Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder
by RI Editors
This essay in our Peculiar Minds series is from Melissa Horsley.
The first time I remember holding a baby was on a vacation, visiting a cousin and his little family. I carried her everywhere, the whole time; I couldn’t put her down. I wanted to be a mom; I loved watching parents, thinking about how wonderful it would be. I was 14 and I wanted a family, a big family. Of course, at that point in time I had no idea what went into raising children. I just knew in my heart that was what I wanted: to stay at home with my children, watch them grow, and be a part of every little quirky thing they would do and say.
I graduated from high school and went to college. Instead of breaking out of my shell and becoming the person that I knew I could become, I sunk into the darkness. I was depressed. I was lonely. I wanted to die. I stayed up all night. I felt better in the dark. I felt less vulnerable. Nobody saw me, so I didn’t have to feel judged. I didn’t know who I was and certainly knew the way I felt wasn’t normal, as everyone seemed to be so happy around me. The deepness of the darkness was tangible. Some days that’s all I felt.
I decided to take my life one night; I took some medication and went to the bathroom to slit my wrists. Whatever pain that would come with death could not match the pain I experienced on a daily basis. Without any further rumination on this topic, needless to say, I am still here.
School went by, and I had some wonderful experiences that changed my life. I had a special semester where I had a spiritual journey that helped me to see more clearly and gave me a new depth of understanding about myself, and about what was most important to me. I was finally okay. I knew I was. I was certain of it.
Some five months after I returned from this semester I met a man that I married later that year. It was the fairy tale I had dreamed of ever since I held that beautiful baby at 14. I would have a family with the proverbial white picket fence (our first house did have the white picket fence, by the way). It wasn’t more than a week into my new marriage that I returned to a shell, and I realized that the darkness I felt was only held at bay for a short while. It was back, and I didn’t know what to do other than fight with all my might to have that family I dreamed of. I knew it could happen.
Those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder learn that relationships can be pretty rocky. There is a temptation to push people away until they will prove they want to stay. I took on the role to prove my unworthiness, all while praying for his love.
Then this beautiful baby boy came into our lives. Unfortunately, things became more and more unbearable. There was my pushing and pulling, and his volatility. It became a match that neither one of us could bear any longer,but I didn’t want to mess up what we could have. I take ownership of my actions and the difficulty I had maintaining a healthy relationship. Seven years ago my husband left me, leaving me with my beautiful nearly one-year-old boy.
I was devastated. I remember taking my son out trick-or-treating that Halloween. I needed that normalcy. The darkness was deeper than ever. I didn’t understand how I could go from enjoying myself to complete and utter suicidal depression in an instant.
For the next several years I jumped from some short-lived relationships to some that seemed more promising and then to a bunch of first dates that never turned into a second. I didn’t (and don’t at this point) want to be close to a man. What if he saw me for who I was: the ugly person that dwelt not far under the surface? I felt that I would never feel the love of another person, much less a man. I feared (and still do fear) what could happen if a relationship transpired that I could easily destroy. I’ve done it left and right with friends. With men I tried to conceal it more, because I wanted that family. I wanted to make it work, I could hide under the guise of a perfectly competent and emotionally-regulated human being. After all, I’ve succeeded in my career; I could pull this off too.
I’ve searched for professional help for years and years, continuously trying new therapists who practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It doesn’t work for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder because of the different mindset we have. I finally was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in September 2011 and immediately searched for a therapist who practices Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and found one in Utah. I decided it was most important to be where I could receive the best care possible, so I moved to Utah. Unfortunately, the therapist I started with in January 2012 moved in September, so once again I started over again with a new therapist in October. It is incredibly intense therapy and requires a group session for 2 hours a week as well as an individual session.
My son is now almost eight years old. I’ve hungered for years for more children. I have felt that desire so deeply that it breaks my heart to think that I have played such a role in my own life to deny myself and my son of that opportunity. I realize now that it’s not me, but this horrid disorder.
My life is not what I planned so many years ago. I think all of us experience that to some extent or another. Every day is a struggle, but every day I have one of the most amazing little cheerleaders in the whole world. My son is the most incredible little person I could ever dream to have in my life. He has matured quickly, but he is still my little boy. He inspires me with his passion for what he believes in, and his compassion for those around him. Just the other day he said to me, “I think we both need to say we’re sorry today.” He has seen hard things and he has conquered them. For that reason, I know that I will conquer as well. I don’t know what lies ahead for us, but I do know that I am completely and utterly in love with this little boy. He is my world, and if he is the family that I get forever, I couldn’t be more blessed.
Melissa Horsley is a 31-year-old mother of an eight-year-old son. She was finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2011 after years of agony. The opportunity to receive help is one of her greatest blessings. Though she struggles daily, she knows that someday the pain will be alleviated. Melissa blogs at www.battlingborderline.net
The Entire Series
- Forum – Is Mental Illness a Latter Day Plague?
- Resources (research)
- Resources for Help with Mental Illness by Paul
- Understanding PTSD by Robin Grosland
- Anxiety Disorders, Including PTSD (research)
- The Diagnosis by anonymous
- Understanding Asperger’s by Kathy Ward
- Understanding Dementia by Cassandra Jones
- Different Issues for Children (research)
- Asperger’s and Autism (research)
- Simply Depression by Jendoop
- How to Help Someone Who is Depressed: an LDS perspective by Sarah Hancock
- Forum – Does Committing Suicide Consign Someone to Hell?
- The Well of Depression by Cheryl
- Panic, OCD, Grandma and Me by NotMolly
- Understanding Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and OCD by Robison Wells
- Free at Last by anonymous
- Forum – No One Wants to Hear They’re Wrong
- Understanding P0rnography Addiction by Dr. Kevin Skinner
- What is Real? Living Without Diagnosis by anonymous
- A Reader’s Story of Hope by anonymous
- Understanding Bipolar II Disorder by Tresa Edmunds (Reese Dixon)
- What is Bipolar Disorder? (research)
- Choosing Treatment through Revelation by Bonnie
- Overcoming Anxiety and Depression Without Medication by Aaron Anderson
- How Do We Embrace Those with Mental Illness by Jendoop
- What is Schizophrenia? (research)
- Understanding Schizophrenia by Judy Hall
- Understanding a Roommate with Schizophrenia by anonymous
- Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder by Melissa Horsley
- My Path Down the Rabbit Hole by anonymous
- Mental Illness FHE Lesson by Jendoop
- Healing by Michelle