A few weeks ago I decided to start a gratitude journal. Instead of getting caught up in the highs and lows of my bipolar disorder I figured I’d redirect my focus and look at the good things working for me in life. There was just one problem; I didn’t count on something getting in the way. That something is borderline personality disorder.
In addition to my bipolar disorder I have a daily struggle to keep myself balanced because of my BPD. In short, having borderline personality disorder means that I have a hard time living a life of balance. It is my disorder inside a disorder and it can make life very complicated for me. BPD is the reason I often overreact to any given situation and have ongoing unhealthy relationships and thought patterns. I typically only see life in terms of black and white not realizing that life is full of areas of gray. I tend to fly off the handle at seemingly benign situations and my interactions with people are often based on pure emotion which, in and of itself, is quite detrimental to living life on an even keel. Borderline personality disorder can also make it hard for me to balance my emotions and react appropriately to them. For instance, I can get happy about something good happening to me and instead of just being content with the situation; I may go out and spend money that I really can’t spare as a reaction to it. If something upsets me I may go into a deep depression and start toying with thoughts of self-harm or even suicide. Often when a relationship is unhealthy or toxic I may still try to keep the relationship going because; in my thought process, some relationship is better than no relationship.
Earlier I said that this is my disorder inside of a disorder; let me explain. Bipolar disorder is characterized by intense highs and lows, mania and depression, light and dark. Well borderline personality makes these instances even more intense. I often suffer from extended periods of anxiety and I have trouble with major bouts of low self-esteem and overall self-loathing. The mania and depression of my bipolar disorder are made more intense as a result of my BPD. Already being overly stimulated, borderline personality disorder can make me appear like the Incredible Hulk when it comes to emotions. One minute I’m fine and the next minute, after seeing a disturbing story on the evening news, I’m a wasted pile of tears and despair. I know, this may sound extreme but that’s the nature of borderline personality disorder. BPD is a constant struggle to maintain emotional equilibrium and avoid unhealthy situations and relationships.
I say all of this to make the point that starting a gratitude journal was more of a challenge than I ever thought it would be. Because my view of reality is often skewed, it’s hard for me to be mindful and find things to be grateful for since I’m always in an extreme emotional state. This being true, I was even more determined to be able to use mindfulness and find things in life to be grateful for no matter how small or mundane. Even though mentally I tend to be in a state of flux, I have to realize that if I can compose myself and focus I’ll be able to see that there is just plain good in life. I’ve decided that I will be grateful despite my diagnosis and I’m going to start that journal no matter what.