What It’s Like to Experience the Chronic ‘Emptiness’ of Borderline Personality Disorder

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Among my circle of family, friends and loved ones, I am often the one people go to for the “big talks” about life, meaning, spirituality, purpose and other subjects that force us all to think about existence. I don’t mind taking on this role.

On the contrary, I enjoy being the philosophical spider in my web of relations — think “Charlotte’s Web” but instead written by Kierkegaard. My silk-spun messages would read something like, “Yes, but what’s the point of it all?”

The reason I feel at home in these discussions, and why people come to me with their existential anxiety, is deeply related to my borderline personality disorder (BPD). One of the diagnostic criteria for my condition I experience most intensely is a chronic feeling of “emptiness.” I put the word “emptiness” in quotations because, as I and others with BPD know, the feeling is not exactly just emptiness — which implies a nothingness or void where something is supposed to be.

Certainly there is an element of sensing something missing inside me, which can lead to a lot of grasping outside of myself for stability, identity and sometimes desperate attempts to fill an emotional, mental or spiritual gap. In my own past, this has exhibited itself through changing jobs, apartments and partners — as well as a complicated relationship with food (using physical fullness as a stand-in for soul fullness).

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