I think I’ve made it clear that borderlines are not heartless monsters. They are human beings who have been sentenced to a life of great highs and debilitating lows. And it is because of these intense emotions that we find BPs acting out in ways that sometimes hurt those closest to them. But let me say there are many things I love about borderlines.

Most BPs are highly intelligent and creative. And despite the shitty card they’ve been dealt with, many of them show great resilience and resourcefulness. There’s a survival instinct that borderlines have that I don’t see in the average person. There’s a reason why high-functioning borderlines are so talented. Because they have to be in order to overcome their handicaps.

BPs are passionate people. They live life like they mean it. They laugh with their entire bodies. On a good day, a borderline reminds me to fully embrace life. The BPs I’ve known are outgoing and charming. People gravitate towards them because they have a great sense of empathy and have compassion for other people’s suffering. This is a benefit to being super-sensitive.

But unfortunately things get complicated when you become intimate with a borderline. As one BP said to me, she makes a much better friend than a lover. When a BP’s fear of abandonment/rejection is triggered, that empathy shuts down. That charm can quickly turn cold. A BP who is hurt will become vindictive in ways that far exceed than what is called for. Their primal defense mechanisms take over and they can become extremely vicious and cold-blooded. I’ve witnessed some BPs grinning as they recounted some of the ways they’ve hurt people. But this is why a BP needs treatment if they are to have a fair chance at making a relationship work.

Many people accuse partners of BPs of being gluttons for punishment, suggesting they have low self-esteem. They chastise them for letting someone “walk all over them”. But they don’t get it. Partners of BPs are kindred souls. They may not have BPD, but they understand what it’s like to be over-sensitive and over-emotional at times. That’s why these partners are willing to put up with the BS that most people would not put up with. Given a choice, most partners would stick it out. A BP love bond is that strong. They would endure the suffering hoping for better days. They want to make it work. Most of them would ignore people’s advice to run away. But sadly, it’s not always up to them. Most BPs freak out or get frustrated and abandon the faithful partner, thinking a new partner and a fresh start will fix everything.

The stigma of BPD is there for a reason. It is not a pleasant disorder. Most BPs have left many jaded lovers in their wake. But that’s why we need to talk about it, to make people aware of it. Not to shame BPs, but to help everyone understand what’s going on. As with AIDS, the more people know, the less they will fear it. The more friends and family understand it, the more likely they will be to reach out. They will have the knowledge to help their love one get help, instead of trying to keep the disorder under wraps.

Many BPs don’t even know there’s a name to what afflicts them. These BPs need to be made aware of how much they are hurting the people who love them. They have not yet made the connection between their hardships and BPD. From just reading the comments on this blog, I can tell you there is a huuuge difference between these BPs and the ones who have been through treatment. Eventually, the stigma will lessen when more BPs are treated. Once a BP gets a handle on their emotions, it becomes more of a condition and less of a disorder. We live in a time where great strides have been made in understanding and curing BPD. But talking about it is the first step.

You Drive Me Crazy

October 29, 2010

Ask borderline personalities about their past relationships and they might describe their ex-partners as either being crazy or horrible human beings. And you might think, “wow, what a terrible track record.” Is it possible that all the borderline’s exes were dysfunctional and abusive? Possibly. A BP attracts emotionally damaged people, because they, themselves, are emotionally damaged and have been raised in dysfunctional environments.

But what is more likely the reality of the situation is that the borderline is projecting. Rather than take responsibility for their chaotic life, they have projected that blame onto his/her lover. If a borderline’s ex was crazy, it is quite possible that the BP drove him/her crazy.

