Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Today, I have had some time to reflect.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of support that I have received from my last post and re-launch.  I have heard the term, “courageous” several times.  I am grateful for this moniker but find it amusing at the same time, as brave is often the very last thing I feel.  So much of my recovery has been letting go of fear. Fear is a state of being that I feel the most comfortable in.  With fear comes survival and my instinct is always to survive no matter what the cost.  This has proven to get me in more trouble and damage more relationships than it is worth. But it is and has been my “normal”.  Stability feels as far from secure as one can get.  The less chaotic life seems the more I feel a loss of control.  I feed on chaos.  But, no one can really live when there life is constantly in disarray.  Instability breeds insecurity and insecurity will inevitably be the catalyst to one bad choice too many.

One of my main goals is too help others to understand as much as possible what mental illness is, how a person is affected by the mental illness and whether or not prognosis is positive.  Part of destroying the stigma of mental illness is to define exactly what my disorders mean. So, first, what is Borderline Personality Disorder? Without getting too clinical, here is the best definition I could find (borrowed from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001931/ ):

Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others. These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships. Genetics, family, and social factors are thought to play roles. Risk factors for BPD include:

·       Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
·       Disrupted family life
·       Poor communication in the family
·       Sexual abuse

People with BPD are often uncertain about their identity. As a result, their interests and values may change rapidly. People with BPD also tend to see things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of other people may change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day. These suddenly shifting feelings often lead to intense and unstable relationships. Other symptoms of BPD include:

·       Fear of being abandoned
·       Feelings of emptiness and boredom
·       Frequent displays of inappropriate anger
·       Impulsiveness with money, substance abuse, sexual relationship or binge eating
·       Intolerance of being alone
·       Repeated crises and acts of self-injury, such as wrist cutting or overdosing

Many types of individual talk therapy can successfully treat BPD. In addition, group therapy can help change self-destructive behaviors. In some cases, medications can help level mood swings and treat depression or other disorders that may occur with this condition. The outlook depends on how severe the condition is and whether the person is willing to accept help. With long-term talk therapy, the person will often gradually improve.

So, yeah… chaos! But, outlook is good with the proper treatment, so I remain hopeful and inspired.  So, if I am to be called “courageous”, I will accept that.  Based on where I am at today, I know that I am just knocking on the door.  The true test of any courage I might possess is still yet to come.