Owning It

I had never considered Borderline Personality Disorder.

The term “Personality Disorder” carries so many negative connotations. It assumes that it’s a defect of someone’s personality. That in itself assumes that a person can just snap out of it, or just change it.

BPD gets such a bad rap in the media. I thought of “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Female”. “That’s not me,” I insisted.  I even reviewed the DSM-IV criteria, and still could only see a portion of it.

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, excessive spending, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars or picking at oneself (excoriation) .
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms

First, my fear of abandonment and the way I react to it is complicated.  True, if I sense that there is something off with my partner, I do come to a conclusion that I am responsible and this person will eventually leave me.  But, I didn’t feel as if that was unreasonable.

Yes, I do have a history of intense, explosive relationships.  Now, the intensity of my relationship is usually shared up until a certain point.  I have never had this problem in my marriage where I was “too intense”.  In fact, it is preferred that I am so invested in my marriage and co-dependent.  Not “dependent”.  Co-dependent.  We depend on each other very heavily.  It works just fine, and I was pretty sure that a good marriage was a marriage that worked for both people.

I never considered an identity disturbance.  Not frequently anyway.  I have always been mostly the same person who liked the same things.  Everyone goes through periods of change and self-renewal, right?

I’m not very impulsive.  I am too anxious for impulsive behavior, because I fear the consequences.  Impulsive behavior doesn’t allow for fear.  I have too much fear.  I don’t sleep around; I’m a devoted wife.  I’m very careful with money, because I never have had or have any.  I have had a history of alcohol abuse though. . .

Yes, I self-harm.  But, self-harm happens in affective disorders.

Of course I have affective instability.  I have bipolar disorder.  But, the mood doesn’t usually last only a few hours to days, unless I’m ultradian cycling.  That’s rare.

I don’t feel empty.  As a matter of fact, sometimes I feel too full.

I do have a temper.  But, I’m usually very good at controlling it. When I go off, I’ve just gone beyond my limit.  Everyone does that.

I have always been paranoid and delusional.  But, I’ve spoken with doctors about this problem in the past.  They don’t seem to see it as a problem, nor do they really see it as full-blown delusions anyway.  Despite that voice.

I was set on disproving it. Well, until I started reading personal accounts that struck me. Then, I read explanations of the wide variety of behaviors that fall into the diagnostic criteria. And finally, certain characteristic statements. “If people actually got to know me, they probably wouldn’t like me.”

I have a private blog entitled, “If You Only Really Knew Me”. I don’t update often. But, sometimes I do. Times where I am too much of a coward to stand up and confess on Pendulum. Those words that bang at the inside of my skull, but I’d never dare reveal.

I had absolutely no idea that BPD was so diverse. The stigma would have everyone believe the “I hate you, don’t leave me” thing. But, there’s so many different ways it can operate. I started to see the pattern emerge in early adolescence, as is described. I saw how it dominated my previous relationship and sustained the mutual abuse. And I could see it in me.

20 thoughts on “Owning It

  1. Lulu, you should read my post about this. I was shaken up because I’d always heard so many bad things about BPD. In a FB group I was heavily involved in back in 2008 when I was first “mistakenly” (now I say mistakenly) Dx’ed with bipolar, I would hear comments like, “Oh, my therapist says I CAN’T POSSIBLY BE BPD because I’m not a difficult patient”. Shit like that makes you wonder…

    I just found out I was Dx’ed with BPD and my immediate reaction was “Noooooooo!”

    Funny, is I say I’m implusive, but that’s only when the intensity of things can no longer be contained. Otherwise, I think I overthink things before I do them. Then again, sometimes, I talk out of my ass more than I’d like. I think to myself, “geez, did I actually just say that?” when I feel I’ve revealed too much to someone I barely know, etc.


    I think I’m owning it a bit too much now. heheh

    • Honesty is the first step, I’m told. Owning it is the best thing a person can do. I will read it over.

