A risk for us is mooring
A love letter, a lifeline
A break-up, a death sentence
A self, a broken pact
Life, our frenzy
BUNNY BOILER: Memories of a Borderline Personality Disorder is a memoir about the perils of living with BPD. Its raw and candid chapters chronicle my decades-long struggle to survive its torments and its stigma and, at last, to accept treatment for it.
Despite having a lifetime prevalence of around six percent of the US population and being on the rise, BPD is one of the most misunderstood and feared mental disorders. It tends to result in extreme instability in personal relationships, repeated suicide attempts, wild efforts to prevent abandonment, and self-destructive, risk-taking behaviors like substance abuse and gambling. The borderline woman is stereotyped as hypersexual and obsessive, in part due to the character of Alex in Fatal Attraction and other media portrayals.
These representations only make it harder for victims of the disease to access proven treatment strategies like dialectical behavior therapy because many clinicians are afraid to work with borderline patients. Barriers to treatment can have deadly consequences. Approximately ten percent of people with BPD end up dying by suicide, and the disorder shaves an average of twenty years off the lifespans of the rest. When I was in my 20s, my psychiatrists were so concerned about other doctors’ potential stigma that they refused to give me the diagnosis or treat my BPD, which left it free to swell until it nearly consumed my life.
Drawing on my background in literature scholarship and up-to-the-minute research on BPD, I consider how the borderline woman must contend with her internal chaos as well as with her cultural depictions, the biases of medical authorities, and the traps of the criminal-justice system.
BUNNY BOILER proves that it is possible for someone with BPD to suffer abuse, mistreatment within the health system, and suicide attempts yet still find joy in middle age and help through traditional treatment avenues and virtual support groups. It also presents good news about researchers who are combating BPD stigma within the medical community and promising new therapies like EMDR and ketamine infusions.
As the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial showed, a woman’s BPD diagnosis can always be weaponized against her. At its heart, BUNNY BOILER is a story not only of a devastating mental illness, but of hope, resilience, and resistance against a society quick to damn anyone who expresses extreme pain or excessive emotions. It is also a reminder to those with BPD that they are not alone.