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Hi my name is Liz for the past twenty years I have suffeed from "Borderline Personality Disorder" All though I was only diagnosed last year, my Pschiatrist believes it started in my early twenties.
What is the condition~
It is thought that Borderline Personality Disorder (B.P.D.) for short. Starts showing in your mid to late twenties. It is caused by having a unhappy childhood or tramatic events in your life.
I can only discribe to you how it effects me not how it effects others as every one has differant traits of the illness.
When it all began~
My disoder started we think when I was about twenty one. I'd been severley bullied at school had no friends and was isolated. My realationship with my mother and father has never been good as my mother is rather a hypocondriact and is always self medicating with one remedy or another and was convinced I needed herbal remedies when I infact was just a unhappy kid from being bullied from age five up until the age of sixteen on a daily basis from being bullied from school.
My mother used to force feed me herbal remedies by my Dad tying me to a chair while mother forced me to take pills I didn't need.
I put myself in care when I was fifteen because I could no longer cope with the stress of school and what was going on at home. I was indecentely assulted by my male carer. I left there and moved back to live with my parents.I then was in a lesbian partnership when I was twenty three, we had a civil partnership when I was thirty. It ended due to her being a violent and abusive person. I have only ever made one friend in my life and she very dear to me. Her name is Melanie and she is the best she understands me and doesn't walk away when everyone else has I love her dearly. We known each other twenty years she needs a medal for all the stuff I put her through. If you read this I want to thank you for always being my heart. You inspire me to carry on and to take each day as it comes.
How it effects me~
I find it hard to make friends and keep them. I feel empty emotionally. Find it hard to trust people, feel socailly excluded. I feel terrifed of being rejected, being ignored. Isolation in myself is the worse thing to feel. I don't see a future for myself I could be in a room full of people and still feel aloane. I feel trapped in my inner being. Worthless and unworthy of love and effection.I feel uneasy when in crowds when meeting people for the first time. I can't stand confontation even though at times my disorder does cause me to be that way. If I have an argument with anyone I feel it is the end of the world I can't calm myself down no matter how hard I try. People don't understand they think it is for attention. I have self harmed in the past by cutting myself and trying to drown myself as i felt my life was not worth living. I'm now under a Psychiatrist have been for just over a year now. I take a mood stabilser called depacote and an antidepressent called Citalopram. They work wonders however I did something rather silly couple weeks back and stopped taking them because I was having a stressful time in my life silly thing to do I know. I am now taking them agin and feel better ish. The problem is this when you have this illness you don't see what it does to the people you love as I take it out on my dear Melanie. I feel so guilty now she has stress of her own and can do without me adding to it.
I hope to meet someone special in the future and have a family of my own.
I hope if anyone who also suffers from B.P.D. you now know you are not the only person in the world suffering.
Thank you for reading.
---It's not me, it's my illness---
In my earlier days on review writing sites I wrote a review about depression. In my earlier days I thought that my primary problem was depression. Countless trips to the doctors and mental health professionals over the years...complaining of being depressed and not really knowing what the problem or cause was...having no idea WHY I was feeling how I felt - it was a scary and confusing place to be. But while I was often depressed, my moods have always been all over the place - somewhat like a teenager who never grew up.
I'm not retracting my depression review - it's one of my best pieces. And it's not inaccurate as such - I am affected by depression, just in a different way. But in reality, depression wasn't THE problem, nor was the alcohol abuse or self-harm - they were symptoms of my illness - Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD.
This is possibly going to be the hardest review (and of epic proportions of course) that I'll ever write, but also the easiest since it's all about me - my favourite and least favourite subject. In writing this I hope that it will help people understand a bit more what it feels like to be me - and if it helps just one person who is struggling, and perhaps offer some hope, then it will be worth it. Besides, writing about it helps me too...
This review is focused on my personal experiences of BPD. I'm not fishing for sympathy (although if you want to give me sympathy, that's fine!), I'm just telling it how it is - as I always do.
I have spent YEARS hiding behind a mask. It wasn't a conscious decision to wear it - self-preservation I guess. And my marriage with my ex was a mask - it was like a sticky plaster...it kept the worst of it in, but when it (the marriage) ended, it was ripped off, and it all came out, and the BPD was brought to a head.
