At the time of writing, I’m very happily single and enjoying the perks it comes with; unlimited time wasting swiping through Tinder, seeing my friends a lot, only shaving my legs and armpits because society tells me so and not because my significant other would be repulsed by my knee fluff.
But what happens when I’m not happily single and I’m ready to put myself out there? What happens if, like last time, I meet someone by chance and they happen to be really rather wonderful? Life with Borderline Personality Disorder is messy; it allows no time for fantasing about Prince Charming, more considering the realities of approaching my illness with Dan who works in Accounting once we’re two pints in on our Third Date.
One of the four key aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder- and the one which has blighted my life the most, I reckon- is unstable relationships. Here’s what the NHS has to say:
“If you have BPD, you may feel that other people abandon you when you most need them, or that they get too close and smother you.
When people fear abandonment, it can lead to feelings of intense anxiety and anger. You may make frantic efforts to prevent being left alone, such as:
constantly texting or phoning a person
suddenly calling that person in the middle of the night
physically clinging on to that person and refusing to let go
making threats to harm or kill yourself if that person ever leaves you
Alternatively, you may feel others are smothering, controlling or crowding you, which also provokes intense fear and anger. You may then respond by acting in ways to make people go away, such as emotionally withdrawing, rejecting them or using verbal abuse.
These two patterns may result in an unstable “love-hate” relationship with certain people.
Many people with BPD seem to be stuck with a very rigid “black-white” view of relationships. Either a relationship is perfect and that person is wonderful, or the relationship is doomed and that person is terrible. People with BPD seem unable or unwilling to accept any sort of “grey area” in their personal life and relationships.
For many people with BPD, emotional relationships (including relationships with professional carers) involve “go away/please don’t go” states of mind, which is confusing for them and their partners. Sadly, this can often lead to break-ups.”
So you’d forgive me for thinking the odds are stacked against me already, right?
But despite everything, I’ve never once considered not being in a relationship in future or shunning the prospect of romantic relations because Borderline Personality Disorder means it’s likely to be a bumpy ride. Perhaps that’s selfish but we live in a world where up to one in three of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime and, of course, any man who wanted to be with me would have to love me for exactly who I am.
You have to admit, though, there are going to be a lot of people scared off. To be with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder requires a degree of patience in both the short-term and the long-term. My last relationship lasted six months and, during that time, he saw me both at my best and my worst and was utterly graceful during my worst moments. My long-term relationship lasted nine years and I’m still wracked with guilt over the things I said and did because my disorder wasn’t being treated nor under control… and yet he loved me- and still loves me as his friend- for who I am despite that. But was that a fluke? Did I hit lucky with two kind men? Or am I being cynical?
What happens when the person I date finds my blog? I make no secret of discussing Borderline Personality Disorder on the Internet and that it a core part of who I am. I’m slowly opening up online having taken years to talk about BPD and opting to talk about the more ‘accepted’ issues of depression and anxiety. The truth is, I’m scared and I feel no shame in saying that I often worry about my romantic future and where it’ll take me. I’m young- a few weeks off 28 at the time of writing this- and have no intention of settling down yet but I’d love to be a wife and a mother in the future and I fear history will repeat itself, that the worst parts of my disorder will come out and my love life doomed for all eternity as a result.
Part of the reason I set up The Navigation was to talk about my fears and insecurities – there’s no point being transparent online if you’re going to keep some parts locked up. Whether you have a mental health issue or not, I hope you can relate to some degree and keep me company on his muddle of a 20-something life. Sadly, I have no magical answer and very little advice when it comes to dating someone with BPD or being in a relationship if you have it but I’m learning by experience and that’ll have to do for now.
PS/ If Idris Elba has suddenly become single and fancies dating me then I’m sure I could make the time. Thanks.