By: Nikki Van Blair
Diary of a Diva: Wrestling with Borderline
OMG can you guys believe it’s October already? I swear it was like last week when I was celebrating the best month of the year. (January, because it’s my birth month, obvs).
The month of October signifies a few important things: it gives most states and territories in Australia a much deserved public holiday (I couldn’t tell you what Labour Day is though tbh); the 14th is the birth date of Hall of Famer and wrestling icon Stacy Keibler; and it’s Colosseum season in PWA!
But to a small percentage of Australians, the first week of October signifies Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness week in Australia.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) (also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder or EUPD) is a mental disorder characterised by unstable moods, behaviour and relationships that severely impacts a person’s ability to manage their emotions. According to Health Direct, it is the most common personality disorder in Australia, affecting about 1 to 4 in every 100 people at some time in their lives.
And if you aren’t already aware, I am a diagnosed Borderline Barbie living with BPD, so this week means a lot to me every year.
To make a long story short, I was officially medically diagnosed with BPD when I was 25, but recognised symptoms in my life as early as 12-years-old. Mental health isn’t a topic frequently discussed in Polynesian households, so I thought my ability to be overemotional and desperately cling to relationships was just a ‘quirky lil trait of mine’.
From my limited understanding of mental health as a teenager, I had no idea that BPD even existed, and when I was eventually convinced that maybe something was different about me, I had assumed it could’ve been bipolar, which is wild considering BPD is a more common personality disorder among Australians.
You may be wondering how having BPD could affect my wrestling or my career, and you would be valid in thinking that. It wouldn’t be blatantly obvious how having rapid mood swings or chronic feelings of being empty inside could affect one’s ability to deliver a suplex in the squared circle.
The main feature of a borderline is their emotional instability, and emotions are one of the things that can easily control or sway how your day will go. If you’re feeling joyful, then you’re going to have a great day and will simply roll with the punches. If you’re pissed off, then everything is going to suck no matter how positive or negative things may be.
One of the main symptoms of BPD is alternating between idealising and devaluing other people, or ‘splitting’. Borderlines tend to see things in black and white: you’re either all good, or you’re all bad, and there is no room for shades of grey.
I tend to idealise those who have a position of power or authority over me, for example, my coaches in wrestling, and often feel like I need to fight for their approval or validation. I thrive off their praise, and take their constructive criticism onboard like bible. I don’t need to be treated with a velvet glove, but if I don’t receive their validation or approval, I become overwhelmed with negative thoughts that I’m not cut out for wrestling, or perhaps they don’t like me, and I can spiral if I don’t manage it quickly and effectively.
Borderlines also tend to form very strong emotional attachments to people, creating intense and sometimes unstable relationships with them. And when you’re around people once, twice or three times a week with shows and training, then forming those strong relationships is bound to happen. Working with several different folks in Australian wrestling has presented many opportunities for me to form strong bonds with people.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a very high functioning Borderline Barbie. For the most part, I am very good at keeping my emotions in check and my mood as stable as possible, and the several wonderful friendships I’ve cultivated in wrestling are a testament to that. But I’m not perfect, and sometimes I’ll experience that undying need to cling onto someone because I have an irrational fear that they’ll abandon me. Soon after, a paranoia will creep in, warping my view on an otherwise normal and healthy relationship.
I’ve experienced relationships with people in wrestling that have gone on the wildest rollercoaster rides, from the highest of highs where I view them as perfect and they can’t possibly do any wrong, to the lowest of lows where I devalue them and think they are the worst human on the face of the earth. And this can all happen within a one hour period because borderline mood swings are the worrrrst.
I wouldn’t say that every time I walk into training, or every time I make an appearance at a show, that I am fighting this silent borderline battle. But it does happen regularly, and it’s up to me to equip myself with the tools necessary to try and ride the waves of BPD in this wild world of wrestling, and with the support of people like my sister Frankie B who understands what I go through on a daily basis, it is absolutely possible for a Borderline Barbie to have a thriving career in professional wrestling.
Every now and then, I remind myself that I am a tough bitch, and that I am capable of living with this disorder and turning this weakness into being one of my biggest strengths.
After all, we don’t breed them weak in the house of Prima Pi Kappa.
For more information on BPD in Australia: BPD Awareness Week https://www.bpdawareness.com.au/
BPD Foundation Australia https://www.bpdfoundation.org.au/