Now the mask is off. And while it's liberating - without the mask I CAN see more clearly. At the same time it's ABSOLUTELY terrifying - without the mask I'm completely naked, and have no protection from the elements. Sometimes I try to put the mask back on...DESPERATELY. Sometimes I manage to. But it's increasingly difficult...and facing BPD head-on will probably be the scariest and hardest thing that I will ever do - but the most rewarding too. And although at times it does feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel - that doesn't mean that there isn't a light there.
Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards - or down to go up.
In a recent counselling session I suggested that my life felt like a frustrating game of Monopoly - going round and round in circles. But my counsellor suggested that it was more like a game of Snakes and Ladders. And I like that metaphor. And the psychotherapist (who I'm on an 18 month waiting list to see) will LOVE that metaphor when I serve it up to her on my metaphorical plate.
---What is BPD?---
Some people don't like the term BPD. I do tend to prefer the term Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder which seems to have become more popular and my actual diagnosis is "Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder - Borderline Type", given to me by my nice ex-psychiatrist who also told me I was glamorous and narcissistic, before abandoning me (I couldn't resist mentioning that - seriously though, he was very good, and refreshingly receptive, and we had a good old chat about Freud). But it's easier to call it BPD. It's called 'Borderline' as it was originally seen as being on the borderline between neurosis and psychosis, and it seems to occur as a result of a combination of environmental and biological factors. The facts can be found by Googling it - I will just touch on the main ones.
---Me and BPD---
Recently I've taken to telling people that I have a personality disorder just to see what their reaction is, half expecting them to run in fear and lock their bunnies away safely so that I don't boil them (such is one of many unhelpful stereotypes of personality disorders, deriving from the character played by Glen Close in "Fatal Attraction"), and perhaps on some levels wanting to elicit a shock reaction and leave them thinking "Yes, Mary really is completely mad".
However, overwhelmingly the layperson's response (that I have encountered) is the same - "Don't we all?!" Perhaps they are right on some levels, after all we all have a personality and we all have disordered aspects of our personalities, or behaviours that we struggle with. However, that takes away from the fact that (in my opinion) personality disorders ARE real and those affected suffer very real emotional distress and face problems as a direct result of their illness. It is suggested that about 10% of the population have a personality disorder, and 2% of the population with BPD. 75% of those diagnosed with BPD are women.
--Personality Disorders, and BPD Diagnostic Criteria---
There are different types of personality disorder, essentially in three clusters (although many people will have more than one personality disorder):
Cluster A: Suspicious - paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder
Cluster B: Emotional and impulsive - anti-social personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder
Cluster C: Anxious - avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder
I'm not an authority on personality disorders (although intend to be one day - in fact I will soon be being trained by the NHS to deliver training about personality disorders), and can only really talk about BPD - from my personal experience.
I've taken this from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder - criteria do vary a bit (and depending on whether you go with BPD or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder), but the general gist is the same.
"A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- Yes - I am terrified of being abandoned...especially by my substitute mother - I repeatedly need her to reassure me that she isn't going to abandon me. My abandonment issues run deep (some of this is an understandable result of my life experiences, but some of it is completely irrational)...and issues of attachment and abandonment could be a whole review in itself.
2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
- Yes - I tend to either love people or I hate them (technical term is 'splitting' - or both. Probably most evident with the relationship I have with myself. I suppose I might be slightly unusual in BPD terms. The people who I love the most, I won't NORMALLY let them know that I hate them...as I KNOW they'd abandon me if I did. However I do frequently accuse them of hating me - mainly because I need the reassurance that they don't. I know that hate is such a strong word, and for the most part should be avoided - but the hate I feel, feels very real to me.
3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
- Yes - I have no idea who I am really (mind you, I know that many people feel the same!) But really it's the instability - sometimes I love myself, other times I detest myself. There is not much in-between - what I'd like more than anything is to 'like' myself.
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behaviour covered in Criterion 5
- Yes - alcohol abuse, very disordered eating patterns at times (bulimic tendencies), ...reckless driving is kind of impossible for me due to my driving phobia...however I did threaten to drive one of my driving examiners into a tree...and now I look back on my past with the insight I have now, I can see that my issues with driving are as a result of the BPD - quite frankly I am a liability.
