Short Stories: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

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 borderline personality disorder

 

Note:  This short story includes a brief description of self-injury and a suicide attempt that may be disturbing to some readers.

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Chelsea danced to the loud beat of the music pounding through her apartment as she surveyed her clothes in the closet.  Pulling out a short black leather skirt, she paired it with a sheer black top adorned with sparkles all along it’s plunging neckline.  Oh yeah, baby, I’m going to look so hot tonight.  Jack won’t know what hit him!  Chelsea giggled happily, as she thought of her new boyfriend.  Definitely, he was The One.  She couldn’t believe how much she loved him, even after knowing him for only one month.  But she knew.  He was perfect for her in every way.  And he made her feel so happy and adored.  Jack was everything she had dreamed about in a husband.

Finally, after all those years of dating losers.  Thinking of her long history of broken relationships, Chelsea had a feeling that this time, this relationship would be different.  Jack was different.  He was so kind and attentive, always telling her how beautiful she was.  And to think I almost walked by him at the bar.  If I didn’t stumble into him – ha, ha, yep, one drink too many – I wouldn’t have met the man of my dreams. 

As she sat in front of her mirror applying her makeup, Chelsea thought dreamily of the strapless Vera Wang wedding dress she had seen in the bridal magazine.  And she could just picture Jack in a Calvin Klein tuxedo.  She knew she was getting ahead of herself, but it was fun to dream.  Blotting the lipstick from her lips, Chelsea examined her face closely, then nodded with satisfaction.  She stepped into her new black pumps with the sexy strap at the ankle, then sprayed perfume all over her body.  Ready.

Just then the buzzer sounded, heralding Jack’s arrival.  “I’m coming down!” Chelsea sang out through the intercom, as she threw on her jacket.  Too excited to wait for the elevator, she flew down the stairs to the lobby, where she saw Jack waiting in his sports car.  Catching sight of her as she opened the passenger door, Jack winked and greeted her with a kiss.  “Hey, gorgeous,” he murmured as he shot an appreciative glance at Chelsea.

Chelsea felt a burst of happiness inside of her as she chatted excitedly with Jack.  She felt almost euphoric, drinking in his admiring glances and compliments.  Arriving at the nightclub, Chelsea was ready for a good time with her man.  She clutched tightly onto Jack’s arm as they entered the club and were soon engulfed by the noisy crowd, blaring music and pulsing lights.

Just then, a woman in a tight and skimpy dress lurched against Jack, throwing her arms around him in greeting.  “Jack!  Where have you been?  I missed you, babe!”  Chelsea froze, as she watched Jack respond to the woman with a warm hug and kiss.  Who is this slut pawing my boyfriend?  Chelsea could feel the rage beginning to build in her gut, fueled by the jealousy that was rocketing through her body.  She stood stiffly next to Jack, gritting her teeth while he chatted with the woman.

Finally having enough, Chelsea stalked away from the other two and pushed her way to the bar.  Her head began throbbing with a vicious headache.  Throwing down some money at the bar, she demanded three shots of tequila, which she quickly downed in rapid succession.  Feeling the heat coursing through her body, Chelsea felt the rage building even more in her.  I can’t believe that bitch!  Who does she think she is?  And what the hell was Jack thinking?  Leaving me standing there like a third wheel.

Seeing Jack approach her from the reflection in the mirror, Chelsea kept her back turned away from him.  As he touched her arm, she jerked her arm out of his grasp, ignoring him.  Jack put his arm around her and tried to land a kiss on her shoulder but Chelsea whirled away from him.  “Don’t.  You.  Touch.  Me.”  She gritted out.

“What’s wrong, Chels?” Jack look bewildered.

“What’s wrong with me?” Chelsea yelled.  “What’s wrong with you?  How dare you treat me that way!”  Shoving Jack back, Chelsea began sobbing, pushing her way through the crowd frantically as she sought to escape from the crush of the people and the noise that was building to an unbearable degree.  Running outside, she jumped into one of the cabs waiting outside of the club, panic beginning to press in on her.  Crying and trying to catch her breath, Chelsea scrabbled in her purse for her anxiety pills and then popped two of them into her mouth.

