BPD: It's Deeper Than Attention Seeking
One of the things that used to really irritate me when my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) symptoms were at their worst was being accused of "looking for attention." I was told I was "so dramatic" and a "drama queen." I was accused of wanting to be the center of attention and using my disorder as an excuse. Being emotionally sensitive, those words hurt deeply.
The truth is, I can see how my behaviors could be misinterpreted as such. I desperately wanted to be accepted and to feel a sense of deep and lasting connection to others, but I had no idea how, so my attempts were misguided. Because I didn't have a solid sense of self, in response to these accusations, I felt hurt that other people didn't see my true intentions, and I found myself questioning my own motives when I was only being me in the best way I knew how.
My attempts were misconstrued by those around me as attention seeking, but it was much deeper than that. I'm writing this post because I know there are many in our Healing From BPD community that can relate and may think that no one could possibly describe, let alone understand this experience. I want you to know, you are not alone. Even more importantly, like, me, you can overcome this yet another often painful aspect of living with BPD.
Did I like to be the center of attention? Sure. I have a personality that loves to engage with others, and at a time in my life when my self-esteem was low and I wasn't sure who I was, the doting upon me of others was some sort of affirmation or validation that, even if ever so temporarily, assured me that I was "good enough." There was no malicious intent behind it. I wasn't trying to grab attention for attention's sake.
As for the drama, I am a lighthearted, but yes, dramatic person, and that's actually not a "bad" thing. Perhaps I should have gone into theater. Hey, wait -- I still can! I think I'll focus on teaching my online DBT classes for now, though. :)
Even now in recovery (no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria for a BPD diagnosis - more about me and how this happened, here), I know that because I am very emotionally sensitive, I need to tap into my inner wisdom and take a step back to distinguish an emotion from a thought from a fact.
I have no shame about this. I love being a compassionate, loving, sensitive person. Being this way comes with drawbacks, of course, as does any personality disposition, but since I have discovered and accepted and learned to love me for me, I accept all parts, even those areas where I can still grow.
The next time someone accuses your outward behaviors as purely attention seeking, as painful as it may be to defend yourself, consider taking a step back, taking a deep breath, acknowledging to yourself that you are doing the best you can, where you are at, with what you have, and maybe let that person know, too.
Read all you can about the experiences of others who have overcome. This blog is a good place to start.
You are not alone.
You can get better.
You are doing the best you can.
Thanks for reading.
Debbie of DBT Path