BPD: An Emotional Sunburn

Yesterday, my temporary “emergency” therapist at my university, who is extensively trained in DBT and working with BPD individuals, mentioned that having BPD is a lot like having a really bad sunburn. When you have a sunburn, you are hypersensitive to anything and everything touching that area, you’re hot to the touch, and basic things become difficult because if anything touches the sunburn, you will scream out or moan in pain. When you have a sunburn, you avoid going back out into the sun.

When she said that, I instantly felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. Hearing this metaphor for BPD and sunburn made me accept myself a little more. This made my blurry vision of the world a little bit clearer and I smiled for the first time in a while. I wish I could tell everyone I interact with regularly that I have an emotional sunburn, so please do not be alarmed when I lose my temper, cry, get overwhelmed, or start to freak out.

Lately my sunburn has been so bad that I developed blisters. From a new diagnosis, to being forced to eat despite ana/mia screaming in my ear, to being involuntarily committed to the inpatient hospital, my emotions are on high alert. I have been avoiding the sun completely – both literally and figuratively, actually (thanks, agoraphobia). My therapist made me feel like this is ok until my blisters heal, and the skin begins to repair itself until back at the usual baseline sunburn that BPD individuals live with. I was validated and validation means everything to me, since I frequently have feelings and reactions that are invalidated because they are over the top.

So once I use up this metaphorical bottle of aloe vera, I will be ready to deal with the emotions I have buried deep inside of me. I am terrified of this, but it is necessary for the healing process. I am hoping that DBT is the answer for me, I am actually hopeful about this treatment. All my fingers are crossed in hope that DBT will make life worth living again.