5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, threats or self-injuring behaviour such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
- Yes yes yes - self-harm, suicide threats, overdoses... incidentally BPD is the only mental disorder with self-harming behaviour as one of the core diagnostic criteria- traditionally seems that many have been inappropriately diagnosed with BPD based solely upon self-harm - obviously this is unhelpful
6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
- At the end of the day, it's the mood swings which have always been my biggest issue. I can be suicidal one minute and happy as Larry the next. It's very upsetting though...although I know all of this on a rational level, in the moments I am feeling suicidal, I am completely convinced that that is that - that I will NEVER be happy EVER again. In the moment it feels all too real. And when I'm feeling happy I feel like nothing will ever ruin my good mood. But it does, and it can change from good to bad so quickly.
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
- I don't think that this one REALLY applies to me, although I do tend to fly off the handle, throw temper tantrums (which I actually didn't really do as a child). But I am certainly not a violent person (aside from to myself). So I suppose it partly applies, partly doesn't.
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms
- Yes, as I will touch on in a bit. "
So I've satisfied myself and the mental health professionals that I do have BPD. Now what?
It hit me last week that I was sure that when I was first diagnosed (June 2010) that I didn't meet nearly as many of the criteria as I do today. That perhaps I am trying to make myself fit into the diagnosis. But really, it's possibly more due to self-awareness and understanding. Although self-awareness is a good thing, with self-awareness comes fear. And I have to say that it is infuriating that I know all of the theory, I KNOW what my unhelpful behaviours are - but I have no idea how to stop them, and I can't 'cure' myself. I'm aware that I think very much in Black and White terms...and while on a rational level I KNOW that there are grey areas...but the way I FEEL, I can't see them.
BPD has many different combinations, so everyone's experiences of the illness will be very different. And although I have a fair few friends with the diagnosis, and we do share a lot of similar thoughts and similar experiences, we are all different.
---A negative term/a misdiagnosis?--
Although I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never be allowed to join the police force or army, and could probably never serve on a jury (much as I would LOVE to)...on the whole I'm 'happy' with my diagnosis. To ME it makes SENSE.
Some feel that it should be reframed as a complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and while this might be appropriate for some, for me I don't think that it is. I have not experienced a childhood trauma or abuse - don't get me wrong, there ARE major issues from my childhood which I'm just coming to understand now, but this isn't the place to share them, and I don't think it would be fair to do so. However, I think that's what I will need to do the work on in therapy).
I truly believe that things are changing. Understanding of mental health problems in general is improving, and the treatment of those who have BPD and/or self-harm is improving (of course this is a gradual change, and I'm aware that many people do sadly still have negative experiences with healthcare professionals). My basis for this belief is my own, and the experiences of people who I have spoken to who self-harm and have the diagnosis of BPD.
---Looking at BPD in a positive way---
Personally I choose to look as my diagnosis as a positive thing rather than something to be ashamed or scared of - by establishing what the problem is, I can work on sorting it out (and quite frankly for me, there IS a problem. In some ways it feels quite validating. I understand that the label 'personality disorder' does carry with it negative connotations, and the idea of someone's personality being fundamentally flawed.
However, I found the following (taken from "The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide", by Alexander Chapman and Kim Gratz) quotation useful when trying to make sense of things myself;
"So, having BPD does not mean that you have a flawed personality, or that you will always struggle with the problems you are having right now. It simply means that you have a pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that may be hindering your ability to have a high quality of life, keep your relationships going strong, or reach your goals." (p.14)
---Treatment for BPD---
It sounds a bit dramatic to say that getting the diagnosis has changed my life, after all I had suspected it for years. However, in some ways it has. The NICE Clinical Guidelines for BPD promote talking therapies over medications, however there is a need for further research.
I have founded it helpful taking Lamotrigine as a mood stabiliser (having researched every drug under the sun, this is the one I chose - the only side effect is a potentially life threatening skin rash - which I didn't get) in addition to the Mirtazapine I was already taking for the associated depression. And, while it's not a cure it has helped.
The diagnosis has meant that I now have more support from the NHS, having a CPN who is amazing, and being on the waiting list for psychotherapy. I don't see BPD as being "untreatable" I see the diagnosis as being an avenue into receiving the appropriate treatment (and talking therapies do have the best outcomes for BPD). It could of course just be that I've been exceptionally lucky with my experiences, if having BPD can be considered in any way lucky.
