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When a loved-one has traits of Borderline Personality

Monday, June 14, 2010

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

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Are you trying to determine if someone in your life suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder? You will find that diagnosis is a very complex question even for a PhD psychologist. There are no simple behavioral checklists. To have Borderline Personality Disorder, there is usually a dysfunctional pattern of handling emotional stress that dates all the way back into the teen years.

It is estimated that there are 18 million husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, and children affected by Borderline Personality Disorder.  Few even know about it or are in treatment - but they know they struggle. Borderline Personality Disorder is a difficult disorder of the emotions and of self worth.

At the center of this disorder is a person with very high sensitivities to rejection and a limited ability to modulate emotional impulses. People suffering with this disorder are emotionally immature.  Feelings are often masked by dysfunctional means of self-protection - including assuming a persona that they feel is lovable (as opposed to their own personality). Diagnosis requires knowledge of how a person has perceived and reacted to emotional events throughout their life.  The most obvious external symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder perceivable by others is a lifelong pattern of instability in important interpersonal relationships.

What is going in a Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer's mind and how they are outwardly acting can be two different things. To the sufferer, BPD is about deep, often too difficult to express, feelings that are something along the lines of(1):
  • If others really get to know me, they will find me rejectable and will not be able to love me; and they will leave me;
  • I need to have complete control of my feelings otherwise things go completely wrong;
  • I have to adapt my needs to other people's wishes, otherwise they will leave me or attack me;
  • I am an evil person and I need to be punished for it;
  • Other people are evil and abuse you;
  • If someone fails to keep a promise, that person can no longer be trusted;
  • If I trust someone, I run a great risk of getting hurt or disappointed;
  • If you comply with someone's request, you run the risk of losing yourself;
  • If you refuse someone's request, you run the risk of losing that person;
  • I will always be alone;
  • I can't manage by myself, I need someone I can fall back on;
  • There is no one who really cares about me, who will be available to help me, and whom I can fall back on;
  • I don't really know what I want;
  • I will never get what I want;
  • I'm powerless and vulnerable and I can't protect myself;
  • I have no control of myself;
  • I can't discipline myself;
  • My feelings and opinions are unfounded;
  • Other people are not willing or helpful.
Please join us as we work together to find more rewarding and healthy lives with our BPD loved ones, or as we recover from a failed BPD relationships. For more information and to register, click here.
    (1)BPDFamily Staff Production - community leaders with professions in healthcare, education, and business.

    Write comments
    1. I would just like to say that your short video is so well done. I think it is presented in a way that BPD suffers find it easier to accept rationally rather than defensively, especially with the soothing music. I would also like to thank you so much for expressing how people with BPD can be functioning in one part of their lives and not in their personal lives, it seems that some professionals and therapists only see BPD as self harming and off the rails type individuals. I know it must be difficult to write about the issues of people with BPD without sparking their defensiveness. However, there does seem to be little written about the person with BPD's controlling ways towards a partner and the emotional abuse partners often suffer as a result of the lack of rational thinking and fear of abandonment. As someone who has endured this from a partner, it would be nice to have some sort of confirmation of our suffering too.

      Best regards

    2. Thankyou for the heartwarming accurate aspects of life with BPD. My husband has only just been diagnosed after 46yrs of symptoms.I still have quiet moments of sobbing (when he's out)as I feel so overwhelmed by the whole thing, although I have always acknowledged that he struggled with life on some level.But He is still my husband I married the man he is will continue to make this journey with him although I still will probably have my "wobbly" moments...SarahB UK

    3. Thank you. I've spent a year and a half in a relationship with a woman I love that has BPD. The emotional roller coaster she projects onto me has become overwhelming at times, leaving me confused and in agony with her impulsiveness and cruelty. I have never sought help from the therapeutic community, until now. This video helped me finally come to grips with the fact that had always bothered me: Was it really all my fault? NO. She is ill, and doesn't really have control over what she does. Thank you for that realization. Although she is constantly pushing me away, I will always be there for her...when and if she decides to accept she has a problem.