Before the cab came to a complete stop at her apartment building, Chelsea threw some money at the cab driver and then jumped out of the cab.  Running up the stairs to her apartment, she had to try three times before her trembling hand was steady enough to slide the key into the lock.  Finally inside, Chelsea slammed the door shut and then slid to the floor, her back against the door.  As she sat gasping and crying, she felt increasingly agitated, hardly able to contain the storm of emotions swirling in her.  That’s it, it’s over with Jack!  I can’t believe what a complete jerk he is.  I’m glad I saw what a player he is before it was too late. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him! 

At that thought, Chelsea began sobbing hysterically.  What’s wrong with me?  Why doesn’t anyone love me?  Why do I always end up alone?  Stumbling to her feet, Chelsea staggered to the bathroom.  Desperately pushing all of her makeup and toiletries out of the way, she reached into the back of the cabinet and grabbed the razor she had hidden there.  Chelsea pushed the sleeve of her shirt up to expose her arm and then she drew the razor across her skin until a bead of blood appeared. And then another cut and another slash of blood.  As the blood began to drip down her arm, Chelsea took a deep breath.  A calm began to come over her as she stared intently at the vivid red marks on her arm.

Even as Chelsea began to calm down, she felt a familiar emptiness inside of her.  Numbly, she dropped the razor on the counter and walked mechanically to the kitchen without noticing the small trail of blood dripping on the floor from her arm.  Grabbing the bottle from the counter, Chelsea began gulping down the wine as fast as she could, as she walked to the door where she had dropped her purse.  Finding the bottle of pills inside, she swallowed a handful of her anxiety medication and sank down to the floor.

Just as the drowsiness and dizziness began to overtake her, Chelsea pushed the speed dial button on her cell phone.

“Hello?”

“Mommy?  Mommy, is it you?  I need help…”

Jean’s heart dropped as she heard her daughter’s slurred voice on the phone.  “Sweetie?  Where are you?  What’s wrong?  What’s going on?”  Jean’s voice became increasingly agitated as she listened to her daughter become incoherent, mumbling and sounding confused.  “Are you at home?  I’m calling 911 right now!”

Jean gestured frantically to Frank to call 911 on his cell phone.  They knew the routine.  Unfortunately, this was not Chelsea’s first suicide attempt.  After years of trying to rescue her or fix the mess she created, Jean and Frank finally had to let go.  Whatever they did, it didn’t seem to work.  Heartbroken, they knew that it was beyond them to help their daughter.  And as much as they dearly loved Chelsea, they were tired of her constant verbal abuse and explosive anger.  They were exhausted, walking on eggshells with her all the time, and so it was with guilty relief that they helped her move to her own apartment.  Much better for them to spend their time on their knees praying for their daughter.  They knew she needed professional help and they were praying that she would choose to reach out for that help.  Maybe this time, she would take the much needed step to turn her life around.

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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) deeply affects not only the sufferer, but also those family and friends who love them.  Sufferers are typically marked by a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships, erratic self-image, volatile emotions and anger, and impulsive self-damaging behaviour (including substance abuse, binge eating, self-mutilation and suicidal behaviour).  This can create enormous chaos and pain for the person diagnosed with BPD, but unfortunately, the acting out behaviour tends to push people away, rather than garner them the care they actually need.   Craving love and desperately fearing abandonment, people like Chelsea suffer greatly because their actions only reinforce the rejection and loss of relationship that mark their life. 

If this is you or someone you know, please know that there is help.   For the sufferer of BPD, long-term therapy is often necessary to break down the dysfunctional patterns of thinking, feeling and responding, as well as resolve the inner turmoil and pain that drive the acting out behaviour.  Although the exact cause of BPD is unknown, many sufferers have a history of unresolved trauma.  They are people in pain, but unable to handle the enormity of their suffering without destructive behaviour.  And for the families of those diagnosed with BPD, the turmoil that surrounds sufferers can become the fulcrum of their own lives, which can be incredibly difficult to manage.  If this is you, please consider meeting with a therapist to help you learn how to support your loved one while learning how to set healthy boundaries against the difficult behaviours.

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