Imagine someone telling you how much they love you one day. And then the next day, they act hostile towards you (pushing you away).  Imagine being in a relationship where both of you are inseparable. And then one day, the person who was madly in love with you, tells you that you are smothering him/her. This is what it’s like to be in a relationship with a BP. It’s the ole “push and pull” and yes it can drive anyone crazy. A.J. Mahari, a recovered BP and now BPD specialist comments on this:

Borderlines are incapable of intimacy which leaves non borderlines experiencing borderline push-pull which can be crazy-making. By the very nature of BPD, borderlines as the result of their defense mechanisms of splitting, projection, and narcissism, can’t help but push-pull. When those with untreated Borderline Personality Disorder try to get close to someone – attain emotional intimacy – they immediately fear engulfment so they push away or push the non borderline away. On the other hand, or relatively quickly and perhaps within the same interaction, the slightest moving out or distance taken by someone upon whom they feel dependant sends the borderline flying back to pulling for more that very closeness they just had to repel. Until and unless a borderline gets adequate treatment and begins to change and recover from BPD (to some extent) he or she is simply not capable of consistent, congruent, age-appropriate emotional intimacy. Something that many non borderlines continue to remain in denial about and hope against hope about.

Emotionally damaged people damage others. It is not unusual for ex-partners of BPs to experience withdrawal or trauma symptoms. When a lover suddenly flips the script and pulls a 180 on you, that can literally mess with your mind. It takes a while for people to recover from a BP relationship. Some have to go and seek therapy for themselves. Someone who was betrayed by a BP will be scarred and have profound trust issues for the rest of his/her life.

It would be nice if a borderline took responsibility for the harm they have caused others. But sadly, this is not always in a BP’s nature. In some cases, it is in a BP’s nature to make you feel like you are the crazy one and that you are the reason the relationship failed. Most BPs do not seek treatment and continue living in denial. They will continue driving people crazy, one partner after another.

What’s more shocking than Charlie Sheen being the highest paid actor on TV? Or more shocking than Two and a Half Men being the highest rated TV show? How about Charlie Sheen saying he’s fine as he’s walking out of a psych evaluation. Can you say, “denial”?

He’s probably right, when he said his latest hotel incident was overblown, but come on. Charlie is the poster child for sex, drug and alcohol addiction. A man who threatened his wife with a knife. He’s anything but fine. Dr. Drew, celebrity addiction specialist, was on Larry King last night. The good doctor basically said if Charlie doesn’t take time off for treatment, they will probably find his dead body in a hotel room. Dr. Drew reminded the audience that Robert Downing Jr. took 2 years off to sober up.

Charlie Sheen is what you call a high-functioning disordered personality. Despite all his dysfunction, he is able to succeed at a very high level. Which means he is more at risk, because he has the resources to feed his addictions. And because he’s a Hollywood A-Lister, people are more likely to look the other way. Some even look forward to reading about his antics in the gossip pubs. LA LA Land is the mothership for high-functioning disordered personalities. Mel Gibson and Michael Jackson are just a few examples.

The pressure of work and success can only add to their stress. Stress that leads to them acting out in all sorts of self-destructive ways. Imagine what the pressure is like for someone who is the highest paid actor on TV. Someone who has to live up to a famous father. People with personality disorders will sometimes keep their schedules busy just to avoid dealing with their issues. But as Dr Drew noted, that will probably be Charlie Sheen’s downfall. It’s a reminder to all of us that we need to slow down every once and a while to regain our sanity.

Profile of a Man Hater

October 28, 2010

Karen had vague memories of being molested by an uncle when she was 3 yrs-old. She was either too young to remember, or her mind simply blocked it out. This horrific memory would taint the way she would relate to men for the rest of her life. As with many survivors of sexual assault, she would go on to be victimized by other men, victimize other men in return and even victimize herself.

Later in her college years, Karen was raped by an acquaintance at a party. Once a woman has been assaulted/abused as a child, they become easy prey for other predators… Predators who pick up on the scent of emotionally-damaged people. Sadly, these were not her only experiences with assault. It’s not hard to imagine why Karen hated men.

Though she would deny it, Karen was a bona fide man-hater. She hated men so much, she could only have relationships with women years after her rape. For a while, gay men were the only men she could trust. When she finally worked up the nerve to date men again, she ended up using and abusing them. If she didn’t use them for sex, she used them for goods and services or as an emotional security blanket. 

