Myth-Busting

myth

 

So many people have misconceptions about those with personality disorders, particularly those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). My hope is that eventually there will be deeper understanding of those of us who are just more emotional and sensitive, and find this world a little tougher than others. Here are just some of the common misconceptions…

 

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BPD is a character flaw:

Simply not true. We are no more flawed than any other person out there. What some will see as ‘flaws’ in us, others will perceive as strengths. Take sensitivity for instance – yes, we may be more easily hurt by things that wouldn’t have any effect on others… we might take things personally, and get overwhelmed by the world. But sensitivity is actually a wonderful trait to have – it means we’re more in-tune with the world and those around us. We can read the emotions of others and know all about tact. We’re less likely to hurt the feelings of others, and actually our sensitivity probably makes us more approachable and kind, loving people, as we are in sync with our own emotions.

BPD is just a label. While labels can be good, to explain certain behaviours, they can also be very damaging. Everybody has their negative points… even those without a ‘personality disorder’ … everybody, even those without a ‘personality disorder’, has aspects of their personality that are less than desirable – it’s quite possible to make up a label for everyone else too. Anyone who judges us for having BPD, and mocks us because of it, may well have NPD… or they may simply be ‘an arsehole’! That would explain their judgemental behaviour. Nobody is perfect in this world. Nobody.

BPD is only a part of who we are, not the sum total of us. It explains particular personality traits. But not our individual character. Our character is actually our beliefs, our values, our morals, integrity, loyalty and other things like kindness and honesty. It’s who we are as people. And no personality disorder can dirty our true character… not internally at least! Others might see behaviours resulting from our BPD and decide that’s who we are, but that’s their flaw – judging what they don’t know. It doesn’t change our truth.

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BPD only affects women:

False. It affects people of any age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, size and shape. There’s no one ‘mould’ for BPD. It can affect anyone at any point in life. More women appear to show the signs of it, but men do experience it, and perhaps more than is currently known – but because of the way men have been brought up to hide their emotions and not talk about things, they’re less likely to seek help. I hope this will one day change, so that it eases the burden on those suffering in silence.

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People with BPD and who self-harm, are manipulative and attention-seeking:

No. People with BPD and those who self-harm are far from manipulative, and attention-seeking. Most people who self-harm do not want others to know. They do it secretly, and are deeply ashamed of the fact they do it. BPD sufferers do not do anything for attention. That would be Histrionic Personality Disorder. People often confuse the different disorders and think that we’re all ‘disordered’ the same. Not true. People with BPD don’t do things for attention. They do them because they are overwhelmed by their emotions, they don’t know how to appropriately cope with them, and they are terrified of being abandoned and not being ‘good enough’. If you think someone with BPD is manipulative, ask yourself why you think that…. is it because of their self-harming behaviours? Is it because they plead with you not to leave them? Is it because they talk about killing themselves? Is it because they don’t cope well with stress and emotions, so you’re worried about saying or doing the wrong thing?

All of these are from a lack of understanding of BPD. Self-harm and suicidal thoughts are common among those with this disorder. A lot of people don’t understand suicidal people – they view them as ‘weak’, ‘cowards’ and ‘wastes of space’… if only they knew the turmoil inside the mind of someone on the edge, and what they have to live with every single second of the day and night… the battles they’ve fought. The strength they’ve shown, to have even survived this long. And to say that someone in absolute psychological torture every day, is a ‘coward’ for wanting it to all stop… I can’t even find the words for scum who believe that. People judge suicidal people, and say they should just ‘suck it up’ and get on with things, like they do – that we all have issues, we all have stress, and suicide is a selfish, immature way of dealing with something that everyone else deals with too. Bullshit. The people saying that ‘everyone has issues’, don’t have the first clue about true issues. Anyone who’s experienced mental health problems, trauma, an endless onslaught of negative life experiences and emotional pain, would know what real issues are. We do not all deal with it the same. And resorting to self-harm or suicidal behaviours, does not make us worse than ‘normal’ people. We are dealing with much higher levels of emotion and trauma than the dare-I-say-it, ‘normal’ people. So they have no right to judge.

