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Those of us with borderline personality disorder are commonly described by professionals as having “no emotional skin.” Skin is the first line of defense our immune system has. It is responsible for blocking out most pathogens, and thus serves as a crucial barrier. Otherwise, with unmediated exposure to all pathogens, we’d be far more likely to contract diseases.
So for those with BPD, this means we don’t have a “skin” that can buffer most emotions. We are raw, extremely sensitive to everything around us and within us, utterly exposed to the tiniest sensations and variations in mood. As if we are an open wound, everything stings all the more when it reaches us. With no skin, everything that we feel is amplified because there isn’t anything to serve as an emotional barrier. When there is a trigger for sadness, we feel vastly more intense depression. When there is a trigger for worry, we are consumed by gut-wrenching, torturous anxiety. Something insignificant to you can launch us into a swirling spiral of self-loathing.
I’d like to think that this extends to positive emotions as well, even if they are few and far between when you have BPD (sadly, they are for me). While some people would thank you if you did a small favor for them, I’d feel such intense gratitude I’d dedicate my loyalty to you. While some would smile to themselves as they step outside and see that the sun is shining, I feel the sun on my skin and feel a natural high of sorts from pure joy.
Tequila Mockingbird is an undercover correspondent for Painted Brain News and a member of UCLA’s Active Minds program.