When Your Boyfriend Has Borderline Personality Disorder
Sometimes you forget that your boyfriend has Borderline Personality Disorder. Life feels “normal” for weeks, even months. You both have jobs that you tolerate, you exercise when you’re not too lazy, you try to eat healthy when you can, you plan your meals together, you go out on dates, you do Escape Rooms with your friends, you drink Titos on Saturday night and play Yahtzee in your sweats. You take turns unloading the dishwasher, you feed the cats, he scoops the litter. You take road trips for long weekends and brush your teeth together at night. Then, one Tuesday evening, he tells you that he has suicidal thoughts as he walks out the door to catch the bus for work.
Sometimes having a partner with Borderline Personality Disorder feels surreal. You feel like you’re living a dream and you can’t decide whether you should wait until you wake up, or if you should panic now. They promise that they’ll be safe for the day, and you stare at the wall for hours until your ringtone validates their existence. You research new worksheets on Dialectical Behavior Therapy and file them in the binder you’ve created together; the binder that holds hundreds of informational printouts from their hospital stay. Diary cards, meditation guides, crisis moment plans. Your therapist is on speed dial and you text him at three in the morning to ask him what that book was he recommended you buy.
Sometimes Borderline Personality Disorder makes you feel like you’re cheating on your boyfriend. When BPD takes a leave of absence, you lay in bed laughing at the neighbor snoring below. You dance on the hardwood living room floor in your socks and stay up late watching People’s Court and making lists of potential baby names. You feel guilty, as though your real boyfriend, the one that suffers from numbness and a short temper, is away on a business trip. And you have snuck in someone else for the night. You see the wide smile on his face and the scandalous fleeting mirage dissolves, as do you into his arms; and you fall asleep there with same wide smile.
Sometimes having a partner with Borderline Personality Disorder means saving half of your sick days for mental health days. It means putting your own needs on an equal level as their needs. It means scheduling a massage for Saturday morning and praying to the mental health gods that Saturday is a good day. And when Saturday rolls around and the mental health gods are on vacation, it means making sure your partner is in safe hands and driving yourself to your massage. Having a partner with Borderline Personality Disorder does not mean a sacrifice in quality of life.
Sometimes having a partner with Borderline Personality Disorder is a lifelong college lecture. It’s taking classes, doing homework, and constant research. It’s medication management, therapy sessions, and group discussions. It’s hour long lectures every other night on distress tolerance and mindfulness. It’s learning together how to handle different emotions appropriately, and realizing that your own mental health is actually improving in the process. It’s expanding your knowledge and self awareness and seeing silver linings even in the darkest of times.
Sometimes having a partner with Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t matter. Tuesday night, after your boyfriend leaves for work, you order Chinese food and you make yourself comfortable on the couch. You close your eyes and inhale, breathing in every aspect of your hectic, dynamic rollercoaster of a life. You exhale and open your eyes. You think back to a year ago, when things felt hopeless. Before he had a diagnosis, before there were words for these feelings. You think of the progress that has transpired in that year, and you think of what will happen in another year from now. You accept the fears and the struggles, and you scream them out of the small third floor window in your Queens apartment building. You relish in the good, you find support for the bad, and you love through all of it. Because this is your person is your person is your person.