    4. Thank you. I am a psychiatrist who discovered BPD thrugh an ill-fated marriage to a high functioning spouse long before I became a psychiatrist. At that time few mental health professionals, especially family therapists, even knew of BPD, even when I began suggesting it. Now I work with many BPD patients as well as those who are in relationships with them. It is still disheartening that the general public knows so little and so many mental health clinicians don't take the effort to educate themselves about the severe consequnces to family members of individuals with BPD. Your site is a big step in that direction.

    5. Thank you for the video...the comment about arguments being about feelings at the expense of facts resonated with me, because I recognise myself in the borderline personality in some ways. I feel like I'm on some sort of emotional seesaw most of the time, never know what person I'm going to be next...
      I've tried going to counsellors and psychiatrists about this, almost lost my marriage because of my raging, but I can't trust the shrinks enough to talk to then openly. Still it helps a bit to know that others deal with this sort of wierdness.

    6. Your video finally made my research and study of borderline personality something I can "sink my teeth into". Thank you for the clear, concise manner of presenting the facts accompanied by visual and audial accompaniment. I understand the disorder better since experiencing your video, than all other avenues of exploration I've taken.

      Thank you,
      First Year Pscychology Post Grad Student

    7. I have a friend that fits this description perfectly. when i first met her she instantly told me her personal problems that had happened in her life as a girl and needed my full attention to the point of exhaustion.people pushed her away and regarded her as attention seeking,hyperactive,a rollar coaster, but when she is with me she can relax but i think her fear of relaxing makes her think moore deeply of her problems and scared to confront them. she has definately showed signs of emotional outbursts that appear childish and a fear of being unloved. in and out of relationships and blames them for everything but shows them so much love and can't cope with feeling rejected. she is a lovely person that is seriously misunderstood but she has made many friends that love her and when she has accused me of things e.g.being paranoid, she has a cheeky look in her eye because generally she speaks about herself although i will admit to not being perfect. thank you this has confirmed many things for me and im currently doing a write up on a case study for uni.

    8. I am a 61 one year old mother of 5 children. i do not know how I got through this life, having only been diagnosed. I always knew I was different especially as I come from a life time of abuse. My mother and father parted ways before I was born and for the rest of the families lives I was a replica of the father and treated as such. Wow to have been diagnosed and to read your articles and information, thank you, thank you. My mother told me I was mad throughout my life and I have believed it. I was also raped at 4 and half years of age. When I'm in the down part, I can only hear a voice telling me to kill myself as I am so bad. I now understand and can go against this with confidence and try and get myself out of this hole. I have been through 4 marriages , I also choose men that are really not the right type like one was a bank robber. I believe they would love me because all I wanted was love and I had so much to give back, but probably could or didnt know how.

      Regards and thanks


    9. Now that I know the symptoms and have been diagnosed I wish I could go back on my life and apologise to all those I have hurt . A part of the BPD says I must put an end to it all "see how bad I really was". I'm trying to cope stay in a small town two and half hours from doctors. Sometimes cannot wait for this lifetime to come to a close,

    10. I have been diagnosed as having some BDP, SADS, Bipolar Disorder and Adjustment disorder. When I have bad times I want to go away from everyone for the fear of what I will say to them. This can last for 4 to 7 days, I won't take food from them, my husband ends up getting all the abuse. I love my husband and two children, I hate myself during these times. I was sexually abused as a young child, neglected many times by my mother. My father murdered his defacto wife and then committed suicide. My cousin committed suicide, his was drug related. My sister passed away and I miss her dearly. My mum and other sister do not have a lot to do with me. My sister's children are now in custody with my mum. We were close, she has now pushed them towards their friends, my children miss them, so do I. For years I was a good actress, no one knew I suffered from severe depression. I have tried doesn't work for me. Everyone says I am loving and caring person, why does this anger rear it's ugly head, my ugly head from time to time. Why do I push my love ones away? I try to be happy! My children keep me here. My husband in the last two years since I have been diagnosed with Bi-polar has been wonderful... I don't deserve him! I have been with my husband for over 33 years. I just wish I could be happy, I have a lot to be happy for, so why do I feel this way? I don't want to hurt my family any more, I see it in there eyes, I love them so much!


