Borderline Personality Disorder – A View From The Inside.
The main feature of BPD is ‘a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self image and emotions’. People with BPD are usually also very impulsive. There are nine main symptoms associated with BPD, and in order to be classified as suffering from this disorder, the sufferer must exhibit five or more of the nine symptoms, and usually for a period of at least a year:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- A pattern of intense interpersonal relationships
- Identity disturbance – persistently unstable self-image
- Impulsivity in at least 2 areas that are potentially self-damaging (sex, substance abuse, recklessness, alcohol abuse, binge eating)
- Recurrent suicidal and self-mutilating behaviour
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Affective instability of mood – anger, panic and despair, often displayed with sarcasm or intense bitterness
- Inappropriate, intense anger – followed often by feelings of guilt
- Severe dissociative symptoms – feeling disconnected from one’s self
It has been widely noted in the history of this disorder that those diagnosed with BPD have often had very traumatic childhood experiences. You may have experienced the early loss of a parent, or be a survivor of childhood sexual or physical abuse. You may have been neglected as a child. There is even a school of thought that suggests that some people may be genetically predisposed towards BPD, although this is venturing into a very controversial and massive subject area. Suddenly as I write this I recall a memory that will always be with me. I was about 19, and visiting my grandmother. I’d been to her house a million times, but this time something was different. This time, as I walked into the small room and the all too familiar pungent ‘old’ smell captured my senses, a framed black and white photograph of a handsome young man in uniform immediately caught my attention. At first I thought it may have been my grandfather as a young man, but my grandmother went on to explain that the man in the photograph was her brother, who had committed suicide at the tender age of 21. She said nobody would have guessed he was unhappy; he led an apparently ‘normal’ life. It made me sad to think that nobody was aware of this man’s inner turmoil. And then it hit me. Maybe, just maybe, if depression and suicide ran in the family, maybe there was a genetic link somewhere to my own personal turmoil. Looking back, I think I was simply grasping at any reason that might explain why I felt so empty and unhappy all of the time. The photograph wasn’t there the next time I visited, and it has never been mentioned nor seen since that one conversation. I sometimes wonder if that day ever really happened at all. It was only after my diagnosis that I realised my childhood experiences were more than likely to blame for my disorder.