I am 42 and I survived Borderline Personality Disorder
My name is Terrin and I am 1 of 5. What I mean by that is that I live in a body with four other personalities. Today, I don't consider this something I "struggle with," but something that allows me to function. What I do struggle with is BPD and an emotional skin so thin that my mood is constantly ping-ponged by any imaginable trigger. The others have their own struggles, but this is my story.
We were a sensitive child and showed signs of trouble early. When we were maybe 7 or even younger I can remember feeling like the world had ended if a toy or even my shoes got dirty. Our parents did their best but my mother is, I believe, an undiagnosed Borderline herself and home life was unpredictable. We never knew where we stood, what the rules were or what we could do to stay out of trouble or please our mother. This only added to my difficulties and contributed to the development of me, an alter personality.
I am not the original personality, nor am I the "host" today, the one who is the primary contact with the outside world. But shortly after graduating from university, I became the host and it was overwhelming. I was in grad school when I began feeling suicidal, self injuring and having outbursts of rage. Things began to spiral out of control. I dropped out of school and suddenly moved out of province with a boyfriend, thinking I could outrun it. Shortly after we arrived, I started making suicidal gestures, not full suicide attempts (yet) but doing things like running out in traffic, cutting myself and taking small overdoses of the medication I had been offered on one of many trips to the ER. My boyfriend soon grew tired of this and ended things and I reacted the only way I knew–with a suicide attempt.
What followed were ten years in and out of hospital. I attended a 5 day/week psychiatric rehab program for 18 months, moved back home, failed to hold down a job because of frequent hospitalizations, tried medication after medication, CBT, DBT and about every therapy under the sun.
Finally, in 2010, I made a suicide threat and was told either the police would pick me up and take me to the hospital, or I would present myself there voluntarily. I chose the latter. I spent 9 weeks as an inpatient during which time I was physically and forcibly restrained numerous times. I was also told that the other personalities were just a way of getting attention and I was told not to express them. At this time another personality came forward and took over as host.
This new personality was functional, afraid of emotions (and me) and while highly dependant on our parents, she put our life back together. She built us some semblance of a life.
But that is not the end of the story. She found a wonderful therapist in 2016 who she sought help after experiencing anxiety about the failing health of her beloved dog. She soon realized that burying her feelings (and me and the others) was no longer working. We began communicating again, I began to explore my feelings in a new, safe context, and we began to have an emotional life again after seven years of numbness.
We are now in a committed relationship with a wonderful man and continue to see our therapist who cares about all of us equally. I still think about suicide and occasionally self harm…it is a work in progress. But I am safe and loved. I have the liberty of exploring these feelings without them sending me into a neurotic spiral. I would not be able to do this safely without the others. They are not a "disorder" but a way of being that was necessary once and continues to have benefits. We have no interest in integrating.
Dr. Phil of daytime tv defines a problem as something that interferes with the healthy pursuit of goals. Well, I can't say I have much ambition, but there are things I like and I'm free to put them in my life. I don't ever say I'm happy, that is for one of the other personalities, but I experience contentment, and I am home at last.
If you enjoyed Terrin’s story, send a bit of encouragement in the comments section below or share this story with others.