Thursday, February 21, 2008

Could I Possibly Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

In my last post, Untreatable left a comment stating that what I was describing could also be BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder. I was shocked when I read his comment. I never thought about BPD. Never. So, I went to Wikipedia and read the following about BPD. I was once again shocked at how much resonated with me when reading the Wikipedia article.

Below I will copy and paste parts of the article with my comments.

"Disturbances suffered by those with borderline personality disorder are wide-ranging. The general profile of the disorder typically includes a pervasive instability in mood, extreme "black and white" thinking, or "splitting", chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, identity, and behavior, as well as a disturbance in the individual's sense of self."

Wow! This really got to me. My moods go up and down and the cycle never goes away. AND I have been known to have black and white thinking since I was a child. As I get older things have become more gray, but yes I have had this. My sense of self is pretty poor. I don't have much self-esteem AT ALL. I don't have much self-worth either. My self-image is nonexistent. My identity feels lost at times. This is one of the reasons why I started this find myself and discover who I am. I have felt lost for a long time.

In extreme cases, this disturbance in the sense of self can lead to periods of dissociation. These disturbances have a pervasive negative impact on many or all of the psychosocial facets of life. This includes the ability to maintain relationships in work, home, and social settings.

I have been able to maintain relationships in all aspects of my life and I have not experienced dissociation that much in my life other than certain times which I will discuss more in depth soon.

The most consistent finding in the search for causation in the disorder is a history of childhood trauma, although some researchers have suggested a genetic predisposition.

Yes, I have experienced trauma as probably most everyone has at some point in their life. Most of the trauma occurred during childhood. Regarding genetic predispositions, bipolar, depression and who knows what else is all over my family tree on both sides. Depression runs through our veins like water. Many family members on both sides were/are alcoholics and/or drug addicts which in my opinion shows that they had/have some type of mental thing going on which they tried/try to medicate with drugs and alcohol.

A DSM diagnosis of BPD requires any five out of nine listed criteria to be present for a significant period of time. There are thus 256 different combinations of symptoms that could result in a diagnosis, of which 136 have been found in practice in one study. The criteria are:

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. [Not including suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5]

I would not say that I have had "frantic" efforts, but I always felt abandoned by my biological father. He left when I was two years old. My parents got divorced. I rarely saw him. It was a mixture of pleasure and pain when I saw him because he is bipolar and his moods were quite erratic. He was physically violent, beat my mother when they were married and I also remember him hitting me in the head which knocked me back into a couch. My head swelled and when he realized what he did he then put ice packs on my forehead and cried for three hours apologizing for what he had done. He told me then that he was beaten by his father as a child and was even whipped with chains. He just kept saying, "I'm so sorry....I love you" over and over again. It was surreal. I was 10 years old.

I also remember that same summer when he beat up his third wife (he has been married five times so far) and I heard her screaming in the apartment. In a rage he then ran after me and my step-brother around the apartment, cornered us in the bedroom we shared and and tore the room apart. He threw everything on us including the mattress and bed frames.

When I became older I found out that Jim had raped three underage girls in his late teenage years and early 20's. The last time I know that he raped a girl was when he was married to my Mom and he picked up a hitchhiker and took her back to the house while Momma was working and chained her to the bed. He then raped her and kicked her out of the house. She was an African-American underage girl who had a very poor family. No charges were filed.

The other two times he raped a girl, my grandfather had to sell things in order to have money to pay the families off so they wouldn't go to the police. Imagine receiving money when your daughter was raped and being OK with that. I just cannot.

I found out that after he raped his cousin (he was 18 while she was 6), his father took him behind the barn and whipped him with chains. The person who told me this never knew that Jim told me he was whipped with chains when I was 10 years old. This person told me when I was in my 20's and the two stories matched. I finally understood why he was whipped with chains. Afterwards the family acted like nothing happened and the cousin had to continue going to their house every weekend.

Jim was a womanizer and cheated with every person he had a relationship wit and was into drugs and alcohol big-time. While in the Coast Guard after I was born, a drug raid occurred in the apartment where we lived. A "friend" of his who was an undercover policeman did the raid and Jim was sent to jail. My Mom and I went to live with her adopted parents.

Wow, I'm talking a lot about Jim, but even writing about this spurs on more memories and I feel the need to get them out. Maybe it will be good for me. I really don't know. I will talk about all of these things because at this point I will try anything to get better.

I was terrified of Jim. He had a HUGE temper and you never knew when it would go off. When he was a teenager he would become so angry so fast that he would start hyperventilating. They would have to put a bag over his head so that he wouldn't pass out.

Jim was also VERY charming and could make you feel like you were the only person left in the world. He could make you feel so very loved and special and bam, you are on the floor after he exploded for a minimal reason.

My grandfather (on my Mom's side) used to say that he couldn't believe a thing that came out of Jim's mouth. He said that if Jim told him the sun was shining that he would have to walk outside to see for himself because he was such a liar.

I am used to being rejected and because of that, recently I am going through a stage with my daughter where I am scared she will not have anything to do with me when she gets older. She is 15 now and I've been having a difficult time with it even to the point of crying while my imagination runs wild with thoughts of her possibly rejecting me later in life.

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

Not really sure about this one. I have had intense relationships, but I don't have a pattern of them. When I see the word "idealization", I feel it fits because I have always been very idealistic.

3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Yes, all the time.

4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). [Again, not including suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5]

I was HIGHLY impulsive as a child, but have gotten much better over time. I was bulimic/anorexic in my teen years and had to go to a psychologist a little over a year to get help. It's ironic because I would look at myself in the mirror back then and see a HUGE, fat blob. I never realized how thin I became. At my worst stage I had gotten to the point where I could hardly eat without throwing up. I would binge eat as well as starve myself. I remember eating an entire box of cereal at a time, going to the bathroom to throw it up and then eating another box of cereal and repeating the cycle.

