Living with borderline personality disorder
Join me on May 26 for a discussion focused on the connection between mental health and art.
My Grandma Kath halted while crossing her sun-filled apartment that my brother and I spent many weekends at during our childhood. She stared at me from behind her gold-framed glasses like she was scanning a troubling horizon. “Get in the kitchen, Miranda. It’s time to make a cake.”
Before the medical industry labelled my mood swings as depression, or anxiety, or PTSD, or BPD, my Grandma Kath—or GK, as she’s affectionately known by even those outside her family—called them “conniption fits.” She could tell one was coming because my eyes would change. “They’d get darker somehow,” she’d tell me years later. In true grandma fashion, her fix wasn’t medicine, therapy, or defining what was happening to me. It was baking.
Without a distraction, my moods, which blew in like a tempest (incredibly prescient of my mother to name me after Prospero’s daughter), would devolve into a trembling mess of hysterics. Somehow, the low hum of the electric mixer, the delicate crack of an eggshell splintering on the side of a porcelain bowl, and the wafting scent of vanilla extract would cause the clouds in my eyes to shift.
Early on, my maternal family members tried to find a medical explanation for my fits, but our small-town family doctor assumed it was a food sensitivity—specifically chocolate and the red and yellow dyes used to colour food. Much of my family was content with the suggestion because I was high-functioning in so many other aspects of my childhood (a nearly straight-A student who made friends relatively easily amidst our constant moving), so I was largely banished from baking the brownies and polka-dotted pineapple upside-down cakes that proved such an effective distraction (though GK, always a bit of a brat, would occasionally ignore this rule). The more cynical members of my family believed my outbursts were childish manipulations: I was misbehaving or being “difficult” in an attempt to get my way. My family didn’t know the emotional states I swung between was a mental illness, much less a personality disorder.
From 3:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 26, Camille Alizadeh, editor of Lived Collective and mental health advocate, and I will share our experience of what living with BPD is like and the strategies we use to lead manageable and creative lives. Hosted by Art With Impact, a nonprofit that promotes mental wellness by creating space for young people to learn and connect through art and media, the online event is free to attend. I hope to see you there!