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What Is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): 7 Years Post Diagnosis

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness (bpd)You know, when I was first diagnosed with this illness, right as I was getting pregnant with Lucas, I instantly became an expert on it.  I read everything there was to read and even now I can spit it back out at you.  The problem with telling you what Borderline Personality Disorder is, is that it is different for everyone.  Yeah alright, there are 9 criteria and you have to meet 7 of them.  Here, I’ll provide them for you.

This comes from the DSM IV – TR

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating 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., spending, sex, Substance Abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

(5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

(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, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

But even that, as defined as it is, is so open-ended. There are 9 criteria, 7 needing met (any 7) that makes 36 different combos! And that’s assuming someone only meets 7 of them. 9 more possible combinations if they meet 8. Plus, of course, those of us who meet all 9 that’s another 1.  Add that all together and you have: 46 people in the same room who all have BPD, but none of them share the same combination of symptoms.

Oh Hey!  It’s 5 now!  That’s even more possible combinations!  This room is getting crowded and none of us are alike!

Wow.  And that list defines BPD?  That’s ludicrous!  It diagnoses it, but doesn’t define it.  Doesn’t define us.

Then of course you have the nature versus nurture debate.

There are those who as children were abused, or neglected, or weren’t any of that, but suffered a lack of validation.  Then you have those who suffered no ill-raising at all, but yet, something in their DNA predisposed them to have this illness and there was no real preventing it.  Of course, most patients are a combo of the 2.

We are told we are the patients those in the field of Psychiatry dread.  We are difficult patients.  We have a limited success rate.  Yet there are those of us who are no different to treat than anyone else.  Surely I’m not the only one.  Granted, I have an amazing Psychiatrist that lets me use my knowledge of the disorder and my knowledge of myself to help treat me.  Not everyone does.

We are told we have the emotional growth of a teenager.  Oh, this is true, I suppose, but there are many ways this can play out just like there are many ways the emotions of a teenager can play out.  Emotions are extremely intense things and teenagers are at the phase where they are no longer just feeling them, but they can name them and target their trigger.  They are learning to be at one with them while the process them.  They don’t deny them.  They feel them.  They let them shape who they are and who they become.  “That man crushed my soul and made me feel vulnerable by being overly dominating.  I don’t like that.  I want someone who is more my equal or maybe I want to try being the more dominating one in my next relationship.”  Teenagers learn from their emotions.  If adults don’t at least do that much, then may I stay a juvenile in my processing of emotions forever.  I am at least adult enough to know there is a time and place for it.  Maybe not all with BPD do.  But then, there are some teenagers who do know how to save it for the right time and place.  I’d like to think it’s an even spread for both groups.

We are manipulative, I’ll give that. Some know how to use it for good.  Some know how to use it for evil.  Some use it for both.  Or some try their best not to use it at all.  We are capable of being self-aware.

We have addictive personalities.  I can’t argue that.  But not all are addicts simply because they aren’t.  And some know when they are picking up that bottle of vodka for all the wrong reasons and give themselves a couple of days to work through the negative shit, but then cut themselves off before it ever has a chance of becoming a real problem. Some can’t do this and are otherwise predisposed to suffer from alcoholism whether they are BPD or not.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg.  And just like the diagnostic criteria, there are so many possible ways this can go, so many people with BPD who aren’t all the same.  There is no one thing I can tell you that applies to all of us.  Other than it’s a bad idea to try to “train us”.  (Don’t ask, I came across a site that made me want to puke.  A lot.  From a mental health professional.  No I’m not linking.  She doesn’t need the site hits for her harmful hatred.)  We can be taught and many of us need to be.  What do we need to be taught?  To recognize our behaviors.  Coping mechanisms.  How to allow ourselves to heal.  Fine, maybe that is a training of sorts, but I assure you that is not what the hateful woman meant.

So I leave you this afternoon with the knowledge that if anyone tells you they can define BPD they are either defining themselves or the BPD patient in their life.  Perhaps they are reciting a text-book.  But I assure you, we are anything but text-book.

2 Comments

  1. Ping from Joyce:

    I’ve come across a couple of sites by supposed mental health professionals and they are very damaging. I like to stick to blogs by people that know what it’s like from experience, or from compassionate professionals.

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