“Coming out” about my BPD

Hand of a child opening a cupboard door

On November 22, 2014, I wrote an article about my daughter Molly (not her real name), who I suspected of having NPD due to having been used as a flying monkey by her father for many years. I prayed it was “just” BPD.

Last month she was evaluated and her Axis II diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). While BPD is a Cluster B disorder and shares a number of traits with narcissism, it’s more amenable to treatment because a Borderline does have a conscience and the ability to feel empathy–but their tendency to fly off the handle, their insecurity/neediness, and propensity to engage in self destructive activities that sometimes hurt others masks the fact they really aren’t bad people. My daughter actually has a huge heart and cries when she sees someone suffering or in pain, so it fits that NPD wasn’t her diagnosis. Still, I’m relieved she’s been officially cleared of it.

I was diagnosed with BPD myself in 1996. I have been hesitant to call attention to it on this blog or talk about it much, because of its close association with NPD and other “character disorders” like ASPD. At the time I was diagnosed I was in an inpatient psychiatric setting, where I was also diagnosed with Bipolar I (major depression with fewer or no manic episodes), generalized anxiety, PTSD, Avoidant PD (I didn’t know you could have two PD’s at once back then), and substance/alcohol abuse. At the time I was not diagnosed with Aspergers (that was much later, and I was self diagnosed at first).

I definitely had all the traits of a borderline, but in the hospital and in outpatient therapy following my stay, I learned ways to control my BPD traits, such as my tendency to fly off the handle easily, act impulsively without thinking how it would harm others, idealize/devalue people (black or white thinking), abuse drugs and alcohol, and generally coming off as being very self centered and oblivious to the needs of others.

DSM_borderline
Click to enlarge.

For a time back in the early 1980s I even test drove narcissism, but as an essentially empathic person who suffers from a lot of guilt and shame, and has no desire to hurt others, narcissism didn’t work for me, and I am so grateful for that (even though I became a codependent doormat instead).

In therapy, I remember a method we were taught called “turtling”–which basically means to imagine yourself as a turtle when you feel yourself about to act/react in Borderline, impulsive, or self destructive ways. Turtling calls for enough insight to recognize your feelings prior to acting on them. You imagine going inside your shell to think about things before you act. I remember in the hospital we made “turtle” totems to keep as reminders to always think before we acted and ask ourselves why we felt the way we did. I still have the little clay turtle I made. I remember also being given a workbook for people with BPD with many helpful exercises and activities to help us recognize and control our behavior. It did help me a lot.

clay_turtle

Today I don’t think I display many BPD traits, but I don’t think I’m cured either. When I’m very depressed, frightened or angry, those BPD traits pop back up like unwanted pimples. I still remember the lessons from my therapy and still look at my little turtle or a picture of a turtle to remind myself to go inside myself and not react until I think things through and process my feelings.

Because this is a blog for survivors of narcissistic abuse and many (if not most) survivors think of narcissists as demons or monsters, I was hesitant to talk about my BPD much, because it’s a Cluster B disorder and is so close to NPD in many ways. The disorders are easily confused with each other. A person with full blown BPD can seem very much like one with NPD, but for the Borderline, the motive behind their unpredictable and sometimes destructive behavior is fear of abandonment and insecurity. For the narc, it’s for obtaining supply. Some people seem to think of people with BPD as almost as bad as narcissists. Some of them are.

So that’s why I’ve been reluctant to talk about this. But again, from Day One I committed to honesty and I hope I won’t be judged too harshly for “coming out” as a person with BPD.

borderline
Borderline personality disorder.

My daughter, I’m happy to say, knows almost as much about narcissism as I do now, and has been reading my blog. She came across the above article where I speculated she might have NPD and she was so worried about that it made her cry. We had a long discussion about that. Since then, she has been improving a lot and says my blog has helped HER! She says she’s proud of me for having the courage to start this blog. And I have to say, I’m just as proud of her. Here’s my article describing how healing and emotional that talk we had was. I think we will both be just fine.

My next article, which I will write later today, will be about how malignant narcissists can transform a good person into an evil one. They can infect you with their illness. That’s another reason why they’re so dangerous.

25 thoughts on ““Coming out” about my BPD

  1. I’m so glad you shared this. I have been reading up on BPD and Aspergers….even though I have worked in the field for so long teaching and assessing children living with various disabilities, I never learned about Cluster B. The schools/state, doesn’t recognize those for the purposes of what I do. Please, if you get time, share more about living with both….my 8 year old shows various signs of both. Do certain techniques for dealing with the anxiety and/or anger overlap? I admire you for speaking out on the subject!💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good idea for a post. I will write about what it’s like trying to live with both Aspergers and BPD (and avoidant PD too)
      It’s not easy and has so many things in my life so difficult–not to mention having a MN mother and ex-husband who gave me PTSD as well.
      But I will definitely be exploring more about this and I’m glad I’m not being judged harshly for doing a post about this– OMG WTF SHE IS A CLUSTER B MONSTER! lol

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh my…no judgement here! I have spent my career on the front end of cluster b, mood disorders, autism, and everything in between! It is like a mission to help families live productively, and learn to support each other. It’s a journey for the strong….no doubt about that!

