The Email:

I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder for about 3 years now. It has cost me my military career, caused strain on my marriage, and my health. I have had a problem with suicide since becoming sick. It seems that my only way of dealing with a stressful problem is trying to commit suicide. I have been hospitalized 5 times because of it. Every day is a struggle. I only hope that my calls for help do not catch up with me. I do want to live!

AJ's Response:

Firstly, I am glad that you want to live. Wanting to live in and of itself can help somewhat. Even when you feel suicidal it is important not to lose sight of the fact that you, indeed, do want to live.

I hope that you are dealing with this in therapy. If not, you would benefit from getting into therapy. For many with BPD, suicide gestures and or suicidality has a lot to do with avoiding their emotions, feelings and pain. The wish is not to die but to just stop suffering or to just be able to feel, in some cases. Often there is a lot of ambivilance abound feeling versus not feeling. Some borderlines are trying desperately, at all costs, to avoid feeling. Other borderlines want to feel but feel numb.

My personal opinion is that deep down inside what is going on is that fight between the false self and the real self that I speak so much about in what I write. I see it as a very central issue in BPD. It is the false self that feels like it wants to die, not one's authentic self. The problem is that most borderlines (in the throes of BPD) don't know anything but their false selves.

I believe that your authentic self wants to live. But you may not have learned yet how to live out the reality of your authentic self. This is the goal of recovery -- to integrate your authenticity with your thoughts, actions and feelings.

It is also very important to remember that when times are stressful whatever ability you have to cope will be severely compromised. It is often recommended that you plan how you can cope in stressful times, or times when you feel suicidal when you are calm and doing better. This way, you have something (some coping skills and back-up plans) to reach for instead of once again trying to kill yourself.

The biggest illusion about death to the suicidal person is that it is the ONLY solution -- THIS IS NOT TRUE! What is true is that is is the only choice that you've continued to make. You can learn to make new choices. With the help of a therapist and your making a commitment to make new choices when you feel suicidal you can and will learn to choose other ways to get through those most stressful times.

Every day was once a struggle for me too. This is no longer the case. My point is that you've got to commit to living long enough to get the point (and you can get there) where you know what I know, where your life will show you that there are times without such pain or numbness or lostness. Finding yourself is the key to saving your life, quite literally.

Think very hard about doing your utmost to make new choices. The power is really yours. Your authentic self awaits your company. Turn inward and learn how to hold that inner-child when the tides of life are too overwhelming and remember that as each wave hits you, "this too shall pass". Wait it out. You can and you will outlive it and live through it.

This response is © A.J. Mahari

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This page/section was moved from Soul's Self-Help Central October 13, 2002 and is © Ms. A.J. Mahari (& (.org) 2000-2002 was last up-dated July 29, 2007