is not the case. For the sake of some anonymity let’s call him Tyler. I met Tyler when I was 16. I know I was far from emotionally healthy at this point. I’d burst into tears for no apparent reason, I’d have a really hard time controlling outbursts and snap for no reason; typical 16 year old stuff but on steroids, or at least caffeine.
Tyler was probably about as neurotypical as they come. From a very stable family, happy, surrounded by genuine friends who loved him. Probably about everything I could’ve dreamed of for myself; I sometimes feel jealous of how simple things were for him. I still don’t know why he liked me but we had instant chemistry… or just a whole lot of teenage hormones.
At 27 years of age we’re still together and I can’t imagine a more supportive partner. I’d be lying if I said that things were easy when my mental health first took a turn for the worse but they were far from as bad as they could’ve been.
We didn’t know how to talk about what was going on in my head, something that’s probably not too unfamiliar to those of you who have BPD or know someone who does. He’d push me and I’d snap. He wouldn’t know what to say so he’d just stare at me and I felt like a spectacle… and I’d snap. Mostly a lot of trial and error, and a lot of time spent building up the trust that he wouldn’t leave me. And I’d snap.
It took work for both of us. I needed to build up trust, we both needed to work on communication.
When I think about the relationships I’ve lost since becoming ill and why things haven’t gone south with Tyler I think there’s one big, crucial difference. When Tyler said he wanted to help me, he meant it. He didn’t mean “I want to help as long as it doesn’t become too inconvenient”, he meant he would be there for me through the good and the bad.
He meant he would learn about what BPD actually is, not the stigmatised views you’ll see in Hollywood or some of the most vile Reddit subs. He meant he would listen to me, sometimes when I wasn’t even making sense, he’d still be there and guide me back to reason. He meant he would come to some of my therapy sessions, not just to support me but because he wanted to understand what it was like. He meant he would be there working with me through our mutual communication issues. He meant he would stay in a cramped bed with me in hospital when things really got out of hand.
Relationships with people with BPD can be hard, but they can work, it just takes commitment from both parties. I see people with BPD posting on Reddit, asking if it’s even possible for them to have a lasting relationship and it breaks my heart.
The honest truth is I know our relationship has not only endured since my diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder, it’s gotten a lot stronger. Yeah, it’s been hard, really fucking hard. All of that aside, a diagnosis means direction. A diagnosis means learning about how my brain works and what areas I need to improve on. A diagnosis means Tyler knows the worst that my brain is capable of and he’s still decided that I’m worth it to him, even when I can’t understand why.
The self-discovery that comes with BPD can be really frightening, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. I’m just incredibly grateful that I have a partner who has been there through the ups and downs. A partner who I can trust really means it.