Yeah, OK. So I had to dig a little deep to create this post. But I got there in the end.
BPD is one of the most misunderstood mental health disorders today, and there are a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding it. ‘Crazy,’ ‘abusive’ and ‘manipulative’ are amongst some of the most common and hurtful stereotypes identified by Sonny Jane over on The Mighty. BPD is even portrayed negatively in the media (I mean, have you watched Fatal Attraction?)
Even worse, it isn’t only the general public who stigmatise and stereotype people with BPD. New York psychologist Ron Aviram remarked on the negative and harmful stereotypes held by mental health professionals, saying that in the psychiatric field patients with BPD are often seen as “treatment-resistant,” “manipulative,” “demanding,” “drama queens,” and “attention-seekers.”
Isn’t that lovely?
It can be pretty hard to love yourself when you’re perceived in such a negative light, which only makes our symptoms even worse. However, there are plenty of really positive things about BPD that are overshadowed and overlooked, from our natural empathy to our fierce loyalty.
Let’s give the positive things about BPD the appreciation that they deserve!
We have an incredible capacity for empathy and compassion
Borderlines are hyper-sensitive to emotions, which makes us more intuitive to other people’s emotions too. Heightened sensitivity and perception also play a huge role as to why so many borderlines identify as ‘hyper-empathetic’.
Because I feel things so intensely, I find myself really susceptible to other people’s emotions, both positive and negative. If you’re crying about something that’s upset you, I’m in tears too. But if you’re ecstatic about something, I’m just as overjoyed! My ability to empathise with others is definitely one of my best characteristics because it makes me more understanding and compassionate.
It honestly breaks my heart when I see people in emotional pain because I know exactly what it’s like.
Yes, some of us do feel intense happiness!
“Surely if your emotions are intense then you feel happiness really intensely too?”
This one only recently rings true for me. I’ve suffered from chronic depression since I was 12 years old, so happiness has always been a bit of an alien concept. However, now that I know how to manage my depression, I definitely do get intense bouts of happiness when something really good happens!
Happiness feels perpetual and all-consuming. The hot, tingling rush overwhelms my body and I can just float in it for hours. Unlike bipolar disorder, the happiness (for me anyway) doesn’t have any manic characteristics. Having BPD just means that I sometimes get insanely happy when my day is slightly less inconvenient than normal 😂
We are also capable of deeply passionate love
Borderline personality disorder is infamous for its unhealthy effect on love and relationships. However, one of the positive things about BPD is that it bestows us with an exceptional capacity for love even once we’ve learnt how to manage the condition.
Our fear of abandonment means that in relationships we can fluctuate between being clingy and distant; passionate one minute and cold the next. To you, that might seem like we’re blowing hot and cold. In reality, we are often so overwhelmed by love that the mere thought of you leaving us causes intense emotional pain. Our distance is our only protection.
We love extremely deeply, which is why we’re so sensitive to any indication that you don’t feel the same way.
I’ve spoken before about how wrong love feels for me because of my self-identity and attachment issues. Going through a breakup is even worse and part of me is sworn off love forever because of it. However, love is truly beautiful and when things are going good, the deep, unwavering passion I feel is one of the best feelings ever!
We can be extremely self-aware and introspective
Having BPD has made it necessary for me analyse every thought I have. Every negative core belief or affirmation is scrutinised. Every traumatic childhood experience, every word I say to my loved ones and every erratic behaviour pattern is put under a microscope and intricately examined. Despite my self-identity issues and inability to always fully control the intensity of my emotions, I know the way that my mind works really, really well.
Practising mindfulness was a massive help in this regard. Check out how to practise mindfulness for mental health awareness here.
BPD sparks creativity
Studies have shown a strong link between mental health illnesses and creativity. This is particularly true for writers, who are more likely to suffer from a range of mental health conditions including schizophrenia and depression.
For me and my crazy-intense emotions, writing provides me with a therapeutic outlet for the chaos in my head. Feeling so deeply all the time is also great for my imagination when it comes to novel writing! I am able to tap into my character’s emotions really well as I am always looking for different ways to explain my emotions.
Even though sometimes we don’t feel like it – we’re really resilient
When you have a condition that gives you no emotional armour, you have no choice but to feel everything. The intense negative emotions can be triggered by the smallest of things, so we have to learn how to get used to it!
I battle with my mind every single day. I am constantly internalising intense waves of emotions and resisting the urge to succumb to my BPD impulses. It’s emotionally exhausting and if I let it, BPD can spiral me down a dark hole of emptiness, fear and addiction. But most days – I don’t let it.
And that takes some serious resilience!
When you see a BPD have a breakdown, try to remember that their internal struggle has probably been going on for longer than you realise.
I’ve really enjoyed exploring the positive things about BPD. I’m so used to seeing it as something that I need to fight against, rather than something that I can embrace! If you have BPD, I hope this list has opened your eyes to all of the positive characteristics that BPD gifts us in spite of everything!