After all the talk about disorders and trauma, I thought I’d post something about therapy and healing. (via Feministe)

As the author notes, the cost of therapy can be prohibitive and insurance coverage (as she puts it) is shitty. But there’s plenty of forums on the internet dealing with this topic and therapists with blogs that can provide you with insight and awareness. Not exactly a substitute for years of therapy, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I think just being in a healing frame of mind and looking for help is a good start though.

People who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder are some of the best actors in the world. They have to be in order to function in the real world. You can’t really blame them. Their fear of rejection/abandonment drives them to keep up the charade. One that includes lies and re-writing history. A BP tells so many “stories” sometimes they don’t know what the truth is.

Therefore it is up to loved ones and those who have intimate knowledge of the BP to determine what is fact and what is fiction.  Remember: the BP always puts their best foot forward. If you go to their Facebook page, they will litter it with photos showing how happy there are. They will blog about how great life is. In public, they will have the most boisterous full-body laugh you will ever hear and see. That is not to say these happy moments aren’t real. But they are only a small part of the picture and are usually exaggerated for dramatic effect.

But if you spend any good amount of time with the BP, you will eventually see the darkside. If not angry outbursts, you will see the deep depression. This is why BPs cycle through friends and go through lovers so quickly. Most people are unprepared for such drama. And any attempt to help is met with hostility. If that helpful person doesn’t leave, the BP will show them out the door.

But if a BP threatens suicide, it should be taken seriously. Especially, if that person has a history of “cutting” (a common BPD trait) or repeated threats. These are cries for help. The following info is issued by the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Monitor patients carefully for suicide risk and document this assessment; be aware that feelings of rejection, fears of abandonment, or a change in the treatment may precipitate suicidal ideation or attempts.
  • Take suicide threats seriously and address them with the patient. Taking action (e.g., hospitalization) in an attempt to protect the patient from serious self-harm is indicated for acute suicide risk.
  • Chronic suicidality without acute risk needs to be addressed in therapy (e.g., focusing on the interpersonal context of the suicidal feelings and addressing the need for the patient to take responsibility for his or her actions). If a patient with chronic suicidality becomes acutely suicidal, the clinician should take action in an attempt to prevent suicide.
  • Actively treat comorbid axis I disorders, with particular attention to those that may contribute to or increase the risk of suicide (e.g., major depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol or drug abuse/dependence).
  • If acute suicidality is present and not responding to the therapeutic approaches being used, consultation with a colleague should be considered.
  • Consider involving the family (if otherwise clinically appropriate and with adequate attention to confidentiality issues) when patients are chronically suicidal. For acute suicidality, involve the family or a significant other if their involvement will potentially protect the patient from harm.

The actual chance of suicide is slim. But if you care about the person, it’s probably better to air on the side of caution. At the least, a diagnosis is warranted. It should be noted that even if a BP threatens suicide, it is not uncommon for them to deny it days later. Friends are often reluctant to pursue such matters for fear of losing their friendship and family often try to keep such things under tight wraps. But both are doing the BP a great disservice by enabling the BP’s denial. Telling them everything is fine and they are OK is the worst thing you could do for a BP. BPD is a serious mental illness and needs to be regarded as such. No joke, people.

Confronting BP about lies.

Embracing Sluthood

July 27, 2010

A recent blog post from Feministe encouraged women to embrace their inner slut. I thought it was a fun and interesting spin on an age-old double standard. I’m sure some people were offended by the moral implications, but many more in the comment section felt empowered. Sort of like Black people embracing the “N” word. This was horny women throwing off the shackles of a puritanical society.

I certainly have no problem with women having more guilt-free sex. I’ve often encouraged it. But where I fell off the bandwagon was when the author admitted she was sexually assaulted. It gave me a moment of pause, not to condemn but pause for concern. Certainly, I can understand wanting to let it all hang out, especially after the end of an emotionally grueling relationship. I can even understand the need for space to emotionally heal. Just not sure if copious amounts of sex is the way to do it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think survivors should have as much sex as the next gal. More power and more condoms to you. But the fact is sexual trauma can create an unhealthy relationship with sex. And that can ruin a survivor’s chance at learning to deal with intimacy and even impede recovery, especially when the survivor confuses sex with intimacy. Especially, if the woman has a taste for emotionally unavailable men or needs to be emotionally detached/drunk to enjoy sex. So for me, the issue is not so much the amount of sex being had, it’s the way these women relate to it.

In her defense, the author also mentions she was in therapy for a long time. But any therapist will tell you that sexual promiscuity is an adverse effect of sexual assault. This is not so much a moral judgment as it is a medical one. So I don’t know if it’s the right message to be sending other women who have been sexually assaulted. It’s sort of like asking alcoholics to embrace a keg of beer or telling a rageoholic to just go with it.

