Are you exceptionally sensitive and respond with intense anger when you feel disappointed, criticized, rejected or let down? Do you tend to feel empty and bored a lot of the time and find that your relationships are intense and unstable? Do you feel unsure of who you really are and do not have a constant picture of your values and passions? Are you impulsive and put yourself at risk through engaging in potentially self-damaging acts like spending, impulsive sexual encounters, substance abuse, reckless driving or binge eating? Do you self-mutilate or consider suicide? Do you find it painful to be alone and are terrified of being abandoned? Do you experience intense anger and realize afterwards that it was inappropriate? Do you sometimes feel out of touch with yourself or reality? If you can answer yes to many of the above question you may be suffering from Borderline personality disorder. The people who are close to you will know that you are very sensitive and have intense reactions and they may feel as if they are walking on eggshells around you.
Your family background will probably be marked by emotional deprivation and your parents were possibly indifferent, rejecting or absent. You may have been verbally, physically or sexually abused and experienced separation from or neglect (physical or emotional) by your primary caregivers. You may never have developed a basic sense of trust in your caregivers and your world might be split into good and evil. This means that you may strive for perfection and at times feel that you have achieved it, only to condemn yourself for the smallest flaw. When you feel that you are bad, you might feel utterly worthless and undeserving. You may even punish yourself. You will also split others into good and bad. At times you may idealize them, but even with the smallest disappointment your image of them can change to seeing them as bad and utterly disappointing (forgetting that just hours or days ago you saw them as good and loving). You have little tolerance for the flaws in yourself and others. This causes great instability in your sense of your own worth and in your relationships.
While the foundation for Borderline Personality Disorder is laid in early childhood, symptoms often do not appear until later in life when experiences may trigger feelings related to earlier experiences. The symptoms that you experience in your current life will point towards the experiences you had as a child. If you have a personality disorder you will find that your problems are not just a short phase or an isolated response to a specific situation, but part of your daily life over an extended period. Even if there are periods of relative stability it will not last.
Your extreme emotions will often be marked by extreme behavior. You may binge eat as a reaction to extreme feelings of emotional emptiness. You could experience bulimia (purging after binge eating) or anorexia nervosa (the ultimate act of self-deprivation). You could use sex as a way to avoid feeling bored or alone. You may find that you use compulsive shopping as a way to feel cared for. Some people with Borderline personality Disorder escape feelings that are intolerable by abusing alcohol or drugs. Feelings such as helplessness, loneliness, worthlessness and emptiness are avoided by using drugs.
Many people with borderline personality disorders self mutilate or think about suicide. Suicide could feel like the only way to escape from pain that feels impossible to tolerate. Suicide is often an expression of hate: “You have disappointed me and you will be sorry when I am dead!” Even when your current life seems to be happy, you are married and employed your internal struggles and pain will be overwhelmingly difficult to cope with.
Because you feel so intensely and react so strongly you will evoke very strong emotions in others. Because you are so sensitive to other’s words and actions you will find that they may struggle to deal with this. Your rage and potential to explode can be very damaging to your relationships.
People with Borderline personality disorder often feel on the verge of being abandoned. You find it very difficult to trust the goodness of relationships. You may also attract people with severe emotional struggles.
Individual therapy is the most important part of the treatment of someone with borderline personality disorder. You will at times idealize your therapist and at other times feel utterly disillusioned and disappointment in even the smallest failures of your therapist. Yet, the journey with a competent therapist will help you to uncover the meaning and origin of your symptoms and emotions. You will benefit greatly from the experience in therapy that someone is prepared to help you and stay committed to you through good and bad times. A therapist will help you to make sense of the chaos in your emotional world.
If your loved one, friend or family member has a Borderline Personality Disorder you should know that he/she has very little insight in the meaning of his/her behavior and does not know how to control it. You should know that your loved one with Borderline personality Disorder is suffering enormously and will find it impossible to deal with their struggles without professional help. What will be very difficult for you, if your loved one has a borderline personality disorder, is that you will be sucked into their chaotic, volatile world and it will evoke very strong emotions in you. You must know that someone with such a disorder is enormously sensitive and struggles to see things realistically. If you are in a relationship (as parent, friend or partner) with such a person you should know that you will have to provide a lot of stability and security and endure many highs and lows.