- Adam Stanford
What is it Like to Live With Borderline Personality Disorder?
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health condition that affects how a person feels and behaves. It is characterized by unstable emotions, impulsive behaviors, and significant difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. BPD can cause a lot of distress and impair a person’s ability to function in day-to-day life.
The most common symptoms of BPD include intense fear of abandonment, difficulty regulating emotions, impulsivity, excessive anger, suicidal behaviors and thoughts, frequent mood swings, feelings of emptiness, and difficulty trusting others. People living with BPD may engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, reckless driving, or unsafe sex. They may also experience dissociative symptoms such as loss of a sense of self and identity or feeling as though the world around them is surreal like a dream.
BPD can lead to paranoia, delusions, and difficulty trusting others as well as difficulty understanding and communicating needs and feelings which can create conflict in relationships. Constantly trying to navigate life with these symptoms is often very depressing and BPD has a relatively high rate of suicide.
Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder
The exact cause of BPD is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. People who have a family history of BPD or other mental health conditions, such as depression, are more likely to develop BPD. Environmental factors, such as childhood trauma, may also be involved in the development of BPD. People who have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or grew up in a chaotic or unstable home are more likely to develop BPD.
Impact of Borderline Personality Disorder on Daily Life
Consider what it would be like to live your life with a deep-seated fear that everyone you care about will turn on or reject you eventually. All of the symptoms listed above may seem like the person is choosing to act out, but in reality, it typically takes a lot of work over many years to learn how to effectively manage these impulses and intense emotions. These behaviors often drive others away and people living with BPD are typically very quick to burn bridges, so the fear of abandonment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Splitting is a term that refers to a habit in which people rapidly oscillate between adoring or idolizing someone and hating or villainizing them. People who do this ordinarily don’t understand why they do it, but they do deeply feel the consequences of isolation and unstable relationships.
It’s very important to understand that the individual with BPD always suffers the most from their own behavior. It can be very difficult for them to develop the awareness to recognize how much chaos and difficulty their actions cause in their own lives and they may project that onto others, blaming their actions on anyone but themselves. At the same time, they typically struggle with intense self-hatred which isn’t always apparent on the surface.
BPD can create significant challenges not just with relationships but also with maintaining a job and financial stability. Simple things like completing chores and running errands can feel overwhelming, and people may lose interest in or motivation for recreational and other enjoyable activities. They may also face a lot of stigma from others.
Quiet borderline personality disorder is a subtype of BPD that is characterized by a more internalized expression of symptoms. It is often referred to as 'quiet' because individuals with this subtype may not exhibit the classic symptoms of BPD such as impulsivity, explosive anger, and self-harm. Instead, they may experience intense emotions, fear of abandonment, and difficulty with relationships, but may keep these feelings hidden from others.
People with quiet BPD may have a strong fear of abandonment and may go to great lengths to avoid it. They may also struggle with self-worth and may have a tendency to criticize themselves harshly. They may experience intense feelings of loneliness and may feel disconnected from others. They may also have difficulty with interpersonal relationships and may have a tendency to avoid conflict.
One of the biggest challenges of quiet BPD is that it can be difficult to diagnose. Because the symptoms are not as obvious, individuals with quiet BPD may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. This can result in ineffective treatment and a prolonged period of suffering. Quiet BPD is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but rather a subtype of BPD that has been observed in clinical practice.
Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an effective form of psychotherapy that was originally developed to treat BPD. DBT helps people learn healthy coping skills to manage their emotions, replace destructive behaviors with healthier ones, improve their functioning in relationships, remain more present and grounded, and reduce experiences of fight, flight, panic, or freezing.
Medication does not address the root of BPD but it can be used to treat the symptoms. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers can help to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, and impulsivity. Antipsychotic medications can also be used to manage symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions.