Borderline Pride

What would borderline personality disorder as neurodiversity look like?

I am thinking about what it would mean to think about BPD as a form of neurodiversity. This is not to overlook the negative features of this condition, but to strike a balance between deficits and what about this condition brings in terms of value. What could be gained from viewing BPD not through a medical model but through a disability lens? I don’t want to underemphasize the fact that psychological suffering occurs with BPD. It occurs for me (and it occurs for those close to me). It’s important to remember that there is no way to conceptualize this condition in a way that works for all purposes and all contexts. I am less interested in proposing “borderline pride” as the new or best or right way of looking at BPD and more interested in noticing how difficult it is to form a thought about borderline pride—how unthinkable it is under the existing conditions about how we understanding BPD.

What is borderline pride? Is is pride-in-being borderline? Is it pride-despite-being-borderline? Does BPD pride make sense in the way that Deaf pride does? Or is it non-sensical in the way that cancer pride might be? (As soon as I wrote that sentence, I googled “cancer pride” and discovered the Bald Is Beautiful Campaign). If cancer pride exists, it is even more difficult for me to understand why BPD pride is so unthinkable. Still, cancer pride and BPD pride tend to focus on pride-in-recovery or pride-in-survival, unlike autism pride or mad pride which foreground pride-in-alterity.

I would like to envision a form of BPD pride based in the disavowal of stigma. The fact that BPD pride is difficult to think—that it feels, in fact, unthinkable—is an index of the depth of the stigma, and therefore a marker of the necessity of BPD pride.  One message of BPD pride might be, “I have it, I am not ashamed of myself for having it, and I feel compassion for and community with others who also self-identify as borderlines.” BPD pride might say, “It is normal to experience pain, suffering, illness, and setbacks. It is not a sign of monstrosity. It is not a sign of being a failed human being.” 

In queer theory, the pride/shame binary has been rejected and what lies beyond is a more complex look at difference (can we handle the fact that people are radically different from each other?) and sameness (can we handle the fact that people are far more similar to each other than our categorical thought processes tend to reveal?). In the context of disability, those same questions about permission for radical difference and recognition of unmarked similarities apply.

I don’t think pride and shame are the endpoints of how I feel about my borderline experiences. They are, instead, the poles of a spectrum containing innumerable nuances. By entertaining the notion of BPD pride against all odds, we start to map the territory of our own ambivalence. We give ourselves somewhere to go, a place to begin a dialogue on coping that has implications stretching far beyond our lonely predicaments.

I think BPD pride is a thought worth thinking.