You know that moment when you discover you, and probably at least a few of your friends, used to have, or still have, BPD? My moment happened to be on the radio. I’m the wingman on a monthly morning show called Happe Talk on KJFK in Reno. The special guest for the hour on this last show was Dr. Ed Lynn, Psychiatrist. In the beginning of this episode, host Michele Happe and Ed listed the 9 symptoms of BPD, and my mind was going: Check, check, check. I wasn’t sure whether it was more shocking to realize that, in the past (ages 12-23), I exhibited 5 out of 9 of those symptoms (the number that officially diagnosis someone with BPD), or the fact that I have frequently put up with friends that exhibited all 10. (I think when we see a piece of ourself in another, it’s harder to let go.)
If you’ve never heard of BPD before, or read the symptoms, you may feel relieved just by knowing that you’re not crazy (for having it, or for putting up with people who do.) If you realize that a close friend may have BPD, be cautious in sharing this news with them, because, as I mentioned above, it’s going to be in the nature of anyone who has BPD to FREAK OUT at the mere mention that they may need to seek help. Think about it, if there were ever a disease to be offended by, it’d be BPD.
I have WHAT?? F**k you. YOU have Borderline Personality Disorder. Jackass.
Often, they will claim that they are smarter than professional counselors and doctors, and/or that anyone who seeks any form of counseling is weak. The best thing you can do is draw clear boundaries, be open and honest about what you think of their behavior, and ignore their attention-seeking behavior like you would a child; generally, they will either change for the better, or, find other people who want to play their game.
If you are the one exhibiting 5 or more symptoms, find help, either through a friend, counselor, church, or spiritual practice. Become mindful of your behavior, (Why did I just lie? Am I trying to make this situation worse? Why would I do that? Do I do that often?) BUT, don’t make a big deal out of how messed up and tortured you are–just become conscious of your thoughts and behaviors. Humility and self-awareness are key. Change like this can take place in a quantum moment when you realize how powerful you are; you were powerful enough to create these intricate dramas, and now you’re powerful enough to surrender.
Here are the 9 Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. (To be diagnosed with BPD, a person must experience at least 5 of the 9 symptoms listed):
- Frequently fearing being left or abandoned by loved ones or friends
- Often imagining or believing that others are leaving, even when they are not
- Attempts to avoid abandonment (for example, physically clinging to others when they attempt to leave)
- Having intense relationships with lots of conflict, and/or breakups
- Having frequent arguments with friends and loved ones
- Experiencing ups and downs in relationships (for example, going from feeling as if you really need someone to feeling as if you need to get far away from him or her)
- Often feeling disappointment in or even hatred toward loved ones
- Experiencing frequent changes in sense of self-worth (for example, one moment feeling okay about yourself and then next feeling that you are a bad person)
- Feeling unsure about identity (for example, feeling like you don’t know who you really are as a person, or what you believe in)
- Feeling nonexistent
- Engaging in impulsive behaviors, such as going on spending sprees, having promiscuous sex, driving recklessly, abusing drugs or alcohol, binge eating, or breaking the law
- Making suicide attempts or gestures
- Threatening to commit suicide to communicate emotional pain or to see if others care
- Engaging in acts of self-harm without intending to commit suicide (for example, cutting or burning yourself)
- Experiencing intense negative feelings in reaction to day-to-day situations
- Feeling intense sadness, irritability, or anger that may last for hours
- Having frequent and intense mood changes (for example, going from feeling okay to feeling totally despairing in a matter of minutes or hours)
Chronic Feelings of Emptiness
- Often feeling empty
- Feeling no emotions or feeling as if there is nothing inside
- Feeling intense anger that is stronger than the situation warrants
- Having difficulty controlling anger (for example, often yelling at others, being sarcastic, breaking things, or getting into physical fights)
Stress-induced Paranoia or Dissociation
Having some or all of the following experiences in response to stress:
- Feeling that others are picking on you or are trying to cause you harm
- Having a feeling that people or things are “unreal” or experiencing episodes of feeling “zoned out” or “numb”
- Feeling emotionally dead inside