A friend of mine says that she tries to separate the behaviour from the person, and makes allowances for my often negative behaviours, based on my illness. This is helpful to an extent in that I don't end up hating myself even more (and self-hatred is a feature of BPD), and it is helping me to become more self-aware and gradually hopefully will learn to change. In some ways I'm acting more like a child at times now than I did as a child. However, I do recognise that I am an adult and in an adult-world - and that is scary. Illness or no illness I AM responsible for my behaviour (positive or negative) even if I don't feel in control of my behaviour at times. It's a learning curve really for me, and for those who care about me, without whose support I almost certainly wouldn't still be here (I think it's important to consider also the impact that BPD can have on family and friends).
Another friend suggested I get a T-shirt printed which says "It's not me, it's my illness" and I did, however it's more a joke than anything (and me mocking myself really). I don't want my illness to take over my life, and it's not something that I intend to have forever. One day I want a T-shirt which says "It IS me, I don't have an illness anymore."
It's essentially stress which exacerbates my 'illness' - in fact I have come to the realisation that I simply cannot cope with stress. When faced with stress I tend to become a bit detached from reality. At the time I feel completely rational - but when I can look back, I realise that at these times it really WASN'T me, it WAS my illness. I can see though why it happens - it's a defence mechanism...and the 'autopilot' mode (which I spent a great deal of last year in) is essential as it protects me from experiencing such raw emotions which I simply cannot deal with. Obviously though, in time, and with treatment I will have to, in a controlled manner.
I've recently started a new job, and it is essentially my dream job - sharing my personal experiences in a professional capacity (about self-harm mainly, but will probably increasingly be touching on the BPD)! It is what I was destined to do (and in that sense BPD and self-harm were the best things that ever happened to me). Although it's my dream job, it does raise some issues, and my relationships with my colleagues is about as complicated as it can get. And we have had a few 'incidents' (as I like to call them).
I have been reading "Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies", and it advises against informing colleagues about a BPD diagnosis. Obviously in the nature of my current work that wouldn't be possible anyway, but really, I have no idea how someone could keep it a secret. In my previous jobs I've been upfront and honest about my mental health problems (of course I didn't have the BPD diagnosis at the time). I've never used it as an excuse though. And if my behaviour is ever inappropriate (and it often is) I will always apologise sincerely. I am very much of the opinion that either people accept me, or they don't, and there's no way that I would be able to hide it anyway.
---Writing about BPD---
Not an excuse, but an explanation - this is what I wrote last week following the week 7 'incident'...very much off the cuff, without thinking about what I was writing:
BPD is standing a metre away from me - watching me. Hearing me speak, feeling the words coming out of my mouth, but being powerless to stop them.
BPD is watching my life as a spectator. The auto-biography which writes itself. With ME as the lead role in the screenplay. Exciting - not knowing what she/me might do next. Terrifying - not knowing what she/me might do next. As the reader I know that I want a happy ending. As the writer I know what I want to write, but I don't know if she will let me.
I love her. I drag her out of bed, I shower her, I put her makeup on. I feed her - if she deserves it. I give her cheap wine and vodka. I attack her with a razor blade - WHEN she deserves it. And she does. Because when we come down to it, she's a worthless piece of shit. I HATE her. She deserves to die.
But she's not a nasty person. She bakes cakes, she sends cards - like her mother. She'll do anything you ask her to. But if you don't say 'Thank You', she'll HATE you. She just wants to feel loved.
BPD is wearing a hat which says "I want to die". Scrap that, it's wearing a HUGE sign on my head which says "LOOK at ME. I FUCKING want to KILL myself. Why the FUCK can't you see that? I'm SCREAMING 'HELP ME', but you can't hear".
No one listened to me then. Why would anyone listen to me now?
It'll teach them ALL a lesson if I kill myself. They deserve it. She deserves it. But no, they don't deserve it. She doesn't deserve it. She loves them. She hates them. She loves herself. She hates herself.
Get a fucking grip Mary. Stop being so fucking pathetic. Get over yourself, you stupid little bitch. Stop acting like a fucking child.
But she feels like a child. She is scared.
She is terrified, living with this BPD creature who is out to kill her - one way or another. But she doesn't know how to stop her.
