I am touched and reinvigorated by these stories of coming out or staying in the BPD closet. I really appreciate everyone sharing your own evolving experience of being borderline and your decisions on how to navigate this condition in specific contexts (e.g., education, the work place).
I especially connected with Cheri's post above:
"Before I came out at work, people didn't understand why I sometimes reacted strangely - in one meeting they thought that I was angry and glaring at everyone, when in reality I was trapped in my own head flogging myself, riddled with anxiety and unable to speak.
I much prefer putting myself out there a bit and explaining why I sometimes have difficulties than people thinking that I'm being a bitch."
I am fascinated by the idea of having colleagues who know enough about BPD to recognize silence as a sign of anxiety instead of disengagement, anger, contempt, or a disgruntled attitude. I've been thinking a lot in the past few months about how I come across in meetings with other faculty, and about how I come across in the university classroom. Students have remarked in the past that I looked angry, or that I seemed angry when they didn't understand something, when of course my memory of such days are of feeling overwhelming anxiety at the prospect of being unclear or unsuccessful in my attempt to teach them something. When I'm upset with myself, when I feel my veneer of apparent competence is cracking - the look of anger visible to other people is really a look of anger directed toward myself.
Why can't I be more secure. Why can't I be more patient. Why can't I be more confident. Why can't I respond in a lighthearted way, without my voice quavering or my mouth going dry.
The questions irritate like saddle sores beneath the yoke of the workplace.
Ben writes, "Too often, sensitive people take their disenfranchisement and run with it, advancing into the margins instead of facing their society squarely, bravely."
This is definitely the challenge facing all of us. Some days I get it right. Some days I still want to close the blinds and hide :-)
I am looking forward to starting a new academic year -- new classes, new meetings, new colleagues -- and knowing that my at times strangely intense feelings of rejection at work are just as disproportionate and internally generated as the feelings of rejection I experience in romantic love. I may not be able to change the feelings just yet, but I am eager to find out the difference it will make to say to myself, "These feelings are too big to be about this meeting, or this colleague, or this student," and to take a step back while the intensity storms through my body and leaves and, in the big picture, means much less than I once thought.
The feelings, in fact, may not mean anything.
They may simply be there. And then not be there.
I picture myself returning to my office after a difficult meeting or class period and smiling upon my discovery that the world has not gone up in a ball of fire, that the sky is not falling, that my job is secure, and that I am just fine.