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Please Know Your Mental Illness Does Not Make You Difficult To Love

I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), an emotional regulation disorder that makes navigating daily life difficult. It affects every facet of my existence including my relationships, self-image, work, and general functioning.

One of the most grueling parts of this diagnosis is that BPD is both highly stigmatized and misunderstood. People with BPD are thought to be manipulative and toxic. The stigma makes me fearful to put myself out there or be myself fully because I’m afraid that I’ll be judged or, even worse, realize that my greatest fears are valid: that I am difficult and unlovable.

And so, I stay quiet about what I want. I’m not on dating apps. I avoid eye contact with friendly faces at the bar. I claim I’m disinterested in romance at the moment, that I’m busy working on myself first. I tell my friends and family I’m just tired when I’m struggling because I don’t want to be a burden. I self-isolate. I say I can handle everything on my own because that’s all I deserve to do.

And honestly? It’s incredibly lonely to live this way.

I’m tiptoeing around my own life, swallowing any desire for love and companionship because something rooted deep within my veins has me believing I am not worthy of those things at all because of my BPD.

If you struggle with mental illness, maybe my experience resonates with you too. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or otherwise, the stigma of being mentally ill tends to haunt us, doesn’t it? The shame that sometimes comes along with a mental illness diagnosis lingers. And it is exhausting.

But I’m slowly learning how not to let those fears imposed on me by a stigma dictate how I live my life and see myself. Because the truth is this:

I am not a diagnosis. You are not a diagnosis.

Does living with a mental illness make things hard sometimes? Absolutely. But you don’t have to make having a mental illness even harder by shutting yourself out from love, belonging, and acceptance. You don’t need to punish yourself for something that isn’t your fault.

You are so much more than your symptoms and hardest days. You are not too much for the right people. Anyone meant to be in your life will understand and see you for all that you are and how hard you’re working at fighting through the storms.

Your mental illness does not make you difficult to love. It is part of you, but it is not all of you. Never forget that.