**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer
Have you ever felt like you are scattered in thought, going round and round, getting more and more flustered and overwhelmed as time goes on? This frenzied way of being is what it can be like when regular life stresses are happening, but emotions get oversized, anxiety gets aroused, and behaviour gets extreme. It is a combination of disordered functioning that can occur before skills in self-reflection is developed, and before thought and emotion management is learned.
It is quite common for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to feel this way because of their natural vulnerabilities towards heightened anxiety, scattered/racing thoughts and extreme emotions, but also because they are very often (at least in the beginning stages of life) unfamiliar with mental health and how to take care of it.
When I pondered an image for this type of experience, the first thing that came to mind was a tornado spinning… round and round, round… going nowhere in particular but having great destructive power. I also thought of that movie “The Perfect Storm” because it seemed like an excellent example of several contributing factors making for a potentially lethal force.
This imagery isn’t intended to denigrate or stigmatize anyone, but to provide an image, an analogy, and a way to retain the message of the article. Also if anyone reading is wondering, I am the first to admit that I have “been the tornado” on many occasions in my own life. I am quite happy to be honest about my own experiences with mental health disorder if it will help others help themselves faster than I was able to support myself.
Experiencing mental health issues like BPD is very unpleasant when you have no idea what is happening to you, or what to do to help yourself!!
To be more precise about my meaning behind the “tornado” or “perfect storm” analogy and how it relates to BPD: I am referring to the tendency to produce and over-produce thoughts that are purely fictional (and likewise to experience many difficult emotions connected to these thoughts). In other words, “being a tornado” for this article means to jump to conclusions, to make assumptions, to incessantly attempt to “figure things out,” to analyze past events, to overthink things… all in a big rush without reference to helpful facts to inform our thinking. It also means to be without a way of settling ourselves down and realizing when difficult emotions are “piling up” in our bodies. Then, of course, when the emotional pressure becomes too much, reacting to life situations impulsively/ineffectively, which has the effect of creating more problems and multiplying life stresses.
One of the main reasons it is so hard to master BPD is because the distressing thoughts and emotions co-occur with a strong sense of anxiety (believing there is a real threat to the self). This anxiety adds “fuel to the fire” in the overall production of thoughts and emotions. The frantic energy of fear, plus irrational thoughts, plus painful emotions, therefore becomes a vicious circle – thoughts producing feelings producing more thoughts producing more feelings, and so getting worked up and behaving irrationally/ineffectively becomes completely inevitable and understandable!
Humans of all varieties seem to have the potential to fall into this thinking/feeling/behaving trap, but it seems much more likely when the emotions are experienced with MORE frequency and MORE intensity, such as with those who suffer from BPD.
**Please make a note if you haven’t already, that the AMYGDALA in the brain does not function the same way in persons suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder as it does for others. For people with BPD, it “heats up” a lot faster and is “slow to cool down,” and so is harder to learn to manage – kind of like learning to surf a big ocean wave, rather than average, mediocre, or small waves. The good news is that a person can learn to ride the giant waves they were never guided to ride in the first place! It is hard, but it is possible. A person can learn to settle the internal storms despite the challenge.
Hoping these words can help to inspire your growth and stimulate increased compassion for self and others suffering from BPD! Living the life of being “the perfect storm” is one of the most challenging of all, bar none. The elements of the storm that make it so hard to function are ever present, including anxiety, irrational thoughts, exaggerated emotions, ineffective reactions/behaviours, misunderstanding of self, impatience towards self, and the impatience and misunderstanding from society in general. Even so, we can learn and overcome!
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