The Face Of Borderline Personality Disorder…
BPD, or, Borderline Personality Disorder, affects between 1.6 and 5.9 percent of the general population.
Females make up 75% of the diagnoses, and Borderline Personality Disorder usually presents in those diagnosed by young adulthood.
It has been observed that the first symptoms often occur with the onset of puberty. This makes it difficult at first to discern between hormonal imbalances and fluctuations, and an actual disorder.
Completed suicide occurs in 8%-10% of those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Not to mention, self-harm such as cutting, burning, etc is extremely common.
Recurrent suicidal ideation, threats, or attempts, are some of the most common reasons that BPD sufferers eventually seek help.
Common Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder Can Include:
A recurring pattern of instability in relationships…
Oftentimes, the object of affection is seriously idealized in the beginning.
The “knight in shining armor” or the “perfect princess”. Then when the honeymoon phase is over, they are quickly devalued as the BPD sufferer.
They are though of as disillusioned or paranoid.
An intensely unstable self-image or sense of self…
This can manifest in many ways. Dramatic changes in spiritual beliefs, jobs, careers, and social circles are common.
People suffering from BPD often believe themselves to be bad, evil, or completely without identity at all.
Thus, they try to alleviate this with “people pleasing” behavior in their social circles.
In some cases, they literally feel as if they do not exist at all. A large amount of time and energy is often spent on trying to force meaningful or dramatic engagements in their lives, to create a feeling of “being alive”.
The most unstable behavior often manifests most intensely in their inner, trusted circle.
These are the people that are “supposed” to be there for them unfailingly. Thus creating the one situation they are trying to avoid….
Crippling fear of abandonment…
Most people with Borderline Personality Disorder create their sense of self externally (through other people’s validation and actions). The feeling of impending abandonment or loss of relationship can be crippling, terrifying, and feel like the literal end of their world.
This can in turn, cause intense and sometimes inappropriate reactions to things.
Such as someone being late for a lunch date.
A loved one having to cancel an event last minute due to emergent situations.
These can be perceived as a massive betrayal or signal that that person doesn’t care about them.
Since BPD sufferers often operate on the belief that they are inherently bad or evil, this reinforces the feeling that they are trying to escape from, and feels devastating.
This can result in suicidal ideation, angry outbursts, threats against others or themselves, and self-harm.
This extreme behavior can be exhausting, and continually push the healthy boundaries of those around their loved one suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder.
This often pushed them away. It can create the feeling of abandonment that the BPD sufferer was terrified of to begin with.
This is the toxic and heartbreaking cycle that someone with BPD suffers with daily.
Other Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder Include:
– Impulsive behavior in at least two potentially self-damaging areas. This could include substance abuse or reckless driving. Binge-eating or compulsive spending.
– Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
– Inappropriate and intense anger, difficulty controlling emotional responses. As well as other emotional instabilities presented as irritability, anxiety, or dissociative behavior.
– Chronic feelings of emptiness.
Understanding and Compassion For Those “On the Borderline”
“It hurts so bad when you have a fear of abandonment caused by a mental disorder, but it’s that same mental disorder that causes people to walk out of your life.”
-Alicia Sarah Raimundo
Whether you, or someone you love has Borderline Personality Disorder, it is important to have compassion, understanding, and hope. Boundaries are also incredibly important, which we will address shortly.
It is not 100% clear what causes Borderline Personality Disorder.
However, it does seem hereditary and environmental components come into play most of the time.
BPD is approximately five times more common in individuals who have close relatives with BPD.
Studies show that many individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have histories of abuse, neglect, or separation as young children.
Adults with BPD can also be more likely to fall victim to violent crimes such as rape, and domestic abuse.
What To Look For?
Studies also suggest that individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have impaired brain mechanisms.
This may involve impulsivity, mood instability, aggression, anger, and negative emotions.
Many people with BPD come across as self-serving and manipulative, because while they are able to be compassionate and empathetic to those they care about.
It is often withdrawn at any sign of the other person withdrawing their support, or being unavailable when they are wanted or needed for support.
Asking for help or seeking therapy is rare, until the BPD sufferer’s relationships and wellbeing are so in jeopardy that there is no other option.
Simply put, those suffering from this disorder did not choose it. And many are not even aware that they have it, as it is often misdiagnosed, or never diagnosed at all.
Some people with BPD are simply labeled as dramatic, manipulative, or are written off.
Imagine how painful it must be to have a core belief that you are bad, evil, and/or essentially non-existent to those you love.
That you will always be abandoned by anyone you care for. And that if this happens, it is because you are inherently unlikeable and toxic.
This is the reality and fear that someone with Borderline Personality Disorder lives with every day.
How To Cope With The Chaos
It is important to seek help. Getting a proper diagnosis is imperative in order to receive the proper treatment.
Consult with your doctor, and get a referral to a qualified mental health professional.
Beyond this, there are medications and therapies that can offer a substantial chance for recovery, and a happy, fulfilling life for one diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
There are also alternative therapies and recovery programs available. Seek out what feels right and what works best for you.
For those with loved ones suffering from BPD, it is important to remember that you also need a strong support system in place, and healthy boundaries, to remain strong enough and healthy enough to support your loved one with BPD.
This can be a difficult balance to maintain, as those with Borderline Personality Disorder often get desperate at any sign of perceived abandonment or betrayal, and threaten self harm, or even follow through with these threats.
The people in the closest relationship with BPD sufferers are often those who struggle with this dynamic the most.
They are the ones that the sufferer is most afraid to lose. And ironically, trusts the most to “put up with” manipulative and chaotic behavior.
This often falls on the parent, guardian, spouse, or significant other.
Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Relationships
Contrary to what you may feel in this situation, strong boundaries can be a very compassionate act when dealing with someone suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.
It is impossible to maintain energy and strength to truly be there for someone if you are consistently worn down.
Decide when you are able to be available to this person, and what behaviors are too toxic for you to tolerate in your space.
Outline these clearly for your loved one with BPD, and do not bend.
Hours you are available to talk on the phone.
Times you are available to show up for them.
Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder feel more validated and loved temporarily when people around them are willing to “martyr” themselves for them.
However, this perpetuates an even more toxic cycle of them eventually feeling more “bad or evil” because of the suffering caused by breached boundaries.
Everyone ends up more exhausted, and more frustrated.
If you are someone suffering from BPD, try to remind yourself that your loved ones are humans with human needs.
They need rest, recovery, and time for themselves.
If they are there for you on a regular basis, then taking time for themselves or other people they love is not a sign that they do not care for you.
When you love someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, remember that it is not your job to “save them”.
Help them to find adequate therapy and support, but also, give that to yourself.
Validation. Validation.. Validation….
“To need to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, is simply to be human.” – L.R. Knost
Honestly, validation is simply a human desire, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder seem to need it that much more.
Even if you do not agree with them or even support what they are doing or saying, it is important to them to hear you say: “I see you. I hear you. I care, and I understand.”
Isn’t that really what we all want? This is just a magnified, intensified need for those who suffer with BPD.
This practice can even be used effectively toward one’s self. Whenever you are feeling self-doubting, perhaps try repeating to yourself… “I see you and hear you. I care, and I understand.”
There is hope. We see you and hear you. We care, and we understand.
Written by: Faith McCausland