BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER AND ME – DSM-V CRITERIA PT. 3

3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self.

This is a symptom that I’m constantly struggling with. Every day really. Look back, I’ve struggled with this long before my diagnosis but I never knew what an identity disturbance was.

I’ll personalise a definition that was given in this article by verywellmind.com; this is by far the best definition of identity that I’ve read.

Understanding Identity

Most experts view identity as your overarching sense and view of yourself. A stable sense of identity means being able to see yourself as the same person in the past, present, and future. In addition, a stable sense of self requires the ability to view yourself in one way despite the fact that sometimes you may behave in contradictory ways.

Identity is quite broad and includes many aspects of the self. Your sense of self or identity is probably made up of your beliefs, attitudes, abilities, history, ways of behaving, personality, temperament, knowledge, opinions, and roles. Identity can be thought of as your self-definition; it’s the glue that holds together all of these diverse aspects of yourself.

I’ll break that down.

I don’t have an overarching sense or view of myself. Some hours I think that I’m a good person, sometimes I think I deserve every little stress that comes my way, sometimes I think I’m naturally maternal, sometimes I think I’m not suited to parenting, sometimes I think I’m smart, sometimes I think I’m too old to be smart any more. The changes in my perception of self come around by such minor changes that it’s ridiculous really! If I have a good day and my kids are well behaved etc, I’m maternal. If later on I have a hard time with them acting out, I wasn’t made for children. I guess the normal and stable thought process would be “No I’m not a perfect mother, my children aren’t perfect, but we do pretty good”. I really struggle to find the balance in those thoughts and even though that logically we do okay and we’re a good little unit, my feelings don’t always run to the same beat of my brain. My perception of who I am, who I want to be changes all of the time. It’s exhausting really, but better than it was when I wasn’t in therapy. The cycles become more frequent when I’m poorly or triggered by something.

All of the aspects of personality as mentioned in the quote change so frequently too. I’m never really sure what I believe in. Am I Christian? Am I spiritual? Am I Buddhist? Am I agnostic? Athiest? Etc etc. I genuinely don’t know! Just because I’m something one day doesn’t mean I’ll be it the next. I’ve been bisexual, lesbian, straight. I’ve wanted to be a nurse, a carer, a psychologist, a scientist, a foster carer, an administrator, an accountant. Hobbies don’t tend to stick around for very long. In the last few years I’ve tried learning languages (Spanish and French), the piano, how to write creatively, how to paint. I’ve enjoyed gaming, reading books, walking, photography, watching Netflix, crafts, crochet, colouring, cooking, baking. None seem to last very long really aside form reading.

I think that I have a few tendencies that stick. I don’t give up fighting. It may not always look like it if I’m in the grips of depression or if I’m dissociating a lot, but I try hard every single day to keep on going and to keep improving myself in one way or another.

If I feel as though something is ‘right’ then I’ll pursue it or defend it. If someone I love is hurt then I am too, regardless of the cause.

I always feel far too much guilt for things that are out of control, things that I’ve done wrong or things that I’ve done right.

Who knows who I am? I barely do. This shit is exhausting but I guess I won’t get bored and hopefully neither will my friends or family!

E,

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BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER AND ME – DSM-V CRITERIA Pt. 2

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

For me this issue ties into my last post about abandonment. You can find this here.

If I idealised or devalued anybody it would be in relation to how they felt about me and if I thought that they would stay, or if they would leave me. As I mentioned in the last post, I would fear abandonment over very minor things. If someone that I was close to did anything to trigger that fear in me then my brain automatically labelled them an ‘abandoner’; they were mean, they didn’t care about me. If the very same person was to get back in touch and say something nice then they were amazing, they would never leave me, they could never do anything wrong. It was exhausting really and back then I never had any real insight into how I was thinking or why I was thinking in that way.


Those that are familiar with BPD terminology will have heard about the ‘favourite person’ phenomena. A favourite person (or FP) is someone that you believe can do no wrong, they are your everything and you place all of your worth on their opinions. A FP can quickly change and become demonised by something minor, but more often than not with me I just became obsessed with keeping them, keeping their good opinion and pleasing them. I would message my favourite person all the time (there have been many), buy them gifts that I couldn’t afford and want to see them all the time.