    11. I truly, truly feel I have the symptoms of BPD. I am waiting for the mental health clinic to have a 'meeting' about me. (I am financially destitute). I feel relieved that I can finally talk about my true emotions and what I perceive BUT frankly I am VERY afraid that I will have to be institutionalized. I am having severe doubts about seeing the professionals. I feel tormented and I don't know what to do. I don't want to feel the way I have for over 35 years. Can someone please give guidance? Much thanks.

    12. I just want to say.... what a relief to come across this site! 2 years and a new baby later I am at my wits end.
      I met and fell in love with, what I know now to be a BPD. When I saw this video I cried.... FINALLY I have something to go with. My fiance' fits almost everything to a T. Not that Im excited about this but relieved to "know". To just "know" puts things into perspective. Ohhh but what to do with all this new information??? How to present this to the man I love? or do I? Right now I am just going to reflect on this awakening! Thank you for sharing such profound information on this matter.

    13. This vidio is so right, just what i needed to see, I am married to a BPD and we have children together, finding it so difficult to deal with.My husband was only diagnosed a year ago, don't know if i can keep going through this as a family. I want to support him but when the BPD person is as their worst it is all so terrible.I want my children to have a joyfull happy settled life.My husband tells his family that it's all me and i feel so alone when i really need support. My love for my husband is the only reason i stay and put up with the abuse. But even that is getting hard now as after 8 years of this i don't know how much more i can take. My love for my children is so great that i want them to feel secure and not to have to live with a father with this disorder. But he is their father and he loves them it would be cruel to take him out of their lives.Hanging in there.

    14. At last I understand what problems an old flame of mine had. I could never work out how she needed me so much yet could be cold and put up a "glass screen" in front of her at other times. I was perplexed. One night she tried to take her life.. she called me and fortunately managed to vomit up the overdose. Depite all her problems I loved her dearly as a friend and we are still close. I always felt very protective towards her.. and now I know why. She started life in a single parent family (father left home) where she was rejected by her mother and was brought up largely by her grandparents. Her background of parental rejection, relationship probs fits so closely what I have read recently about BPD.

    15. is to be commended for a very sensitive, compassionate, accurate, and practical video. Good job! ~ Jennifer Payne, M.D.

    16. Well done: my wife has borderline, we are married over 25 years. We always had difficulties in our relation, but untill 2 years ago it was acceptable. This video shows exactly the problemes we were facing.
      But we also had good times : she brought some color in my life, I held her steady. But some time ago in the age of 48 it all went wrong. Its hard to look back and now realise its not getting better but worse. gives me lot of information about how to deal with BPD and about making choises...
      a reader from Belgium

    17. Excellent video. My youngest sister has just been diagnosed with BPD. This video has helped me a great deal in understanding what has been happening in our family.
      Thank you, just knowing is the first step....

    18. Your video expresses it all. Unfortunately it is too late for my daughter who has been gone three years now. It wasn't until after she died that someone suggested she might have had BPD. When I googled BPD, I finally understood. I believe a family tragedy that happened when she was 13 going on 14 triggered BPD. There needs to be more publiity about BPD so that families and friends can help their loved one. I had never even heard of BPD and could not understand what was wrong!

    19. Yes, I wish I had known what I now know about BPD. It might have made it easier to defuse situations with my DIL. I would not have responded the way I did when under stress. It might have bought us more time. But I wasn't the only player in the situation and another misguided family member was encouraging her to divorce. So I don't know, but I wish I had known she could have BPD. It was only after they split that I learned about this, now she seems to me a lost child constantly seeking a mother. She was abusive, but so is a 3 year old. Sometimes you get angry with the 3 year old and send them to their room, or say something cross. But when you do that to a BPD the repurcussions can be serious. You can in fact lose the relationship if you confront them. Thank God she is not suicidal, she has 3 children. But I really hope she can get some help.