She doesn't know which bit is her, where she finishes and the 'illness' starts. Where the 'illness' starts and she ends.
Please don't give up on her, she doesn't want to die. She doesn't want to hurt herself. She just wants to be happy. I don't want to hate myself.
---Am I making this all up for attention?---
I have to admit, I DO like the attention that the illness gives me. I feel a bizarre sense of pride having well and truly made my way into the mental health system. It took me so many years and so many appointments to get there. And although I say it in a joking manner that now I'm 'in' the system I NEVER want to leave...well, it's partly true...and of course not forgetting the fact that I want to be the BEST psychiatric patient in the world EVER!
It's difficult to explain. But really, having the 'illness', and being 'in the system' gives some legitimacy to the feelings I've had, really for my whole life. For the first time I'm REALLY being listened to, even if at times it still feels like no one is listening.
Sometimes I question myself, and I question the professionals involved in my care - "Am I just making this up for attention?" As a Sociologist I wonder sometimes if I'm doing this all as some sort of social experiment. Participant Observation is a fascinating research method...and I really feel I'm participating...but paradoxically with a kind of detached nature - as an observer of my own life and not REALLY participating.
But then I catch myself, and say "Why on earth would I do that?" - I am a brutally honest person, besides I'm a hopeless actor. There is No WAY on earth that I could make this up...it's far too elaborate.
A couple of months ago the stress of impending redundancy and the fear of change (and my increasingly disordered eating patterns) looked set to send me over the edge (and when I look back, I was in a similar state in the build up to my wedding). In fact it did send me over the edge. Following a drunken night out with awful consequences (which will make an excellent chapter in the autobiography, but isn't appropriate to post here now), a few days later I presented myself at an emergency appointment with my CPN, declaring:
"I'm on the verge of mental collapse. My friends think I need professional help. You're the professional - HELP!"
Despite my imminent mental collapse, I still had to go into work to deliver a farewell speech for some colleagues. Despite everything, I'm a fiercely loyal person, and will ALWAYS stay true to my word - if I say I'll do something, I will bloody well do it, even if it kills me. Loyalty or stupidity - I'm not sure.
I ended up having a lovely stay in a Crisis House (really! I was aware I might've been enjoying it a bit too much). Since I pay my taxes, I'm happy to accept all that the NHS has to offer me. It was an experience, and one which without the BPD I'd never have had the pleasure of. I was confused at times as to whether I was a member of staff (made more complicated by the fact that I'd delivered self-harm awareness training to many of the staff members) or a patient. I don't intend to ever go back there, but it's reassuring knowing that it is there, as an alternative to hospital - thankfully I've never been on a psych ward, it really wouldn't be the right place for me.
I sometimes worry that if my 'illness' was taken away, that I wouldn't be ME anymore. I hate myself, but I love myself too...and I'm attached to myself. I have to be, we live together - me and my illness - against the world.
My advice can only really come from my personal experience - 'better' advice can be obtained from the sources in the recommended reading section at the end of this review.I would say to those who are affected by BPD (I prefer saying that to 'suffering'), or think that they might be:
* Read up about BPD - particularly about treatment options
* If you do think you might have BPD, remember that only a psychiatrist can diagnose
* Depending on what life plans you have, you should think carefully about what might end up on your medical records - that said though, recovering from the illness has to be the priority - having the BPD diagnosis might have some negative consequences - so be aware of this
* You can only face it when you're ready to - don't try and do too much at once - you'll only be setting yourself up for failure.
* Remember that it's VERY difficult for other people to understand
* Accept any help that is offered - the chances are that you can't get through this on your own
* When you behave inappropriately, recognise that you've behaved inappropriately, and apologise - but don't be surprised if your apologies aren't always accepted - remember that BPD can be very frustrating for those who care about us
* Try not to push people away
* At times of feeling ok, let people know what they can say/do to help when you're not feeling ok
* The illness isn't your 'fault' or anyone else's 'fault' - it is what it is - harsh as it sounds - deal with it
* Be patient - you won't 'recover' overnight, and there will be setbacks
I told a friend I was going to write a review about BPD, and she asked me if I'd give it the lowest rating.I would love to give it 1 out of 5 (bearing in mind that 0 isn't an option), but I'd also love to give it 5 out of 5.
