Borderline personality disorder (BPD) doesn’t mean “almost” or “sort of” a personality disorder. And personality disorders are not all about multiple personalities. Borderline personality disorder is a condition which involves extreme emotional pain, difficulty in controlling emotions, and very troubled relationships. As you might imagine, those who suffer from BPD are usually plagued with depression and anxiety.
The symptoms of BPD and bipolar disorder usually overlap. Many people suffer from both BPD and bipolar disorder, but not all do. Symptoms of BPD may include:
* Irrational fear of abandonment
* Distorted self image (unrealistic assessment of self)
* Rage (seemingly unjustified, may come and go)
* Dramatic mood swings (extreme mood changes with no apparent cause)
* Feeling worthless (unworthy of love, acceptance)
* Impulsive behavior (promiscuity, gambling, unaffordable spending sprees)
* Intense need to be in a romantic relationship
* Inability to control emotions
* Aggressive behavior
* Suicidal ideation or actions
* Anxiety and depression
* Black and white views
One of the reasons sufferers of borderline personality disorder have such difficulty maintaining relationships is because they see everything as black or white—-no gray. Things are good or bad, right or wrong, yes or no. There is no maybe, and no understanding of something or someone being somewhere in between good or evil. In the mind of one with BPD, if you do something hurtful to them, you are bad or evil. Good, decent people can’t do things like that. For example: “He lied to me, so he’s evil. He doesn’t love me, and I can’t be with him.”
The black and white assessment doesn’t just go for everyone else. It is also how those with BPD see themselves. As no one is perfect, and we all do things we are ashamed of and regret, a BPD sufferer sees herself as a bad or evil person, unworthy of love, forgiveness or acceptance.
As with most psychiatric illnesses, the definitive cause for BPD is not known. It is presumed to be a possible combination of factors such as heredity, childhood/life experiences, and brain abnormalities.
Those with borderline personality disorder are susceptible to addictions such as alcohol, drugs, or food. Eating disorders are common among those with BPD. Multiple relationships, marriages and divorces, as well as loss of employment due to the inability to cope with stresses and control emotions, are also common among sufferers of BPD.
Borderline personality disorder is treated with talk therapy (a.k.a. psychotherapy) and different types of drugs. Many doctors treat BPD with antidepressants only, but in a patient who also has bipolar disorder, this commonly pushes the patient into mania. Anxiety may be treated with tranquilizers. The extreme mood swings can be treated with mood stabilizers (anticonvulsants).
As with bipolar disorder, the suicide rate among those with borderline personality disorder is high. According to an article entitled “Borderline Personality Disorder – Symptoms” on WebMD.com, nearly 10% of those who suffer from BPD “complete suicide” (not just attempt). For this reason, it is essential that loved ones of BPD sufferers watch for warning signs of suicide including, but not limited to, the following:
1.) Talking about death/suicide
2.) Giving away favorite possessions
3.) Extreme depression/sadness
4.) Risk-taking behavior, especially when it is uncharacteristic
5.) Increasing abuse of alcohol/drugs
6.) Withdrawing from friends/family
8.) Writing a will
Never ignore any of the signs of suicide or dismiss them as the actions of someone who is “just looking for attention.” Those actions may be cries for help from someone who has given up on life. Do whatever it takes to help that person, even if it means calling 911. Don’t worry about being wrong, or making anyone angry. It could mean life or death for your friend or family member.
If you think you could be suffering from borderline personality disorder, or any other psychiatric illness, do not “self medicate” (use alcohol or illicit/unprescribed drugs). Talk with your family doctor or a psychiatrist about your symptoms and issues. With the help of a therapist and the right medications, you can get back on track and live a productive life.
Do not give up! You are here for a reason. Don’t miss out on the beauty of life just because you’re going through a dark period. Reach out for help and focus on that growing light at the end of the tunnel!
Borderline Personality Disorder – Symptoms. WebMD.com. Healthwise, Incorporated. 2009.