But even in her most committed relationships, her disdain for men would reveal itself in the way she mistreated them. Once she had lured them in, she would begin the emotional abuse little by little.  If she felt too attached or dependent, she would find a way to withdraw both sexually and emotionally (relationship sabotage). She would even emasculate her partners with verbal jabs and emotional cheating. Her break ups were always nasty and would end with Karen badmouthing her ex. Whether she was conscious of it or not, this was her way of getting back at the men who had assaulted her.

Unfortunately, the men she was abusing were the rare ones who treated her with kindness… Men who foolishly thought they could help her get better. Though she adored such treatment, in the back of her mind, she felt like she didn’t deserve such kindness. Towards the end of each relationship, she would resent such help. It made her feel weak. Which is why she always ran back to emotionally unavailable/damaged men. Ironically, damaged men made her feel like she was the healthy one.

Though she loved the trappings of love (the cuddling, the hugs and the kisses), this was all part of an act to fool herself (and her partners) into believing that she was capable of love. But the reality was she was far too emotionally damaged to love. Because she had been violated by men she thought she could trust, intimacy became a trigger for pain.

The shallowness of her “love” could be demonstrated by the callous manner in which she would discard her lovers. Those men and women never knew what hit them. One minute Karen made them feel like the love of her life. The next, Karen would act as if she were repulsed by them. Whenever Karen realized she was actually in love, she would feel smothered and run away. These were the kind of mind games she would play over and over again… Games that gave her a sense of power and control. This is how survivors of assault react to intimacy.

Karen would run away from one lover and jump into the arms of another unsuspecting victim. She was, after all, human. And even the most damaged human being yearns to feel loved. Karen feared intimacy but was addicted to the high one can only get during a honeymoon period. But as soon as that honeymoon period was over, she would find herself getting “bored” again and her eyes would wander. Karen was a notorious flirt. This was how she kept intimacy at bay. This is how she hurt men.  Onto her lovers, she passed on her fear of intimacy. They would become as jaded as the one who hurt them. Karen went from being a victim to becoming the abuser.

It should come as no surprise that Karen was a staunch feminist. In feminism, she found a way to legitimize her hatred of men (aka the Patriarchy). Now she could fight her emotional demons on the political stage. Feminist theory would validate her hatred, by presenting a history of men systematically victimizing women. With feminists standing behind her, she felt empowered. But in many ways, it made her feel like more of a victim. As a feminist, she saw sexism and oppression everywhere. Even where it didn’t exist. The fact was feminism didn’t heal her wounds or make it easier to find true love. If anything it added fuel to the fire.

Her hatred of men, was part of  the reason why she avoided therapy (a male-dominated institution). She feared they would slap a label on her and make her feel more shame than she already did. And so Karen went on hating men (and herself). Ultimately, Karen would victimize herself by not seeking help.

Filling the Bottomless Void

October 26, 2010

When Jessica went out, she wore the brightest red lipstick she could find and the shortest skirt she dared to wear. Not because it made her feel pretty, but because she was screaming for attention. There’s certainly nothing wrong with expressing your sexuality. But when the motives behind such expressions indicate profound insecurities, then it’s time to take a deeper look.

The more people complimented Jessica, the more dependent she became on such validation. But it was never enough. No amount of compliments could fill the void she felt inside. This was yet another negative side effect of her Borderline Personality Disorder.

BPD is crippling disorder that leaves its victims without a sense of self. A BP teen grows up with a profound identity crisis. They may dramatically change their appearance on a regular basis, absorbing outside influences like a chameleon. They may change their hair color, get tattoos. They may go through a goth stage only to go through a hip hop phase years later. Many adolescents go through such an identity crisis, but for BPs the search for acceptance is much more desperate.  Most kids grow out of this stage. Many BPs do not. Without a sense of self, they grow up without self-esteem. Adult BPs then continue to rely soley on other people for validation. Which is why they always seem starved for attention.

BPs in a relationship demand all their partner’s time. If they don’t get it, they punish their partners (sometimes with infidelity). Or they accuse their partner of being untrustworthy (relationship sabotage). Like a 2 yr old, they cry if a partner leaves them for just a few days. It triggers their fear of abandonment. This phenomenon is what the experts call object constancy. BPs lack object constancy. That is they freak out when a lover is unavailable.

