Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is often confused
with multiple personality disorder, but they are not the same.
BPD is an illness that disrupts a person’s life and it can be
categorized with PTSD as a trauma-based disorder. It fits a lot
of the criteria as a disorder caused by trauma. Many who suffer
with this illness faced some form of trauma at a young age.
When I was first diagnosed with BPD, a psychiatrist I was
seeing was confused on how I got it. I had and have very loving
parents. They never abused me in any way. My psychiatrist
insisted that those with this illness were abused by their
parents. He was wrong. BPD doesn’t just come from parental
abuse; it comes from any kind of abuse. The abuse I suffered was
from the bullying I faced as a kid.
You may ask what is Borderline Personality Disorder?
“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric disorder
featured by intense fears of abandonment, difficulties
in emotion regulation, feelings of emptiness, unstable
interpersonal relationships, impulsivity, and heightened risk-
taking behaviors, as well as high levels of
interpersonal aggression,” states the authors of the research,
led by Benjamin Otto of Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.
(Found on Psychology Today website in an article called How
Childhood Trauma Can Trigger Borderline Personality Disorder | Psychology Today.) Symptoms of
this illness are rapid mood changes, fear of abandonment,
impulsive behavior, unstable relationships, self-harm, explosive
anger, and unclear or changing self-image.
If you look at the definition and symptoms, you can see how
it can relate to trauma. I can see it in the symptoms of my own
illness. I feared and still fear abandonment. When I was
bullied, many of my friends or people I thought were my friends,
hurt me, turned their backs on me, or moved away. A girl at
school did her best to make sure others would not become my
friends and she convinced those I thought were my friends to
turn their backs on me or they would be picked on. After facing
that, how could I not be afraid of abandonment? Repeatedly as a
child I felt abandoned.
After being tormented day after day at school, my emotions
became out of my control. It didn’t take long from me being sad
to suddenly in the middle of an out-of-control episode of anger
and rage. I threw things, I fought with my siblings, I called my
parents’ names, and I screamed from the top of my lungs. It was
like a small flame suddenly turning into an inferno. It was hard
to control my emotions. I went from being fine to being a mess
in minutes. I had so many emotions from what was happening to me
in school that I just couldn’t control them.
I didn’t get caught up in risky behaviors, but I self-
injured. In school I pulled my hair and punched hard surfaces.
In college I began cutting myself. I felt so many emotions that
I had no control over and the emotions hurt worse than the
wounds I inflicted on my body. Each nasty thing a fellow
classmate or teacher said to me caused an emotional wound. Each
day that wound was being dug at and widend. The pain was
excruciating and the only way to escape it was to pull my hair
or punch something. This allowed me to escape from the hurt even
if it was for a few minutes.
The unstable relationships started with friends leaving or
turning their backs on me. In high school I became friends with
a girl who abused me when I was at my lowest. No matter how
badly she hurt me, I couldn’t let her go because I was afraid of
being alone. As a young adult, I became friends with people who
used me and took advantage of me. I even got into an abusive
relationship with a man. I wasn’t sure what a good friendship or
relationship was because throughout school I didn’t have too
many decent friendships. I had one very good friendship in high
school and into my college years and I messed it up because I
was afraid she’d hurt me. I wrote her a not so nice letter.
As for my self-image, well, that was a mess. I didn’t know
who I was or why I was even alive. Was I the retard my teachers
and classmates called me or the smart girl who just learned
differently that my mom said I was? I saw myself as a worthless
person that God made a mistake in making. I hated myself. Self-
hate was basically beaten into me by the names I was called and
how I was treated.
As you can see, my BPD was caused by the abuse I faced in
school. For those with BPD the trauma can be caused by physical,
verbal, or sexual abuse, from neglect, having unstable parents,
or parents addicted to drugs and alcohol. The abuse doesn’t have
to happen by a parent; it can be from anyone who harms you.
If you think someone in your life is suffering from BPD,
get him or her help. Be very selective in finding a therapist or
psychiatrist. Not all know how to treat this illness. Research
BPD and write down questions for the therapist and psychiatrist.
Most importantly, ask them if they have experience in dealing
with BPD. Also look into group therapies that are centered
around BPD. When I was diagnosed, I participated in a group
therapy that taught me a lot of coping techniques.
It took me years of hard work to take control of BPD. With
therapy, support, and hard work I now have the symptoms of BPD
under control. With help you to can take control of Borderline
Personality Disorder and live a healthy and happy life.
You can also find more of my blog post at my personal blog,
Finding the Light at www.aimeeeddygross.wordpress.com.