When Borderline Personality Disorder is your “Root” Mental Health Issue (It’s Good to Know…)

**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. 

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. Prior to figuring myself out more completely, I had met with counselors 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 with 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 involves a lot of both depression and anxiety. Borderline Personality Disorder can truly be as unique as a snowflake, which interestingly I would also say is part of the individual’s beauty.

My personal wish as someone who has suffered through BPD and been misled to believe I had only to most common mental health issues (anxiety disorder/panic disorder), is that everyone dealing with anything mental health related look 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 actually going on. So much unnecessary suffering came into my life (and those I share a 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 all kinds of body reactions, defense mechanisms, thought patterns, and belief patterns that are part of different categories of diagnosis (depression disorders, anxiety disorders, anger issues, relational problems, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, etc.). Again, people are so very 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 emotionally regulate 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 other responsibility you are trying to take. 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 favorite part of helping others and being part of BPD communities is to “SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS” that people with BPD are really awesome people who just need the right information and guidance, but who haven’t yet had it in their lives. The information and guidance 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 been believing 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 completely invalid 🙂  You are worth receiving all the knowledge you need to function at your best and to your fullest!

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: XoMEoX Roots via photopin (license)

4 Comments

  1. This sounds like me. I have been treated for 16 + years for I anxiety/OCD but not I have not been able to get anywhere. Shame and anger can quickly overwhelm me. I have been reading a lot about BPD and I can identify with it. But how do I find a psychiatrist that can treat it. I am at a loss. I want to focus on the BPD. That is what is behind the other problems.

    • Hi John. It depends where you live and what types of services are available. Where I live (in Canada), a person can call a public mental health clinic or look into private mental health services. Sometimes people will work through their family doctor who then refers them for services. Some service providers are well equipped to treat BPD, while others no so much. When looking for help, it is a good thing to ask if the provider knows about BPD and is prepared to treat it.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Have you written any books? I have struggled for decades with anxiety and ocd and I am now convinced bpd is behind all this. I am trying to find a therapist but it is hard to find someone that specializes in bpd. Thanks for the article.

    • No, I haven’t written any books myself. Everything on the blog is all I know about BPD. Glad the information could be helpful 🙂

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