Avoiding Borderline Personality Disorder

We tend to view our personality as a sense of self, who we are, and all the nice things The_Borderline_Personality_Disorder_Imagewe like to perceive ourselves to be. It can feel frightening if something suggests that our core being is in some way defective.

Last week in therapy, we were exploring why I avoid living life in the present moment. A few days before, I had come across a post about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and quickly realised these symptoms play a major role in the origin of my avoidance.

The complex nature of BPD is not very pleasant and portrayed a person I tried so hard not to be. I didn’t see the behaviours as a set of symptoms, but more a problematic part of a personality I would go to great lengths to hide. I wanted people to see a ‘balanced’, fun, and easy-going person. In reality, a certain side of my character appeared to point to the opposite.

Like every other mental health issue, BPD has various degrees of severity. The symptoms I’ve been considering lately mould around Unstable Intense Emotions and Unstable Personal Relationships.

People living with BPD can experience the world in ‘all-great’ or ‘all-terrible’ ‘black and white’ thinking and battle with an inherent Fear of Abandonment or rejection. Emotions and opinions can swing from one extreme to the other.

In private, the fluctuating emotions could change like my home city of Glasgow weather, where it can rain for 170 miserable days of the year. You might experience all seasons in one day and that was very much how the mood swings played out.

In public, the portrayal was something very different. Making friends has always been easy. Nevertheless, beneath the warm and friendly persona is a history of Unstable Relationships. Things would get off to a quick bosom-buddies start, only to be up against a sudden change of heart. There were times when altered opinion felt more like demonic possession.

If I’m brutally honest… ouch… relationships, particularly long-term intimate ones, needed to pass certain subtle tests. They might not necessarily recognise them as tests, but the potential results could either soothe or trigger emotional insecurities that trickled between us.

Through that distorted process, a judgement could then be made about whether the person cared enough… did enough… loved enough… made me feel secure enough. My warped sense of reality would always conclude it was safer to leave before the erratic emotions had a chance to spiral into a full-blown BPD meltdown.

Admitting our flaws is never easy. Each therapy session seems to be more powerful than the last. My head was swimming while the Therapist was saying something about my BPD possibly originating from early developmental problems… and if we continue to develop throughout our lives… it makes sense that we can relearn or redevelop the skills necessary for turning around a set of symptoms

I need to believe… change

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3 thoughts on “Avoiding Borderline Personality Disorder

  1. Gel

    Hi Cat
    You wrote: “if we continue to develop throughout our lives… it makes sense that we can relearn or redevelop the skills necessary for turning around a set of symptoms…”

    I agree that developmental work can be engaged in at any point in life. My agreeing with this is not based on simple hope. It’s what I learned when I studied developmental movement in a University graduate program. Any developmental process that was interrupted or incomplete can be taken up later no matter what your age.

    Even the stuff that was normally suppose to happen when we were babies/children. But it is not easy. Because unlike children, we adults have had years of creating other patterns. Those patterns sometimes get in the way of developing better patterns and ‘brain wiring’. There is a lot of work and research going on right now about neuro plasticity and rewiring and developmental work. I keep noticing that the key is repetition of the new or more functional patterns. Astounding amounts of repetition. Usually needing to engage the whole body somehow…and behaviors…..In the mind we get insights and understandings that can come in moments. But usually those moments of clarity do not change the whole being. It’s hard to accept that when it comes down to actual change….that happens through repetition of behaviors (movements) that are simple.

    About relationships…..being a person who has survived by isolating means that that pattern is to be honored as part of the basis of my being. I can take tiny steps towards including more connections with other people while still relying on that base of self caring solitude. Trust takes time to develop it doesn’t usually come through some one saying “trust Me”, nor does it come through telling myself that I should trust. It has to come slowly through small experiences that prove trustworthiness.

    There is also something important about building a strong connection within myself, of ME taking good care of myself – that is the basis of being ABLE to trust others. It’s not all about whether or not they are trust worthy.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Gel… Yes, I too believe we can continue the developmental process’ at any age and it’s right what you say about repetition bringing about change. Those moments of clarity/awareness are like planting a seed and the repetition is the cultivation.

      Trust does take time to develop and I’d also agree that this ability comes from within

      Thank you for commenting, Gel

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  2. Glynis Jolly

    I wondered for a time whether I had BPD. It seemed that so much of any day was such a big deal either positively or negatively. As it turned out, to my relief, I have GAD instead. Knowing in itself helped my daily life settle down a bit. The meds, of course, help too.

    Does living in a climate where the clouds are more prevalent play havoc with your symptoms? Cat? I know that since I’ve moved to an area of the US where there is more rain (therefore more clouds), I’ve had to up my meds slightly.

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