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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Borderline Personality Disorder

 habanero - Wed May 23, 2007 10:37 am

I think I see and experience traits of this disorder in someone very close to me. I would like to enter into a disussion with a pro or someone that's dealt with this disorder in someone they have been close to. I would like to talk about more than the standard symptoms and criteria but specific behaviours. If I feel that this disorder is a possibility in this person close to me then I also would like some help and advice in how I may deal and respond with this.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Wed May 23, 2007 11:36 pm

User avatar Dear Habanero:

I happen to work with patients who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder everyday. I'll be happy to discuss the disorder with you.
 habanero - Sun May 27, 2007 9:41 am

Thanks. I'm having a hard time deciding where to begin. Actually, with this person I've been involved with for a long time I don't know where this begins and that ends. I feel like my mind is mush and my soul has been raped. No matter what I did she found fault with it. I never could do anything to live up to her scrutiny and standards. Also her standards were double. I couldn't do certain things or she found fault with me but she could do the same and it was okay. She never thought there were any consequences to her behaviour. I could explain it to her in every way possible and she would just blink and stare at me. Everything was always my fault. She could rage at me and be accusatory and paranoid and suspicious and that was okay with her but if I got angry after I had enough (and I could get very angry to the point I would break something instead of her! J/K! Hahahaha! And that rage and behaviour is not me and never has been until I met her insanity) And if I got angry and told her all about herself or called her a bitch or whatever then that's all she could seem to remember. And this behaviour always seemed to sneak up on me. She had periods of mental clarity and stability and I would forget and I would hope the last episode was the last. I would forget and then kaboom! Here it comes again. And the way my mind is, it doesn't seem to be able to understand these periods of complete insanity. It makes me feel insane. It changed me. I'll never be the same. She says she misses me sometimes and how I used to be! It just never ends. She doesn't understand the damage she's done to us. She cant' rationalize anything and put things together and come to a logical conclusion. She can't ever talk about anything emotional. It's all about her and she's always right. Has not once apologized for being mean and ugly to me. What's sad is, I do not think she realizes. It seems that whatever reality she is in at the moment is reality to her. But it's not reality. She'll deny she said things or made promises and she'll say she said things she never said. And project that on me by saying I do the same things I just mentioned when I don't. And the control factor. She has to be in control of every aspect of every situation she is involved in including people. And if you don't agree with her or she with you then so long! Nice knowing you! She turns on people for good. It's one way or the other and no abstract in between. And I never seem to know which person I'm going to be dealing with. Emotions. A rollercoaster. But it seems to only based on three or four. Extremely happy, pissed off and distant, bossy and controlling or depressed and sad. There is nothing else. She is extremely high functioning to a point and that point ends with not being able to to let others be happy in her environment. What I mean is that she can't completley square things away. Simple things in the household as far as everyday living goes. the simple most important things seem to be a big deal. Everything is a crisis. Can't make up her mind. Can't commit to anything simple. It's very bizarre. I just realized I could go on and on for days and I'm becoming drained and tired of typing. If there is anything you want to ask me then please do. What does what I've said so far sound like? I'm not asking for a diagnosis. I hope you have a good Memorial Day weekend. Remember why we are able to have the freedom to do what we are doing right now. Bye!
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sun May 27, 2007 10:53 pm

User avatar Dear Habanero:

Some personality types came to mind while reading your description, but borderline personality wasn't one of them.

One of the most common themes among folks with borderline personality disorder is fear of abandonment. The behaviors seen are nearly all connected in some way to ward off rejection. It doesn't sound like that is your friend's problem.

Other characteristics of borderline personality type are:

    low self-esteem
    little "sense of self"
    very unstable "moods"
    intense fear of abandonment
    poor boundaries

Someone with low self-esteem will have difficulty being high-functioning because the ability to function well requires a combination of intelligence as well as self-confidence. Similarly, successful people are often those who have a career vs. a job. It usually takes knowing oneself to have a career.

Self-injury is almost always present in someone with a borderline personality type. Because they frequently experience numbing of their emotions, self-injury is way for them to feel real.

