So I only just found out, but this month is BPD awareness month. BPD is one of the lesser-known mental health illnesses but also one of the more stigmatized ones. It is one I suffer with. As with any mental illness, there is no ‘typical’ type, it appears in many different ways in each person. So I thought I’d write a little about what it is and them more about how it presents in me.
So firstly….What is BPD?
There are 9 mail symptoms of BPD but as with everything they each can present in extremely different ways from person to person. These are:
Fear of abandonment.
Unclear or unstable self-image
Impulsive, self-destructive behaviour
Extreme emotional swings
Chronic feelings of emptiness.
Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality.
People with BPD tend to have very strong, fast changing and extreme emotions that they find hard to regulate. People tend to have very black or white thinking (known as splitting) where you cannot see rationally or the other side of an argument or how someone else may be thinking. It makes relationships very difficult as you have an intense fear of abandonment and often you heavily rely on certain people.
BPD can present itself in different ways, categorized into 4 different types, but of course there can be blurs between them. These are:
Discouraged borderline–includes avoidant, depressive or dependent behaviours
Impulsive borderline–includes antisocial or approval-seeking behaviours
Petulant borderline–includes passive-aggressive behaviours
Self-destructive borderline–includes depressive or self-destructive behaviours
BPD has a particularly bad stigma around it even with those in the medical profession. In the past medical professionals have run away from people diagnosed with it as it has been considered one of the more difficult disorders to try and treat. It still has a stigma surrounding it, but now with heavy therapy and inparticular DBT people are able to recover (well more like learn to manage and control their feelings).
So What does MY BPD look like?
So BPD by no means defines me, being diagnosed was a relief. It explained why I acted in certain ways and struggles with certain things (relationships, internal emotions, controlling – but not in the sense that you would immediately think).
I am very insecure, and not sure who i am and never happy within my own skin. I have constant doubts about most things.
I am EXTREMELY sensitive. A look, a word an action can deeply upset me and leave me dwelling on it and being upset by it for days. Ruminating and ruminating, playing it over and over in my head. Until it becomes too big for me to cope with.
I have always had just 1 or 2 VERY close friends. I can tend to be quite clingy and heavily reliant on these people, scared they are going to abandon or leave me. Other friends I keep at a distance and struggle to let them in, with the fear if I let them in they will abandon or turn on me. I hate this in me, I want nothing more than to let everyone in but I still have some sort of barrier. I am working hard with my therapist to try and get to the root of it. I think this is deeply rooted from events at school but it is an ongoing puzzle.
Others people with BPD often show emotions externally. I internalize it all. I am having a battle of switching emotions on my head nearly 100% of the time and am often extremely punitive towards my self. I beat myself up, and over think everything. One minute I am happy for someone, then I feel jealous, upset, then it goes to anger as I should not be thinking bad things, then I get very punitive on myself and this turns into huge upset and distress and sometimes impulsive behavior. This all happens in a matter of seconds and is very hard to control and keep track of. This is just one example. It feels like a rollercoaster of emotions lasting just seconds or minutes.
Impulsivity comes over me in different ways. The most extreme was the overdose. Other things have been small things like getting my tattoo, ear piercings, booking my trip to New York, the other month all these things I just did with absolutely no thought behind. I am not going to talk about self-harm and me here as it will upset many as it is a constant struggle, but someday that post will come.
I can test people to know they like me. I get stubborn until I know that they want to see me or like me. Knowing that they are busy isn’t enough for me, I need proof they care no matter what. This has gotten much worse throughout my breakdown, to the point I have found myself testing even those closest to me, who I know care, but because I am not feeling it at the time I get stubborn and refuse to make contact. In many cases I end up feeling I am the only person who makes an effort to make sure I see someone, this is the point I get stubborn and refuse to get in touch until they do…. This has resulted in lost friendships (which then in my head proves the point that they don’t like me).
Black and white (splitting) I love or hate. I can't except if someone does not behave the way I want then to. There is always a right and wrong, a good and a bad. I have high expectations of people that I think they should live up to, and when they don’t I find it very hard to understand. I struggle to see the 'grey' or middle ground.
This blog points out a lot of the bad sides of me and BPD but those who know me will know that this is not the case. BPD makes me a very loyal friend, one who would be there 100% if I feel I am needed; I will help anyone and be very overly sensitive to other people’s feelings. So aside from the bad points of having BPD there is plenty of good. Perhaps I shall write a blog on the positives of BPD, as there is hardly anything out there about that, all you read is bad press and stigma, but there are many good qualities in us BPDers!