When you are a teenager and hitting puberty you are a storm, because you are trying to become your own person. Puberty and young adulthood is for forming your personality. For trial and error, for exploration and resistance. When this process is disturbed by BPD (Bipolar Disorder) and high sensitivity, all hell breaks loose. In so many ways.

One of the aspects of bpd is lack of identity. As you can imagine this is very stressful. Not knowing who you are. Always searching for confirmation and affirmation of you, but at the same time not knowing what needs to be confirmed and affirmed. It’s the confirmation of being empty and a chaotic mess. And the confirmation that you seem different than everybody else. Which of course you are, we all are, but this feels out of place. That you are weird.

I think I made the biggest transformation on this issue.
Lately I have been thinking about how it was like during this stormy time. Looking back at how I felt and acted before, can help me in the here and now. If you look back at how things were, check where you are now, and where you want to be, you can help yourself grow.

In puberty and beyond with BPD, it meant that I was not able to become who I was. I was just feeling empty, dark and sad. I did not understand why and my family did not either. Society taught me that feeling like this was not okay or normal and I was building up frustration and anger. Not being understood at all. So I was trying to become what, I thought, people would like to see. How could I do better? How could I feel better? How could I not be a burden to everybody? I was not forming my own personality, I was filling myself up with others. Their feelings, their likes, their dislikes. Their personalities. I would form superficial relationships only built on fake mutual interests and feelings. Thinking that I found me, only to discover, time after time, it was someone else. I stretched my boundaries and energy and collapsed every now and then. Into crisis. That could be anything: eating disorder, reckless driving, self-harm, depression, anxiety-attacks. All there to help me get control back. To survive.

High sensitivity made this process even worse, not only because my feelings are so intense, but also because other people’s feelings and energies can get in very easily. I did not know what part was me and what was someone else’s. I did not know what was happening to me when I walked into a room and all of sudden got very sad or claustrophobic. Back then, I could only define it as me being weird and different and having mood swings again. I did not know that people fought in that room minutes before I entered, and that I was feeling that probably.

These two together make you feel like you are fluid in a solid world. Have you ever seen how fluid acts? Imagine dropping water paint into a glass of clear water. It invades the space. First parts of it. Then it colors the clear water in its whole. It’s beautiful to see and I think I sometimes loved the initial part of it too, feeling that I was something. Something was defining me. But when it takes the water completely it’s not that nice anymore. It’s not clear anymore. Especially when you mix a lot of colors. Its dirty and dark.

People, feelings, energies, almost everything I encounter can easily dive into my fluidity. They stretch my boundaries, they intrude my space. Till there is no me. They become my identity. Borderline caused this because of me not knowing who I was or who I was supposed to be and high sensitivity made it so easy for everything to flow in. It felt confusing and frustrating. I was scared and felt worthless and dumb: Not knowing who I was and changing so often.

I have noticed that BPD symptoms will get softer in time and space will open up to take charge. I’m in my thirties now and I know more and more who I am and what I need. I am aware of my fluidity and I can better protect myself from negative energies from within myself and energies entering. And if I can’t, I know I have to be alone. Get away. To ground. If I want my water to be colored, I will let it happen. But now, it’s more and more my choice. I am finally creating a life where I can just be who I am. With everything that was given to me. And I am happy with that person.

The question now is how I managed to clear my water again. How I know who I am now. The answer is simple; start clearing. See what is in there. Keep what’s yours and throw away what isn’t. Work with what is left. The act of doing this is not so simple though. It’s scary and confronting. You will first discover your fears, bad experiences, coping behaviors, things that influenced you. You will want to flee from the process. Don’t. Or do and come back. Try again and again. And be kind to yourself. You are allowed to feel shitty, frustrated, scared, like giving up, happy and then sad again. And, you are allowed to do this with professional help. I did. Slowly you will discover the good and wonderfully unique things about you. Your mix. It is the basis of you. A good base to live your life with and to explore.

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Bouwke

NiceDay Writer. Organizational and work psychologist. I love nature, traveling and photography. I like to move and exercise, especially tennis, pilates / yoga and walking. With my story I am committed to more openness about mental health and I want to reduce stigmas around these topics. You can find me on Instagram: I am one Movement and backpackingbouwke and on Twitter: @iambouwke

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