Poor boundaries can be more or less obvious depending on the intelligence of the individual or on the degree of personality pathology present. "Boundaries" refers to that line that separates oneself from the rest of the world. An example of someone who cannot respect their boundaries is the girlfriend who calls your mother before she's been introduced to her by you, or the one-night-stand who you can't seem to shake, because she's in love.

There are a lot of things in combination that would make a person "borderline." The person's history is also an important piece of the puzzle. People with borderline personality type got that way because of horrid childhoods.

From what you wrote, it seemed more like she may be narcissistic rather than borderline. Look through the characteristics above and compare them with what you know about "her," and write back.
 habanero - Mon May 28, 2007 4:10 pm

I failed to discuss several things and they are definately relative to the things you mentioned concerning Borderline. Self injury? Does it strictly have to do with 'cutting'? Could you self injure to numb through the use of alcohol and drugs? Could a Borderline present well in certain situations like a job or career but not be able to cope with certain things at home or in a close personal relationship? Sense of self. I think I understand her better than she does herself. I seem to be able to look through the gunk. Very unstable moods is a very good way to describe her. She's different all the time. I never know what to expect. No stable personality. Sometimes she is herself and normal and stable and rational but most of the time she'll change constantly. From one minute to the next or hour or day or weeks or months. Understand? Boundaries are very poor or non-existent. I won't get into how because I want to retain some privacy. Abandonment. Could a Borderline try in some sick and intricate way to push someone away before they think that person may abandon them like a defense mechanism? She's also hypersensitive and has been extremely verbal and physically aggressive to me. She'll remember only how I react or respond to her rages and abuse. She can get very depressed, also. What is narcisism?
 habanero - Mon May 28, 2007 4:21 pm

I failed to mention also that there has been what I consider horrible trauma early in her life. Several situations I was told about that were never dealt with. It seemed to all be taken out on me like I was being punished for something I didn't do. She either loves me or wants nothing to do with me. I'm a good guy or a bad guy and nothing else. She can also go through moods like laughing and then crying and then being angry in a very short period of time and this happens very often and it seems to be for no reason or no good reason and often times exagerated yet real like she can't help it. I hope that made sense. It's actually very hard to put into words exactly what it's like and how traumatic it can be for me. I've only scratched the surface with what I've said so far.
 habanero - Mon May 28, 2007 4:28 pm

I keep remembering stuff. I really want to get to the bottom of this so I can rest my mind. She has a fear of being close. Like she's afraid of being hurt again. Close but not too close is the way she wants it, it seems. And there are a ton of defense mechanisms she'll use to keep things just like that between me and her. As soon as she starts to feel her control slip she'll fix it real quick and I don't think she realizes what she is doing because it's so ingrained in her way of thinking. She has to be in control always and can be very manipulative. Has serious trust issues.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Thu May 31, 2007 12:58 am

User avatar Dear Habanero:

You have done a really good job of digging deep to describe your friend! Still, the picture is puzzling to me. Using drugs and alcohol is certainly one way to self-injure, but the kind of self-injury usually seen in folks with borderline personality disorder is pretty obvious and concrete, like cutting or burning.

You mentioned that she has no boundaries. Is her lack of respect for boundaries an effort to get close and stay close, or is it a more intrusive, condescending manner? Her behavior of drawing you in close only to push you away does sound like a huge trust issue. People with borderline personality disorder do have trust issues, but usually their fear of rejection and abandonment override the trust issues.

For example, someone with borderline personality disorder who has no sense of personal boundaries will often form a very strong "love" bond with someone inappropriately--such as within hours or days of having met them. They tend to be clingy also. Because of their intense fear of abandonment and/or rejection, the person with borderline personality disorder will often do the things that tend to push people away in disgust, such as excessive clinging, calling at all times of the day and night, and will even manipulate a situation just to get closer to you somehow. The self-injury often occurs when the stress of being afraid of rejection becomes too great for them to bear--they hurt inside so badly that the only relief comes from cutting or burning their own flesh. By causing themselves physical pain, the emotional pain is alleviated if only briefly. The end result is that the act of self-injury actually becomes pleasurable, and the deeper they get into that kind of activity, the more they need to do it. It really is not much different than an addiction.

