Diagnosed and Recovered - Brett Pape



“I grew up with trauma in my life due to my mom’s alcoholism which caused me to have a mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder. I was never properly diagnosed until I was 46 years old. I have had about 5 years of peace now. BPD causes your emotions or causes everything you feel to be exponentially bigger than what normal people feel. I always say that my emotions were on steroids.


I’ve had about 5 or 6 different visits in some sort of mental health capacity where I was in for a few days. I never wanted to truly kill myself but I can tell you that I never not had suicidal thoughts prior to being properly diagnosed. I would go into the hospital on my own a lot of the time because I didn’t want to kill myself and I knew that I could stop thinking about doing so just to end the constant craziness and/or pain that I was in.


About 5 years ago I was sitting with another new therapist, who was going to change my life, but I was skeptical. I would go in like “Oh, what are you gonna tell me that’s gonna change my life this time.” Really what happened is that I was sitting down with her and she asked me “What’s your biggest issue?” I told her that the only way that I feel love is that if I mess up, they’re still there. And so messing up was always self induced, like losing your shit over stupid stuff. She asked me a few more questions and then she showed me Borderline Personality Disorder. I looked at the symptoms, right down the list, and I could just see everything match up and align. For the first time in my life, it gave me a reason as to why I was the way I was other than simply I was a narcissistic piece of crap. There was a genuine disorder that I could now blame. Even though there’s no cure, even though I’m going to live with this for the rest of my life, there was now hope. I was now able to develop a plan with my therapist to learn how to manage when my emotions get a little spiked. I can look at [my emotions] as an outside observer.


There aren’t a lot of people that are able to overcome or learn to manage as well as I have. I feel very blessed. My disorder is a huge part of me, not only that, but I’m glad to have it. The person that I am would not be the same if I didn’t have BPD. There are positives. I love a little bit harder, I feel my emotions a little harder, there are some good things that come from that when you don’t have the bad stuff that goes with it. I think my kids, my wife, my friends and family can easily attest to the fact that I’m a pretty giving, loving person.


It is a day-in day-out fight to get a sense of peace in your head. To be able to get to the point in my life where I have that now, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle at times, it doesn’t mean that I still don’t have BPD because I certainly do. But now I have a wife who not only accepts it but also knows how to lead me onto a path of everything’s gonna be okay.