This post will be an introduction to my Borderline Personality Disorder journey, my faith journey, and will hopefully give those struggling with Borderline or other mental illnesses the knowledge that they aren’t alone.
I felt called by God to write a blog about a disorder that is not very well known and very little understood. Carrying this diagnosis has been a huge struggle for me, as well as those around me. God is beginning to show me how to accept and love myself just how He made me. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I was diagnosed a couple years ago, and even to this day have a hard time accepting it. The diagnosis shattered my sense of identity, and I’m slowly picking up the pieces. But the main source of comfort I’ve found was in Christ.
It’s difficult to find statistical information about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) because it often goes undiagnosed. After doing some research, there’s not much helpful information out there about overcoming BPD from a Christian perspective. Buddhism is often practiced when treating BPD because dialectical therapy originated from Buddhist principles. The foundation of “dialectics” is holding opposing ideas, and creating meaning from them (example: holding your thoughts, feelings, and facts at the same time).
I’m attempting to combine these two conflicting entities in my life to make sense of both: my faith and BPD. As an adolescent, I used to choose my faith over any urges. Then, as a young adult, I chose only my urges, rejecting my faith. Now, I’m learning to manage my intense emotions and urges within the context of a healthy relationship with God and those around me.
A little bit about myself, I grew up with a pastor for a father, my mother is a counselor. This gave me a unique perspective on both mental illness and the church as a child. I thought I was immune to mental illness because of my parent’s professions. I thought I would have a relatively easy life with God having my back all the time. When I turned 18, everything changed. I went from “all good” to “all bad.” Something in me just snapped, I was out of control for almost 4 years. I turned away from God and turned toward everything I was always told to stay away from.
I didn’t understand why I gave into every urge I had, but I just knew I couldn’t stop the feelings of emptiness and the destructive behaviors. Growing up knowing right from wrong, I knew what I was doing was very wrong, which made me feel worse. I attempted to console myself with what felt good, which hurled me into a spiral deeper and deeper into darkness.
When I was first diagnosed, I struggled with feeling like an alien. Was I the only one who felt like this? Why did God make me so screwed up? How could He allow this to happen to me? I felt that I might as well have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. You may not believe me, but BPD does not have to be a life sentence of constant suffering, even if it feels that way now.
Everyone’s symptoms manifest in different ways with BPD. To meet criteria for BPD, you must have at least 5 out of 9 symptoms for the diagnosis. BPD is not a lifelong diagnosis; over time you may not meet criteria anymore (thank you Jesus!) I’ve struggled with all of the symptoms of BPD at some point in my life, but the ones most damaging have been impulsive self-destructive behaviors, self-harm/suicidality, fear of abandonment, and unstable relationships.
I’m finally coming out of the thick of the darkness. Now I have enough hope and foresight that I want to do something productive with what I’ve learned these years of living with BPD. I want to share my experiences and give others the hope I have found.
At the moment, I am working through a Dialectal Behavioral Therapy Program. It consists of a weekly individual appointments and a weekly two-hour group therapy. Out of all the therapy I’ve done, this has been the most helpful and practical for me. I’ve started to learn practical skills of managing intense emotions, having stable relationships, and learning to radically accept myself and situations.
I feel it’s important for me to write about this subject because there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the church surrounding mental illness. People struggling with BPD sometimes are believed to be possessed by a demon. They are often discriminated against because they are “toxic,” “unstable,” and “sinful.” This has deterred me from going to church and made me question whether or not I was even a Christian anymore.
I don’t know if many people will even read this, or if it will be helpful to anyone. But my prayer is that at least one person will begin to believe that God didn’t make a mistake when He made them. Call me crazy, but I am starting to understand that BPD can be a blessing. Did you know that people like us feel things at a much deeper level than others? Did you know that all our intense suffering can fuel creativity to express ourselves in unique ways others cannot? When we learn to manage our emotions and thoughts, it’s like having a super power. We have the ability to experience life in an exceptional way. God doesn’t make mistakes, not with me or you. Let’s learn how to create meaning out of the beautiful mess God has placed us in. Next post, I will write about my long journey of being diagnosed and the difficult process of re-defining who God created me to be in context of a personality disorder.