a monthly feature by
Maddie M. White
'Fear of Abandonment'
What mental illness do you suffer from?
Binge-eating disorder, borderline personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression. (I also have ADHD, but some do not consider it a mental illness. My psychiatrist is the one who diagnosed me with and treats me for ADHD, and the medicine I take for it helps all of my symptoms immensely, so I do consider it a mental illness in my case.)
When was the first time you noticed it and how?
BED: As early as five years old. I go into detail with this memory in a forthcoming essay, but I would eat and hide food in my room even that young.
GAD and depression: Around eighth grade. I skipped school a lot, pretending to be sick, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the world.
BPD: I honestly didn’t think I had BPD until I was 19. I read up about the symptoms and realized I had every single one of them, mainly a lot of the irrational stuff. I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist seven months later when I was 20 (which was when I was diagnosed with everything except ADHD, I was 22 when that happened).
How does it affect your life as a whole?
I’d say BPD has the biggest affect. One symptom is irrational fear of abandonment. There are times when a friend says something completely normal, yet it triggers me into thinking they hate me and don’t actually want to be in my life. I know it’s irrational and not true, yet I still feel that way. This happens daily, sometimes more than once. I’ve canceled plans with friends because of it, which makes me scared they hate me even more. This causes anxiety attacks and sometimes depression if I can’t convince myself it’s not true in enough time.
BED is rough too. It’s hard going out to eat because I just have to finish everything on the plate no matter how full I am. It’s embarrassing with my friends/family because I eat so much more than them and can’t control myself.
How does it affect your day-to-day?
With BED, I can’t meal prep or have leftovers because I’ll eat everything that same day. That makes it annoying because I work nine hours a day in an office where I’d like to bring leftovers for lunch, or if I’m too tired to cook dinner I’ll order in and then eat everything.
What have you learned about it?
I’m really familiar with the symptoms of BPD because I actually wrote an essay on it, “The 11 Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder,” which is forthcoming in x-r-a-y. It’s really interesting learning the history of BPD and how its treated (with DBT instead of CBT).
I know about my other illnesses as well, obviously, but BPD is most relevant to the question.
What has it taught you about yourself?
I’m not really sure. It just makes me feel crazy even though I know I’m not.
Have you found anything helpful in coping with it?
With BED, definitely not overcooking or meal prepping.
BPD, I just try to tell myself my brain is making things up to try and trick me.
Overall, I talk things out with my friends or boyfriend. Writing helps, too. Thinking out loud (or writing it down) helps me cope.
Describe a time in which you felt empowered after doing something in spite of the disorder.
Every time I push through a longer depression episode, which for me is 6+ weeks.