I still struggle with traits of this now. Sometimes I find that I’m still skipping the grey areas with people or situations. I just see the good and the bad, the true of the false. It’s something that I’m working on though and I wouldn’t say it’s detrimental to my health any more. I do have healthier relationships now, but there have been so many that were just toxic.

I’ve had bad relationships with my family, particularly my parents. I have had various toxic relationships or emotional/sexual encounters. I can see now that I turned people into my FP or demonised people so much that it distorted my perception on what was really happening. Every relationship I was in ended in a train wreck. I hurt myself and countless other people whilst I was living this way.


This black and white thinking in BPD is known as splitting (I.E all good or bad, splitting everything into two categories). I still do split on people if my emotions are high and I’m so wound up that I can’t think straight. An example of this would be if my husband and I had a small argument, I would forget about every nice thing that he had ever done and just all of the bad. He goes from being my awesome normal husband, to the worst husband of all time. This isn’t too much of an issue for me now though, I can now see that I’m splitting when I’m doing it and most of the time I manage to reassure myself that it will pass, once I’ve calmed down and removed myself from the situation.

I do split on situations still though now, EG. we’re very poor/we’re very rich, I’m doing well/I’m doing terribly. Especially if I’ve had a disagreement with someone. It takes some work and some self-care to get a hold of myself.

I’m fortunate to be in a stable place in my life right now. I have my struggles but I can largely gain perspective on my issues in a calm and safe space and can work on them accordingly. For a person with BPD who has had no help and who struggles to find perspective in their behaviour and emotions, the world and everything in it is a very confusing and scary place.

Borderline personality disorder and me – DSM-V criteria

The DSM-5, the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, is accepted and used world-wide for it’s classification of mental illness.

What I find interesting about the criteria for borderline personality disorder is that there are 9 criteria in total, but only 5 need to be met to warrant the diagnosis. I find this interesting because the stigma attached to BPD can be so awful and yet there are numerous combinations in which the criteria can be met. Two people could have the same diagnosis but only have one symptom in common; and with each criteria affecting everyone differently, it doesn’t take a mastermind to see that it doesn’t make sense to tar everyone with the same brush.

In this mini-series I’ll be discussing how each of the diagnostic criteria affects me personally. It would be great if any fellow BPD’ers would like to jump on and explain how they relate to the criteria and the condition in general.


Criteria #1 – Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment.

I’m not entirely sure that right now I make such big efforts when I’m triggered by my abandonment issues. I know that I definitely used to be. Growing up I had a very important person miss the most important part of childhood and so I mostly attribute it to that. When I was diagnosed this is one of those symptoms that clicked and helped me to understand myself better.

I don’t like abandonment, but I accept that people coming going are just a part of life and I know that naturally people move away, forget to message or get new friends. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care, it just means that they’re living their life, as we should all do. Some time ago I could have considered every little thing as abandonment; even sometime as small as a friend rearranging plans or my partner falling asleep.

I know that when my first boyfriend left me when I was 14 I was devastated and I clung to him and begged him not to go. I hung on to toxic relationships for too long because I just needed to know that they still cared and wouldn’t leave. Years ago I would feel intense hurt if a friend didn’t message back or seemed to be spending more time with other friends than with me. I’d become clingy and needy without even realising it; I was convinced that what I was feeling was perfectly normal and had zero perspective on my behaviours.


The worst that I’ve ever been abandonment-wise was when I was first with my now-husband. He was so nice and normal and I was convinced my crazy would make him leave. What did my BPD brain do to try and keep him? I pushed him away. I was so certain that he would leave that I gave him more than every reason to. When we met, I got pregnant fast, I lost my job in the same week that we found out, I had a son from a previous relationship and due to a familial relationship breakdown my younger brother came to live with us.

In my 2-bedroom, half-decorated council house there was pregnant me, my son, my brother and my partner. I had fallen out with my family and was extremely depressed. Through it all he just loved me.

