**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
When I first realized that I met the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), this was long after believing I was “only” suffering from an anxiety condition that produced panic attacks. I was 36 years old at this time. Before figuring myself out more thoroughly, I had met with counsellors and doctors who looked at my symptoms and overall condition as just being a matter of chemical imbalance and irrational thoughts, which of course was partially correct. However, without knowing that at the root of my issues I had an emotion regulation problem and abandonment trauma (plus other BPD criteria sufficient for diagnosis), I wasn’t going to be approaching my problem in a way that would produce lasting improvements.
I believe that BPD can come in “all shapes and sizes” and can, therefore, appear very different depending on who is suffering from it. It isn’t always going to include self-harm and suicide threats; and likewise, it isn’t always going to include substance abuse or identity issues. Sometimes there are short-lived manifestations of the different criteria, and sometimes the pattern is very well-defined. Sometimes BPD involves more depression, sometimes it involves more anxiety, and of course, in many cases, it consists of a lot of both depression and anxiety. Borderline Personality Disorder can genuinely be as unique as a snowflake, which interestingly I would also say is part of the individual’s beauty.
My wish as someone who has suffered through BPD and been misled to believe I had only the most common mental health issues (anxiety disorder/panic disorder), is that anyone facing mental health issues looks into the possibility of BPD being their root diagnosis. The reason for my wish is that it can help people save a lot of time and turmoil in their life to know sooner rather than later what is going on. So much unnecessary suffering came into my life (and those I share my life with), literally for years, just because I didn’t know the root issue of my issues.
When I look at BPD as mostly being an over-activation of emotional parts in the brain (such as the Amygdala) and unnecessary activation of the fight, flight, freeze response, I can see how it might also contribute to body reactions, defence mechanisms, thought patterns, and belief patterns of different categories of diagnosis. Again, people are so unique in the ways their bodies react and how they try to deal with things. It makes sense, and it’s sad that BPD could involve so much difficulty, but thankfully that doesn’t mean that it can’t be treated.
In addition to getting skilled at managing thoughts and learning other skills to reduce mental health symptoms in non-BPD conditions, it is essential that people with BPD learn how to regulate their emotions when needed. If the emotional regulation learning is not part of the treatment plan, then it could be like trying and trying to make corrections to functioning, but still coming up short when big emotions seemingly undermine all the effort you are making. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to me that people with BPD (but who don’t know they have BPD) struggle with so much with shame feelings – they are trying to help themselves, but don’t have all the right tools to experience long-term improvements.
My favourite part of helping others and being part of BPD communities is to “SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS” that people with BPD are fantastic people who need the right information and guidance, but who haven’t yet had it in their lives. The information and advice are out there waiting for you! The only things you need to bring are your sincerest interest and effort. I hope coming to this kind of knowledge warms your heart and reminds you that you are beautiful, that you have much to offer, and that life can be joyful.
Perhaps you have believed for some time that you are no good and have little to offer because of all the life difficulties experienced? While this kind of thinking is understandable from a particular point of view, and therefore valid on the surface, it is also wholly invalid 🙂 You are worth receiving all the knowledge you need to function at your best and to your fullest!