In today’s blog post, we interview Victor, who lives with a parter that has borderline personality disorder.
I wake up every morning mentally dreading the dozen or so mood swings that will inevitably turn my day into a tornado. Unlike our fellow friend, bipolar disorder, our BPD mood swings cycle through within hours. We feel the ecstasy of no-drugs-needed highs and from the flick of a switch, drown ourselves in the depths of depression. Unpredictable and exhausting, these mood swings make borderlines seem unreliable and inconsistent. Is it any wonder that most of us suck at keeping friends, jobs, and relationships?
These mood swings often feel like being sentenced with terminal misery. Despite the emotional turmoil and constant weariness, there is a way that borderlines can reclaim control over BPD mood swings.
The technique below is something that my therapist suggested to me because it worked for her bipolar patients. I was skeptical.
Track your moods. Identify the pattern.
I was wholly convinced that borderline mood swings were unpredictable and moved to its own beat, with complete disregard for how my day was going. There was no such thing as a “good day,” when at any moment, my mood could switch on me. My therapist suggested that I download a mood tracker app.
To my surprise, I learned that there was indeed a pattern to my up and downs. My random spurts of anger or depression had similar triggers. My mood tracker was showing that I usually have 5 days of “up” followed by 2 days of passive suicidal ideation. There were also downward spirals on days where I was fighting with my significant other, leading to explosive anger.
I took this a step further and tracked my moods three times a day. After a few months, I learned that going to bed late or poor sleep contributed to intense mood swings and fights throughout the next day, whereas going to bed around 10pm led to me waking up to a forgiving and productive mood.
While the bigger picture feels like, “Wow, my life is shit,” there are little aspects that can be tracked and analyzed so we can relieve ourselves of unnecessary pain. Mood tracking is one of the first ways that genuinely helped me finally understand the patterns of my instability and emotional outbursts.
Take advantage of the good days.
After learning about how your emotions work, you can use that knowledge as power. This can help you establish control over the events that happen in your life. For example, I know that after 5 days, I am due for a massive downward mood swing where I want to do nothing but sulk and eat carbs.
So on the days where I experience my “ups,” I work. I research and create blog posts for The Fractured Light. When my friends want to hang out, I take advantage of the good days and commit.
And when I know the bad days are coming, I let myself slack off. I binge watch my favorite tv shows (I save my shows for sick days) and stock my fridge with healthier foods to binge on (like a good ol’ Caesar salad kit from Walmart). Knowing that bad days make me confrontational and angry, I stay away from social media or anywhere that could spark controversial thoughts in me, but I hang out in my support groups.
Tracking and scheduling around your moods sound like a lot of work, but it pays off. Building a new habit is going to be a struggle at first, but once it becomes part of your daily routine, it becomes second nature. It does get easier. For me, I no longer need to track my moods because I’ve grown accustomed to when my body is going to go up or down. I’ve also learned my anger triggers and do my best to avoid them, so it can’t destroy the rest of my day (or week… if you’re like me and like to hold grudges.)
Give mood tracking a try. You might be pleasantly surprised that there’s a system or routine to how your moods behave.
I mulled over whether I wanted to write this post, because I understand how sensitive and triggering suicide is, as a subject. We’ve lost celebrities, mental health advocates, and even personal loved ones to suicide, so the idea of having a World Suicide Prevention Day seems noble. On the day itself, my news feed was buttered with seemingly compassionate messages filled with prayers and love, mixed with suicide prevention hotlines.
That’s the thing with suicide prevention… it’s a lot more than sharing hotlines and making promises of being an open door for when troubles come. Prayers are never enough. There is commitment and burden that comes with making these promises.
Last month was definitely a month filled with writer's blocks and creative fear. I started exploring options to grow my blog and accidentally fell into a jealousy when I saw beautiful blogs with gigantic followings. To be honest, I felt intimidated. I never set out to blog to gain a huge audience (since I write about something so specific), but I'll admit to feeling the twinge of envy.
Now that I've sat with those feelings, journaled about it, and explored it, I've realized that this is just motivation to keep writing. Write consistently. Write about what I love. Write about things that you, the reader, want to read about…
I know borderline personality disorder feels like a life sentence; a punishment. Things were bad before, but now you’ve learned that you have something within you that damns you into a life of turmoil. It’s knowing that your feelings betray you and your world is vastly different from those around you. You’re lost, confused, and terrified.
Googling borderline personality disorder doesn’t help. You’re met with people who believe that those like you are monsters. That you’re incapable of caring for anyone but yourself. Having this disorder comes with labels such as crazy, psycho, selfish, bitch, and overdramatic….
Being the loved one of someone who lives with borderline personality disorder comes with challenges of your own. You don't understand the world that the borderline lives in. Outbursts, conflicts, and obstacles come from seemingly nowhere. It feels like walking on eggshells around the borderline.
To communicate with someone who has borderline personality disorder, it's important to understand how the borderline mind works. Borderlines are prone to split thinking, seeing the world as either all-good or all-bad. With you, it means that at any given time, you are either all-support or never-supportive. There's rarely any in between.
In the beginning, it feels really nice. You know, the type of guy that never received much attention from other girls, so he throws himself all over you, in an effort to keep you. He knows about your past- all the men that have hurt you before and the way the world has been brutal to you. He offers everything- a trusted shoulder to cry on, safety, and someone who will never abandon you.
Because that's where it all began- with the abandonment.
Over the past few weeks, I've been settling into my new apartment and trying to keep up with the blog. It's grown from getting no views to averaging 50+ views per day, so it's a slow climb. Overall, I'm just happy that I'm still writing and putting up blog posts instead of deciding to nuke the whole website in proper bpd fashion.
Dating, having a favorite person, idealizing someone and then devaluing them, are all the not-so-fun parts of living with borderline personality disorder. As a mental health disorder that robs you of your self-value, sense of identity, and creates a confusing world of relationships (that are usually one sided), dating while living with BPD can feel like a burden.
Some of the cycles that borderlines face, while dating, looks like…
As we get older, sometimes our circle of friends get smaller and smaller. People move away. Work gets in the way. And before we know it, we begin to isolate ourselves in adulthood. While I don't believe that having a large number of friends is the answer, I still think that it's better to have a support system than to self isolate…
I often turn to my support system over the internet, rather than going to people I know in person. When using an online mental health support group, I'm allowed the time to sit there, write my thoughts, and then edit them, afterwards. With mental health support groups, I may not be getting professional help from a certified therapist, but I am hearing stories and advice from others who live with a mental health disorder.
Living with a form of bipolar disorder, I sometimes have mood swings that drag me way down low. For lack of a better word, I feel like absolute shit. I begin to self-deprecate. I binge eat. I stop taking care of myself. The cruel, harsh internal voice will surface and I won't stop it, thinking that I deserve all the terrible things I tell myself.
In these moments, we need kindness the most…