1 for the excruciating lows.
5 for the happy almost manic highs.
I don't DO middle ground - such is the nature of the illness. I know on a rational level that there IS a middle ground. But the way I FEEL, it is ALL or NOTHING.
I will break the habit for this review, and give BPD a balanced 3 out of 5 stars. Really I would give ANYTHING not to experience the sheer hell of suicidal thoughts, the impulsivity, the destructive behaviours which could (and still might) end up killing me. My impulsivity and lack of control terrify me at times.
But without it, I wouldn't be where I am now. In a warped kind of a way I think it has been the BPD which has got me through the hardest times. Even at my absolute lowest I've quickly bounced back. Even in the worst possible times of my life...I can honestly say that I have never had a day where I haven't smiled at least once. The illness has also directly led to me making some amazing friends. Besides, I LOVE drama, and BPD certainly creates drama.
I know that I have said this already, but to reaffirm - I would never want to use my 'illness' as an 'excuse'. I am an adult, and I am responsible for my actions, even if I'm not in control at times. However, as a friend pointed out (and again I have already said this), it isn't an excuse, it's an explanation.
The game of snakes and ladders is a frustrating one. My friends and I used to go to a pub quiz, and the vile chain-smoking quizmaster asked the question:
"In a game of snakes and ladders, you go up the snakes and down the ladders - true or false? It's quite simple when you think about it!"
But it's not that simple really. And going deeper into the metaphor - Snakes and Ladders IS a game of chance, and you DO have to take what is thrown at you - good and bad. However, with perseverance, you WILL get to 100, regardless of whether you 'win' or not.
Although they say that for most people BPD symptoms do ease over time as people get older, I know that I can't do it on my own.
So long as it doesn't kill me (statistics say that 10% of those with BPD end their lives - I hope I will be one of the 90%), one day I won't have an illness anymore - and it won't be scary, as I won't need the illness to hide behind. I will just be me - Marymoose. And that will be ok. A friend has said that my 'filters' work differently to other peoples (and I might have to get an "I have faulty filters" T-shirt printed)...and I quite like that - filters do get clogged up, but they can be changed.
I might update this review when I no longer have BPD. But more importantly I can promise you that when I am 'cured', that is when my autobiography will be written - I love a book with a happy ending - and I am mostly confident there will be one. That said though, I'm not delusional, I recognise that there will be many more lows to come, and that a 'recovery' will probably take at least several years. But I am on the right path. Bear with me...and thank you for sharing my journey with me.
---Recommended reading--- (take out gaps in the links)
www.mind.org.uk/ help/diagnoses_and_conditions/ borderline_personality_disorder - Includes information on how family/friends can help those with BPD
At one point last year a GP asked me if I'd considered Bipolar - like it's some sort of choice! - http://bpd.about.com/ od/relatedconditions/a/ BPDVBipolar.htm - this is a good article which goes some way in explaining the differences between BPD and Bipolar.
BPD - NICE Clinical Guidelines - http://www.nice.org.uk/CG78
The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide" - Alexander Chapman and Kim Gratz
Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies - Charles Elliott and Laura Smith
Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified - Robert Friedel
Get me out of here: my recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder - Rachel Reiland (I've written a review of this)
I remember the first time I was sent to see I Child Psychiatrist. I had smashed my hand through a window and not been able to explain why I did it. But there were a lot of things in my life that I had no explanation for at this time that was when I was given the label ‘Personality disorder’, They gave me other labels as well but this one seemed to stick like glue. There aren’t many people that I’m now friends with that know the kind of skeletons I have in my cupboard. If you have read the opinions that I posted before I joined the site myself you will no a bit, and I stress ‘a bit’ about my background. I had spent most of my years as a child being subject to one form of abuse or another, and it went on for a great many years before any adults knew the truth. I was desperate for attention as a child from my mum, the only person whom I generally didn’t get it from. Instead all the attention I got was from people who only wanted to hurt me and use me for there own needs. My granddad, my biological dad, babysitters, mums boyfriends, mums friends, strangers. The number of unhappy memories I have being a child far outweighs the happy ones. From being very young I threw myself into my schoolwork, I pushed myself really hard in the hope of some recognition from my mother. It was wasted. She rarely went to my assemblies or my parent’s evenings and when she did she was usually intoxicated. I remember having to ask her all the time ‘how did I do mum?’ ‘Did I make you proud mum?’ It was hardly ever spontaneous. I found it difficult establishing relationships with others, I would try really hard to be the friend they wanted, or the pupil they wanted, the daughter they wanted, the granddaughter they wanted, sometimes too hard, and I eventually would get either used, abused or rejected. The emotions I felt as a child grew stronger as a teen and my frustrations, whic