    20. My family member with BPD is an adult son who says he hates my
      guts and often wishes I was dead but refuses to allow anyone else into his life. BPD is a bizarre illness fraught with sadness, insecurity, distrust, and rage. I belong to NAMI, have read extensively on the subject, and now have found this wonderful website. There is so much comfort in knowing others REALLY understand what we are all going through, and their kindness and support is amazing. Thank you for helping to keep the rest of us on an even keel, which is not easy when a loved one is BPD!!!

    21. I have been in a relationship for 4 months and it has been full of light and full of darkness! She is the sweetest, kindess, loving individual during her calm periods. However, at a turn of a minute she flies off the handle accusing me of all kind of things that does not make any sense, for it can get very ugly. Up until recent, I would react with retaliation with a how dare you attitude, but I finally realized she is ill. By retaliating, it cause some major repurcussions that cannot be reversed when she is in an episode. I really want to stay with her, but I am really considering exiting. I feel sorry more than anything, for it is a very awkard state of mind when we are intimate. It is very hard now. When she has an episode, I avoid it at all cost. That video clarifies all the confusion I have had. This was an excellent and accurate video...thank you!

    22. Well what can I say, it is great to have read all the comments and experiences here. In a way it is good to feel you are not alone. I believe I have got to my limit after a 12 yr marriage with a bpd husband.... I don't know who I am anymore.... I feel lost and abused, after our child was born I had nothing but anger from him, for years I tought the fault was mine until I found out last month he is a bpd. I am still walking on eggshells and thinking carefully before saying anything not to provoke him. I am the one in need of help now, wld love to fing a therapist specialist in bpd but they are very rare and if you do find one it will cost you a fortune. Can't stand his affairs anymore, his anger and constant blame on me for everything that goes wrong has drained all my energy away....

    23. Please help me. I just started a relationship (4 months) with a BPD male. He deserves a happy life, he has been in and out of rehab, prison, and finally when he knew he was hurting everyone he loved, he retreated into the woods for 6 years! He goes to AA meetings 3x week, group therapy(for drug addiction, not BPD) and became very involved in the church. He has beens sober for 7 years and I believe has made huge strides in improving his life. I was in admiration of his strength, but got sucked into the honeymoon stage of BPD, he was so loving and kind. We moved in together. Now, I don't want to leave him, I want to help him, but he refuses to see a therapist with me (so we can learn how to communicate better). Please give me advice as to how to make this relationship work, I'm not afraid of the task- he deserves happiness. I'm just not sure how many times I can hear him berating me with his venomous words without it starting to tear me down. This information helps, I need more.

    24. Thank you so much for that excellent video. I wish I had know about this website and had been able to watch this sooner. Great music also!

    25. Bpdfamily helped me save myself,I will be forever gratefull.

    26. Just to echo what others have said - this is a very helpful website especially for those who have family members with bpd. I soooo empathise with the partners of men how have bpd and how they say they have to walk on eggshells, avoiding potentially explosive situations, never being "allowed" to be upset or unstable themselves for even a minute or two... My partner was diagnosed twice by psychiatrists with bi-polar, but the more I read about it, the more I thought he didn't properly fit the profile. After all, he can change moods eight or so times a day, rather than the at least two weeks of the standard bi-polar person. And he's affected by outside influences massively - has to put on a show for others, rather than the standard bi-polar individual who cannot rouse themselves from their depression, no matter what else is happening around them. And the strange texts "do I exist?", and the childish stomping of feet if slightly thwarted, and the insistence that it's what he FEELS that matters and he "can't change that" however irrational and illogical... And the yelling if I ask him to, for instance, pick litter up off the floor and put it in the bin "I'M SORRY I'M SUCH A TERRIBLE PERSON!!!" And he is so intelligent in many other ways so this last aberration is so perplexing. Oh, yes, yes, yes, at last I have my own diagnosis which makes sense. The question is now, what do I do about it? Can I continue to live like this or will it eventually damage my own mental health if I do?

