This week is Borderline Personality Disorder awareness week. I thought I would use the opportunity to explain to people what it’s like being a Christian and having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is a condition that is very misunderstood, particularly amongst Christians. How then can we create communities where people with BPD feel loved, accepted and part of the family of God?
I am so thankful that as a society we are talking more about the impact of mental health. In my experience though mental health is still very much a taboo issue amongst some Christians. Those of us with mental health challengers are told that they are possessed by demons, or they are choosing to be naughty and sinful, or they lack faith and trust in God, and on it goes…. Mental illness needs to be seen as an illness amongst Christians, and in response we need to love people like Jesus would. How would Jesus love them? All throughout the gospel we see Jesus showing people compassion, understanding, and serving them in the midst of great difficulty.
We all know the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. The reality is though that words do hurt each of us. Words can pierce the soul and leave people devastated. For someone with a mental illness words can be like a worm devouring your mind, with the words going round and round until you start to believe it’s true and that becomes part of your identity.
I looked at my stomach and saw the latest scars that were in this area as a result of a new treatment. These new scars were surrounding a much bigger scar from bowel surgery. I then looked at all the other scars on my body and saw that each scar told a story, but more importantly each scar points me back to the One who has scars in His hands and feet.
Choosing to fight a mental illness means going to war with your brain. Choosing to fight is saying to the beast called mental illness, I will not let you harm me, but I will let you make me stronger. It means flexing that mental muscle, putting on the armour and getting ready to go round after round in battle with your mind.
When you spend your days at home trying to get better from these illnesses you’re unlikely to get better from, you eventually start to think do I have a reason for being alive? Is there really a plan or purpose to my life?…. The reality is that the plan that I had for my life is very different to the plan that God has for my life, and that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a purpose in being here on earth.
I have thousands of thoughts going around my head, screaming at me, vying for my attention, telling me something is true or something is not true that I become confused and overwhelmed that I don’t know which voice to listen to anymore.
Living with multiple illnesses is like constantly tiptoeing around nicely placed rows of dominoes hoping everything remains in place. As soon as one domino is knocked, the whole system starts to collapse.