Maybe we should ask if those women are having sex for the wrong reasons. – Are they using sex to create self-worth? Are they having sex with multiple partners to get back at an ex? Are they using sex as a way to avoid intimacy and sabotage relationships? If a relationship ended because of infidelity, should the person be racing to sleep with the next person who gives them attention? Isn’t casual sex reinforcing self-destructive behaviors?

And then comes the issue of needing time and space to heal after a long term relationship. Wouldn’t time for reflection and time to work on issues be more productive (albeit less fun) than having sex? The same applies to serial daters or people who jump from one relationship to another. We all need time to assess and rebuild. By jumping into the arms of another right away, aren’t you essentially depriving yourself of this opportunity to heal and grow? And if you’re a survivor of trauma, don’t you need even more time to heal?

The author had mentioned breaking a dry spell, so clearly she had taken time out to work on herself. But many survivors do not. Many are so frightened of being alone, they use sex and rebound relationships as a quick fix. They fear being alone because that means being alone with their thoughts. And that means having to deal with difficult issues and troubling memories. Seems like I read somewhere that, in order to be strong enough for a relationship,  you have to be strong enough to be alone.

Yeah, we all have a right to make bad decisions. I’ve abused that right on numerous occasions. But as good as it feels to have someone validate our bad decisions, is it the right thing to do? Sex should be had frequently but when it becomes yet another way for someone to avoid taking responsibility for your own behavior and mental health that’s when I have to question priorities.

Sexual liberation should be embraced, but not at the expense of self-liberation. Sex should be guilt-free, but does that mean free of responsibility? Maybe those who are suffering from trauma should settle some personal issues before they go jumping in the sack with every Tom, Dick and Mary.  Just sayin.

Misplaced Anger.

July 25, 2010

Earlier this week, a disgruntled commenter expressed outrage over posts about Borderline Personality Disorder. I expected there would be a few people upset by these posts. Sometimes it’s easier for people to assign blame, then it is to deal with the shame and stigma attached to such disorders. But I think talking about it helps to remove those stigmas, which gets more people talking about things that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

For the record, none of these posts are meant to be malicious in anyway. They are not meant to humiliate anyone.  If my posts are unflattering to those who suffer from BPD, it’s because the behavior caused by such disorders can often be unpleasant. BPD can make good people do horrible things. And if talking about stuff like this can help someone realize the harm they are causing, then it might be worth upsetting a few people.

These posts are only intended to raise awareness. The info posted here about BPD and other such topics are not meant to replace a good therapist or common sense. I am only sharing with you my opinions and what I have learned. But don’t take my word as gospel. If you have a loved one who suffers from BPD, I encourage you to do your own research. If you suspect you have BPD, I encourage you to get diagnosed by a therapist who is familiar with BPD. But lashing out at me, doesn’t do anyone any good. And ignoring the problem is only making things worse.

Welcome To The Darkside

July 22, 2010

My Borderline Personality Disorder series continues. BPD is sometimes referred to as the Relationship Disorder because that’s where it usually manifests itself. In this post, I’m  going to talk about the phenomenon known as “splitting black” or as I like to call it, turning to the Darkside.

BPs tend to view people as all good or all evil, and nothing in between.  But they can even turn on a person they once loved. After a period of seeing only good in that person, they “split black” and suddenly hate the person for no particular reason. It is an irrational hatred. And nothing the other person can do or say will change the mind of the BP. Any loving memory will become null and void. This is what is called devaluation.

Usually this happens when BPs become insecure and start to fear rejection and abandonment. Perhaps their partner does something that sends up a red flag or hurts them in some way. Which is not hard to do as BPs are ridiculously sensitive and can be extremely vengeful.

As part of their defense mechanism, they subconsciously push their partner away before they are rejected. This puts them in a position of power. But ironically, it also makes them angry at the partner they pushed away. Because when their partner finally drifts away, they perceive it as confirmation of rejection. Sound complicated? Imagine how confused the partner feels.

At this point, BPs will do anything to sabotage a relationship that threatens heartbreak. They often regress to childish and selfish behavior, lashing out with hurtful words and vengeful acts. They begin hiding their feelings and looking for “intimacy” elsewhere. Sometimes they will even lie and cheat. Worse yet, they will project these undesirable behaviors onto their partner, accusing them of being untrustworthy. They will throw this onto a long list of reasons to shut their partners out. This becomes part of their smear campaign. A BP has to work hard to justify this level of hatred.

To say the BP becomes unsympathetic to their partner is an understatement. If they are desperate enough to escape they will become downright mean and nasty. A BP may not know why they are being hostile to a loved one, but does it because it is instinctual. Like a cat that pops its claws when it feels cornered.

How long this black period lasts varies. It depends on a lot of factors: How insecure the BP feels, how intimate they have been, how aware the BP is of his/her own condition, how motivated the BP is to change, and many more.

