We’re not all monsters. While the media sometimes portrays us as such, the truth is we are human beings who are extremely sensitive emotionally, and we do often have some extreme behavior patterns. For many, it’s a combination of life-sabotaging, impulsive choices or literal physical self-harm. The people I have met in my ongoing DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) groups, while they experience these symptoms and behaviors, are also very vulnerable and desperately seek to be liked, approved of, and cared about. They want to be in relationships with others but the dichotomy of this desperate desire and a fear of being hurt and rejected causes confusion and overwhelm. The result is acting out in ways that have, up until now, seemed to serve to get our needs met.
That being said, it’s not to say that living with someone with BPD is an easy ride. It can be really difficult. It depends in large part on where the person is in his or her recovery and treatment. Each experience is very individual. Several years ago, I was so different than I am now. Even up until last year, I made incredibly desperate attempts to seek attention from my significant other and friends, only to push them away both emotionally and physically.
|Winona Ryder plays a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder in
I’ve spoken carelessly and said hurtful things. I’ve acted in ways that made people who cared about me feel helpless and sometimes hopeless.
I didn’t do it from some narcissistic place, a feeling of entitlement, or because I deliberately wanted to make anyone else suffer with me as I surfed the emotional ups and downs and emptiness that I experienced (especially when circumstances were “drama-free” for a while — then I’d unconsciously stir something up just to feel something). The truth is, I was living very unconsciously. I didn’t know any better. It’s not an excuse. It’s reality.
And even when sometimes I did feel that I was a bit off, I desperately clung to old patterns and old ways that seemed to work to get my needs met. I didn’t have the tools, knowledge, or support that I have now. These things make a huge difference. If I were to behave in the same ways at the level of maturity I’ve begun to reach through DBT, something wouldn’t be quite right. I take things day by day, sometimes hour by hour. I have my ups and downs. I slip up sometimes, and most of the time, I move forward and progress toward a healthier mind and life.
I’m much more conscious now. But, the person you love, care about, or treat who has BPD may not be “there” yet in terms of consciousness. He or she may not even be trying yet. This can be discouraging for the both of you. Remember that you didn’t do anything to cause your partner’s distress. There are all sorts of reasons and often years worth of a history filled with trauma and crises when a person ends up with this diagnosis (there may be instances where this is not the case, but I haven’t come across any).
If the person you love isn’t ready to acknowledge his or her diagnosis and get the proven treatment so that he or she can recover, you can’t expect much to change. But, if he or she takes that step and truly invests in his or her recovery, you will see improvements over time. At least that’s what I’ve observed in my own life and with others around me who have Borderline Personality Disorder.
Going online and venting about difficulties is fine – that’s your prerogative and right. Perhaps you find it healing. The one thing that I would urge is to refrain from bashing someone based on their mental health diagnosis. Remember that each person is doing the best they can, where they are at, and with the tools they currently have.
Thanks for reading.
“Girl Interrupted” movie on DVD
“Girl Interrupted” book by Susanna Kaysen