Understanding your Borderline Personality Disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder is one of those scary disorders where you don’t know how to react to the diagnosis, but in reality, it’s a very common and very treatable disorder. For BPD, there isn’t a singular cause for it, but there are many causes which have been speculated to be genetic predisposition, developmental or psychological problems, neglect or abandonment, childhood trauma. The causes are not fully understood by medical professionals just yet, as it’s only a relatively recent find.
Dealing with it and trying to understand why you’re acting a certain way, or why you think a certain way, is a very stressful thing. It’s confusing and unpredictable and can make you feel like you’re genuinely crazy; but you aren’t.
You are not crazy.
BPD is highly distressing and confronting to deal with, for the person diagnosed and also for family, friends, significant others and carers. It’s not easy to be someone with BPD and it isn’t easy to deal with someone who has BPD, which is why all parties need to do everything in their power to understand BPD and break the stigma around it. Having BPD is not deliberate and it’s a very complex personality disorder, so complex that it is often misunderstood and misjudged, resulting in a heavy stigma surrounding the disorder.
For some people, BPD may not be the correct diagnosis. Bipolar Affective Disorder has a lot of similar traits to BPD. But that is not to say that you have BPAD, as BPAD is harder to diagnose, especially when BPAD2 and BPD are fairly similar in symptoms. If you believe your diagnosis is incorrect, seek professional help and ask questions. It can take multiple times to be diagnosed correctly.
For Borderline Personality Disorder, females are more likely out of the two sex’s to develope BDP; with that, approximately 60% of BPD sufferers, are female. Females are also 3x more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than a male is. Currently, between 2% and 5% of Australians suffer with BPD at some stage in their life, and for those who do, it’s more common for it to develop in their teens or early adulthood. Chances are, if you think you’re alone, you definitely aren’t.
Luckily for people with BPD, it is treatable, but you have to want to get better. With diagnosis and consistent treatment, you can “cure” your BPD. It can be treated as for some people, it’s chronic or recurring, and for some people, it’s simply short term. You just need to be willing to get better. Willing to learn to control your triggers and attacks. It may take some time as BPD isn’t fully understood just yet, as it was only discovered in America in the 80’s. There are still developing treatments and of course, current treatments.
For sufferers of BPD, the most common thing is emotional dysregulation. It’s very distressing, not being able to control your emotions and for someone with BPD, that’s the main thing with the disorder; as BPD is also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Straight to the point, right? Dealing with the rapidly changing emotions is an incredibly difficult task, for everyone involved… That’s why it’s so important for you to have a plan of action. What will you do if you start to feel yourself getting angry? Or what about having a panic attack? Or what if you start to experience suicidal thoughts? What will happen if you actually do something to harm yourself? Or to someone else? You and the people who are around you/care for you, all need a plan of action. This is something you should sit down and talk about, with whoever you are closest to.
BPD is a self destructive disorder. You will probably find yourself pushing everyone you care about away, for fear of not being enough or for fear of them thinking you’re a bad person. In times like these, it’s a good idea to ground yourself. Remember that you’re more than you think you are, and having BPD does not make you a bad person. The things you do to yourself and the things you do to others may cause distress, but this behaviour stems from the symptoms of BPD, not from having a bad personality, and definitely not from being a bad person.
For someone with BPD, romantic relationships can be one of the most difficult aspects of your life. You’ll push and pull at them, and they won’t understand. They won’t understand until you tell them how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Communication is so, so important in any relationship, and it’s even more so important if one party has BPD. The mood fluctuations, the lack of impulse control, the self-sabotaging acts and the low self-esteem are all part of having BPD, and for your partner, it can be a difficult thing to deal with, but you need to remind them that you’re struggling, and that they need to try and understand. With BPD, it’s a common thing to be a tad manipulative, and I know you know when you’re being like that, because I definitely do… so ground yourself. Ask yourself why you’re doing it and if you want to deal with the guilt that comes afterwards. You probably don’t, because it makes you feel 100x worse.
If you’re interacting with someone who has BPD, it’s important to be mindful of their triggers, even if you don’t know what they are. For someone with BPD, it could be something as insignificant as sneezing, or dropping something on the floor… but before you call them out for being crazy, just remember that they can’t control their emotions and that they’re trying. You don’t need to treat them like delicate flowers, but being mindful can definitely help. If they ask you to leave the room, leave the room and then come back once things have calmed down and talk about what was wrong, with a clear mind.
For BPD, you don’t need to have all the symptoms, but the most common symptoms are…
Emotional surges: People living with BPD are highly sensitive, and can often experience sudden and intense emotional responses. Once someone with BPD is triggered, it can be hours or even days before they return to an emotionally stable state.
Fear of abandonment: People with BPD can sometimes feel feelings of extreme anxiety, fear or rage at the mere thought of someone leaving them for any reason. There doesn’t need to be a specific cause, but they may make frantic efforts to prevent the abandonment that they think is approaching; that is where the manipulation comes in, they may threaten to harm themselves or force themselves into an episode. They may beg or start unnecessary fights.
Identity disturbance: Some people who deal with BPD may not feel like they know who they are, they may, out of the blue, want to change their career, values, morals, friends or relationships. Some may take drastic efforts to change their live as they may not know who they are.
Impulsiveness: Behaving impulsively is a massive indicator of BPD, as it’s considered a coping mechanism for them to deal with their thoughts and emotions. Some examples of impulsiveness are binge eating, gambling, shopping, recklessness, drinking and drug use.
Suicidal or self-harming behaviour: Some, not all, sufferers of BPD have been known to have suicidal thoughts or tendencies, and some even self-harm. The suicidal thoughts are most commonly due to their intense emotions. Self-harm is not always paired with BPD.
Inappropriate anger: This is something I majorly struggle with, to the point where I had to be medicated with a heavy drug to control my anger. Anger is a normal human emotion, but for some people with BPD, it can often turn into a blackout rage where anger is the only thing they feel. Not everyone with BPD is aggressive, but due to the lack of emotion control, it’s a common feeling.
Dissociation: The feeling of not being inside your own body, is something I also experience every day. Dissociation is a way to deal with stress, and for some situations, it’s a helpful coping mechanism, but for some people, dissociating can be dangerous as it’s almost like they’re sleep walking, but they’re awake.
Obviously, there are more symptoms, but those are the most common ones that you should look out for, if you don’t have BPD or if you do. BPD is hard to deal with, but always remember, communication and time are two key factors that you need to remember.
Communicate with each other and allow each other time to regain their thoughts.
If you’re someone who has a relationship with a borderline, it’s important to understand that their mind is going at a million miles per hour, and it’s hard most of the time to comprehend that. Understanding the outbursts and moods is important, that’s why it’s always recommended to sit down and have an open and long talk about what you can do to help and how you can understand BPD a bit better.
Let the person know you are there for them and there to listen to what they say. It’s really important to acknowledge what they are feeling or saying and never, ever place blame or use accusatory statements. You can always start with explaining why you’re concerned.
Remember to always seek help from a professional and if your loved one is showing signs of self harm or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to contact your emergency services.
beyondblue — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
Black Dog Institute — online help
Lifeline — call 13 11 14 or chat online
Suicide Call Back Service — call 1300 659 467
AU Emergency Services — 000 or 112 (on a digital mobile)
Mental Health Care Plans are available from your doctor/gp – don’t hesitate to reach out and have one made up for you.