I remember the first time we had an argument I had stormed off downstairs and left him to fall asleep upstairs, when I came up to bed I climbed in with my back towards him and he rolled towards me and started stroking my back. My first thought was “I don’t deserve this” and I was quietly cross with him for being nice to me when I didn’t deserve it. I’d never felt kindness like that before in a relationship. Weren’t people supposed to be spiteful and mean to each other after arguments? Weren’t they supposed to last days? He taught me how to be kind, how to forgive and how to let go of grudges. I’m definitely a better person for knowing him. I remember him once saying to me “Emma, not every argument has to end up with us breaking up” and I was like “what. why?” It sounds so funny when I read that back to myself, but I think it shows how unstable I really was!

How he had the strength to stay with me and love me despite everything, I’ll never know; but I’m so unbelievably grateful that he did. He was the first healthy relationship that I’d ever had, the first time that I’d ever really had a life that was stable. I had to work to change my behaviours, helped by his endless kindness. It’s only in the last 3 or 4 years that I’ve really come to feel secure in our relationship and learnt to fully put my trust into ‘us’. We’re in an amazing place now and even though he’s an annoying little turd I know that we’ll be married for the rest of our lives.

The reason that I’ve rambled on about the husband is because he showed me that regardless of ANYTHING, I’m worth loving. I’ve worked on my abandonment issues in therapy but the real change has been the secure bonds that I’ve developed with my husband and our children. I have a future to look forward to and I couldn’t have said that for the most of my life.

Are people with BPD evil?

This is a reblog, it’s so worth a read for those with or curious about BPD.

Scarlett's BPD Corner

Evil looking woman and handPixabay

As I was looking at the most searched terms related with BPD, I found that “are people with BPD evil” was one of the top results.

Back of woman's head sad Pixabay

We shouldn’t demonize millions of people because of a personality disorder. Anyone can be evil and not have BPD. As anyone can have BPD and not be evil.

You have to understand that people with this condition are suffering immensely. They are overwhelmed, their emotions are all over the place. They do things they regret, over and over. They can be toxic or not, it depends on how the condition manifests and how the person deals with it.

Two fingers pointing at each other, argumentPixabay

In my past, I’ve been toxic but it was because I was suffering so violently. There was a pain in my soul that few people could understand (or so I thought). I would have a favorite person and just be with that person…

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Will this change how you view schizophrenia?

What is the first thing you think of when you try to imagine a person with schizophrenia? Would it be a dishevelled, wild-eyed, delusional person that may or may not lose their mind and hurt you? Would it be a sweet early-dementia-like patient who appears fine most of the time but is prone to hallucinations, delusions and sometimes anger in their confusion? Science, and the real world would say that the latter is a closer portrayal of Schizophrenia.


What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is defined as a psychiatric illness that is characterised by losing touch with reality in a state of what is known as psychosis. It can appear suddenly or can be gradual and progressive. There is no known cure for schizophrenia and so treatment involves the use of drugs to control symptoms, although 25% of those that experience an episode of schizophrenia will recover completely.

The diagnostic criteria from the DSM-V is as follows:

  • The presence of 2 (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated), with at least 1 of them being (1), (2), or (3): (1) delusions, (2) hallucinations, (3) disorganized speech, (4) grossly disorganized or catatonic behaviour, and (5) negative symptoms.
  • For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, level of functioning in 1 or more major areas (eg. Work, interpersonal relations, or self-care) is markedly below the level achieved before onset; when the onset is in childhood or adolescence, the expected level of interpersonal, academic or occupational functioning is not achieved.

To see the full list of criteria click here


Symptoms in schizophrenia are termed ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Positive symptoms are those that are brought by schizophrenia; meaning you wouldn’t have them if you didn’t have schizophrenia. These are symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

Negative symptoms relate to things that you would have if it weren’t for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. These are symptoms such as being unable to move (catatonia), or feeling less emotional or motivated.


What causes schizophrenia?

The cause of schizophrenia is not understood, but studies have highlighted risk factors for developing the condition, such as genetics, a chemical imbalance, a persons’ environment.

There’s currently a movement, more so in America than the UK but it applies worldwide all the same, that is lobbying to push the World Health Organisation to reclassify schizophrenia as a neurological condition, much like Parkinson’s or dementia.