The other characteristics you describe, in particular the mood swings, do sound a lot like what many of patients seem to experience. Still, there's something about your friend that just doesn't seem to ft....

The person with narcissistic personality disorder is a rather unique individual. The disorder is actually rather uncommon, but when you find one, you tend to know it. Most people have difficulty being around the person with narcissistic personality disorder. It's almost as if there isn't enough room wherever you happen to be for both of you to occupy that space because the narcissist's ego is way too large. Consider a situation in which you are the expert at your vocation, have come to speak to a group of people about what you do, and someone in the crowd acts like they know more than you about your vocation. That person may end up taking over the discussion, thus making you look very foolish. The louder you object to the interference, the more the narcissist enjoys stealing your thurnder.

A person who is narcissistic tends to do best with someone who is very passive. The person who tends to be a wallflower, on purpose, and tends to agree with everything he/she hears is a prime target for a narcissist. While they may initially be attracted to someone who is as dominant as they are, the relationship is almost certainly doomed to fail, becuase there can be only one partner who is the smartest and most accomplished.
 habanero - Sat Jun 02, 2007 8:18 pm

Wow. Okay, now I realize you are very percerptive. But how perceptive? How deep ya wanna go? Yes her lack of boundaries are condescending and very intrusive. Especially from the beginning. But they became more horrible and nasty in the most suptle ways. A narcissist? - A desire to control? Always right no matter what? Their way only even if another way makes more sense? Can't ever be wrong? Even if they can be proved wrong in a thousand ways? Will not let themselsves be proved wrong no matter what? Can't ever back down? Can't ever come to a compromise or a conclusion or a solution or agreement where both people are satisfied? Their way or no way? Never apologize? Can be aggressive or violent in many ways? Can't say "Hey, you know what? I'm sorry, I was wrong. I realize that." of "Wow, that's a really good way of doing that, good job, how did you think of that?" Am I on track with this, Dr.? I sure do wish there was private messaging on this site. I'd like to get into specifics because I feel like there is more that you need to know I can't say here. Can you PM me or have me set up a private email for more private discussion? I would never, ever repeat or use anything you've said so far or in the future towards her. This is for me. There are specifics I'd like to ask about. This is serious. I love her. I want to know what I can do. How I might respond. I was thinking about you today. I checked me E-mail and read your response and I thought that I really admire you for taking time to care about my problems. You are a true person. I thank you. Oh, and yes I am a passive person and I've often wondered why some people seem a certain way at first and act like a friend and then when they size you up they start acting like an ass. Narcissism, right? Hey, but then my personal boundaries kick in and then conflict arises with the people I trust and then it's bewildering. Narcissism? Oh, will a narcissist get mad at you and judge you for doing the same or something similiar to what they are doing? Do they not understand communication? Wiill a narcissist allow you into to their life only if you are doing what they approve? Are they not a team player? Positions of power are only good for them? If you question them or make them feel wrong or disrupt their routine then you have thrown the whole universe out of whack? Am I on track? I have gone through all the diagnosis but what you have told me makes sense. Being able to see all of this behaviour, do I seem nuts? Why do I feel that way? Is it because I've spent so much time with someone who is? She tells me I'm the one with the probem. What can I do? How do I respond to this behaviour? What causes narcissism? All I've ever been able to do is react to it and it hasn't been pretty. Not pretty at all. Very ugly sometimes. It slaps me in the face, catches me off guard and re-arranges my whole reality. I do not understand. It causes conflict. Nasty conflict.
 angelkt - Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:10 am

Hi I hope you don't mind me barging n on this topic I was just int as someone mentioned it me me the once but I always disregarded it as I spose I just didnt didnt know what it was but I did do a few self test things on line and they all came back 'very high' I was wondering if these things tend to be accurate?
 habanero - Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:40 pm