As for self-harm, like I said, it’s secretive. It’s one of those things people don’t understand – how can someone cut into their own skin in response to something said to them? They don’t understand how anyone could think like that. It seems illogical and irrational. It seems crazy. It scares them. And when people don’t understand something, and it frightens them, they very often create ill-informed opinions on those who self-harm. They assume it’s attention-seeking. They assume the person is trying to hurt THEM. To emotionally blackmail them. What they need to know is that when we self-harm, it’s not about them. Well, it might be caused by a fallout with them or something triggered by them. But it’s about letting the emotions out. It’s punishing ourselves. It’s about expressing how we feel… to ourselves – to validate ourselves, and say ‘yes, this pain is real, I feel this, and I can see it’.

Emotional pain is so difficult to bear at the levels BPD sufferers experience it. For us, physical pain is less painful than what we feel inside. We then also have a wound we can tend to and heal. Whereas with emotional pain you can’t see it, or nurse it better. Self-harm is just that – about the ‘self’. No it’s not selfish. But it is emotion aimed at the self. It’s not about you. It’s not a manipulation of you. And if you think it is, then hopefully you’ll read my upcoming posts on self-harm, as I hope to inform more people about the reality of what a BPD sufferer goes through, and why they end up self-harming.

Bottom line is, people fear what they don’t know. Until they experience the level of distress that we do, they couldn’t imagine the relief that would be found in self-harming behaviour. It’s a coping method. It is not healthy. It is not something I would ever recommend to anyone. In fact if you’re ever thinking about starting….don’t do it. You will regret it. And you won’t be able to stop. You will wish you never started. It’s like smoking or drinking… people do those two things to cope with stress too. Self-harm is no different. Yet people see it as manipulative. You don’t see someone smoking and think – they’re trying to make me feel guilty! So why with self-harm? It’s just the same…. it’s damage to oneself. I hope to destroy these misconceptions of self-harm in future posts.

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People with BPD are dangerous and to be avoided:

Absolutely not! The only people we’re a danger to generally, are ourselves. We’re more likely to harm ourselves than any other being on the planet. I genuinely couldn’t hurt a fly… or an ant or anything! We want to be accepted. We don’t want to be abandoned. We long to fit in, so the last thing we’ll do is hurt another. A lot of us actually turn our emotions inwards, to avoid hurting others. People with BPD struggle with anger, and a lot of that anger does get turned inwards. We don’t like to display anger. We’re scared of it. We think it’s a bad emotion to have. So we bottle it up, and eventually it explodes, either through shouting and throwing things around, or by self-harming. I think it’s very rare that someone with BPD would explode and strike out at another. Yet because BPD is a Cluster B personality, some uneducated people lump us in with the narcissists and sociopaths. So we get a bad reputation because of people who actually enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on other people. We absolutely do not enjoy it, in fact we go out of our way to avoid conflict if possible.

We may be hard to be with. Our outbursts of emotion, and our varying opinions of ourselves and of other people, may cause difficulties in relationships of any kind.. but we’re worthy of love. We can be some of the most sensitive, thoughtful, loving, generous people in the whole world. But we need someone with patience, commitment and understanding in order to feel comfortable, and safe, knowing that you’re not going anywhere.

We’re not dangerous. We’re misunderstood. We’re not to be avoided. That only deepens the problem and worsens the stigma. We fear being abandoned, rejected and never fitting in. If everyone runs away from us, turns their back on us and misunderstands us, we will never heal. We will continue to believe we are unlovable, unworthy and a burden to the world. And so many more beautiful spirits will be lost from this world, because of a society that doesn’t care to understand the complex, yet loving, sensitive nature of a person with BPD.

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BPD can’t be treated:

It can be treated. Either with the assistance of anti-depressants/anti-psychotics, or any type of therapy. The common treatment for BPD is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). I will talk about this in more detail in the future. But this consists of individual therapy sessions, and group sessions, where people are taught about emotions, and ways of coping with the bad and increasing the good. People are given homework and have to practise their skills, and eventually the hope is that new coping strategies will be learnt and self-harm will decrease, giving the patient a better quality of life. I completed two courses of DBT, and it really did help me. I never stopped self-harming entirely but I did go longer stretches without it. Eventually you have to move on away from the therapy and try and put your skills into practise in life. And hopefully most people cope quite well with it. I myself have gone backwards and if I’m honest I feel I need help with it again, but at the same time I don’t want to appear to be going backwards. So for now I’m just brushing up on the skills from my DBT folder.

