Personal Stories

My Lifelong Journey with Borderline Personality Disorder

by Bethany W.

Growing up, I didn’t know I had borderline personality disorder (BPD). But I knew something was “wrong.” Throughout my childhood and young adult years, I had unstable relationships with friends and family. I was always labeled as “emotional,” and I was quick to anger. One moment, I could like someone, but then they could make some minor mistake and my vision of them would shatter. I ended many friendships incorrectly and lost more friendships because of my unstable or unpredictable behavior.

I always say that I’ve battled mental health challenges for my entire life. I don’t remember a time of my life where I wasn’t sad, and my parents can’t think of a time I was just a happy-go-lucky child, either. Most of my childhood memories involve a situation in which I was incredibly upset, angry or depressed. I often felt “left out” of my own family and believed that my parents loved my brother more than they loved me.

During this time, I also battled an eating disorder and grappled with suicidal ideation. My mood and behavior fluctuated drastically, worrying many people around me. Depression, anxiety and eating disorders did run in the family — but my parents just hoped this was just a phase I could outgrow.

Eventually, my mother wanted me to begin therapy, but even when I agreed to go, I would soon change my mind, getting angry at the thought of needing help. At age 16, I was diagnosed with depression and at 19, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I felt some satisfaction receiving these diagnoses, as I had been fighting to understand my mental health for years.  

My greatest challenge was figuring out what else was “wrong” outside of these diagnoses. I wondered if I had another mental health condition and feared that maybe I was just “crazy.” I finally met the most amazing psychiatrist who put the pieces together: I have BPD. I have never felt so much relief in my life like I did when I heard those words. With the correct diagnoses and sufficient professional help in place, I now am on the right track to helping myself.

Of course, I still struggle. I sometimes fear forming connections with people and have resisted being in a serious romantic relationship. But I continued to make strides. I am majoring in psychology with the hopes of getting my PhD. I would like to become a professor and educate students about mental health conditions, hopefully creating a safe space for those struggling. I would also like to become an advocate for mental health awareness. Moving forward, one of my life goals is to help de-stigmatize personality disorders. We are not bad people; we just think differently. And I am proud of the journey that got me here.