Posted by: BPD Society of BC | June 16, 2010

Elizabeth’s Story – Don’t Call Me Borderline!

This was my initial reaction when I first learned that I have commonly misunderstood mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Unlike, Depression, Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder few people have heard of my illness and it is only just beginning to come into the light as far as advocacy and awareness are concerned.

I am among the many millions of people with this disorder (2-3% of the population). Like Schizophrenia, BPD is a devastating mental illness and is usually diagnosed in adolescence or early adulthood. In my case, it struck very young probably around puberty but I was not diagnosed until twenty six years of age. For more than ten years of my life I struggled to get well. It has only been in the last three and a half years that I have found true health and wellbeing. I am doing wonderful now! There were many times when I honestly thought I would never get better – I gave up hope. I became suicidal. I seriously attempted suicide nine times. These attempts were serious yet impulsive acts and extremely hard on my family who never knew if they would come home to find me dead or alive. This was before mental health professionals learned that BPD is actually a highly treatable mental illness!

During my illness, I suffered from typical BPD symptoms. I had great difficulty regulating my emotions (especially in relationships with others). I was very impulsive and self-destructive. I engaged in self-injury where I cut or burned my skin to get a sense of relief from emotional pain. I had uncontrollable bouts of rage either aimed at myself or others. I lost a lot of friends during this period and my family did not know how to help me although they tried their best to be emotionally supportive. I also experienced severe depression and feelings of being completely empty. I felt like a burn victim – my skin so raw I lacked the “emotional skin” to cope with, what others would consider the normal everyday trials and tribulations of life. At times, I did not know who the person looking back at me in the mirror really was – I thought I was a bad, evil and despicable person although I had never committed a crime and by many accounts was a caring, thoughtful and highly-sensitive individual. At other times, I dissociated from reality. I felt numb or unable to feel. For prolonged periods of time, everything around me looked and felt fake. On one day, I remember multi-coloured fall leaves blowing by that looked like plastic – nature was ugly and lacked any meaning or beauty. I felt as if I was living in a doll house where nothing around me was real. At other times, I heard voices in my head telling me “You are worthless, you are worthless…” over and over again.

As for my recovery, I have now found a sense of peace within my mind through a combination of psychiatric medications that work for me (I cannot go without them), learning Dialectical Behavioural Techniques to handle my emotions, further college education and meaningful activity. I am now a certified Community Mental Health Worker. As a Peer Support Worker (PSW) at the BC Schizophrenia Society – BCSS (Victoria Branch), I work both one-to-one and in groups with many people who have various mental illnesses, including BPD.  With the help of a young woman with BPD and our mothers, I have started a local support group for people with BPD and family members. I also co-facilitate a psychoeducational workshop for those with overwhelming emotions (cross-diagnosis) called the New Light Recovery Workshop where participants learn Dialectical Behavioural Techniques (DBT). But, I am no longer my illness. I am a daughter, a sister, a team-member, a facilitator, an artist, a public speaker, a volunteer, a passionate person, a caring person, a nature lover (I see beauty again!), an animal lover,  an advocate, a spiritual person,  an avid novel reader, a bell collector, a person who knows me well… I am Elizabeth Charlotte Bogod.

As an advocate, I urge everyone who reads this article to join the advocacy movement to bring BPD out of the darkness where stigma festers and grows. The term BPD says little about the true nature of this illness. It does not reflect the core symptoms – emotional dysregulation and impulsivity and in my experience, has led to increased stigma, misunderstandings and the all horrible self-stigma that slowly erodes the soul. To be told I had a “personality disorder” (especially when I was most vulnerable and hurting) was to be told there was something intrinsically wrong with the essence of my being – my whole identity and personality flawed. There is currently a move to change the name and designation of BPD in the next publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). One possible new name is Emotional Processing Disorder. You can help!!! Please sign the following petition to bring BPD into the light! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Advocacy-for-Borderline-Personality-Disorder

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Responses

  1. Thankyou for speaking up and putting words to my feelings and frustrations.

  2. hi elizabeth,

    your story touched me and made me think how lucky i am to have come in contact with you. i so wish i had what you have in your life now.

    i am now feeling the sadness and tears our conversation this evening was coming to.

    however, i have totally dissociated with reality but not to worry; i’m safe.

    i really appreciate your ongoing support and friendship, it means alot!

    i’ll see you friday at 3:30pm. looking forward to it!

    ross

    • Hi Ross,

      Thank you for writing this heart felt message. I’m glad my story has helped you. Good two that you are feeling some of those emotions. I know this is hard for you but together we can get through this. Hang in there,

      Elizabeth

  3. I could really use your help…


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