Sitting in one of those fast food joints that reeks of cardiac arrest and the lost dreams of your perspiring servers, I looked down resentfully at the flashing light signifying another phone call from Chloe. This was the seventh time she had called in the past twenty minutes. I was just trying to finish my french fries. I knew what was on the other line and it wasn’t my friend. It was a screaming, sobbing, suicidal mess.
When Chloe first told me she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I didn’t understand the gravity of what that meant. That my being in her life would mean that my life would irrevocably change. By definition, BPD is described as a disorder in which its occupants have extremely turbulent emotions, impulsive and reckless behavior, and general instability in relationships. To me, it sounded like adolescence on steroids. I knew Chloe had been in a hospital. And something bad had happened at her old school that people liked to gossip about at school. Everyone has their quirks, I thought.
Chloe was not one for boundaries. If she needed you, she needed you. That could mean a three hour phone conversation to talk her down to running frantically out of a first date because your friend is having a panic attack. “That’s crazy!” people would tell me. And it was.
When Chloe and I would fight, or disagree as she liked to put it, all hell broke loose. Friends argue. It’s normal. It’s the fundament of intellect that people have opinions. And it’s in the fundament of human nature that we like to express ourselves. But when Chloe and I would “express ourselves”, it was war. And not the conventional kind. It was guerilla warfare. Subversive. Coercive. We were testing each other. She wanted to see if I would love her even after a fight. And I, well I was just being stubborn. Things would never end well. They would usually end in profuse apologies. Either she got too anxious and panicky thinking that I would leave her or because I didn’t want her to feel bad.
Chloe and I were a perfect match in a lot of ways. She was needy and I didn’t know how to say no. I could see myself being manipulated and becoming more deeply moored into Chloe’s illness. Her needs ate at my life and I let it happen almost compulsively. I needed her to need me almost as much as she needed me herself.
I remember the day Chloe said she was going to get some more help. The weight of her woes had been lifted some. I knew that other people recognized there was more of a problem than just “quirkiness”. I wanted Chloe to get help. I wanted her to be able to be my friend.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) changed her life. It gave her skills to cope and navigate through conflict. I didn’t feel like I always had to be Chloe’s cutman, cleaning up her bangs and bruises after each round in the fight of life.
Finally, I was able to be her friend again.
Written by a 17 year old who is writing anonymously.