Which tests did you take? For Borderline or Narcissism? Either way, I would assume that these tests aren't very accurate but they are meant to help you make a decision to see a professional. Understand? They are accurate enough to point you to a therapist if you are concerned but they are not a diagnosis. You should never let yourself or anyone other than a professional diagnose you and you should get a second opinion if the doctors says it's okay. If he or she doesn't say it's okay then find another doctor! And no you didn't barge in on our discussion. Any more questions? Please, ask.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:39 pm

User avatar Dear AngelKt:

The tests found on the internet are highly inaccurate for the most part. Of course it depends on the source. Many of the tests will tell you of a "high probability" no matter what you say. Some will say to see your doctor no matter the result of the test.
 scallia - Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:09 am

I am just a little confused by one remark amongst the very helpful information and insights re Borderline Personality Disorder.

In one response (27th May) Dr Eisele, you say People with borderline personality type got that way because of horrid childhoods.

I have a daughter with BPD (a daughter who had anything but a "horrid childhood" ) and although I have often (covertly) been blamed for her condition that has usually been by people who knew little about the condition .

I am sure that you had some grounds for coming out with such a statement - or perhaps it was a typo and you did not intend it to read that way - but this is the first time that I have seen such an assertion by a professional in relation to BPD.

I am not being disrespectful at all, but I AM very curious why you would take such a stance that is quite contrary to what I have been assured by my daughter's therapists.

I am sure you can imagine how terribly difficult it is to live with such a child who, however much I love her, is an incredible day to day challenge. There are so very many mothers in my position who are trying to deal with this situation, often without a great deal of support or understanding from either their children or the health system. Perhaps you can imagine also how hurtful and unhelpful it is when we see such, apparently, bald statements as above, that BPD people have got that way because of horrid childhoods ? WE know that that is not always, or maybe even not often the case, but there is so much mother-bashing out there already and we are so often the target of our children's abuse that we could really well do without any extra !

Would you please perhaps explain your position on this ? I would really appreciate understanding this more.
Thank you
 Dr. K. Eisele - Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:45 pm

User avatar Scallia:

Please accept my apology. You are correct in that borderline personality disorder can occur in the absence of a horrid childhood. Also, please accept my gratitude for catching my error and pointing it out.

What I should have said is that a horrid childhood nearly guarantees a future of psychological problems, often borderline personality disorder. Of course, there are plenty of people who had horrid childhoods that managed to "come out okay."

I do not ascribe to "mother bashing." Even if a reason is found for some psychiatric problems, I do not believe that it is constructive to ever place "blame," per se. Mothers found themselves blamed by the psychiatric community (before my time) for schizophrenia, also. Thank goodness we now know otherwise. The day may come that we say the same thing about BPD and other disorders.

I do have a question about you and your daughter, however. Is it possible that your daughter had a horrid childhood, internally, in spite of your best efforts? I have seen such cases before. Everyone has a different temperament and personality traits, and the way they perceive their world can be anyone's guess. Just a thought.

Thank you,

Dr. Eisele
 scallia - Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:29 am

Thank you Dr Eisele. I guess I am perhaps a little "touchy" on this point because I am in touch with so many other mothers in a similar position who have children with BPD or similar disorders for which there is, as yet, simply no logical explanation.

Most of us have spent years going over our own behaviour with a fine tooth comb desperately trying to understand where we might have 'gone wrong". Fact is, for so many of us, we didn't go wrong at all, but we do feel guilty that somehow our children have not (yet - I haven't given up hope!) turned out as we hoped they would or have the lives that we would wish for them.

However much we may feel judged - and yes there are some doctors and psychs etc as well as family members and society generally who do convey the message that somehow we have caused or conributed to this - NOBODY usually is a tougher judge of us than we are of ourselves.

We have all, I have found, been down the guilt road many times and examined ourselves so harshly often but without any conclusions.

Of course our greatest judge and critic is usually our BPD child ! However we love these kids, even when sometimes it is hard to like them, and we accept that their reality is often distorted, so we learn to shrug off their barbs which can be so terribly hurtful. Not entirely of course, some of it seeps in, but I think we become super sensitive as a result, to blaming and shaming from others who either simply do not understand the situation or should know better. Hence my hackles rising when I read your remarks !