Jessica, like most girlfriends, would wear her boyfriends shirts or sweaters as a reminder. If we weren’t dealing with a borderline, such an act would seem sweet and endearing. But it is in fact, a sign that a borderline is becoming more insecure. The more serious a relationship gets, the more insecure a BP gets. An insecure BP looks for attention elsewhere and pushes lovers away. In the end, even the most dedicated lover could not make Jessica feel loved enough.

New York Times on BPD

October 25, 2010

Here’s NYT’s coverage on Borderline Personality Disorder, written in 2009. You can read the entire article here:

Moods can change quickly and unpredictably, behaviors can be impulsive (including abuse of alcohol or drugs, reckless driving, overspending or disordered eating), and relationships with others are often unstable. Many patients injure themselves and threaten or attempt suicide to relieve their emotional pain.

People with the disorder are said to have a thin emotional skin and often behave like 2-year-olds, throwing tantrums when some innocent word, gesture, facial expression or action by others sets off an emotional storm they cannot control. The attacks can be brutal, pushing away those they care most about. Then, when the storm subsides, they typically revert to being “sweet and wonderful,” as one family member put it.

Nothing new on the topic, but a good overview of BPD and dialectical behavior therapy (the most effective treatment to date). It’s important to note that BPD is a serious disease. This is not just a case of a moody person. BPD causes intense emotional pain for the sufferer. Imagine how intense the internal pain must be if a person needs to cut his/her wrist in order to relieve it.

As the above quote mentions, BPs often shut people out or lash out at them in order to avoid this pain. In effect, they are spreading their emotional pain onto others. In this way, BPD is contagious. This is why a BP needs to be treated immediately. BPD does not work itself out. A BP needs the help of a specialist to heal properly.

I just read an article, where a film director/friend said Lindsay was not happy about being ordered to rehab. Awww. Dear Lindsay, just be glad you weren’t sentenced to prison time. Instead you get to spend time in lovely Rancho Mirage. But Lindsay wanted everybody to know how rough she has it and that she is “not at a spa”. You’re not suppose to be happy my dear LiLo, you’re suppose to be sober. You should thank the judge for saving your life. But Lindsay is complaining that this stint in rehab will cause her financial hardship. She has money for a limitless supply of Blow, but she doesn’t have money to clean up her life.

I’m sure emotionally distraught individuals will accuse me of amateur speculation, but it’s pretty obvious that LiLo is a classic Borderline/Histrionic Personality. The common signs are all there: cutting of wrists, substance/alcohol abuse, cheating parent, wild behavior, hyper/confused sexuality, mood swings, attention-seeking, weak moral boundaries, and clearly self-victimization.

Lohan is outperforming her BPD idol Marilyn Monroe as far as behind-the-scenes drama is concerned. (Above pic- Lohan doing her best Marilyn impersonation). Sadly, the media is content to portray LiLo as a Hollywood girl gone wild, but makes no attempt to get to the root of her behavioral problems.

So what’s the moral of this story? No amount of beauty and glamor can cover up a personality disorder. The more wealthy and successful a BP is, the more excuses they have for why they avoid rehab/therapy. Though advocacy groups like to say that people with BPD know what’s best for themselves. They are flat out wrong.

Left to their own devices, a BP always chooses to repeat destructive patterns. BPs are notorious for ignoring the mountain of evidence suggesting they are not well. Even Lohan’s dysfunctional father has pleaded for LiLo to get help. It is usually not until a BP faces death, the prospect of losing a loved one, or a court order, that they finally get some help. But even that is not a guarantee.

