Chelsea’s Story

My name is Chelsea.  I’m 25 years old, and I live in Minnesota.  I first saw a therapist when I was about 10 years old, and have been seeing them on and off since.

I was diagnosed with BPD when I was 20 years old.  When I first heard the diagnosis, I was confused because I had never heard of it. But, as it was explained to me, I felt relieved to hear a name put to these demons I'd been fighting for so many years, and to know I wasn't the only person in the history of time that had experienced them.

My family and friends were not very supportive of my diagnosis, and my family actually said very harsh things.  I want my family to understand that… I try my best, every... single... day. And while I may continue to struggle, this is my reality.  I still need their love and support, and will never stop appreciating it.  

The most helpful thing for my recovery has been believing in myself, taking care of myself, and growing my support system.  Since then, I’ve learned that if people can't accept me for who I am, then I don't need them in my life. I only have room for positivity and love in my life. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a mental health diagnosis. Not dealing with one's issues or trauma, is the problem.

I finally started feeling better when  I made progress through all the therapy and learned skills to get through the day in DBT, etc. To have a therapist and support system that supports me on a daily basis, the skills to be able to effectively get myself maintain balance, and not get into crisis can be very helpful.

The parts of BPD that I struggle with the most are the CONSTANT struggle...the every single day symptoms...the ongoing suicidal ideation.  I feel like I’ve been struggling MY WHOLE LIFE, and am still struggling. And I'm exhausted.  

I’m proud that I continue to survive and fight. Every single day is a battle, and every single day, I get up and fight it. Sometimes I feel like I'm completely alone in that battle, but at least I continue to fight it.

I found the right therapist when I finally took back my own personal power and started searching for a licensed trauma therapist.  I was picky about who I wanted to do therapy with. I found the best therapist.  She's so great, and we've made tons of progress. I encourage others to be choosy when picking their therapists.  It really can make or break the therapeutic process.

When people find out that I have BPD, they typically react negatively.  People, even my family and spouse at the time, judged me, and looked at me differently. Now I am more selective in who I tell.  

I tell people about my BPD when I trust them enough to not react negatively, or when I need to because it's pertinent to the situation. If I do tell someone, and they react negatively, or educating them does not help their negative attitude or stereotypes, then usually I decide this is not the support I need in my life.  

I don’t tell people about my BPD when I don't trust them...when I feel they're judgmental, closed-minded, or uneducated and will not understand.  I feel best when the people around me love me and accept me, and see me for who I am, darkness and all, and still accept me.

I wish that the people around me would be more educated on borderline, and other mental illness. Borderline doesn't mean we are bad people. It means we've been through a lot of sh*t in our lives, and we need love and understanding. We are some of the coolest, most genuinely compassionate, caring, intelligent and empathetic people you will ever meet in your life.  

I feel most alone when I allow my frustrations to overcome me and become cynical about the world. Society does not make BPD treatment accessible or affordable. Medication is ridiculously expensive, and harmful to the body.  I hope that one day people with BPD will be able to access treatment, and be able to speak openly without feeling so judged and shamed for what we have and continue to experience.

The most helpful people in my recovery have been people like those in this group who have been supportive, and empowered me to keep believing in myself, and not feel ashamed for what diagnosis I carry, or what I've been through.

I keep moving forward because I believe there's recovery out there.  I believe someday I can be symptom-free for the most part.  If I continue to work hard, and have access to the things I need, I can live my life and have a higher quality of life than I've ever experienced.  Then, I can share that journey with others, and give them a route to hope.

I want people who are recently diagnosed with BPD to know that… it is going to be okay. You are not broken. You are not a bad person. You are wonderful, and you may struggle.  But if you take accountability and empower yourself, then you can get through this. There is ALWAYS hope. There is always love and acceptance to be given, make sure to look for it.

I want their families to know that… they need your love, understanding and compassion. If you have questions, ask, read books, watch movies/documentaries, talk to individuals who live with BPD, and professionals. Take what you hear/read with a grain of salt, as some of it can be biased, negative, or outdated. But being educated and compassionate are the best tools one can have when supporting someone with mental illness.

In ten years from now, I expect society to view BPD as no different than other mental health diagnosis.  I hope that one day people with BPD will be able to access treatment, and be able to speak openly without feeling so judged and ashamed for what we have, and continue to experience.