Some aspects of BPD will remain, but some can improve, like the self-harming, and paranoid thoughts that come with BPD. A better quality of life can be attained, and after all, that’s all we really want. We don’t need perfection, just a better life than we’ve so far known.

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BPD is caused by bad parenting, or abuse as a child:

Not true. Sure, in some cases it may well be. But you can’t generalise. Some people are just more predisposed to developing a personality disorder. Environmental factors play their part. In my case I would guess mine stemmed from my school days when I was socially excluded by my peers. I spent most breaks and lunchtimes stood against the wall by myself, or begging if I could tag along with people, just to not seem so pathetic and lonely. Can you imagine the level of humiliation and isolation I would’ve felt, for all those school years? What effect that would have on a developing human being? I was bullied at school too… all these things build up your views of the world and the people in it, as well as your core beliefs about yourself.

I had a wonderful upbringing. Away from school I had a great childhood, I feel blessed. I was well behaved, because I was simply told right from wrong in a way I could understand and learn. I don’t think I was ever even shouted at! I was born as a more sensitive, reserved and emotional person, and unfortunately that made me a target for all the noisy, naughty, popular boys and girls at school, who couldn’t accept someone being different from the rest of them…. and I attribute my mental health problems, including my BPD, to what I went through at school. I can’t exactly ‘blame’ them all, but it does go to show that your early childhood experiences will shape and form your personality, your beliefs and the state of your future. We need to teach children to be more tolerant, inclusive and kind.

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People with BPD are demanding:

It may seem that way, but really what people with BPD need is consistency, stability and a sense of security. If any of these feel threatened, things become unpredictable, and that can throw people like us off-kilter. We then seek reassurance, either through apparent ‘neediness’, or by pushing people away, in the hope they’ll pull us back closer so that we know we’re wanted. I understand to the ‘normal’ people it could become draining having to reassure us all the time, but if there’s that trust there, that stability and consistency that in itself would reassure us you’re not going anywhere and things are good between us. My insecurities, fears and low self-esteem paired with someone’s shady behaviour, once made me feel like I was really ‘needy’ for asking for the reassurance I needed. But I realise now, anytime I’ve asked anything of people, it was asking for basic human respect, and things that even the ‘normal’ people would expect from others. My fear was that it was my BPD making me seem needy and demanding, but I actually wasn’t either of those. In fact when I think back to a relationship sense, I’m far less demanding than a lot of ‘normal’ women out there. I’m quite laid back in that sense. But I don’t expect anything from anyone other than respect and reliability. Basically if you’re going to be involved with someone with BPD you just need to not be an arsehole, and be able to reflect on your own behaviour too, to see what would make things work more smoothly between you – and be prepared to compromise. Otherwise we’re pretty easy-going… we just sometimes need to know we’re appreciated.

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People with BPD have no empathy:

I can’t believe I even read someone saying this. They must have again confused the Cluster B Personalities, because Narcissistic Personality Disorder has ‘lack of empathy’ as one of its conditions. But I think it’s almost entirely the opposite with BPD. BPD sufferers are very often some of the most sensitive souls on the planet, and are able to put themselves in the shoes of others, and feel their feelings too. I had an encounter with a narcissist, and whilst researching about it, I started to question if I was the narcissist… maybe I was the problem – but alongside the fact I even considered it, which indicated I’m not, I thought the one thing I DO have is empathy, in bucket loads! Any minor traits I share with NPD are a part of my BPD – but the two disorders are very different. With NPD people tend to be unable to place themselves in the shoes of others, to think of others’ feelings, and are all about themselves. With BPD people DO think of others, sometimes at the detriment to themselves. They know what would upset them, so wouldn’t inflict it on others. And many take out their emotions on themselves to prevent upsetting others – a narcissist would sooner upset others than hurt themselves. BPD sufferers do have empathy, and that’s what stands them apart from the other Cluster B Personality Disorders.

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People with BPD are immature:

False. Some of them had to grow up a lot quicker than they should’ve done, and had to face things no child should have to. True, we don’t cope in the most grown-up way, especially if we self-harm – people would view that as ‘immature’. Our coping strategies aren’t the healthiest. But people with BPD very often are mature, sensible, highly intelligent individuals, and the only problem they have is with controlling and dealing with their emotions. In every other way they are mature… they’ve just got stuck in an old pattern with a less than ideal coping method.

