So many of you resonated with my recent article “BPD: Why Do We Sabotage?” that I thought I’d cover another topic that many of us with Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD traits, or who are in recovery can relate to: Why do we seem so needy?
There was a time in my life, both before I was officially diagnosed with BPD and for quite some time during my treatment, that I couldn’t bear being alone. Not just the alone that would happen when my significant other would need to travel overseas for business or to visit his family, but even the alone that came from him needing to go to work or out with his friends. I found it intolerable. I would freak out, have anxiety attacks, wouldn’t be able to sleep, and would lose my appetite for days.
I was very clingy and desperate and would beg him not to go. I would “act up” and would often, because I really believed it, convey to him that I wouldn’t be safe if he left.
Why was this? For me personally, as part of having borderline personality disorder, I lacked a sense of self. I was very chameleon-like, observing and mimicking the mannerisms and behaviors of whoever I was with at the time. To be alone meant to feel deep emptiness. Because I had no one to mimic, I felt as if I didn’t exist. It was a very painful, lonely, complicated experience that can probably only truly be understood by those of you who have also experienced it.
So while our behaviors may come off as “needy” to others, the truth is, someone who is experiencing this level of anxiety and pain when faced with being alone even for short amounts of time needs understanding and professional support to learn to manage and overcome this issues. It’s not as simple as dismissing and invalidating someone with a statement like, “You’re being ridiculous and dramatic.”
For the person experiencing the fear and lack of sense of self, the situation is terrifying. Often no amount of reassurance can really reassure the person that everything will be okay. This is a complicated aspect for many with BPD, and it requires time and professional intervention to find safety within and to be able to better handle being alone.
For young adults (17-28), there is the Roanne Program, which focuses on young adult males and females in the developmental stages of early adulthood. It’s an intensive residential program, and they are private pay (no insurance, no medical), but the benefits of such a an investment in one’s well-being (intensive DBT throughout the day, therapy, psychiatric services, groups, fun recreational activities, and living in a luxury apartment with other residents [the apartments are not co-ed] and caring staff members available to support you through those rough days) is invaluable.
BPD needs to be professionally treated. I am happy to be able to share with others that I am in recovery/remission from borderline personality disorder. It took years of deep, personal work with qualified professional support. In addition to obtaining your own professional support, you might find supplementing your journey with an online DBT class helpful. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and I credit it with helping me overcome this disorder. I now teach the skills (and everything I learned, really) to others who are working hard to build the lives that they want.
Let me know if you relate to the topic of this article. Do others see you as needy? Do you have a deep fear of being alone? Have you been working in this issue with your therapist or other mental health care professional?
I hope this helped you in some way.
Thanks for reading.