        Liked by 2 people

        • It sure is! This whole experience since I started to blog about narcissism and mental disorders I deal with (either mine or others i am close to) has been the scariest, most exciting, and most mindblowing journey I’ve ever been on. That is no exaggeration either. It’s incredible. I have changed more in 6 months than I have in the past 20 years. What’s more is you guys have all been so incredibly supportive and it feels like a real community. ❤

          Liked by 2 people

          • I know what you mean…Around summer 2013, my therapist at the domestic violence center shared with me how she uses Pinterest to look for beautiful things. She suggested I journal. I had been interested in blogging, but I really thought no one would ever read it. That didn’t even matter….what a surprise! So many people reaching out and lifting each other up. Words are very powerful💕

            Liked by 2 people

  2. I think we can talk about anything while blogging. I’m often talking about my daughter with NPD, and I was sure I would be judged for that, but oh well, I did it. I have talked about child sexual abuse, and I think I might be a victim of that, I just can’t remember it yet. I sound it out and try to bring up memories in my blog, and yak and yak and yak. You know, just to try to feel it out.

    Afterall, what is the point in having a blog, we could write brownie recipes otherwise. I don’t know, I just think it should be as open totally. It is for healing afterall, and can only help others out too. Peeps was talking about animal abuse in her FOO and this soooo helped me. We open up about things that are taboo. And she helped me. That haunting sound an animal makes when…… well anyway. (sorry if this is wrong to bring up here, I don’t know if it is, I apologize if I’m out of line)This is not for brownie recipes.

    So, yeah, this is for exposure and healing. There is nothing wrong with BPD. It is a medical condition, not like you have any choice to have it, unlike NPD. And as far as being close to NPD on some such scale because the psychiatry dept. says so, is a little shaky. We are still in the dark ages about this.

    JMHO

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for this. I think we who suffer from PTSD are hypervigilant about what others are thinking all the time–and due to our past abuse by narcs, we always expect to be judged harshly , tormented or shunned by others. Blogging makes it all so much easier and people are more accepting than we expect.

      I do wonder what would the reaction be if say, I really had NPD and not BPD..but don’t worry, I don’t! I just like to analyze those kinds of things (because of my Aspieness).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your courage and honesty amazes and inspires me.

    I have more I want to say but I’m too sad about losing our Lady fur-baby to write much. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to get the rest of my thoughts in order.

    I’m so sad, I shut down my Diary of a Mad Scapegoat blog. That is, I made it private, only to me, I didn’t delete it entirely in case I change my mind. Not too many people were reading it, anyway. (I finally looked at my stats.)

    Reading your posts perks me up somehow. Even this confession post. How do you do that? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! You didn’t shut down your blog. 😦 Please unprivate it (unless it’s something you really need to do right now for some reason). At least you didn’t delete it. I love reading your blogs even if I don’t always comment.
      I’m sorry about Lady and I’m sending you a big virtual HUG.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Oh my goodness… I wasn’t expecting this reaction. Well okay then, I will go right now and unprivate my Diary blog, just because LuckyO and BlueBird asked me to. ❤

          And then, instead of hiding from the world, beginning today I am going to start doing my long daily walks again, which I had stopped doing when our sweet Lady dog got too lame. Going for a long walk never fails to perk my spirits up. When my mood is very bad, I do more of a MAD STOMP than a leisurely walk. Either way, it makes a huge difference in how I feel.

          I used to walk at least a mile several days a week, weather permitting. We live where the high plains and the high desert meet, and the weather here is so extreme at times, it's been known to knock UFOs right out of the sky (we're not in Roswell, but fairly close, LOL). The good thing about it is our weather usually changes very quickly. Today it's windy, but with my warm hooded coat and the poodle in his little coat, we should be okay. Battling the elements is part of the healing power of being out in nature. It takes me right back to my Tomboy days. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • Nothing wrong with a mad stomp, Alaina! Walking is wonderful, any physical exercise is. But walking is great because you can think while you do it and in a few more weeks it will be beautiful weather for walking.
            I’m so glad you decided not to keep your bog set to private. Forgive me for seeming presumptuous, but you could probably benefit from writing in it now more than ever.

            Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.