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**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
How can it be that a person can appear so healthy on the outside, yet have so much sickness and misery on the inside? How can it be that episodes of extreme or counterproductive behaviour can randomly appear and then seem to go away? How can one person seem to be like two different people? How can there be so much confusion and contradiction?
These are the kinds of questions that are highly relevant to those who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Questions like these may also be interesting to those who observe BPD symptoms in others (the emotions, the behaviours, etc.) and remain baffled by the ever-changing presentation. The unfortunate reality is that when attempts are made to answer these types of questions, faulty judgments based on flawed understandings of people, situations, and mental health are almost guaranteed.
Since Borderline Personality Disorder can be so hard to understand as a mental illness, that it often goes untreated, and that it is often misunderstood as it develops, there is a facade that gets created by the suffering person. The facade serves the critical purpose of appearing acceptable to self and others in the midst of ongoing struggle, confusion, stress and turmoil. It is a guise that gets constructed unconsciously, but earnestly.
Borderline Personality Disorder, including all the mismanaged emotions and behaviours, can be confusing, distressing and hurtful to those exposed to it, which is why it has the potential to result in rejection. At the core, a person with Borderline Personality Disorder knows this to be true. And so the absolute need for the façade arises, to provide the much-needed explanations and reassurances to self and others for the recurring suffering and problems created. It is a survival tool in a world with harsh mental health terrain (where compassion and understanding for mental health issues are not typically forthcoming). The facade becomes so habitual and commonplace that everyone, including the person with BPD, buys into it completely.
The facade says things like “There is no illness”; “I am just like everyone else”; “I have too many blessings to have an illness”; “I have a great life”; “I am too talented to have problems”; “I’m just having a bad day”; “I’m just tired”; “this will soon pass, and then everything will be fine”; “my friends and family say I’m fine and not to worry about it”’; “people are just idiots”; “this is the devil’s handiwork”.
Sometimes the façade includes exaggerations of appearances, accomplishments, and statuses; the point is to prove it couldn’t possibly be true that serious mental health problems are occurring. A commonly worded façade might be as follows… “I wouldn’t have all these nice things, be married, made it so far in life, look like I do, or have such a good job if I was so unwell.” Getting away with these kinds of pretenses is often possible because of the superficial and limited involvement we have in each other’s lives. We can’t challenge each other (or ourselves) if we don’t look too deep.
Lies upon lies are weaved to avoid the unfortunate truth of the matter: that there are underlying issues and skill deficits that keep unwanted suffering and behavioural problems ever present. It is a sad reality that the facade remains such a standard but dysfunctional way in which to navigate life. Nonetheless, it seems to happen on a large scale when there is so much mental health misinformation and voids of information. But as long as the façade remains in place, then there is no real coming to terms with things, growing, moving forward, healing, etc. It is a survival tool turned stumbling block.
Letting go of the facade is possible but requires a healthy relationship with somebody who can see what’s happening. Even so, it can be tough because the individual must develop renewed trust in a world that suggested early on that it was never safe to be a real and unique person (i.e., that is was never safe to risk making mistakes, or likewise to expect validation of thoughts and feelings as mistakes are made). To risk being open and real means risking rejection and possibly being exposed to other difficult feelings (such as worthlessness) and that’s putting a lot on the line!
Hidden facts such as having little ability to manage mental health symptoms in ways that are healthy, having ongoing insecurities, having limited self-worth and sense of identity, and having behavioural impulsivities, are all hard things to admit! Feeling safe to admit these things openly… to admit to having mental health problems whatsoever is very difficult indeed. However, to begin letting go of the facade and healing from Borderline Personality Disorder, these are essential steps to take.