What is so “borderline” about Borderline Personality Disorder? It was once thought to be “on the border” of a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, and a mood disorder, such as depression. BPD has since been classified as a disorder on its own, but its name has remained the same. A personality disorder is defined by a deep-rooted way of feeling and thinking - about oneself and others - that has lasting effects on all domains of the sufferer’s life. The persistent characteristic of BPD lies in sufferers’ instability in identity, relationships and emotions. Here are nine possible signs of BPD:
1. Fear of Abandonment
Someone with BPD is likely to be very afraid of being abandoned by their loved ones: friends and family alike. This fear that their relationships with others will abruptly be cut off is so intense and real to them that small things that their loved ones do can trigger strong, and often negative emotional responses from them. For instance, people with BPD can fly into a jealous rage if their friends are unable to meet up with them. They will be utterly convinced that their loved ones are going to leave them in the dirt, despite multiple reassurances otherwise. Such adverse reactions may eventually cause their relationships with others to chafe and break, resulting in the opposite effect of what they had hoped for.
2. Instability in Relationships
People who have BPD are likely to have unstable relationships. They may be in a relationship one minute, and going through a breakup the next. This does not exclusively refer to romantic relationships, but their relationships with friends and family as well. Things can take a turn for the worse or better in the blink of an eye.
3. Identity Crisis
They are also often unsure of who they are. Their identities seem to shape-shift all the time, because they keep trying something new. They may try different social lives, religions, ways of dressing up or even sexual identities. Sometimes they like who they are, but in the next moment, that liking can revert to hate, shame or disgust.
4. Bad Decision-making and Regretting it After
BPD sufferers often find themselves making hasty, spur of the moment decisions and reckless behaviour: extreme splurges, binge-eating, shoplifting, drunken escapades, you name it. They do not realise what they have done till after the event has taken place, and while these may momentarily distract them from emotional pain, the residual feelings of regret are far from pleasant.
5. Extreme Mood Swings
Their emotions are both high-intensity and fragile at the same time. Not only do their moods flip at the flick of a switch, but it may seem that the intensity of their reactions do not align with the situations at hand. They also have trouble letting problems and emotional troubles go.
They have hot and short tempers, and may engage in destructive and aggressive behaviour as a means of expressing their anger. This can include, and are not limited to fighting, screaming and possibly even breaking things. However, they do not just get angry at others. They get mad at themselves too.
Often, people with BPD feel like there is an unspeakable, weighty void inside of them that they just cannot fill. They feel emotionless and empty.
8. Self-harming Tendencies
As aforementioned, they are prone to feeling empty and void of emotion. This may cause them to harm themselves: some cut and burn themselves, because they find that the painful sensations are cathartic. Some may threaten to kill themselves, just to elicit reactions from others. Others exhibit suicidal behaviours or try to commit suicide, but often, they do not do this with the intention of dying, but merely to end the continuous emotional pain that they feel. Unfortunately, many attempts do work; fifty times more BPD sufferers commit suicide than the general populace.
9. Small departures from reality
In times of high stress, those with BPD may feel detached from their lives, or numb. This means that their lives now seem more like movie screenplays or dreams rather than actual happenings. They may even start to feel overly suspicious and paranoid.
Thankfully, BPD can be regulated through treatment, in particular Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), which focuses on four skills: emotion regulation (learning how to control and deal with one’s emotions rather than letting them overwhelm), interpersonal effectiveness (how to make requests and how to refuse them, while maintaining steady relationships with others), mindfulness (observing and describing what is happening in the here and now without actively trying to alter the situation) and distress tolerance (increasing one’s tolerance for emotions that typically cause extreme reactions). As much as 9 out of 10 hospitalisations can be prevented through DBT, and relapse rates are also significantly reduced to 15 percent. It is important for us to recognise these symptoms and to help our friends, or perhaps ourselves, seek treatment.
Category(s):Borderline Personality Disorder
Source material from Scientific American