Borderline Personality Disorder
In 1996, a counselor, when I was on the verge of a suicide,
listened to my exasperated please for help, and asked me to read some
information on something called Borderline Disorder. Borderline disorder has
nothing to do with the word "borderline", it has been called that for
a long time and is an outdated description. Dr. Heller has recommended it be
renamed Dyslimbia because of his research. Unfortunately when I was in high
school there has been the change for the "guidance counselor" to
discover that I was troubled beyond normal "teenage funks", but she
did not. I struggled with confusing symptom throughout college, and throughout
most of my marriage, a marriage to a man very complimentary to my condition, he
took advantage of it perfectly, making my life that much more confusing.
I am very grateful to say that Borderline Disorder was taken off
my diagnosis charts in 2000-2001. I continued intense cognitive and behavioral
therapy and became independent from this disorder. Once this was behind me, my
doctor could then focus on the roots of my brain chemistry problems. THIS CAN BE
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The borderline personality
disorder has unfortunately affected nearly every aspect of my life.
From my family, friends, lovers and my relationship with myself, bpd has
made its impact. I am assuming it will continue to be a struggle for the rest of
my life, and like other conditions, I learn to manage it. The BPD gave me the
innate ability to blame myself for anything, and also to associate with people
who had the tendency to never take responsibility for their own actions. And
even though many people will weasel out of responsibility, it was my own fault
for taking it on. Similar to a woman who is beaten continually by her husband:
it certainly doesn’t make him right for beating her, but she is also a fool
for staying! I have attempted to categorize below, however this essay
should be taken as a whole, as there is no real way not to overlap information
without repeating it. I will continue to take this draft and try to clean it up
and make it more readable as I get the chance. Please forgive any errors, I'm
just trying to get this on here while I have the energy.
The relationship with my family has luckily come out stronger since my
diagnosis and treatments. Unfortunately bpd and mental illness tends to run in
families, making many sufferers victims of their own parents and siblings.
Luckily my case is somewhat different. Many people who suffer from bpd come from
families that are so dysfunctional and toxic that the only way for them to
recover is to stay away from the people who aggravate their condition.
I come from an atmosphere that more resembles perfectionism, what some
would say is a common precursor for depression. Not that my parents demanded
perfection from me, but I just felt they expected it. And I expected them to be
disappointed if I didn’t achieve. Parents, like any close relationship, know
which buttons to push because they know your weaknesses. This can be a hindrance
when trying to solve a dispute. There is no way for me to separate out
completely into categories the affect bpd has on family, friends, lovers, and
self…. They are all intertwined. I was at a point where my “self” had all
but disappeared; I was living as a shadow of someone else, someone whose
intention was to get me away from my family. Allied with this person, I became
very defensive to any and all accusations about anything! No one was going to
talk any sense into me. I wasn’t myself. I was covering up for someone who was
hurting me, and in turn hurting the people who cared the most for me. Eventually
something had to give.
Sadly, there are a lot of people who honestly believe that you only have a
disorder like this if you THINK you do. There is also the same common
misconception about depression, which is caused by a chemical imbalance in the
brain. Granted, this imbalance can be externally caused by something happening
in one’s life, but it cannot be merely forgotten about and magically
Another unfortunate misconception is that once cannot
overcome personality problems, that one will always be a horrible manipulative
troubled soul. It is difficult to overcome labels.
Does anyone actually believe that I wanted to have the borderline
personality disorder? I can honestly say that I was relieved that a diagnosis
was finally reached, because diagnosis led to method of treatment, which is what
I needed. But honestly, denial of a problem doesn’t make it cease to exist.
I had identity problems already in my early teens, and self-injury
incidents merely a few years later. At 27 years old I finally found some peace
in knowing that I had a real problem, it has been studied, documented, and
Friendships for me have always been difficult. I am a very emotional
person, I am very intense. I realize this is a problem in many cases, and tends
to “scare” people away. Luckily though I’ve found people with similar
mindsets in my life who share this intensity “problem”, and who don’t mind
talking seriously when situations warrant. Other people, acquaintances, I must
keep at arm’s length. I have come to realize that as I have gotten well, I do
not trust people as much, I'm very well aware of the possibility that a person
could "push my buttons" or hurt me emotionally. It takes a while
before I can trust someone and let them into my life, the screening process is
over-protective, but occasionally I still let someone into my life who hurts me.
I guess a lot of people have to go through life accepting that people will hurt
them and it is just the way it is, they believe that they are not in control of
this aspect of their lives and if a personality disorder has been diagnosed, it
is a shameful thing that is not to ever be revealed. Society is beginning to
accept depression… but a personality disorder is a different story. This is
not something you want printed on your t-shirt.
Relationships have been tricky
for me. I fit the “black and white” description of bpd very well for many
years. I tend to think hot/cold most of the time. For the longest time I
honestly didn’t even know what qualities I liked in a man – it seemed to
change depending on the day. Similar to my career analysis, I had a lot of
contradicting criteria. For example, responsible but “wild” at the same
time. Financially secure and yet a bit on the irresponsible side…spur of the
moment… unpredictable… lots of contradictions. I couldn't see any gray area,
someone was either wonderful or terrible.
The bpd somehow seems to
attract people with passive aggressive or narcissistic qualities, which obvious
causes a huge problem for me. It has taken a lot of "brain retraining"
to avoid people like this. People ask about ex-husband - read the lyrics to PJ's
And speaking of contradictions, my own personality is still full of them.
The bad part is the confusion it creates for myself and those close to me, the
good part is that I am able to enjoy a multitude of different activities
as my personality is complex enough to empathize with nearly anyone. I am
an intelligent person, high IQ, though I rarely seem to find victory in an
achievement or accomplishment. The joy and peace seem more or less in the
journey than in the end. This is something I’ve learned from my cats. Enjoy
today. Enjoy the simple things in life. Cats are complex and unpredictable too,
and they sure do seem to have a good time.
am pretty good at giving advice, however taking my own is a whole different
thing. The doc often asks why I feel that way. I think it's because deep down I
feel I'm 'too far gone' for my own advice to apply to. He disagrees.
That's the word Susanna Kaysen used in Girl, Interrupted. Ambivalence. Seems to
have fit me to a T:
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
Main Entry: am·biv·a·lence
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary
1 : simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as
attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action
2 a : continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its
opposite) b : uncertainty as to which approach to follow
- am·biv·a·lent /-l&nt/ adjective
- am·biv·a·lent·ly adverb
After reading the definition, I realize why I am so
frustrated sometimes. It's kind of a constant, low level struggle, every
feeling, every decision has an opposite side to it. more later. :)