 

Insanity

 

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People with BPD are crazy:

Not true. A lot of us are actually very ‘together’ in our minds. We live in reality. And sometimes reality is a little too real for us, and we get overwhelmed. We feel everything more intensely, the good and the bad. We overthink. We worry. We get hurt easily. But in our minds, we’re perfectly sane. Even if we self-harm, we know it’s not the right way to deal with things, but it works for us in the short-term. Some people think you have to be insane to cut yourself… but if I was ‘insane’ I wouldn’t feel the need to cut myself, as I’d be so far removed from reality that life wouldn’t hurt half as much as it does.

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People with BPD are ‘toxic’:

Define ‘toxic’. Toxic is subjective. What’s toxic to one person won’t be to another. It really depends on who YOU are too. Whilst there are individuals who are toxic, for example highly narcissistic people or sociopaths – people who deliberately hurt and upset people and show no remorse, project their flaws onto other people, and smear them to others… when it comes to mental health issues people are not toxic. Bonds can be toxic. Friendships can be toxic. But people generally aren’t. I had a friend who thought I was ‘toxic’ – they didn’t know about my BPD. This was a misconception, by far. It was unjustified and out of the blue. I subsequently discovered that they were one of the toxic people themselves, and that’s why I got stuck with the label instead. But really what it came down to was our friendship didn’t work…. I had my BPD and all that brought with it. And she had her own issues that she wasn’t prepared to admit and sort out. So she called me toxic as it was easier.

In her mind I was obviously so difficult and sensitive, and ‘negative’ because of my depression, that instead of accepting the problem, facing responsibility and fixing it, she decided I was toxic. But no other friend I’ve ever had has thought that of me at all. People with BPD are not toxic, unless you decide they are. Very often it’s laziness that ends up giving BPD sufferers the toxic label. People who don’t want to look in the mirror and face the hurt they’ve caused us. It takes effort to reassure and fix things. And effort = toxicity…… to a toxic person. Most people in the world will give us a fair chance, as they know we’re worth the effort.

Admittedly I have been known to complain about things a bit, and get depressed and be all doom and gloom, and some people may think that’s toxic. But I try to stay away from people when I feel like that. Toxic implies someone poisoning your spirit, wearing you down… but please be aware that BPD sufferers do not act with the intention of hurting or burdening anyone. We’re doing the best we can, and appreciate those who don’t give up on us, and who don’t see our difficulties as ‘toxic’.

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BPD is just an excuse:

I would never use my BPD to excuse my behaviour. I would ask that others take it into consideration in order to forgive me and give me another chance. But I’ve said and done things before that I’ve felt incredibly ashamed of, and I’ll readily apologise for that. No excuses. BPD isn’t a label to be used to excuse ourselves… it’s to explain ourselves. It explains the difficulties we have interpersonally. It explains our outbursts of anger. It explains the struggles with emotions, and perhaps the reasons we might be harming ourselves. It explains some of our fears and anxieties and why we find it hard to trust people. And perhaps why we have difficulties in work too. It’s not an excuse to get out of doing things, or to dodge responsibility.

People who have BPD sometimes do things wrong, just like anyone else, and very often we feel guilty and ashamed. We’re not too proud to apologise, and fully accept our faults… we’re painfully aware of them.

If you ever hear someone with BPD apologising for something and mentioning their BPD, or ‘you know what I’m like…’ – they’re not using it as an excuse. They’re genuinely apologising, and hoping you will take it into consideration, as sometimes we do make mistakes, and act on impulse, and we want nothing more than to make it up to you and make things better.

Trust me though, BPD is not an excuse. We didn’t choose to be like this. Nobody would ever choose to feel like we do… to do the things we do. Who in their right mind would want to feel out of control of their mind and body? Who would want to harm themselves just to get through life? Who would want to feel so empty and lonely? Who would want rollercoaster relationships with people? We didn’t choose it. Yes there are things we can do to help it, but there’s no miracle overnight cure for it. We need to be treated like normal human beings, yet sometimes people need to make allowances for us.

