The Need For A New Vocabulary.


I have borderline personality disorder. This isn’t new news. I’ve talked about it and blogged about it, I’ve researched and explained it, and yet I found myself last night having to tell myself more than once that I do have borderline personality disorder.

See, here’s the rub: I’ve been going through a ‘good’ patch, been rejoicing in the fact that I was ‘well’, I began to emerge from my hermitage and when asked where I’ve been hiding/what I’ve been doing I’ve been responding gleefully ‘I’ve been getting better’. In many ways those statements are true, at least in part; my anxiety is getting much more under control and I’m learning to recognise and manage my symptoms much more effectively then I ever have done before. The thing is though, the thing I realised last night is that I do still have symptoms, I’m not ‘well’ and even more so I probably never will be.

Many mental health conditions are chronic, they don’t ever really go away, and appear in your lives in peaks and troughs. I had been applying a relapse and remission model to my own illness looking at my mental ill health/wellness in very black and white terms, seeing myself as sick or well but I think that is quite a blinkered view. My BPD is always with me, it just depends on how well managed it is. Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes it makes me hopeless. Sometimes it gives me manic energy. Sometimes it makes my words all jumbly or disorders my thoughts. But never am I cured, never am I well.

At the moment my head feels like my thoughts have been shaken about by a whirling dervish, all of my emotions, good and bad, are a big muddle in my head, like a type of white noise. I can’t unravel them, I can’t sort them into the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a different kind of ill from the anxious and depressed ill of a few months ago but it is, undoubtedly ill.

And there’s that word again: ill. Ill, sick, unwell; they all seem horribly lacking in describing the state of having a mental health issue. We need our own words, a new vocabulary, ways to explain to people what it is like to live each day with a mental health issue. A way to explain what it is like to have to be constantly mindful, to have to have a kind of permanent inner dialogue attempting to shout down the brain weevils. The words to explain the absolute constant terror the feeling ‘well’ might not last, that the overwhelming darkness that you felt previously might take over again any day.

I wish I had the vocabulary. I wish I could articulate what it is like. I wish I could see my own disease outside of terms of illness and wellness. But for now I guess all I can do is talk and hope that the words I do have, no matter how inadequate they may seem, can go some way towards forging some understanding. It’s time to talk, it’s time to change.

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