      I’m pretty sure mine is co-morbid. Only because I do find myself in mood states that are without circumstance. I’ve always suffered fits of depression, and more clearly now, hypomania. The episodes last pretty long. But, there are temperamental moments that come and go. And they come and go, regardless of what underlying state there is.

      I’m off to read your post.

  2. Also, I have a close friend who’s BPD. From the very beginning, I had a close, indescribable connection with her yet I could never relate to some of the things she did–some of her expressions of the “disorder”.

    “I don’t think I’d do that do my husband in public, so I can’t be BPD” I’d say to myself. The bad thing about that is we sort of get caught up in these criteria as bounding things as oppose to flexible levels of distress that accompany a person’s inner self, they’re personality is intact. SO, I AM ME, I am NOT HER, so my expression of say, “attachment” vs. “detachment” or “depersonalization” or “codependence” may be different.

    “That’s not me,” I insisted. <—- That's exactly what I did. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I'm saying, "OH MY GOD! That IS ME!" Only ME includes all the things that are only a part of me, Paz, P, my individual traits plus all that other mess.


    p.s. Your other post inspired me to write about the sensory thing. But I've been so caught up in writing that I need to straighten out and actually finish the half-completed ones I have before I even attempt at writing more posts. hehhe

    Hugs xoxoxxx

    • Thanks for all of your help.

      My husband suggested this years ago. But, he suggested it as an explanation for bipolar because he couldn’t accept the diagnosis.

      There is a lot of anxiety I have that stops me from some of the over-the-top “characterized” behaviors of what they considered “classical BPD”. But, I didn’t realize that although some things aren’t me, a lot are. I do not want to have to go through losing people close to me. The whole abandonment thing. So, I push people out. It’s avoidant. The isolation makes me lonlier.

      I mentioned in one of my posts that my symptoms are complicated by defective coping mechanisms and trauma that came before and during this course of all of this.

      But, I decided that I’d rather leave the Dx up to a professional. It’s their job to helo me unravel my mind and figure out where the dysfunction is, what it is, and how I can fiz it.

  3. everything you are feeling right now, is justifiable, yes we all go off the deep end and can over react to things, this is human, the adjustment that your going through to learn how to somehow regulate yourself is not an easy lesson to learn, let alone carry out, anxiety is not the word to describe how anxiety can and does effect us, it’s almost as though it is going to kill us, yet people geralise things and call them a disorder, the term disorder in my mind simply plays down the extent of what it is that is effecting us, or what we are going through, stay strong girl there are a lot of people who are there backing you, ((hugs))

    • I agree that there is a certain gross misusage of the term “disorder”. So, I preach, “dyfunction has to occur for it to be disorder.” And when I say dysfunction, I mean significant dysfunction, nearly to the point of impairment.

      Like I’ve said before, I’m not looking for new labels. I’m only looking for an explanation and a treatment plan. That’s all I want is for these symptoms to be acknowledge by someone professional, because they need treated.

      I lump them under certain banners, because they seem to cluster. These are recurring behaviors and themes that have dominated my life. Impulsivity has claimed jobs before. I’d get the idea that I was being unfairly persecuted and targeted at my job, I’d bear it for awhile, and then I’d quit, claiming the place was oppressive.

      Maybe the place was. Maybe it wasn’t. But, I can’t go around my whole life getting paranoid, thinking people are against me, and things. I like my current job. I almost quit my job, because I really thought there were people out to get me, and my boss was looking for a reason to get rid of me.

      Thank God we need the income. I begrudgingly stayed. And that wasn’t fair to the kids, because there were a whole lot of days I wasn’t giving it everything. It’s not their fault. And they don’t deserve that.

      I just want to get straightened out, you know? Even if it is just building skills to help me process overwhelming emotions, finally getting through the trauma, and learning appropriate behaviors to clearly express my emotions.