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All people with BPD are the same:

Not in the slightest! Just like not all people with depression are the same. BPD is about how we cope with our emotions and relationships. It is not who we are. You might have someone with BPD who is a controlling bossy-boots, generally grumpy, ‘neat-freak’ who hates animals and babies, and loves working… you could have another who’s loud and outgoing by appearances, is anxious, loves animals and babies, is wise, but has no concept of loyalty. And another may be quiet and shy, intelligent, down-to-earth, paranoid but fiercely loyal to those she loves. Every single BPD sufferer is different, just as any individual on this planet is different. You can never generalise with personality disorders… well, you can, but it might cost you a really special person who could bring a lot to your life. People need to stop generalising and start tolerating differences. We all have something to offer in this world, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

Life On The Borderline.

Borderline

Life On The Borderline

 

There are different sorts of ‘personality disorders’ and most people will display a few of the traits in ‘normal everyday life’. It is when those traits and behaviours impact severely, and continuously on your quality of life you are more likely to be labelled with a personality disorder. Personally I don’t like the term. It implies there’s something ‘wrong’ with you… something bad about your personality… that in some way you’re not as good as the ‘normal’ people. There’s a lot of stigma around personality disorders, and doctors don’t generally like to diagnose you with one. I’ve not been diagnosed as such, but it’s been implied that I do share some of the traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). And I’d like to talk more about this….

What Are Personality Disorders?

 

Personality Disorders are split up into three groups:

Cluster A:
The ‘Odd’ And ‘Eccentric’ –

Paranoid Personality Disorder – Distrust and suspiciousness of others

Schizoid Personality Disorder – Lack of emotional expression; detachment from society

Schizotypal Personality Disorder – Social awkwardness; hallucinations/delusions

Cluster B:
The ‘Dramatic’, ‘Erratic’, ‘Disturbing’ –

Anti-social Personality Disorder – Intimidate/bully without remorse; disregard for normal social behaviour

Borderline Personality Disorder – Unstable emotions; tendency to self-harm; trouble maintaining healthy relationships

Histrionic Personality Disorder – Hate being ignored; require attention; sometimes lie to get attention

Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Inflated ego; sense of entitlement; lack of empathy

Cluster C:
The ‘Anxious’ and ‘Fearful’

Avoidant Personality Disorder – Shy; Inhibited; feel inadequate; desire close relationships but lack confidence; sensitive to rejection

Dependent Personality Disorder – Inability to be independent; appear ‘clingy’; can’t make own decisions; feel uncomfortable alone; jump from one relationship to another

Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder – Need control; need things to be in order; perfectionism

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When people are diagnosed with, or are believed to have a particular personality disorder, they very often display aspects of another personality disorder, sometimes in a different cluster. I myself can relate to the following… Borderline, Avoidant, and just a couple of traits from both Dependent and Paranoid. When you look at all the traits that make up a single personality disorder, and you think that not everyone experiences or displays all of those, throw in a few from another cluster, and another… there’s no end to the variety of personalities out there.

 

Nobody can ever generalise and label someone as ‘Borderline’, therefore they’re XYZ.

 

Every single person with Borderline Personality Disorder is different. The same as Narcissistic Personality Disorder – some of them will be quite decent people who just have a fragile sense of self, and lack empathy. And then you’ll have some who are quite evil in the eyes of others. They’re deliberately hurtful, they lie, cheat, hit people, they bully – but that’s down to variables like upbringing, and life experiences, as well as what other personality disorders they tap into, such as Anti-social Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a more outdated term nowadays… It used to be believed that those with BPD were ‘on the border’ between ‘neurosis’ and ‘psychosis’. People with neurosis are more planted in reality. They know what’s real and what’s not. It’s more your depression and anxiety parts of mental illness. Psychosis relates more to things like schizophrenia, where people might hear voices, and have delusions, and not be able to determine what is real and true.. such people struggle to exist in society. BPD was believed to be somewhere down the middle – people are mainly rooted in reality, but don’t always have a consistent view of themselves or of other people over time… they struggle with who they are, and their opinions of other people can switch to the extreme suddenly. Borderline was really a place to put people who didn’t fit into any other known category. They were not ‘psychotic’, they were not simply ‘neurotic’, so the border was created. Professionals nowadays are trying to steer clear of the term Borderline Personality Disorder… and prefer to use the term ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder’ (EUPD). This in my mind does nothing to improve understanding of the disorder, nor does it sound much better a diagnosis! Yes, it explains that the disorder is about unstable emotions – but think of how many times people have thrown an insult out there – “She’s emotionally unstable!!” It’s a very real problem, BPD/EUPD, whichever you choose to call it, which needs to be taken seriously, and while it’s noble of them to change the name, to recognise that it’s a mental health issue all of its own, and not just some middle ground between two extremes, personally I’m not too sure they’ve found the right term for it yet.