JENNA S. from Queens, New York 

My name is Jenna, and I am 24 years old.  I first saw a therapist when I started cutting myself in tenth grade. My parents sent me because they thought I was nervous about going to sleep away camp that summer due to prior struggles with homesickness. I spent my time in therapy talking about homesickness, completely ignoring the self-destructive behaviors I was engaging in.

Fast-forward eight years during which I was diagnosed with and treated for anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. However, I still was not doing well. My emotions were completely unstable and one day I overdosed on medication on my way home from a therapy appointment. My therapist sent me to the hospital the next day. After 10 years of suffering, I was told I had BPD.

When I first heard the diagnosis, I knew it was right, but didn't want it to be right. My therapist didn't treat BPD patients, and I knew she would drop me. Except, I didn't expect for my therapist of five years to drop me over the phone in the hospital. That was probably the most painful part of the whole experience; my fears of abandonment coming true.   

I found a new therapist when I came home from residential treatment, and lucky for me, he was the right therapist. I was still mourning the relationship I had with my previous therapist and couldn't imagine he would help me.  But, he doesn't let me get away with my crap. His tough love attitude is exactly what I need.   

The most helpful thing for my recovery has been dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).  DBT is heavenly, and there is such a thing as recovery for BPD patients. It's a lot of work and terribly difficult, but the life I have in recovery makes it all worth it.  

I finally started feeling better when I made a conscious decision to stop using ineffective behaviors, stop feeling bad for myself, and start living my life. When I began working and doing something that gives my life meaning, my whole recovery took a turn for the better.   

The most helpful people in my recovery have been my current therapist, the director of my former day treatment program, my friends, my mom, and most of all, my boyfriend. My supporters are positive and motivational. It feels good when they acknowledge my strengths and don't harp on my weaknesses - when they love me for me, and don't get caught up with my problems. In order to keep myself in a good place, I surround myself with positive people, and stay away from those who bring me down.  

I keep moving forward because I want to live. I’m proud that I am conquering this painful disorder. I am working towards my future. I hope that one day I can go back to school and become a school social worker. I don't want any student to go under the radar the way I did throughout my childhood and adolescence.

I don’t tell people about my BPD when I fear they will judge me. To be honest, that is most of the time. I wish that the people around me would stop viewing mental health disorders as if they are contagious. You can still be my friend - I promise you won't catch my BPD.

I feel most alone when I am by myself. I crave human interaction and have a hard time being alone in general.  I want my friends to understand that I don't choose to be friends or to not be friends with them. Sometimes I isolate, but it doesn't mean I don't love them or care about them.    

Recovery is not a linear process. There are ups and downs, with some aspects being more challenging than others. The part of BPD that I struggle with the most is stabilizing my emotions. I can go from euphoria to depression in a span of two minutes, making it hard for me to regulate my emotions. I want my family to understand that I don't mean to hurt their feelings, or make life hard. For a long time I truly could not control my emotions. I am a work in progress.   

A common misconception about BPD is that there is no chance for recovery or a normal life. There is a chance. It just has to be given to us. (Go to DBT!)  I want people who are recently diagnosed with BPD to know that there is hope. You can do this. You can recover. You are already a survivor. You will survive.       

I want their families to know that the BPD diagnosis may be scary, but your loved one can get better. Take time to learn about the illness and how you can help your loved one. Learn some DBT skills, as your loved one will probably be using them in his/her recovery. If you can reinforce your loved one's successes, that is perfect.   

BPD is different than other psychiatric conditions because the recovery can take much longer and be more complicated. Many practitioners don't treat patients with BPD making it that much harder to receive treatment. Insurance barely recognized the disorder making treatment that much more expensive. It's just so hard. Have patience and advocate for yourself. You will find practitioners to help you and it is possible to fight the insurance companies to help you pay for treatment.  

Many mental health professionals don’t understand that people with BPD are not incurable. Sufferers of BPD are treatable and it only makes us feel worse when you refuse to treat us because of our diagnosis. The most difficult obstacle to my recovery (aside from the therapeutic part) has been my insurance company's lack of understanding. It would be nice to not have to pay $1500 a month for outpatient treatment.   

Ten years from now, I expect society to view BPD as a disorder that is treatable, just like any other. It's not a death sentence.  I hope that one day people with BPD will believe in themselves, stop being ashamed of their disorder, and embrace the road of recovery.