      • I relate to your wanting to straighten things out in your own mind and find ways to cope or express things that are overwhelming for you,
        We don’t plan or set out to end up what we see as an emotional train wreck but it happens, and it happens to even those who are the most well adjusted people, don’t be too hard on yourself about things that have happened, keep looking at the future and the skills you can enable yourself with that will help you cope in a more effective way next time things are overwhelming (which is an understatement of a word as opposed to how it actually feels)
        Your husband and your kids love you, and that is what you need to remind yourself from time to time of , they love you for who you are, as you love them for who they are,
        It will at some point balance itself out, it’s a matter of reaching that point that seems almost impossible,
        You will find from simply writing it down as you do on here, your finding strength within yourself you didn’t know you had, and its a good way of getting out those emotions your feeling that are making things go onto spin cycle. ((hugs)) your growing stronger every step girl and don’t you forget it x

  4. It was reading the accounts from people with BPD that convinced me I don’t have it. Nothing rang true. The opposite happened when I read up on BP – everything was so accurate my hair would stand up. I think being able to see yourself in others’ stories is a good indicator of how seriously a potential diagnosis should be taken. But a good idea to leave the dx’ing to a pro, just maybe tell them your suspicions and why, then they can help you sort through it.

    • That’s exactly what I thought, and what I was getting to in a later post.

      I can sit here all day and pick out traits. I was doing it, because I was scared to see someone. To actually talk to someone, instead of sit on my Pdocs office and nod that I’m fine.

      I decided I want to leave the Dx-ing up to the pros. And I made an appointment.

      The BP rings true. It always has. Before I even knew what MH disorders were, doctors in schools and practices all agreed it was an affective disorder. I’ve always had mood problems. Not daily ones either.

      But, now that my lengthy mood problems have cleared up, I see why I’m so explosive at times. That is why I am so erratic. It is why my behavior is screwed up and my thinking is still distorted.

      Mind you, it’s not an all the time kind of thing, which makes me feel as if the meds are doing their job. But, I’m not doing my job at the other end of it. I’ve tried to fix the intense reactions and temper myself. But, it’s not enough.

      I read some BPD stories and I think, “That’s not me now.” But, it has been me before. I think, “But that wasa back then.” And then I’m reminded, “There are other ways that can manifest, you know?”

      Tit for tat. I’m cornered. And I didn’t want to face it. Maybe it is remnants of unresolved BP behaviors. But, I’m not so sure.

    • Sorry for getting in the middle of this convo. But the funny thing Deedee, is that for me, people’s stories–those who have bipolar–have rang very true for me, often more true than the stories of those with BPD, but it’s only now that I’m looking at more info on BPD that I realize that rings true too. heheh

      • I feel the same as P.A.Z. Some of the more extreme behaviors I’ve read resonate with my reactions to things in my abusive relationship. But, I’ll never really know what the hell was going on in that one with me mentally. I was drunk, untreated, and hardly out of my adolescence.

        I do have periods of time where my mood is all over the place in days. I thought it was ultradian cycling or mixed episodes. But, there is a pervasive pattern that happens in those periods of severe instability.

        But, I do have long bouts of depression and short spurts of hypomania for no reason. These mood episodes happen without being prompted. Well, there are physiological prompts, I am aware. Drinking with any frequency, missing sleep, excessive caffeine, well, they can prompt an episode.

        So, imagine BP depression plus BPD. That’s where the worthlessness and kind of internalized symptoms happen in the worst instances. No BPD symptoms, no psychotic depression. Just regular, run of the mill depression.

        Then, imagine BPD plus hypomania. For me, that’s what made BPD evident. My personality starts to split. I’m beyond volitile. They call it dyphoric mania. But, I’m BP II. There is no mixed or manic. And I still don’t qualify for mania in what I thought was a mixed episode. It’s a whole different bag.

        Energetically self-destructive. When I saw the phrase “I’m in love. I’m in hate.”, in one of my posts, it just added to the mountain of evidence.

  5. A lot of happening with BPD right now with the new DSM coming out. This is why I’m hoping to be “updated” over the summer because I don’t think I fit the diagnostic criteria anymore.