BPD is a very difficult condition to live with. BPD sufferers experience intense emotions and moods, which they struggle to cope with. From my own experience I can tell you I never used to know what emotion I was feeling. It felt like a jumbled mess…. a tangled ball of wool. I knew I was feeling something I just didn’t know what it was. I only learnt how to identify individual emotions through doing therapy. Before that I found them simply overwhelming.

When that happens the person with BPD doesn’t know how to cope, and may turn to drink, drugs, or very often self-harm as a way to manage their emotions and continue living. I shall be talking more in depth on self-harm in a future post. BPD severely affects quality of life for individuals.

They tend to be impulsive, and anger is a particularly prominent emotion in BPD. It’s one that people tend to struggle with the most, and they can often have outbursts, or what I refer to as ‘episodes’ – where everything feels out of control, and you’re slamming doors, shouting, punching walls, crying on the floor, all the while it feeling like a bad dream. It’s a very scary, surreal feeling and one of the aspects of my BPD I fear the most, followed closely by the self-harm. The trouble I’ve had is when I’ve experienced an ‘episode’, I feel so embarrassed and ashamed that it very often leads to me self-harming. This is why it’s important to learn techniques to identify your early warning signs, and nip it in the bud before it becomes a full-blown ‘episode’. It is very hard though as things can escalate incredibly quickly when you have BPD.

Very often people with BPD see things in ‘black and white’ – things and people are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This ‘all or nothing’ way of thinking can lead to difficulties in relationships, as well as how they view themselves. They can be living life, applying the label ‘good’ to themselves, and the second they make one mistake, they’re a ‘bad person’… they’re useless, stupid and a failure. People with BPD struggle with their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

Trouble in interpersonal relationships arises when the BPD sufferer interprets something, perhaps in a way it wasn’t meant. Because of their ‘black and white’ thinking, if someone they care about greatly, does something careless and hurtful, the BPD person may conclude the other person doesn’t care about them or even hates them, when it’s not the case. This leads to a surge of emotions such as sorrow, anger, confusion, fear, despair, and they feel the need to do something in order to deal with the emotions. They may then say something to the other person, or take action such as coming off of social media, or withdrawing socially, as a way of preserving their well-being and handling their emotions. The person they ‘fell out with’ may respond with anger, or may just keep a distance, and as a result of either, the BPD sufferer feels alone and misunderstood. They may then self-harm, which only leads to a greater feeling of isolation.

Misunderstood

 

What someone with BPD needs, is to know that sometimes people will have disagreements, and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean they’re not loved or cared for. The person with BPD is still a good person. And the person who hurt them is still a good person, and the bond between them doesn’t have to break. They need reassurance and someone who will understand and stick by them no matter what. Unfortunately this isn’t usually the case. A lot of people do not understand the complexities of BPD and walk away, with the wrong impression of the sufferer. I hope to share my own stories on this soon.

Another common behaviour of the BPD person, is ‘frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment’. They know they’re hard to love. They know they push people away sometimes. And they don’t want to be abandoned. But sadly very often they are… this only reinforces their belief that they’re a bad person, unworthy of love and that nobody will ever stick around…. which perpetuates the problem, as they’ll take that belief forward into the next ‘relationship’. Sometimes they perceive someone to be abandoning them, and become ‘clingy’, pleading them not to leave… this sometimes has the opposite-to-desired effect – and in a sense it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. They sometimes push people away, because they need to be pulled closer. They need to know that the person wants to be there, and won’t just abandon them when given the option.