Me, Me, Me

October 21, 2010

I posted this article on Histrionic Personality Disorder a while back, but I decided to revisit this in light of the Tila Tequila/Ms Magazine shitstorm. People often confuse HPD with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Though they may seem similar they are actually quite different. A person with HPD basically has an inferiority complex, and compensates by desperately seeking attention and approval. A narcissist, on the other hand, actually believes he/she is superior to everyone.  Here are a few key HP traits:

  • Theatrical gestures
  • Inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior
  • Rapidly changing and shallow emotions
  • Easily influenced
  • Considers relationships more intimate than they actually are
  • Easily frustrated
  • Sensitive to criticism
  • Weak Boundaries

Though the HP may seem very outgoing and popular, their relationships are very shallow. An HP uses people like accessories, to bolster their fragile self-esteem. They keep people around who flatter their ego, enable their drama, or simply listen to them talk about themselves. They can also be overly flirtatious. Their weak sense of boundaries makes it hard for them to maintain a long-term relationship. These weak boundaries likely began with inappropriate family relations and then continued into adulthood.

An HP’s emotional intensity can manifest itself as anger, rage, abuse and distance in relationships. They will often belittle someone if they feel they are getting more attention or if they feel that person has too much power over them. The HP can also be very manipulative, using emotions to get what they want and deter what they don’t want.

The HP can never get enough attention and becomes terribly insecure and jealous (fears abandonment) if they are not the center of attention.  If this persists the HP may even seek to punish their partner with cruel devaluation, rage, cheating and complete disregard for their feelings. If they don’t get the attention they need from their partner, they will look elsewhere. Sometimes going as far as flirting with other people in front of their partner or cheating just to make them jealous.

HPs can be very promiscuous, but it’s less about the sex and more of a tool to get the attention and the sense of protection they need. It’s interesting to note that HPs are prone to mysterious illnesses- headaches, itchy skin, panic attacks. While the symptoms are very real, it is very likely they are subconscious cries for attention.

An HP’s outrageous behavior might seem like harmless fun, but it actually causes a lot of undue emotional pain and public embarrassment for people in relationships with an HP. In short, it is emotional abuse. HPs are unbelievably selfish. A person in love with an HP, never knows if their love is real.

And for those with BPD (It is not unusual for those with Borderline Personality Disorder to also show signs of HPD. This goes back to the inferiority-complex.), it can affect their ability to seek help. A BPD/HP uses their outward appearance and sexual experiences as a quick fix, a distraction from getting to the root of his/her problem. If someone compliments a BPD/HP on how sexy they look, it is a much needed boost of confidence. But it is also a short-lived boost of confidence. When someone relies on such superficial approval to keep their spirits up, a bad-hair day can turn to self-loathing and deep depression.

Wiki

Look at me

Symptoms

A Call to Sisterhood.

October 20, 2010

Ms Magazine is calling all sisters on board. Finally, an empowering message for women. It’s an important message. Because time and time again, I see women stabbing each other in the back, gossiping, ostracizing other women, etc.  These are, of course, insecure women. Women who need to badmouth other people in order to feel better about themselves. The kind that sees all women (and men) as a threat to her womanhood. Sadly, some of these insecure women claim they are feminists, but they are not above calling another woman a “slut” (Mostly to shift the weight of shame they carry). They look down on a woman who has decided to be a stay-at-home mother. Or they think that just because a woman hasn’t survived rape, they haven’t truly suffered. So maybe the call to sisterhood should be a call for humanhood. A call to embrace all humans whether they be a sister or a brother. It was a sister who once said to me “Treat others as you would have them treat you.”

It’s a cloudy day today, and as we all know moods can be affected by gloomy weather. This is especially true for moody people. If you know someone who suffers from a mood disorder, now would be a good time to make sure they’re ok. If you have just started a relationship with a person afflicted with a mood disorder, you may start to notice changes. Once the fun and sun of summer lovin’ has passed, you will start to notice there is a darker side to your lover. The idealization that comes with a BPD relationship will start to break down. Slowly but surely, the relationship will start to sour for no particular reason. Your partner will become more needy and call you every day. And if you don’t meet their excessive needs, they will accuse you of not being faithful or trustworthy. You will eventually find your lover is prone to severe depression, panic attacks and thoughts of suicide. Now would be a good time to encourage them to get help.