        • Yeah, now that definition, that’s way more like it.

          I have a post forthcoming about how it fits way better. It does not cover the BP symptoms though. Those are emotional shifts that last and aren’t circumstantial. My last episode, the depressive one, it happened right after a really good birthday. I was so depressed that I told my husband I wanted to skip Valentine’s Day. I had just gone back to work after winter break. There was no reason. It just happened.

          Now, what happened within that episode, after Valentine’s Day. Right before St. Patrick’s day. Something, a perception of my life shifting. And the paranoia.

          And you know, a lot of BP folk have a fit of hypomania in the spring. I called it “The Mapril Curse”. A mood episode, not always hypomania, but a mood episode always happens. It’s been the hardest part of every year for me.

          And I wrote something about being out of the woods and feeling free, only to write something very soon after about the Mapril Curse.

          Coincidentally, that was the same time my husband became symptomatic.

          I don’t know what happened there. I just know that I went nuts when things went wrong with mly husband. That probably explains why I can handle things sometimes, and why I can’t other times. It’s the hidden thing that chips away at my resolve.

  6. What you say toward the end is what makes me suspect BPD in myself: I feel like if people knew the *real* me, they wouldn’t like me. They say they would, but that’s until they reach a certain point with me. Then they realize I was right.

    I wonder what feeling too full feels like. It’s hard for me to conceptualize because I’ve felt empty since before I can remember.

    • It’s agonizing. Have you ever really gorged on food before and overeaten to the point where you felt like you were seriously going to be ill? (That is another facet of BPD that seems like mine, but I don’t want to talk eating disorders and substance abuse disorders just yet). Anyway, that’s what it feels like. It feels like there is too much in there. Too much feeling, too much personality, too much of so many conflicting things, and it’s all going to burst, because it’s all so – hmmm…. I guess it would probably be more akin to eating an alka seltzer and then drinking a soda on top of it. Explosive. Yes, it feels explosive sometimes.

      That’s why I caution people who know me better than to come at me with a match. I feel combustible. And that match could be anything. It’s not a threat, like everyone seems to regard it. And some decide they want to challenge it, just because they don’t like the idea of a hanging threat.

      When they do challenge it, when that match is lit, then there is this horrible chain reaction. And the worst part is that I can usually predict the chain of events. But, I’m too far out of my right mind to put a stop to it. I stand there as if I were watching Fourth of July fireworks. I understand how they work, but I am no longer in control of the flame. It’s something of it’s own now.

      And that’s how I drive people out. It works in two ways. I either directly scare a person off or harm them by the explosion. Or, we both survive the explosion, but there is that hanging threat. It alienates a lot of people, because they’ll walk on eggshells around me. Eventually, it will become unbearable to be around me. And that’s when the gradual fade comes in. A person will phase themselves out of my life, in order to avoid that explosion again.

      That’s the function I call “killing people’s souls”. Their spirit seems to die out as they try to stoically deal with me. And that’s the thing that conditioned me to distrust people with a certain stoicism. People who don’t freely communicate their emotions don’t freely communicate their intentions. And people that don’t broadcast their intentions have something to hide. People that have hidden agendas will eventually hurt me.

      So, I start to see the regard for me fade into a bland nothingness. And I’ll start to act out, because I’ll see the grey alienation happening with the walls going up. And that makes it worse. If it happens suddenly enough, then a person will just cut and run, thus fulfilling my prophecy that people will only eventually harm me and vice versa. Which makes me stop wanting to have relationships of any kind. And that puts me in the self-fulfilling isolation, in a world where I am on the outside.

      I’m on the outside because I put myself there. But, I put myself there because I wasn’t on the inside. See the circular logic?

      Sometimes, on days kind of like today, I wonder if there even is a real me, or if I invented this? Any and all of this? Am I me, or am I the me I contrive out of perceived expectations? It’s very confusing.

