My name is Leonie Sii, and I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I’m a borderline. I’ve had signs of borderline since I was young, but it was only recently that I learnt of the diagnosis from my psychologist. Before, I simply thought I was overly emotional, often susceptible to intense mood swings and that something was intrinsically wrong with me. Was I depressed? I couldn’t be. I’ve had moments when I was the happiest person in the world, so excited about things like Eurovision. Was I bipolar then? I thought I must be. I told my mum when I was in high school, “I think I have bipolar” and she said “You only have bipolar if you think you have bipolar”. So I told myself I wasn’t bipolar, but still, I felt as though there was something very empty and sad about me.
A lot of people don’t know about BPD. We are exposed more to mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia. But ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ isn’t something that a lot of people know about. When my psychologist told me about this disorder, I thought it was just a label to describe me as having a shitty personality. And maybe I do. But it’s also a psychological and mental disorder that is the result from both genetic and development factors.
So what is BPD and what are the signs and symptoms? Well, people with BPD have a huge feeling of insecurity. We often fear the worst and constantly seek reassurance. We have a fear of real or imagined abandonment and can go to great and frantic lengths to avoid it by being emotionally manipulative, causing problematic arguments to arise from the littlest of things. Because of this, we are often involved in unstable and intense interpersonal relationships. Broken promises will bring out the worst in us. The borderline views relationships as black and white, as “good” and “bad”, as “hero” and “villain” (a process called ‘splitting’). There is never an in between. Family, friends and partners can be idolised one day, and the next they can become completely devalued. She acts on her current feelings, her mind often stuck on a particular phrase that was said or the way it was said. No matter what was said before, she will begin to bleed to death from the small prick that was planted in her mind. She is susceptible to severe mood swings and reacts extremely to situational stresses. She will involve herself in impulsive behaviour, from substance abuse, reckless spending, unsafe sex and binge eating. She will engage in self-mutilating behaviours and express suicidal threats and gestures. She has a chronic feeling of emptiness and existentialism that affects her sense of self and her self worth, often not knowing who she really is.
So, in a nutshell, it’s a tumultuous and emotional rollercoaster of contradictions. The worst part is that the symptoms feed on themselves and snowball until you’re buried under an avalanche. And it sucks. Not only for me, but also for those closest to me.
When I was young, I used to cry so much whenever my mum left for work. My parents tried to make me go to Chinese school to learn Chinese, but I started crying, afraid to be alone. In Kindergarten, I hid under a table on my first day and didn’t answer the teacher when she called out my name for roll call. I was young and didn’t know what it meant to be sad or to be afraid. I told my mum that my “heart hurts” and she of course, freaked out and brought me to see a doctor (who deducted that nothing was wrong, that I was just a scaredy cat).
In high school, I was overwhelmed with a sense of emptiness and of a sadness that I couldn’t really explain. Life just seemed difficult and so I wrote a lot of stories. I also started to hurt myself, not with the intent of dying, but just so I could feel something, so that I could feel as though I was alive. I would use my fingernails to dig into my skin until I had blisters all across my arms. I used scissors to cut until trickles of blood rose from underneath. I enjoyed the burning sensation.
I read a lot of romance novels and I thought that perhaps being in a relationship was the key to curing my emptiness. So I had a relationship when I was 15-20. It was a tumultuous relationship. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. Of course it was. I’m a borderline. I was dependent on him. He gave me an identity. But I had this messed up idea that he was going to abandon me. I was afraid that he was going to cheat on me and that other girls would become more appealing to him. I made assumptions out of little things, I would get jealous and paranoid when he spent more time with his sister and, well… like I said, a little prick will lead to a pool of blood when you’re a borderline. In those 5 years, we had many happy and exciting moments. We also had many arguments. It was as though happy and frustration came in the same package.