People with BPD can have an intense feeling of emptiness. A void. A feeling like something is missing. They fill this up with risky behaviours, such as – spending, promiscuous sex, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving, eating disorders, or self-harm. But nothing fills the hole… not long-term. In my own opinion I think what they’re seeking is love. To be loved. To feel worthy of being loved, and have someone to pour their heart into. Someone who won’t walk away, and will adore them, come hell or high water. It is possible to have a good relationship with someone who has BPD… it takes patience, commitment and understanding. If you show you’re not going anywhere, then they will give you the best of themselves, as they can be some of the most loyal, giving and loving people in the world. That’s a fact.

BPD sufferers can experience paranoia, and dissociation. Paranoia goes hand in hand with black and white thinking, and fear of abandonment… people’s motives may be questioned, their intentions… waiting for the next person to let them down and abandon them. Dissociation is a severe form of ‘zoning out’. We all experience the ‘staring into thin air’ moments. Dissociation is this, on a larger scale. Sometimes people feel like they’ve ‘left their body’ and have no recollection of where they were or what they were doing. I’ve heard it’s a scary sensation.

Having BPD does not make you a ‘bad’ person… nor unworthy, unlovable, pathetic, impossible or any other beliefs you may hold. BPD is just a way of explaining your difficulties with your emotions and with how you relate to other people. It’s not who you are. The belief that it’s your personality, and therefore who you are, is in itself black and white thinking. You are so much more than the personality traits of BPD.

I myself do get paranoid; I do struggle with anger; I can be impulsive; I appear to ‘overreact’; I catastrophise things; I fear abandonment; I self-harm. Those are just some of my character traits… Here’s the rest……

  • I’m kind, generous, thoughtful
  • I’m caring and loving
  • I’m creative – I write, draw, paint, play piano, guitar – can’t dance to save my life though!
  • I’m intellectual and spiritual – I like to learn things, and question things
  • I’m a bit of a nerd
  • I like board games, computer games, fossil hunting, bird watching, and writing poetry
  • I like Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, heck, even Dawson’s Creek!
  • I love animals… sometimes prefer them to people – they have kinder spirits than some!
  • I’m generally forgiving, of the smaller things! I’m tolerant of differences
  • I’m good with kids and can’t wait to have my own
  • I have a lot of empathy and understanding of the feelings of others
  • I have a fun sense of humour
  • I have strong morals, values, and a good sense of right and wrong
  • I’m loyal to the people who matter to me. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them
  • I’m honest, reliable and trustworthy
  • I’m mentally strong – I wouldn’t be sat writing this today if I wasn’t. I’d have ended it long ago
  • I’m gentle, and I hate conflict. But I will stand up for what’s right
  • I’m actually quite low maintenance believe it or not. I don’t make demands on people, higher than the very basic human expectations of friendship/relationships
  • I love my family immensely and would do anything for them
  • I’m rubbish at sport, but good at writing, art, and playing music
  • I have good taste in music!
  • I’m a good judge of character
  • I will never be fake. If I like something/someone I will say it. I will not pretend to if I don’t. I will not be unkind though. I just won’t say anything.
  • I’m trusting – perhaps too trusting of others, and give too many chances
  • I’m down-to-earth… I don’t need possessions. I prefer nature to what we’ve built on it.
  • I’m humble enough to apologise if I hurt someone.
  • I live a quiet, modest life.
  • And I left this one to last – I’m sensitive…. people have tried to make it seem like I’m too sensitive – like it’s a bad thing. Yes I get hurt easily. But I’d rather be sensitive, and able to respect other people’s feelings, read their moods, and to know what would hurt me, therefore what might hurt them, instead of having ‘thick skin’ and not being careful with how I treat others. I’m sensitive and proud of it. It’s a virtue.

…………………………….

And one thing you have to know about me, is how difficult I found it to write that list. I don’t like to toot my own horn. Nobody does. A few years ago before I did therapy I could never have even started a list like that. In fact I recently found a list I wrote years ago, all about my flaws, not a positive in sight! But over the years I’ve grown to recognise and appreciate my own strengths… my good points. Some of them I have written and don’t fully believe them yet. But generally nowadays I know who I am. And I’m glad I do. Because I’ve encountered at least one person who thought they knew who I was, and I can’t tell you how wrong they were. But that was ‘projection’ and something to do with NPD which I might cover at a later date! But it feels good to know that although sometimes I’m ‘a mess’… I have these difficulties with my emotions, rollercoaster rides with relationships with people, I still have a tremendous amount to offer someone, if they can accept my flaws too. And let’s admit – we ALL have flaws. At least I can admit them!