h had been kept silent for years, began emerging as scars all over my body. Starting with the hand through the window, which had just been out of rage, the relief I felt when I saw the gash and the blood turned into my only escape. I don’t know exactly what is it that makes it so comforting, it might be the bodies naturally defense mechanisms and the chemical that is released from the brain when the body is inflicted with pain. It might be that the pain I felt inside that was becoming intolerable and it made it easier to deal with when I could see it. It might be the release I felt each time I cut into myself. It might be that it was something I had control over in my life and no one else could interfere. Whatever it was it worked for me. I would smash bottles and light bulbs and I would have different pieces of glass in secret hiding places throughout the house. There were certain special ones that did the job efficient lee so I would keep them safe, in an old jewelry box actually. I also had my own first aid box after a while because I got fed up with the A & E department looking at me as though I was a ‘nutter’ and judging me. Other things I did included drinking myself into a stupor, and banging my head of walls until I couldn’t see any longer. Pulling my hair out in clumps, biting myself. I know that none of this will make sense to anyone else; it didn’t to me for a long time. After years of being in psychiatric care, having drugs of all kinds including Paroxetine, Prosac, Triflouperazine, Larazepam, and others that I don’t remember the names of, ‘trial and error’ with the drugs they said it was, usually a mixture of an anti-depressant and a mood stabilizer, designed to stop me getting anxious and agitated apparently. Hours and hours of counseling and therapy, self help groups and being shipped from one consultant to another. I would sit with a consultant and It would really annoy me the way he
just sat there looking at me, asking the same questions each week. ‘How are you sleeping?’ ‘How is your sex drive?’ ‘Do you think about harming yourself or others?’ Do you hear voices?’ I rarely responded honestly to him, instead I would ask him questions like ‘How is your wife?’ ‘What’s your hourly rate?’ ‘Have you ever hurt yourself?’ He never responded, instead he would send me home with more useless medication and a return appointment. I tried counselling a few times but I didn’t find it useful. I would sit there with a really ‘smiley’ woman and begin talking about my experiences, I’d just start feeling comfortable and then she’d look at her watch and say ‘I’m just aware of the time…’, then I’d remember it’s just her job, she’s not really interested in my problems. It didn’t matter how much I talked anyway because as soon as I stopped it was as though it was ‘reeled’ straight back inside. It was stuck inside me, eating away at my life – well that’s how it felt anyway. The occupational therapist that came to see me was lovely, Kirsty her name was and after 4 years of seeing her I began to trust her, her aim was to take my focus away from my problems, and find me ways of relaxing. I feel like a fool now for trusting her because she too disappeared eventually. The self- help groups were okay though, they were for other people who struggled through life with similar problems and we often exchanged coping mechanisms with each other. Suggestions such as screaming, throwing tomato sauce on your arms, writing things down, drawing, punching pillows, jogging. They didn’t do me any good though I just liked the idea that I wasn’t alone with this. What started off being something that I had the only control over, eventually became som
ething I had no control over. After years of pain and anger, I have managed to gain control, and although it’s hard I just take one day at a time and it has been nearly three whole years since I self-harmed in any way. I haven’t seen the doctor for about 6 months either now, but if I need to I will. I haven’t written this opinion so you will all feel sorry for me either, I have written it because I hope that just like me, someone out there might read this and know that they are not alone. The point of my opinion was to stress that if a person is diagnosed with any mental health problem, they have a tendency to carry that label round with them for the rest of their lives. I chose not to let that happen. I didn’t want to get lost in that vicious circle. I don’t know how but I found the strength I needed within myself and I broke out of it. I wasn’t going to be a ‘label’ for the rest of my life. I don’t need a label to know who I am thanks; I’ll find it out for myself. Eventually.