    27. This was the most wonderful site I could have ever stumbled across!! The video was excellent and touched on everything I have been dealing with. My fiancé has not been diagnosed but fits the profile of the information that was given. I learned that I have to be more careful in how I react to his behavior. It is not easy to deal with, but I am willing to stay because I really love him and want to help him. God can do anything but fail and I am praying for him to get well

    28. Very very moving video...... Having spent the past 2 years in an emoptionally destructive relationship with a BPD man, I have come to terms with the fact that the acceptance and healing of this disorder can only come from the sufferer themselves. You can love someone with all of your heart but your heart can only take so much before it cant give any more. The splitting back and forth between being loved and hated, adored then verbally berated - which literally changes within hours is exhausting. The constant distrust, the paranoia, the cutting to the very bones of you verbal onslaughts hurt so much more because you feel powerless to help - you can't.
      Being accused of things you haven't done - makes you feel as though you have? You doubt your self and that is dangerous.
      When a BPD man falls in love with you, they put you up on a pedestal - you are perfect, but no one is. And once the legs of the pedestal you have been put upon begin to wobble its downhill from there. The accusations, the swing from I love you to I hate you is constant.
      You can't fix it. That's what hurts above all else.
      I was suffocated and as hard as it is, I will never stop loving this man, for my own sanity - I have to.
      No closure, that's the most painful part :-(

    29. I enjoyed a platonic friendship with a man I worked with - never saw him often, but when our paths crossed we always enjoyed talking and shared common views on politics, current events, etc... Almost a year after my divorce I ran into him and we started to spend some time together. He offered his friendship and support, and we eventually began dating. We both agreed to take things slow, but shared a lot about ourselves over time. He had been abandoned by his dad as an infant and suffered severe neglect, emotional, and physical abuse by his mother and adoptive father, both life-long alcoholics. Although I'd endured tough times throughout my life, I was always able to remain positive, got counseling, and took responsibility for my actions and future happiness. He was admittedly fearful of intimacy and experienced many turbulent short-term relationships. Although, this was a red flag, he'd been in counseling for several years and seemed inspired by my optimism, even reaching out to his counselor to seek more treatment during our time together.
      Sadly, the closer we seemed to get, the more he withdrew, creating much chaos and confusion. Many times I asked him if he wanted to just remain friends, but he always said no, telling me no one ever stood by him. Seeing how much effort he was making, I stayed, but had to confront some of his behavior along the way when he was extremely disrespectful, dishonest, and crossed personal boundaries; yet, never took responsibility and always found a way to blame me. This was difficult for me because I've always struggled with standing up for myself and hated conflict; yet I felt I'd become much better at this, having worked very hard, after divorcing my ex, a diagnosed narcissist.
      Having a close friend and enjoying our dating relationship, seemed like a breath of fresh air - he seemed to understand what I'd been through and we offered each other a lot of kindness and emotional support. Throughout our time together I always stood by him, and remained aware of not trying to be a "fixer". But, after I addressed his behavior toward me, he went on a rage and abruptly abandoned me in a very deceitful way. He had been diagnosed with BPD, with severe narcissistic characteristics, and often spoke of feeling deep shame and being unlovable; he always seemed to act out and identify more with how others perceived him, rather than identifying with his "true self", and lacked any kind of emotion (or remorse) as our relationship progressed.
      Although I went back and forth feeling both relief yet missing our romantic relationship, nothing was as painful as having him turn his back on our friendship. His cruelty brought me to my knees...even more devastating than my divorce, because I had thought of him as a friend for such a long time. I'm getting over it, but it still hurts me to the core of my soul and I worry about being able to trust again. Sometimes it feels like I've lost who I was inside... very sad...