When a move like this occurs, it’s clear to see just how strongly stigma still clings to mental illness. We live in a world, sadly, where people with a certain ‘type’ of illness are accepted and cared for by both people and officials more than that of another type. It is more socially acceptable and pitiable to be diagnosed with a neurological disorder than it is a psychiatric one; to see a medical doctor and not a psychiatrist.

Raymond Cho, M.D of SARDAA (Schizophrenia And Related Disorders Alliance of America) has been campaigning for the change and is quoted as saying “There is scientific consensus that the illness is a brain-based, highly heritable illness. There is overwhelming evidence that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder with disease processes commencing early in neurodevelopment and manifesting as subtle neurologic and behavioural abnormalities long before DSM-defined illness onset.”

It has been found that physical abnormalities are more prevalent in people with schizophrenia than people without, adding weight to the theory that schizophrenia is a condition that develops during foetal development and is therefore neurological in nature.

John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center is bolder still and says that “If schizophrenia was a disease that we just discovered today there would be no question that’s how we would classify it” – Powerful huh?


Symptoms that a schizophrenia patient might experience include:

  • A chronic lack of interest
  • Problems with concentration
  • Problems with memory
  • Psychotic symptoms – hallucinations and delusions
  • Becoming overwhelmed in social situations
  • Avoiding people or situations
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Anxiety
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Incoherent speech
  • Mood changes

Sad, isn’t it? It’s also sad that every one of the above symptoms can be found in dementia too.


As mentioned before, schizophrenia’s most known characteristic is psychosis. You know the symptom that puts fear into everyone that has read the Daily Mail? Here are some other causes of psychosis:

  • Brain tumour
  • Brain cyst
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • HIV
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Postpartum psychosis
  • Bipolar

Almost all of the conditions on the above list would warrant sympathy and compassion from the world populace – would schizophrenia? Psychosis in schizophrenia and bipolar are associated with violent behaviour – what about dementia patients that exhibit psychosis and are violent? Why aren’t we afraid of them?

Because of stigma.

The media portrayal of schizophrenia would have us believe that all schizophrenics are dangerous and unpredictable.

They have a split personality or multiple personalities (completely different disorder and again, nothing to be afraid of.)

Here and here are two heart-breaking stories of dementia patients that have committed murder. Do you think that society is going to begin to fear dementia patients? Society acknowledges that these patients were sick and vulnerable and that absolutely applies to the schizophrenic members of our society; they absolutely deserve the same amount of love, care and compassion as anybody with any illness – I might even argue they would deserve more compassion due to the current climate of stigma. They are far more likely to be discriminated against.

The reality is though, most schizophrenia or dementia patients aren’t always in psychosis and they are not always violent.


Regardless of whether or not the illness is reclassified, why should it matter? It shouldn’t. These patients have an illness that they did not ask for and an illness which (like many others) has a huge impact on all aspects of their lives. Any person with any illness, mental or physical, deserves compassion and understanding. Poorly people have enough to deal with, so let us learn to accept them without labels and judgement, and let’s keep on spreading awareness and changing the world.

 


Sources:

http://www.soonerthantomorrow.com/blog/2019/2/25/6zrk92dl8f0ipjgp7q1i4hyujwce51

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248159.php

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/05/schizophrenia-brain-disease-1059386

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/288259-overview#a2

A week in the life of BPD – Friday

Friday 3rd May

I woke up twice last night, not sure of the times as I managed to get straight back off to sleep. It was still dark though, so I knew it wasn’t time to get up. I slept in because my husband isn’t working and he left me to sleep, it wasn’t too late when I woke – about 8:30 I think. I find the later I get up the worse my mood is, unless I do a little exercise or something to get my blood going.