    • The doctors have told me that the presentation is a little complicated, seeing as how I have a mood disorder, substance abuse, and domestic abuse in my history. They’re not saying either way yet for sure. But, for me, I’ve related to so much stuff on not only your blog, but many others, it really wouldn’t surprise me at all.

      Like your latest, LOL. Breaking the windows and whatnot. My husband is going through some kind of “thing” right now, whether it’s a life change or something that needs to be treated, I’m not at liberty to really discuss at length. But, needless to say, I’ve had to pull away from him, because it was driving me to feel that way. I started glancing at clocks every fifteen minutes, and I’d get completely dejected if he didn’t call on a break, or was late calling me, or cut me off early, or got out of work obscenely late.

      And I found that I was getting very passive aggressive, or some times just plain aggressive about it.

      Yes, all of the horribly causations and possibilities have already gone through my head. That’s what drove me to the extremes of really talking myself down from cutting his tires in the night so he wouldn’t have to go to work the next day.

      Eventually, (well, more like the night before last), I decided something. I’m not the only one in this marriage. And I’ve really, really been trying. I mean working on me and my dynamics in a relationship. And it’s still not going well. I came to realize something. For once, and just this once in my life, I can say that it’s not me.

      It’s not me at all. It’s him. I’ve been sweet, attentive, thoughtful, and giving, just because it made me feel good. And because he couldn’t turn that around on me, he found something else to harp on. For once, it’s not me. I came to the realization that I probably wouldn’t be half as crazed as I am if it wasn’t for the fact that I was trying to be both people in my marriage.

      And that’s when I was able to just let it go. No demonetization, rationalization, or secret idealization. I just shut it off. I don’t walk on eggshells. I do whatever the hell I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t allocate time for him anymore. If I am not interested in a conversation, I’m not going to engage myself.

      Like I was saying to a friend the other day, it’s not like the other times where I threw my hands up and said, “I give up, the ball is in his court.” The game is over. I

      ‘m not going to be his idea of me. I’m going to be me, crazy or not. I’m going parent the way I want to parent and tell him to butt out, because he’s not here for more than four of our son’s waking hours.

      I’m not going to be passive-aggressive, dismissive, or any other manipulative tactic to get his attention or raise a red flag. Why? Because I don’t care anymore. Something in me broke (a situation I’ll talk about later), and I feel nothing. Not true. Sometimes I feel boredom. A lot of the time, I feel boredom.

      Anyway, back to the original topic. I’ve been meaning to kind of run down the atypical presentation and why it’s being considered. And considering that all of my doctors are being pretty hush-hush about diagnoses to the point of where they aren’t letting me handle any paperwork that might have a diagnostic code on it, I’m going to guess that they have something on there that they think is going to set me off. Maybe it will. But I doubt it. I’d rather know, for my own treatments sake.

      Back to the atypical presentation (I’m a little manic right now, so I’m pretty scattered). One of the things that we explored in my Life after Abuse part of inpatient was the ways we can break the cycle of abuse by identifying certain cliche aspects of our relationships.

      For me, it was my ex who preyed on my fear of abandonment. Here’s a great example of how he sexually manipulated me, and eventually started to abuse me. I would deny him sex, for whatever reason. Nothing manipulative, just not feeling it, or depressed, or having bad body image, what have you. He would say things like, “Well, if I’m not getting it from you, then I guess I’ll have to get it somewhere else.”

      We would get into these fights where he would threaten to leave. And I’d cry, sob, and beg him to stay with me. Eventually, the fear of abandonment alone was too much for me to bear. So, I started to withdraw and dissociate anytime he’d attempt that. That didn’t get him to stop. So, I went as far as to do things, abusive things, to make him want to leave, so I could justify it if he did. That there really was something there about me that repelled people.

      That one worked, sort of. But, inevitably, it turned into a mutually abusive relationship. Neither of us was leaving, but we were both doing our damnest to try to send the other person off with a big hunk of flesh missing.

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