It came to a point where I was so unhappy that I scrambled to find some sort of excitement in my life. I wanted to find something more. So I became infatuated with other boys. Funny, how hypocrisy works. Funny, how I was afraid of being abandoned and yet I was the one who did the abandoning. My little flings with other guys did not last very long. The same thing kept happening- I would be afraid that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t the girl they wanted and that they would leave. So I always left first, or I would give them the option to leave and it left me feeling even worse and alone. I hated myself so much.
I don’t know how else to describe the empty feeling. It’s the feeling that life just isn’t enough. That nothing is ever enough. It’s suffocating. It’s hard to breathe. I would cut myself as a way of explaining the anguish I felt. I would wrap a plastic bag around my head and feel my breath slowly fade. I guess that’s why people judged me as an attention-seeker, but for me it was a way to feel alive.
When my 5-year relationship ended, I was about to turn 21. I’ve never known how to be me without somebody else. I started talking to Mattias online a little bit after my 21st birthday. It was probably the best thing to have happened to me at that point because I was at such a low. It was also probably the worst thing to happen to him because he was about to embark on a tumultuous rollercoaster ride of complete instability. He said he was interested in me because of my “deep thoughts”. One of the first videos he watched of me was a private video that I had uploaded to my other YouTube channel. It was a video where I talked to my webcam about life and sadness. And so Mattias was attracted by my deep thoughts, but he’d soon find out how utterly chaotic my thoughts could really be.
I told him from the beginning that he would realise that he deserves someone better than me. I told him from the beginning that he would leave. At that point we just both assumed I was a girl with “girl problems”, but neither of us realised that I’m a mental fuck-up. Every few months, my feelings of insecurity would cause a colossal emotional situation. I would tell him that he’s going to leave me and that he’ll find someone better. I would say to him, “Well, maybe we should break up then”, as a way for him to prove that he would stay. I was trying to manipulate the situation and find assurance that I was enough, but I wanted more. I always want more, to cure this chronic emptiness that has followed me like an ominous shadow for as long as I can remember.
It’s tough for me. But it’s so much tougher for Mattias, I know. How do you even handle someone who suffers from BPD? How do you live with someone who is always on the border of unconditional love and destructive emptiness? How could anyone ever commit to the constantly changing personality? He tries his best. He’ll be honest with me. Sometimes his honesty makes it even worse for me, as I’ll linger on a particular phrase that he says- a phrase that I’ll analyse and analyse until all the doubts and insecurities come and stampede through my mind like a paranoid plague without even a moment to scramble to my feet and think rationally. And things just escalate and I’ll threaten to leave because obviously I’m not good enough. I’ll tell him we’d both be better of if I was dead, if I just jumped in front of a train and ceased to exist. Then we’d both be free from this stupid, stupid situation.
I hate you. Don’t leave me.
You’re not enough. Please love me.
Constant. Emotional. Contradictions.
So how do you live with this disorder? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know what the treatments are. Like many other mental illnesses out there, there is no definite ‘cure’. It’s simply just about minimising the impact and finding a way to live with it. It takes tough friends, tough family members and especially a tough partner to live with someone who suffers from BPD. It is an emotional rollercoaster ride and you’ll never know what to expect day-to-day, minute-by-minute.
I think for me, the relieving thing is that I now know that I’m not the only one out there who feels like this and who behaves like this. It’s relieving for me to know that the reason why I can’t help but feel this way is because my brain is weird. So I think out of all the mental illnesses out there, I should be relatively content with the fact that I’m not a psychopath who preys on little children. I mean, I’m sure there are people out there who suffer from BPD and are psychopaths (i.e. Adolf Hilter)- mental illnesses often crossover and make people do morbid and terrible things.
But now I think back to my past and it all becomes so clear to me. All the signs were there but I just assumed I was a ‘normal’ girl who sometimes became way too emotional for her own good.
I’m Leonie Sii. I’m a borderline. I want to learn to live with borderline, and though I don’t know the solutions, I am willing to try. I hope that those who know someone and are close with someone who suffers from BPD are also willing to try. Yes, we’re pretty fucked up, but we also appreciate you. Really, we do.