I have been trying to explain my BPD to my mother-in-law for months. At first, she had no idea what I was talking about. But she gets a little bit more out of every conversation we have. It’s such a complex disorder to try to explain to someone who doesn’t have it. I believe they can only understand it to a point. They don’t have to live with it every day of their lives. They can only try to imagine what it must be like. At least with depression or Bipolar, you can feel better, with either time or medication or therapy or a combination of them, and the symptoms go away. With BPD, it never goes away. You can learn how to manage the symptoms, your emotions and behaviour, but it’s always going to be there, for the rest of your life. It’s absolutely exhausting! People expect too much of you. They think that, if only you’d try a little harder. They’re seeing things through their own eyes, not ours. They don’t have our brains. They think that, if you were trying as hard as you possibly can, you’d be handling things just like them, and you’d be doing so much better. They don’t realize that, you’re doing the best that you can. You’re never going to be like them. That doesn’t mean that you’re any worse than them. It just means that since your brain works differently, and they have to realize that.
When people expect too much of you, its extremely invalidating. What they need to do is validate us by saying “I don’t understand exactly how you feel, but I know that you’re doing the best you can.” This will make us feel validated and then we can get better, at our own pace. When they push us to do things that we are not capable of, that just makes us feel worse instead of better. With me, I feel very overwhelmed and paralyzed and I can’t think straight or do anything. Then they get upset with me for not doing anything, which makes me feel even worse. I feel so many things so intensely, all at the same time – anger, guilt, etc. “I’m not good enough.” I just goes into a vicious circle of negative emotions. Every time I try to explain it to my mother-in-law, she says “Oh, that must be awful!” And it is. Sure, sometimes it can be a good thing, but it’s also extremely difficult to live with.
What are your experiences with trying to explain your BPD to others? Have you had any success or not? If so, what do you find helpful? I’ve included some helpful links at the end of this post.