Hold My Hand and Walk Back Through Time: Growing Up with BPD

“Someday, the nostalgia will fade and we will learn that it is merely gravity making us frown.” ~d.s.h.

I have never been an aggressive person. Even as a child in class I was afraid to ask someone for a pencil or speak up in class when a peer made an offhand comment to me for fear of drawing attention to myself, of being called dramatic and “tattle-tale.” Regarding my elementary school, my peers and I were part of this international baccalaureate program in which we were rewarded for demonstrating skills such as empathy, or getting a top grade on our reading comprehension tests. We were considered the “gifted” kids. Fifth grade came around, and with my mousy black hair and wide, anxious eyes, I auditioned for the winter school musical. I’m not even sure I was all that good at singing, but I got the part for solo. I find this very strange looking back on it. Presently, I would never think about performing in front of a giant crowd like I once did — I admire child-me’s bravery.

I had always been a nervous, highly sensitive child. At age seven I started this compulsive habit of ripping out my hair and picking off skin from the area around my fingernails (I still have the finger-picking habit today). No one understood why I did this and I didn’t either. It felt like it was something I had to do, and while I was doing it, I’d go into this trance-like state where I wasn’t entirely aware of my surroundings. At that age I also found anger quite a difficult emotion for me to articulate. I could get intensely jealous over small things, and this led to a lot of fights with my friends back then. I wasn’t capable of introspection at ten years old. When my family upset me I released the growing tension inside of me, the electrical storm brewing in my chest, by bending my fingers back as far as they’d go. I did this because the pain relieved the anger. except my family didn’t know that — they thought it was funny and often mocked me. At the time I didn’t know what self-harm even was. It was just something I did. When I got older, this coping mechanism evolved from finger-bending to cutting my thighs, burning my arms, and punching things.

As I grew into adolescence, my emotions became increasingly volatile. I remember feeling like a dull, hollow shell of a child, entirely at the mercy of my environment. I could flip from one emotion and to another and then back again at the drop of a hat. It was frightening both to me and my family.

Shame, shame, shame. January of this year I was reevaluated by psychiatrists (the first time I received two diagnoses of MDD and social phobia) and diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I did not begin taking medicine until the end of March when I spent eight days in a psychiatric facility. I remember being woken up at six am in the soft blue light of dawn to have my blood taken; as I was sitting on the chair outside my nurse’s office, groggy and annoyed, a middle-aged blonde woman approached me and said, “Oh, sorry to interrupt, but I’ve been watching you just from over there. You’re very beautiful. You could be a model! What’s a pretty little girl like you doing in a place like this?” I didn’t know what to say. What was I doing in there? There’s a lot of answers. The most obvious one, I had overdosed on pills. The second answer, I had lost control of my emotions. Third, I wanted to start over. There’s a whole lot of excuses.

In the hospital I was prescribed 10mg Lexapro and 100mg Seroquel. I was advised to take it at night due to how sleepy the medication makes me. So far, my moods are still a tempest, only slightly more dampened down. Now I don’t have mania to sweep me off my feet and turn my thoughts into a cyclone, and I’m not particularly depressed, but I still spiral into a suicidal downfall when my borderline triggers act up. I’m in therapy twice a week. It’s a work in progress, but I know anything is possible.

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