For most BPs, splitting is a signal to jump ship and look for the allusive “one”. Not realizing they need to change themselves before they can find true love.  BPs can bounce from one lover to another without missing a heartbeat. They fear being alone so much they will sometimes look for replacements before their current relationship is even over. Using new relationships as a crutch and an emotional band-aid prevents them from ever having to get better. They don’t have to. If a relationship fails, they just move onto the next one.

Forum thread involving female BP splitting black.

Forum thread involving male BP.

Splitting Black

Comprehensive BPD overview, including common characteristics and traits.

Why you can’t be friends after a BP breaks up with you.

Support network for men abused by BP.

More info on BPD, including splitting.

“Isn’t Life Grand?” “Life is Beautiful.” “I’m in Heaven.” These sound like the words of the happiest person in the world, right? Possibly. But the cynic in me senses a person who is trying really hard to compensate for troubled emotions: sadness, anger, guilt, self-hatred, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, etc. Or simply in denial. Sorry to be such a buzz kill. But anyone who is always gushing about how wonderful their life is highly suspect. If your life is so wonderful, why do you need to advertise it? Who are you trying to make jealous? Who are you trying to impress? What are you trying to escape? What are you trying to cover up?

Don’t get me wrong. Ain’t nothing wrong with “turning that frown upside down”. But the whole “fake it till you make it” thing only goes so far. As corny as it sounds, true happiness does come from within. Sooner or later, it’s time for a little honesty and self-awareness. Being happy is great if it’s genuine. But if it’s forced or exaggerated for dramatic purposes, it’s time to take that long look in the mirror. Time to address those demons you’ve been running away from, acknowledge all your misdeeds, and deal with with longstanding issues. It’s time to get real.

Pretty ballsy to go on YouTube and confess to the world that you’re struggling with BPD. The video is pretty long. But if you suffer from BPD, it’s probably nice to hear from someone who’s going through the same thing you are. The first half is about her struggle to find a therapist. And the second half talks about her turbulent relationships. Like she says: therapists are expensive, but YouTube is free. Hope this helps.

Here’s her YouTube page.

This latest effort from N.E.R.D. reminded me how much I love both.

The following excerpt was written by a woman describing her Borderline Personality Disorder and how it has affected her relationships:

I know there are a lot of things a BPD does that make someone not familiar with the disorder bang their head on a wall and scream, “Why!?”  And one of those things is something I do pretty much instinctively.  It’s something that makes no logical sense.  It’s wanting to be close to someone so badly one moment, and the next moment, pushing away. And it’s something a lot of Borderlines do.  Get close only to run away.

She’s one of the lucky ones. Many people with this condition don’t even know they have it. Instead they go through the ups and downs of BPD, not knowing if they are crazy or if they are just unlucky in love. Still others live in firm denial, thinking they just pick all the wrong people to love.

Mind you, this is not your run of the mill fear of intimacy. This is full blown “get out of my way, I need out of this relationship now”. This is one minute putting your lover on a pedestal and then the next minute casting them down to the depths of hell. This is being unable to control your rage. This is a condition characterized by instability.

BPs are some of the most talented and intelligent people, but behind the scenes they can struggle with deep depression and feelings of self-loathing. They can be the most charming and outgoing person you know, but inside they are hiding a deep fear of rejection.

People who are seduced into relationships with BPs, quickly realize that something is not quite right. They find themselves walking on eggshells all the time. Never knowing when their otherwise happy lover is going to flip out. And when the relationship ends, it’s usually the BP who catches them off guard like a hit and run driver. And then makes their partners feel like it was all their fault. This is the joy of loving a person with BPD.

If this sounds all too familiar then it’s possible you either suffer from BPD, or you have been in a relationship with a BP. As you read more and more about BPD, it is almost as if someone is recounting your own story. While BPD is unpredictable in some ways, it can be very predictable in others. It’s as if every person with BPD is following the same script.

But you can’t be certain that you have BPD, unless you are diagnosed by a professional. BPD is a serious disease that requires serious therapy. It’s not something you can work on “in your own way”. You can’t just runaway from BPD, like you run away from relationships. It haunts you where ever you go. And causes harm to all those who choose to love you. Sooner or later, you have to stop running and deal with reality.

Below is some more info on BPD:

Another personal account with more in-depth info.

Wikipedia on BPD with description of idealization and devaluation of relationships.

A Breakdown of BPD relationships into 3 stages : Seducer, Clinger, and Hater.

One woman tells of how she pushed men out of her life and talks about why she did it. She talks about expectations that were too high and how she ultimately didn’t feel like she deserved to be loved. She talks about caring too much in the beginning and feeling robbed in the end. She talks about the long line of people she has left in her wake. And talks about the day she finally woke up.