I think that in some ways, my daughter's reality is not mine and not that of the world generally. I don't believe it is wilful most of the time or that she sets out to hurt people by her distortions of history, but it is "real" to her .Her reactions and behaviour may be to a past and to events that simply did not happen, in an absolute sense but her feelings and reactions are certainly real to her.

I think I have to steer a middle course by not validating her false perceptions of the past, or "joining in" some of her delusions and distortions or the voices in her head etc but at the same time validating her feelings and emotional reactions to these myths and unrealities in her mind. It can be a difficult line to walk!

I think there can be an element also where these children /young people have, for whatever reason, such a shaky sense of personal identity and worth that they are almost terrified of being ordinary eg having an ordinary or normal ok childhood, in that they equate ordinary with being overlooked or unimportant. One thing that there is NO risk of with my daughter is being overlooked or considered unimportant!

There is perhaps though just a little saving grace in my daughter's shaky hold on reality. She seldom seems to realise or really grasp the mess her life is in, the damage that has been done by all this "history" which follows and haunts her, and may well do for such a long time.

The consequences , even the physical ones such as dreadful scarring from cutting, skin grafts from burns etc, plus goodness knows what longterm health impact from overdoses etc - just don't seem to often or to any real degree hit her. She is out of touch enough to probably not realise what this all means now and in the future.

I cannot imagine for the life of me what I would be feeling in her position. At such a young age with such horrendous experiences , self inflicted or not. I am not a person who easily gets down or depressed but I honestly think that if I were her, I would be in the depths of despair. The explanation I think is that she is not reacting to these experiences and consequences as I or "ordinary" people would and they don't hit her as hard because she still doesn't really accept their reality.

I don't know whether it is usual with BPD people to have this ability (coping mechanism?) to block out some stuff. I know that when my daughter was physically abusing me, something that is much less often now but always on the cards, she often seemed very genuinely to have little clear recall of what she had done. Afterwards she would query and even help me bandage up various injuries - which was a pretty bizarre experience.

It was put to me that she felt so bad about what she had done - as I guess you would - that she blocked it out rather than have to feel guilty or responsible.

Perhaps in a similar way, she "needs" still to block out the reality that she did indeed have a very satisfactory, secure, stable and well loved childhood? Perhaps that way she can almost "give" herself a reason for all this happening by blaming someone or something outside .She must want to find a reason or explanation for all this, just as much as I do.

I find it all just too difficult to fathom. I live on a day by day and sometimes hour by hour basis, clutching desperately onto my own inner stability and trying not to get caught up in the maelstrom of her emotional roller coaster. I just breathe, and sit it out wherever possible. Sometimes I have to RUN because I need to protect my own safety, but generally I can ride it out. I have developed nerves of steel I think ! Why? Because I love this kid to bits and few people do now.

Thank you for your reply and apology - although none really needed. Thank you also to all the people who make this board such a great source of information and support.

(and sorry for my verbosity!)
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sun Jul 08, 2007 3:43 am

User avatar Dear Scallia:

Please feel free to write about your experiences with your daughter. I think it would be valuable for our readers to read about this disorder from your point of view--as one who loves someone with this disorder, and who has the experiences you wrote about.

As someone who works with people afflicted by BPD everyday, I would also find great value in reading about you and your daughter.

I can certainly empathise with you; it must be truly awful for you to be battered physically and emotionally by someone you love so much when you know that the abuse is based on a reality unique to your daughter. You must be an incredibly strong person to have withstood all this and still be able to face another day of the same, knowing in your heart that you love your daughter.

Thank you for sharing.
 snoopysld - Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:31 pm

I believe my mother suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. She has given me "silent treatments" ever since I was a child, never knowing what I did to her to make her angry with me. She has to be in turmoil with someone at all times. We have had our differences through out the years and many times we didn't speak for months if not longer.

She thrives off of anger and resentment. When she gets angry, she is filled with rage.

She got upset with her sister and stopped talking to her for 4 years until, at my urging, she reunited. Shortly after my aunt was diagnosed with cancer and died months after.

