- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes between idealization and devaluation (also known as “splitting“)
- Identity disturbance: Markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
- Impulsive behavior in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-harming behavior
- Emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., intense episodic sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, or you recognize that you may have gone through trauma- this list from the DSM is going to be all too familiar. Every time I have introduced it to a new person it causes me more stress and shame. Time goes by, and I show a new person in my life this criteria to explain some of my erratic behavior. Time and time again I am plagued with new and old memories of how this diagnosis became my life. As much as I would like to believe that years of trauma and skills therapy has helped mold me into a less explosive person, once a new person comes along I’m right back at square one emotionally. After going through this pattern SO MANY TIMES, and gaining self-realization, I am proud to say that I do have BPD but I am so much more than my diagnosis.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not having a mood swing, but there are some great things that this personality disorder has given me. Thanks to the trauma I’m super compassionate, empathetic, loving, driven and I’ve definitely got a dark sense of humor. These are not things I could have said about my self in the last 15 years. I was filled to the brim with negative self-talk, angst, jealousy and what I could only describe as hate for myself and everyone around me. My behaviors were either attention-seeking and embarrassing or isolating and pushed me deeper into depression. I have spent years pushing people away and validating my lack of self worth. It’s been a see-saw in my own personal hell.
I was diagnosed in 2010 at the age of 16 by a therapist I was seeing 2 times a week because I was always in crisis mode. I had been hospitalized twice for suicide attempts and was an “emo” misfit in high school. After doing research on the diagnosis and reading that it was a fake, incurable, childish, crazy bitch disorder, I decided to OWN IT. My poor decisions, lack of judgement and bad behavior I blanketed with “BUT I have a personality disorder, I’m fucked up!” It took me the last 9 years of awareness to finally put the negativity to bed and own my personal responsibility. It is not easy and some days I do want to give up. I still struggle everyday, it is hard work but I have come up with a plan to kick my emotional trauma in the ass. I have been working on this for about 2 years and I have applied it to my own life. My symptoms have reduced, my relationships have strengthened and for once in my life I have consistency. I am in no way 100% free of BPD, but I am genuinely grateful everyday to be alive.
What behavior or trauma symptom is most bothersome in your life? Do you believe that you can change it? This does not have to be a BPD symptom, we all have gone through trauma. Feel free to answer in the comments below! Make sure to add yourself to my email list. I will be posting my daily tips and self help prompts.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)