How can I explain the condition Borderline Personality Disorder? The best thing I can start with is a passage from a book that I have. “You’re going along fine and then suddenly WHAM! You’ve hit a brick wall and there’s nowhere to run, no one to understand. You scream, tear your hair out, take over-the-counter sleeping pills to calm down enough to stop crying at night. The next day, you get up, sluggishly. You go to work and get the job done. You might even fake a smile every now and then to keep up the façade to show there is no brick wall in your life. You’re okay. You’re like everybody else. But you’re not. The darkness is back. It has eclipsed your happiness, shaken your confidence, rocked your very nerve endings. Who can you tell about this? Why don’t the lights work when you’ve been eclipsed? You are alone in the dark and you are afraid the sun might never shine again.” (Eclipses, Melissa Ford Thornton, 1998) That is the experience of a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder. I suffer from this debilitating condition. Likened to schizophrenia, the condition is far more damaging, as the diagnosis is a long and frightening process, and misdiagnoses is common. The first diagnoses that Borderline Personality Disorder (from now on BPD) sufferers are usually given is one of Manic Depression, as they are usually severely depressed when they finally get help, and although medication that is prescribed is similar in both cases, the treatment and care that the differing illness require is poles apart. The symptoms of BPD are fairly complex, and, as mentioned earlier, due to their similarities are often confused with other psychiatric illnesses. The symptoms include: Desperate efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Going from one extreme to another within personal relationships. Being involved in a pattern of unstable or intense relationships.
Having an unstable self-image Impulsiveness in self-destructive behaviours such as substance abuse, binge eating, over spending. Suicidal tendencies, and self-harming. Instability of mood swings, lasting from between a few hours and a few days. Chronic feelings of emptiness Intense, inappropriate anger. Paranoia and severe dissassociative behaviour. Another characterisation of BPD is an action called “splitting”. This is a situation where the sufferer cannot see two conflicting ideals at once. There is either black or white; there is no grey area in the middle. The borderliner cannot cope with opposing thoughts in their mind. My situation is one that is painful for me to recollect. I have the above problems, and it taints my view of everyday life. Only last year I realised that when a person left a room they didn’t just “disappear” into a void. I couldn’t understand how someone could still be there when I couldn’t see them. Until that time, I thought everyone was like that, that this was normal. I am a self harmer (read my op on self harming), and regularly think about suicide. I suffer from paranoia, to the extreme that sometimes I cannot leave the house, and I don’t trust my partner or children. I always feel alone, and that I do not have a purpose in life. When I become angry I take it out on myself and injure myself, or do even more damage to my self-image. I also have an eating disorder, which rules my life. My life is a roller-coaster of emotion, and I live from hour to hour never knowing how I will feel next. Self-injury is common in the borderliner, but unlike other self-injurers a risk of suicide is not weakened by self-harming behaviour. The borderline patient will not see the difference between self harm and suicide, and many borderliners have died when they were self harming by not recognising just how dangerous the action they have taken
was. Treatment for BPD is usually by medication; I am currently on Venlafaxine (an antidepressant), Carbomazapine (an anti-convulsive drug which stabilises my brain waves) and Chlorpromazine (which is a tranquilliser). I also use Zopiclone (which is a sleeping tablet). I have also had three periods of hospitalisation, in a psychiatric unit, but in the condition of BPD this is usually discouraged as it can cause more harm than good, due to the BPD sufferers altered perception of reality. BPD sufferers also tend to become institutionalised easier and can seek solace in the hospital, prefering to hide there instead of living real life. The preferable method of care is through a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and I see mine on a weekly basis. BPD is thought to be caused by a traumatic experience in childhood, such as abuse, problems in parental skills when the Borderliner was young, or similar. There is still not much advice on BPD readily available, either in the form of literature or Internet websites. The majority of websites are geared to medical professionals. I am hoping to set my own website up to help other sufferers of this condition. This condition rules the sufferers life, and more is needed to bring this condition into the public eye. Many public figures have been said to suffer from it, the most high profile probably being Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and Adolf Hitler. The misunderstanding of the condition, and the implications of the name, needs to be explored. A recent American survey showed that the word Borderline did not adequately describe the illness and confused both patients, carers and medical professionals. This condition is one that is so misunderstood that it is criminal seeing that it is more common than most other psychiatric conditions.