I feel bad this morning. Very bad. It has taken me 40 minutes to find the energy and will to get up. I feel dissociated and my mind feels sluggish but anxious at the same time. I forced myself to get out of bed, I made myself wash my face and brush my teeth and put a fresh bun in. I then came back to the bedroom to get dressed but I’ve been sat on the bed for the last 30 minutes or so. I have that awful feeling in my tummy and I feel tense. I really just want to crawl back into bed today. I don’t have the mental energy to deal with having a mental illness today. I’d really love to have a good, happy day. It feels unfair that to get justice and closure I have to trigger myself to this extent, but I know that it will be good in the long run. I keep reminding myself of that.


My Husbster has been stressing this morning because my son’s swimming shorts have vanished. When I feel like this any kind of negativity makes me feel so much worse and more anxious. I know it’s not his fault. We spoke about it and I tried to explain how it makes me feel when I’m not well. I’ve got a doctors appointment this morning, I forgot that I’d booked it to be honest. I booked it as soon as I woke up. Hopefully they’ll be able to help me with how I’m feeling right now.


We’ve come to visit our friends this morning. I didn’t like the idea of leaving the house to be honest but I know that we’ll enjoy their company and it will do me good in the long run. It’s been nice as ever, we have drunk coffee, lounged about (no children) and just chatted. We’ll leave here and go straight to the doctors.


I’ve been to the doctors and I actually feel quite hopeful. She was lovely and really took the time to talk to me, check in and see how I’m feeling. We’re going to switch antidepressants from Fluoxetine 20mg to Sertraline 50mg. I know the first two weeks can be hellish but Fluox obviously isn’t working for me like it used to. I think that maybe I’ll do a post that talks about the timeline of my side effects. It could bring comfort to anyone else that’s making a switch or starting an SSRI. It’s hard not knowing what to expect and having to put your life on hold for a fortnight. My doctor said that because these drugs are so similar there’s no real reason to do a long wean. Therefore today is my last day of Fluoxetine and I’ll start taking Sertraline on Tuesday. She also gave me 10x Diazepam 5mg tablets to use if i need them, I’ll only use them in emergencies.

The doctor was happy that i had therapy etc and said she’ll call me on a Thursday sometime, I can’t remember what date. I gave her my work number incase I’m working. I’m starting on the lowest dose so hopefully the changeover won’t be too bad. Maybe it won’t be like starting a brand new drug for the first time. Although does it mean I’ll withdraw on one and have side effects from the other? Or that there won’t really be withdrawal or start up symptoms? It sounds as though it’ll either be really easy or really bad. We shall see.

I’m working tonight but I feel okay about it because I’m on with my best friend. I’m only really on call too so I should have an easy-ish night. I’m going to leave my ‘week in the life of’ here, so this will be the final entry on this little project.


I’m at work and me and my friend are talking to a ‘panic buddy’ of ours, about our visions for On Mental Health and what we would like to do with it. We’re doing some research and we’re putting a forum together. I’m not going to bother purchasing a domain yet in case it doesn’t take off. I believe with enough hard work then we will get going and hopefully we will have a real chance to make a difference to peoples’ lives. I have plenty of life experience with mental illness, but when I study for my Psychology degree I’ll be able to bring another understanding to the team. It’s really nice to have something to look forward to.


And that’s all she wrote. I hope that this little insight into what it’s like to live with borderline personality disorder was useful. I know that everyone is different, and deals with their illnesses differently.

I hope that anyone out there, if you’re feeling anxious, paranoid, depressed, irrational, impulsive, anything; if you’re struggling you are not alone. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, you are brave and strong and so much more than your mental illness.

Emma. X


I’m Nikita and I’m forever sorry..

A post from one of our team that suffers with BPD.

MISS MESSY MIND

So I’m pretty terrible at wording things so please bear with me.

I feel like I’m forever sorry for everything I do and/or say, I regret talking to people sometimes because they might have noticed how awkward I am.
I haven’t always been so sorry, I used to be a horrible teen that blamed everyone else for the way I was feeling if not verbally then I mentally blamed them.
Now I am more than sorry for who I used to be, I was toxic and vile and I was absolutely to blame for the way I behaved, I have since found out that I have BPD/EUPD (Borderline personality disorder) which means I don’t react to things the way that other people would (still doesn’t excuse how I would talk to people)

So here goes… just a few things I’m sorry for;

I’m sorry for being so ‘lazy’ the days…

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