She changed her phone number once without telling any of her children for no apparent reason. Most of her children have little to do with her now.

She is 69 years old and I believe she is getting much worse. I am too tired and drained from this relationship. But she is my mother and I am having a hard time breaking the emotional attachement. She is not harmful to her self, but she does like to drink. Can this disorder lead to dementia? What can I do?
 fillyone - Sat Jun 19, 2010 1:01 pm

I have a good friend who has BPD - Dx'd about 12 years ago (we met 9 years ago). She did very well for a number of years but the last year and a half have been really bad. In May 2009 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and found my own emotional state becoming difficult as I struggled to accept a new form of my life.

In Dec 2009 I set firm limits with my friend, which I will not and have not crossed. I wrote it out first and read through it at least a dozen times before I had the conversation. The other thing I did before I had the conversation with her is I notified her therapist (Who of course could not really participate in the discussion but I felt it important to know that she would most likely feel that I had abandoned her). I also notified her dad and our other close friends.

The things I listed that I would no longer do I had been doing for her for the previous year, even though 6 months of that I couldn’t work and spent the rest of my time in bed with the RA.

This is what I had written up – it’s close to what I said though I don’t remember what came out of my mouth exactly. Because she had another Para suicidal incident before I was able to talk to her, her dad was actually in town and was present for the conversation as was another close friend of ours.

In order to get and keep myself healthy physically and emotionally I need to make some changes in my life.

Part of the changes I need to make are what I can and can’t do for you, these will help me with both states of my health.

I will no longer take you to the ER if there is even a chance there will be a psych evaluation.
I will no longer be the person you call when you’re in a crisis and the conversation is about how nothing works and you give up.
I will no longer come visit you if you’re hospitalized for a "mental health" issue.
I will no longer be the holder of your suicide information. If you tell me anything about a suicide plan, I will call your therapist.

Some of the things I will do for you

If you need a ride to a therapy appointment I’ll take you.
If you’re feeling blue and want to go see a comedy, I’ll go with you.
We can go have meals, as long as the conversation isn’t about how nothing works and you give up.
If you want coaching on a “skill” to make a difference, we’ll talk.

I just want both of us to be healthy and happy, I love you and it’s important to me that our friendship is a healthy one as well

We are still friends, though not nearly as close as we were before. In the 7 months since this conversation she’s never asked for my help and only twice have I had to tell her she was straying into conversation that was off limits. In those 7 months she’s had probably 4 or 5 Para suicidal incidents and has missed an enormous amount of work due to the BPD. She is in therapy, one on one and group.

A couple of suggestions for those with loved ones that are BPD or you think they may be.
Read “Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder” by Paul T Mason and Randi Kreger ... 672&sr=8-1

Read it though with a grain of salt – It’s pretty intense and harsh

Look into Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for your loved one and encourage them to go.

Look into counseling for yourself. It’s easy to get sucked in to the other’s needs and suddenly find yourself looking at your own life and wondering where it went.

Best of luck to all,
Barb (Who is not a doctor and doesn’t even play one on TV – just someone who cares about someone with BPD)
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:31 pm

Hello, everyone -

There doesn't seem to have been much consensus over all the information. Certainly many of the symptoms that you have described can be very apparent in borderline personality disorder, as Dr. Eisele pointed out . Some say that providing treatment to a person with borderline personality disorder is like conducting grueling group therapy but with only one person. But BPD is not the only diagnosis that has very difficult expression in the person having the diagnosis. In the past, there has often been the "blame the mother" reason given for why a person may have a mental disorder. The mental health community has become more enlightened in recent years, as it has become apparent that there is no easy way to specify what has caused a mental disorder. Genetics are being raised as a contributor, if not a cause, to many diagnoses that formerly considered to have been created environmentally - or, by a "bad family system" or a "bad mother." Truly, some disorders are caused by or triggered by exactly that. But these are complex conditions in complex persons, and there is no clear and easy answer. I hope this helps reassure some of you struggling parents AND persons having the disorders. Good luck to you all.

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