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Living With Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder: 19-year-old shares her journey

Living With Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder: 19-year-old shares her journey

As told to the contributor by Todi Dutt Mazumder
bipolar disorder
Representational image | Shutterstock

When Todi Dutt Mazumdar was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorder (BD), it helped her to understand herself better. Her world was different, and she now knew why. Happiest Health spoke with Mazumder, 19, to understand her journey and the challenges it brought. 

“Being neurodivergent means you can never really fit in,” she says. “I always had two entirely different groups of friends. Growing up, I would change myself for the people around me, just so that I didn’t feel alone.”  

Describing her pre-diagnosis journey Dutt Mazumder says she was a people pleaser for as long as she could remember. “When I was diagnosed with BPD and BD, and I got to know that I am neurodivergent, I began to understand why I act the way I do.” 

The physical effects of Bipolar Disorder 

For people with BPD, emotions are not just intense but often show up through physical symptoms, like headaches that will not go away or an inability to get out of the bed for days. “The intensity with which I feel emotions, be it happiness or sadness, are always high-pitched,” says Dutt Mazumdar. “When I started to read more about it, I got to know that many people living with BPD experience physical ailments like back pain or headaches, because of the intensity with which they feel their emotions. My own symptoms started making sense to me then,” she says. 

Diagnosis leads to self-acceptance 

Dutt Mazumder had access to mental health professionals, and her diagnosis gave her the freedom to finally stop trying to be like everybody else. On her journey of self-acceptance, she could focus on identifying characteristics that made her unique and embrace them.  

However, the same cannot be said for people who are not aware of the vastness of the mental health spectrum and often do not know how to respond to a person with a mental health disorder.  

“Trying to explain my condition to the outside world is tricky. Funnily enough, people 

feel the need to tell me there’s nothing wrong with me and I’m completely fine and ‘normal’,” she says. “Well, I never thought otherwise.”  

Surviving systemic challenges 

Sharing her ongoing experience with the educational system in India, she, however, sounds more scarred and less hopeful. “I still do not know how I survived school, though. On some days I still feel as if I’m dreaming – but it’s real, I am indeed out of school. The pressure to fit in was a living nightmare, to say the least.”  

She finds college much more challenging, as our education system is not equipped to handle individual uniqueness. She experiences frequent burnouts and panic attacks, and also zones out a lot during lectures. “I wish our skills were fully put to use in these educational institutions and we didn’t have to compete neck and neck with neurotypicals all the time,” she adds.  

Hope for non-conformists 

Although today she is more comfortable being herself, Dutt Mazumder says she finds the systemic apathy around her disheartening, where inclusivity is an exception rather than the norm. It is hard for ‘normal’ people – who see society as a large homogenous mass of people who behave the same way – to relate to the challenges of those who are not like them.  

“It has taken me years to understand that being different has its own powers. I just wish society were more accommodative,” she says. For now, her zest for life and love for poetry keep the young woman going. 

The essence is in difference 

According to the Oxford dictionary, being neurodiverse is showing patterns of thought or behaviour that are different from those of most people, though still part of the normal range in humans.   

The term neurodiversity was first used by Australian sociologist Judy Singer in her honours thesis in 1998, and the term paved the way for what is considered to be the last great social movement of the previous century.  

The central theme of the movement is working towards a more inclusive society where neurodiversity is as normal as ethnic and gender diversity.  

However, with awareness of mental health challenges yet to become as mainstream as physical health issues, people who are not neurotypical still struggle to fit in.

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