I’d hoped to write and post more for Borderline Personality Awareness Month but between my depression and changing medications, I’ve been struggling to write; I’ve started a handful of posts but been unable to finish them. But, of the symptoms of BPD, my fears around abandonment have been particularly oppressive recently and so I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I thought I’d write done some of my thoughts; it’s the best I can do right now.
Fear of abandonment is a significant aspect of Borderline Personality Disorder and it’s something that I’ve personally struggled with for most of my life. I was diagnosed with BPD when I was twenty and the consensus was – and still is – that it was due to the difficult and frustrating process of being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, where I was repeatedly ignored and invalidated by medical professionals when I expressed how much I was struggling. I guess those could be interpreted as abandonments. But I’d been abandoned in the more traditional sense multiple times before that, so the ‘foundation’ – I guess you could call it – for a fear of abandonment was already there (I’m not sure if it works like that but I noticed the pattern as I thought back): most of my friends stopped hanging out with me when I was eleven and then my one remaining friend moved abroad about a year later so I started secondary school with basically no friends; my Dad died suddenly when I was thirteen; and then, when I was nineteen, a very important figure in my life just cut me off without warning. Each one reinforced the fear and the fear just kept building exponentially. So I think it’s fair to say that I was well on my way to developing a complex about being abandoned by the time I was diagnosed with BPD.
It didn’t stop there – and there were a couple of painful ones – but, on the whole, life has been relatively stable until recently. Over the last few months though, I’ve been dealing with a lot of feelings of abandonment. Some of the actions that have caused these feelings were intentional, some not; some of these feelings are based in reality and some are based on anxiety. People who’d been consistent in my life for a long time left suddenly for work or family stuff, people not being who I thought they were, people drifting away… I don’t want to write about them specifically because the point of this is not to ‘name and shame’ – it’s just felt like one after another after another lately and it’s been really tough. And, again, I’m not trying to say that these people are deliberately, intentionally abandoning me; BPD has just made me particularly sensitive to situations that could be perceived as abandonments, especially when they seem to be happening a lot. Sometimes it’s on me for overthinking or overreacting, sometimes it’s on them for doing or not doing something, and sometimes nobody did anything but it still feels awful. We’re all human beings just doing our best (most of the time, at least). I guess the point I’m making here is that it’s a feature of BPD that I have to live with and have to navigate on a daily basis and this is a part of that.
I don’t think it’s a great leap to assume there’s a link to low self esteem. I find it hard to see why other people would want to be friends with me, which has only been exacerbated by all of my health problems: I feel like a burden (something I wrote about in this year’s MHAW post).
I remember seeing this on Instagram and relating to it to a painful degree…
Now I don’t even feel capable of being useful.
I feel like I’m always the one who can’t keep up, the one letting people down. I feel like, between me and my problems, I’m just too much for most people. Both too much and not enough at the same. And I can’t help but feel that if someone doesn’t think that yet, then it’s just a matter of time until they realise it. I know that these are my thoughts and not necessarily what other people think but it’s a hard thought pattern to shift; it’s pretty deeply ingrained at this point. It’s something I need to work on in therapy but I haven’t had access to therapy recently. Hopefully soon, although there’s a lot that’s happened over the last year that I need to work though.
I don’t know what I think about this post. I find writing about anything BPD related very difficult. It always feels much more personal and revealing to write about, compared to writing about Autism, for example. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because a lot of the symptoms of BPD correspond with issues that we’re conditioned to feel shame for and around: fear of abandonment can be portrayed as ‘clingy’ or ‘manipulative’; an unstable sense of self sounds scary to a casual ear; self-destructive behaviour can be interpreted as not wanting to be helped; and so on and so forth. Plus there’s a lot of stigma around BPD, even amongst the people who should really know better.
To learn more about BPD, you can find good information here and here, and here is a post I wrote about my experience with BPD in 2019. I hope this has been helpful or thought-provoking or something along those lines. I do want to write more about BPD because there needs to be more understanding around it as a disorder; it was just unfortunate that BPD Awareness Month – when I had planned to write a handful of posts about it – coincided with a period where writing felt really difficult. Combine that with a topic that I find hard to write about anyway and I’m kind of surprised that I even managed this, given how I’ve been feeling recently.