 

You are not your personality disorder.

 

You are a complete person, the same as anyone else. You have your own talents. Your individual values and morals. Your own interests. Your own temperament. We are all individuals. Our BPD doesn’t make us any less worthy or valuable to the world. We just need to find the right people to stick with us on our journey through a slightly more difficult life…

Poem: The Body

the body2
As with many things I may write about self-harm, I want to put a *trigger warning* so you keep yourself safe. This is a poem I wrote a few years back, when I took a step back and realised how innocent my body was and how it didn’t deserve the wounds I would inflict on it. It’s like a dialogue between the body and the mind, trying to make them one… make them work together. It was an attempt to admit that I needed to respect my body, as the pain was only in my mind. I wouldn’t inflict such wounds on the skin of any other person… so why was it okay to do it to myself…?

……………………………

The Body

“I can’t do this anymore…”
I hear your words.
“Why did he do this to me?”
“What did I do to deserve this?”
“I feel so alone…. why doesn’t anyone care?”
I care. Even though you hurt me, I care.
“I don’t know what else to do…”
I feel your pain…. I have no choice –
You slice the words down to my core…
I can’t ignore… you wound me more and more
“I deserve it. I deserve this pain!”
But *I* don’t! What about me?
“I hate myself. I can’t take any more”
Please don’t give up.
“I want to die”
No! If you die, I die.
Don’t make me cry, tears of crimson regret.
Your time’s not over yet,
Nor is mine, I’ve years to live.
“I just don’t have any more to give….”
You still have plenty, though you’re running on empty,
Recharge your batteries and start again.
“I’ve never felt this broken”
“And nothing I can do will ever fix this”
“Just let me bleed. I need to bleed
But why?
To feel alive? To numb the pain? To calm your soul?
Hurting me won’t make you whole.
“It’ll help. I’ll feel better”
Don’t turn on me – we can survive this together.
Look after me, and I’ll look after you.
I’ve got your back – won’t you have mine?
“I’m a failure…”
You’re only a failure if you quit trying…
Don’t hate yourself for breaking down and crying.
It takes strength to live in this world.
“I’m so sorry……”
As am I.
I’m sorry you cannot see your worth.
I’m sorry you suffer in silence.
I’m sorry I cannot heal your hurt.
But I’ll always be your nearest friend.
I’ll be here until the very end.
Until we breathe our last,
And rest our eyes forever,
I am by your side.

Welcome!

This blog is about particular aspects of mental health, including:

Depression

Anxiety

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Self-harm

I have only this year begun to discuss my mental health issues to a slightly wider audience. It used to be only my family and closest friends knew anything about them. But I’ve reached a point where I no longer care what people think of me. If they no longer want to know me because of my mental health issues then they were never worth knowing anyway. They’re the ones with the problem, not me.

There is still stigma attached to having mental health issues, particularly if you self-harm or suffer from a personality disorder – those will be my main aims of this blog – to dispel any myths about Borderline Personality Disorder and self harm. A lot of people lump BPD sufferers in with the likes of narcissists and sociopaths, as BPD is a ‘Cluster B Personality type’ the same as the others. People think that those with BPD should be avoided, ignored and are selfish, manipulative, toxic and dangerous. In a future post I will explain why these beliefs are wrong, and very damaging. People with BPD can be some of the most kind and loving people in this hard world.

I have never formally been diagnosed with BPD, but I have done two courses of DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) which is designed for those with BPD and who self-harm. It is implied that you have at least some of the traits of BPD to qualify for needing DBT. The only things I’ve ever been diagnosed with were severe depression and anxiety, along with my self-harm.

I have come a long way in my recovery, however I have recently had a setback and that’s why I’ve decided to write this blog, as an outlet for everything I’m feeling. If I can help anyone else along the way then that’s a bonus, one I shall be thrilled with, as nothing hurts more than experiencing mental illness and feeling alone with it, and misunderstood. I understand. And I know if you’re reading this, you understand me too. So let’s face ‘mental illness’ together, head-on… erase the myths, break the stigma and work towards recovery and a better quality of life.