The Splitting Fawn: ‘I hate me—don’t leave me!’

If you are familiar with my non-fiction work, then it is likely that you are aware of my struggle with borderline personality disorder. For those unfamiliar, borderline is my Achilles’ heel. When I was fifteen, I endured some trauma, and I believe it was this trauma that caused my BPD. In my essay, How Borderline Personality Disorder Manifests In Me, I wrote…

I am not sure if there is much to this scientifically, but I swear I remember the day the BPD emerged. I was walking to school (probably listening to Marilyn Manson). It was a beautiful Sunny Autumn day. But I felt somehow different. I still had not yet acknowledged that I was being raped and abused. However, I had become aware of just how worthless I was feeling. As of that day, the seed of the belief that I am unloveable had sprouted.”

BPD is a mental health disorder, specifically a personality disorder, rather than a mood disorder. While people with borderline can, and typically do, experience extreme mood swings, these mood swings are not the root of the disorder, the way they are with a mood disorder such as bipolar. Rather, quick-changing moods are a symptom of borderline.

Sufferers of borderline struggle, not with a chemical imbalance, but with their cognition. Their perception of both themselves and the world are easily distorted. Perhaps the most common symptom of borderline is an intense fear of abandonment—or at least this is the case in my personal struggle with BPD. Another is to lack a sense of self, to not know who you really are. But the symptom I want to focus on today is ‘splitting’.

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How Borderline Personality Disorder Manifests In Me

Author’s note: This is a personal essay, written from my individual experience. While psychiatric medication has not proven itself to be an effective treatment for my particular case of borderline personality disorder, I want to acknowledge that it is an effective treatment for many. And even though I consider myself to have been failed by our medical system, I want to make it known that I am not against Western medicine. And I certainly do not recommend that anyone reading this stop taking their medication without first talking to their doctor.

Winter of 2011

“I don’t think you have bipolar disorder,” my at-the-time boyfriend says to me.

His claims are ridiculous. How could I not have bipolar? I have been struggling with depression for years, but despite being depressed I have an abundance of energy. Besides, bipolar II disorder is what the psychiatrist diagnosed me with, so certainly this diagnosis is correct.

Still, I entertain my boyfriend’s delusions: “Okay… why do you think I don’t have bipolar?” I do not hide the skepticism in my voice.

“Because,” he continues, a bit frantically, “I think what you actually have is borderline personality disorder.”

And he pulls up the symptoms. I read through them, expecting to disagree. I am shocked, however, that I do not disagree.

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Falling In Love Triggered My Borderline Personality Disorder

Just over a year ago, sitting on a beach log with my mother, I told her, “Honestly, at this point, I don’t know if I even want a relationship.”

This shocked her. I had always been a hopeless romantic—someone in love with the idea of love—so it was strange for me to be spouting this new idea.

But, by the last quarter of 2021, this was where I was at: my heart had been broken enough times for my brain to question whether or not love was worth it. Everyone probably feels this way at some point in their life. Couple this normal human experience with the crippling fear of abandonment that my borderline personality disorder plagues me with, and I had a lot of incentive to never make myself vulnerable again.

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