Taking the Stigma Out of Borderline Personality Disorder
Why Remove the Labels?
Labels can bind and control the future of who you are.
People with BPD suffer from the chronic emptiness that tugs their lives. It prevents them from enjoying the simple beauty and pleasures in life. Also, the label and misconceptions around BPD create difficulty in truly understanding the problem.
Myth #1: Borderline Personality Disorder is a Choice
“I could never understand why I hurt those who love me. I can’t stop pulling apart when I’m so scared I’ll lose them.”
They have to carry the heavily stigmatized label on their shoulders, but it is not like they have a choice. Unfortunately, it is common to view this disorder in the wrong way. Borderlines suffer from problems of emotional dysregulation that self-sabotages their closest relationships.
BPD is a case that could be the cause of both childhood trauma and genetic disposition. And the scans of BPD patients’ brains differ from those of regular patients:
Research suggests that significant difference in the areas of activation comes from trauma. The experience of trauma causes the amygdala and hippocampus to be smaller. But there are also other causes of BPD besides brain abnormalities.
And in the general population, people would learn how to manage their emotions in childhood and adult models. But people with BPD have to teach themselves the skills of self-care. And they may struggle alone in a world that doesn’t understand them.
Myth #2: People with BPD are Manipulative and Insensitive
“I’m just trying to find my angel…someone who can care, understand, and give me the comfort I will never have.”
I cannot speak for everyone because there are exceptions to every case. But one thing is certain, people with BPD aren’t insensitive people who can’t understand emotions. In contrast, people with BPD are too sensitive to language and feelings.
Their brains are perceptive of the slightest cue and change of bodily expression. They are empaths in their susceptibility to detecting the slightest body language. But it is because their childhood trains their brains to be vigilant to abandonment.
Many people see the cautious behavior of pushing them away as being manipulative. But BPDs are not intentional when they suddenly disappear and won’t respond to your text. It is not that complicated, and they are not being deliberately manipulative.
Yes, you won’t understand how someone can adore you one day as the ideal and hate you the next. It gets so confusing for you. But the truth is, they find you to be the most challenging and unpredictable to understand. After all, they want you to stick around with their ‘complicated’ and intense emotions.
But, they are so afraid deep inside because they can’t understand why you might find them lovable. Your loved one with BPD wants to exist for you but pulls apart when they feel abandoned. You see, the slightest action can trigger overwhelming fears of losing you.
It can be terrifying because, to an extent, they don’t even understand it themselves. Facing triggers of intense emotional fears, they pull into their shells. In this case, escape is the easiest coping mechanism to avoid catastrophic fears.
Myth #3: They Only Look for Attention
Sometimes, people might not understand people with BPD who overshare victim stories. They would place themselves in the role of being the victim in these stories they share with you. You feel frustrated because there’s so much drama around them.
But someone with BPD doesn’t overshare the stories with anyone else. You’re the exception. They share stories with you in hopes you’ll validate their experiences with love. It is almost childlike, as they seek your attention and praise. They’ll want to know that they’re okay, and you can accept them for who they are inside.
They yearn for your affection and hope with the desperation that you’ll understand them. But only like-minded individuals might understand they are seeking comfort. It will evade you if you don’t realize these feeling does matter. For someone with BPD, their feelings are not a drama for your attention. But, in this case, they are existing feelings in their heart.
They are feeling lost in the world and hope you can make sense of their experiences for them. It could be the feeling of existential loss of purpose without understanding why. It could be an abyss of emptiness in their hearts like life has misguided them from their true purpose.
Sharing with you is their process of making sense of these complicated emotions. You are the one they trust to help fill in the empty void. And in this process, the constant need for your attention and validation for love might confuse you.
I Don’t Understand Myself
People say that the most misunderstood individual is the reflection in the mirror. And you can start to see why people with BPD feel disconnected from themselves. In a sense, there is almost a disconnection between feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
The process of understanding behavior and actions is what’s called mentalization. People with a proper mentalization process understand the whys behind emotions and behaviors. And could adequately interpret motives behind actions or behaviors.
But patients with BPD have a reduced capacity for connecting feelings and actions. And the lack of mentalization makes it hard to understand yourself and others. For example, imagine feeling horrible and anxious, but you can’t pinpoint exactly why. There’s a disconnect between perceiving cues and a proper interpretation of their cause.
That’s why individuals with BPD feel so confused and lost somewhere inside. They feel confused about why they feel emptiness and lost without proper explanation. It could be their childhood had never given them the growth of individuality. Neglectful childhood may have stunted the growth of certain childhood developmental phases. And especially in regards to setting goals and learning independence.
These are only some possible hypotheses on why people with BPD feel confused. And it could be hard at times to understand your partner. But relationships always have difficulties, and understanding is preparation itself.
Handling Tough Emotions
“It’s a question of how much I want this to work. I couldn’t place myself to run away. Not when there were still unfinished conversations between us.”
Running away is the quickest defense and simplest solution to problems. But if you have BPD, you know deep inside you that you can’t fix things doing this. When you burn bridges pulling yourself apart, the relationships will never be back.
People with a special place in your heart deserve all the hard work needed to make it worth it. You’re the one deserving of happiness blossoming in your life as anyone else. So please don’t let go of what’s standing before you. Never stop repairing what’s broken. You’re one special love to them too.
There’s a way out of these emotions that are hurting you unceasingly every day. Here are some treatments that you can try to remove what’s stopping you:
You can also read the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook (Amazon Affiliate Link). It teaches you the DBT skills which you learn in the therapy setting. For busy individuals, you can try the e-book format, which allows you to do the exercises at your own pace.
If you never venture to love, you’ll never be closer than before. Love can be scary, and emotions can be terrifying. But someone special is worth the painstaking effort to overcome the pain. Your life is more special because of them.
I sincerely wish you the best. Love is worth all the effort.