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My Experience of Living with Chronic Conditions. Part Four.

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

When people see me, unless I am using my walking stick, they don’t see that I have disabilities. That’s because my conditions are, mostly, invisible. Including my mental health ones.

A lot of what I do is about acceptance and accessibility so I thought the time had come to tell you about the conditions I live with.

The one I am going to talk about today is the hardest to talk about. I was tempted to leave it until the end of the series, maybe gloss over it, but the thought of putting it off was just making me anxious, so I decided I would write it today. Even though I will be worrying about the repercussions all day. And beyond! I could hide this aspect of myself but I can’t expect people to be open and understanding of disabilities if I’m not willing to discuss my own. And, also, authenticity is really important to me.

So, here goes.

I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder/Borderline Personality Disorder/Difficult Life Syndrome* (take your pick on which label you use).

The NHS definition of EUPD/BPD is:

Symptoms of borderline personality include being emotionally unstable, having upsetting thoughts and acting without thinking.

The main treatment for borderline personality disorder is a type of talking therapy called psychotherapy.

The cause of borderline personality disorder is unclear. It’s been linked to traumatic events during childhood, such as neglect or abuse.

Well, that sounds jolly!

I have that.

It’s a difficult diagnosis to talk about, partly because of the stigma attached to it (the murderers in so many crime dramas are committed by people with BPD; so far, I’ve not murdered anyone); and partly because it’s one of the “catch-all” names given when medical professionals have given up trying to find a potentially more suitable one.

I was diagnosed with it around nine years ago, though I’ve lived with it for far longer.

The why I have it, I won’t talk about it for this piece, but, for me, I would much prefer the condition to be more widely known as “Difficult Life Syndrome”. It’s semantics but, when words like “unstable”, “borderline”, and “disorder” are used, they feel more dangerous, more volatile, scary, whereas, “Difficult Life Syndrome” does what it says on the tin. I have this condition because I’ve had a difficult life.

How does it affect me?

I have been told many times that I am “high functioning”; that I can’t possibly have it that bad because people don’t see the same in me as they do in other people.

The thing is, partly because of the stigma attached to the condition, but mostly because of the life I’ve lived, I have become an expert at masking it, because that was the safest thing for me to do. If ever they give out Oscars for long term acting whilst living, one of them will have my name on it.

But, it affects every day, every hour, of my life.

Part of the condition for me is hypervigilance.

This means that I do these things:

  1. Every time I walk past the front and back doors, I have to check to ensure they’re locked so it’s harder for an intruder to break in. That’s the thought I have every single time I pass the doors.

  2. Every time there’s a knock on the door, anxiety swells within me, wondering if this is the time the person knocking is here to break in, rape, or murder me. Or all three.