Sep 22 2016

Borderline Personality Disorder or “BPL” as it is Commonly Known: What Exactly is It & How Do You Deal with It?

Vol. 380, September 22, 2016 – Borderline Personality Disorder or “BPL” as it is Commonly Known: What Exactly is It & How Do You Deal with It?

Of all the too frequently uttered phrases in the world of mental illness is “borderline personality disorder.” The only problem is that it is a “throw away diagnosis,” too often given, because of the way in which the mental health experts use it to categorize women in particular, that they don’t know how to treat.

It is believed that between 1 to 6% of the population have this illness. My mother is one that I know very intimately. She has always been fairly open about her diagnosis, because one of the symptoms of this particular class of people is their inability to recognize personal boundaries in any way.

I am going to give you 10 signs that the person that you may be dealing with (or perhaps your self) has borderline personality disorder. These are the one group of clients with whom I have to stay totally centered on them, with them being put off if I share metaphors of growth and healing from anyone else’s experience, especially my own. The reason for this is that they feel their own boundaries have been over ridden in such cases.

Given the “special handling” they require and because hypnosis is really not the best method to use with these folks, I do my best to not bring BPD people into my practice.

  1. They have notoriously unstable relationships with people. They will put one specific person, up on the pedestal and the moment that person makes a mistake that the BPD person feels, “hurts” them in anyway, they now become a focus on “hatred.” This creates very intense relationships that few mortals can or want to deal with.
  2. One of the most important factors in BPD’s life is their fear of abandonment. They will do anything to make sure that a person will stick by them, and not always in a healthy manner. Emotional manipulation in the name of the game. These people are highly intelligent, however with the emotional damage happening while they were 0 – 3 years old, due to being abused or neglected – they have the emotions of a very young person. What that means is if they don’t get what they want when they want it they will go into screaming and crying fest to get you to do as they desire. It isn’t uncommon for them to plainly state “If you don’t do what I want, I will kill myself.” This can be very dangerous, because there are indeed times when they really mean that they are going to kill themselves – but as the boy who cried wolf so many times, when the true pain is being felt, it is very difficult to discern from the manipulations by most observers.
  3. Because they are so young emotionally speaking, they will do compulsive acts without a thought of the consequences including car crashes, risky sex and substance abuse.
  4. They think about suicide a lot. These are very unhappy people, full of rage and self-hatred. When attempting self-harm or speaking about it they are expressing these feelings of anger toward themselves and trying to feel normal.
  5. Again, because the damage happened so early in BPDs lives, they have a very unstable sense of self. They will often speak of being lost or empty inside.
  6. Feeling so empty inside they may have a shopping addiction or a food addiction to help them temporarily feel full. Of course that only last for a few hours at most, with them sliding back into that empty feeling inside till the next time they try to fill that  “hole in their soul.”
  7. Paranoid thoughts and zoning out so it feels like the person with BPD isn’t there. Sometimes they don’t believe that things aren’t true.
  8. Intense anger many times over trivial matters moving them to act out by hitting, punching, kicking or pulling hair.
  9. BPD people have labile mood swings, where they can be happy one moment, then something triggers them, and all of a sudden they are screaming and throwing things at others. They can go from feeling intense anxiety to anger in a millisecond. Then into a deep depression. Their emotional states can last from a few minutes to a few days.
  10. They can be very happy to know the secret of where their practitioner lives. I had one client who was very happy to tell me that he found out where I lived. Living with my mother I knew that years before, she had found out where one of her psychologist lived. She drove into Manhattan, and hour away to find his home. She was so proud of herself, and yet, she hated driving in the city. This is an example of how far a BPD may go to find out a “secret.” My response to my client when told he me that he knew where I lived was simply to congratulate him on that piece of knowledge, and then I went on to the next activity of the day. The best way to deal with anything of this sort is to “normalize” it.

I have found that the easiest way to deal with a person with BPD is first to let them know that I am not going to abandon them, because if they feel like they are being ignored they will indeed act out. I had one client who was thrown out of three mental health practices. Her way of getting back was to put smiley stickers all over one of her psychologist’s cars, with another she played with the magnets of who was “in” and who was “out” of the office on the board of one practice confusing everyone, and with the last one, she stood outside another’s practice forcing the practitioner to acknowledge her.

When speaking to these folks, you give short easy to understand statements, almost as if you were speaking to a three year old giving one step-at-a-time directions. It helps them to fully understand and be able to implement what you are requesting them to do while dealing with their emotions or behaviors. And, that is the other thing, it is always stated as a request, or they will feel threatened and act out accordingly.

BPD people are very difficult to treat because though they are very intelligent, they have a very difficult time implementing the ideas into their lives. They understand what they are to do. However, being able to do it is a constant challenge for them.

For your own sanity, do your best to spend small amounts of time with anyone who may share the symptoms outlined in this posting, no more then a couple hours at a time if you feel psychically drained being with them.

If you do have BPD, the best thing that you can do is to find a practitioner that specializes in treating BPDs, because they have the patience and understanding along with the tools and techniques to best help you.

The client that I was speaking of earlier was a wonderful mother according to her husband of over 25 years when she came to see me. She was terribly depressed most of the time, and had a glass of wine from the time she awakened till she went to sleep at night – her “IV of sanity” as she put it to me. She wanted to stop her drinking which is why she came in to see me, but it was something that was beyond my ability to help her with. What she did receive though was unconditional love from me, and very clear boundaries regarding “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behavior. She never tried to kill herself again as far as I know. She also learned from her husband during one of our sessions, how he admired her great mothering, telling her that her work in the home with their four accomplished and happy grown children, was infinitely more important than any of the work he did to bring in the income necessary to take care of their family.

So, there are some people who are capable of living and loving BPDs. I believe my father was one of those people. Because though my mother acted out quite often, he stayed by her. They did many things together and also had their own interests which they did with others. Growing up with her could be challenging at times. One of her psychologist let us know that by the time we were 2 years old we had outgrown her emotionally.

However, this is another thing that is interesting about these folks. Though they may have little insight into themselves, they have great insights and understandings into others at times. I found this to be true with all the BPD’s that I have worked with over the years, as well as my mother. So, please don’t discount their ability to be helpful during those times when they are feeling good and are fun to be around. I gained many insights from my mother that were shockingly on target, as well as from my previous clients who all had the very great challenges of dealing with an illness that none of them requested, yet had to learn how to deal with to the best of their ability.

Photo by Christiaan Tonnis

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