The only substance abuse I have had is cigarettes. I smoked for 19 years. I started when I was 17. What I never talked about in this blog is that about nine months ago I quit smoking cold turkey. It was very difficult. I'm drinking a cup of hot tea while writing this and yes, I would love a cigarette still.

Hmmm...reckless driving...well, every day I drive to work at around 80 mph while the speed limit is 60. Is that considered reckless or normal? I am hyper-aware while doing it and am watching all of the time. Also, most of the time I don't wear a seatbelt. After being hit by a train at 17 while in my car and my seatbelt broke I just felt like they weren't all they are cracked up to be. Is that reckless or normal to not wear a seatbelt?

Promiscuous sex...Yes, I had a lot of that in my 20's. I think the reason for that though is because of things that have happened over time. I'll get into that later.

5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars, or picking at oneself.

Though I have never been a cutter, I think about suicide quite a bit. I have since I was a child.

6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

Yes, that has happened throughout my life.

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness, worthlessness.

YES, all of the time. I have felt worthlessness and have felt empty since childhood.

8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

Never. This is more of a "Jim thing".

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

No, never. I have never been paranoid, and the only time I have had dissociative episodes is during specific times which I will get into later.

Studies suggest that individuals with BPD tend to experience frequent, strong and long-lasting states of aversive tension, often triggered by perceived rejection, being alone, or perceived failure.

Unfortunately, yes.

Individuals with BPD can be very sensitive to the way others treat them, reacting strongly to perceived criticism or hurtfulness.

Yes, I have always been sensitive to this, but it has never been debilitating or really caused stress on relationships with others. However, lately I've noticed that I am much more sensitive to things and quickly feel like someone is criticizing me when they probably aren't like I think they are. Actually, recently feeling this way prompted me to really start researching what the heck is going on because I do not want to be like this forever. I feel like I'm changing in a bad way and I have to stop it now.

They tend to view the world generally as dangerous and malevolent, and themselves as powerless, vulnerable, unacceptable and unsure in self-identity.

I have never viewed the world as being dangerous or malevolent. In fact, I am a very trusting person and as others have said, quite naive (I'm tired of being called naive, actually). I always give others the benefit of the doubt and feel that the world and all the people in it are essentially good and if they are not, then something is wrong with them that they cannot help.

I have felt unsure in my identity and I have felt vulnerable at times as well.

Individuals with BPD are often described, including by some mental health professionals (and in the DSM-IV), as deliberately manipulative or difficult, but analyses and findings generally trace behaviors to inner pain and turmoil, powerlessness and defensive reactions, or limited coping and communication skills.

No, I'm not manipulative or difficult. In fact, I'm too easy and what I mean by that is rather than being difficult, I cater to the other persons needs and not my own. I do not like conflict. I do not have limited coping and communication skills. I can be very blunt and say what is on my mind at times.

Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between childhood abuse and development of BPD. Many individuals with BPD report having had a history of abuse, neglect, or separation as young children. Patients with BPD have been found to be significantly more likely to report having been verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by caretakers of either gender. They were also much more likely to report having caretakers (of both genders) deny the validity of their thoughts and feelings. They were also reported to have failed to provide needed protection, and neglected their child's physical care. Parents (of both sexes) were typically reported to have withdrawn from the child emotionally, and to have treated the child inconsistently. Additionally, women with BPD who reported a previous history of neglect by a female caretaker and abuse by a male caretaker were consequently at significantly higher risk for being sexually abused by a noncaretaker (not a parent).

Yes, yes and yes. I was sexually abused from the ages of two to eighteen years old. The last time I was raped was when I was 27. Childhood abusers were all babysitters. Male and female, African-American and Caucasian.

Do you have that first memory of life? My earliest memory was when I was two years old. The only reason why I know that I was two years old is because I asked my Mom how old I was when this certain person babysat me. I remember being on the bed with him (I was still wearing diapers) and him kissing me and guiding my head down to his penis to give him a blowjob.

I remember being in school when they gave a class about how it was wrong for people to touch you in inappropriate places. I remember realizing for the first time that this didn't happen to everyone. I had never questioned it prior to that class because it was normal to me. It had happened all of the time. I remember feeling horrible shame and guilt after this class. I never told a soul.

Another time I remember another babysitter who was the worst out of the bunch and who messed with me for years take me to the kitchen of his house (which later became MY house...long story that I'll post about later) and tied me to a kitchen chair after I told him that I was going to tell my Momma what he did to me. He then got a gun, put it to my head, cocked it (I will never forget that sound or feeling) and told me in no uncertain terms that if I told my Mom, that he would kill her in front of me so that I could watch and then kill me. I completely believed him and never said a word. My Momma was all I had. I was six years old then. Momma never found out until I was 16.

During times of abuse I did a very good job of disassociating myself from the event. In fact, I perfected the art of disassociation.

Wow, I'm tired. I can't look at the Wikipedia article anymore. No more comparing tonight. I've written enough and will read it later and possibly continue another time.

Even though this post is public, it is not meant to garner sympathy. I talked about these things because reading the Wikipedia article really made me think about a lot of things and really made me remember too much. These things happened a long time ago and I have done a very good job all of my life to keep them buried in holes in my mind that I created as a child.

Uncovering them and dusting them off is difficult work. Maybe it will help me.

Other than my husband, Mom, and maybe three others that have been close to me during my life know these things about me.

Remember, no sympathy. I have none for myself and you don't need to, either.


Anonymous said...

I've got to say that I really admire your strength of character, and feel a little guilty about the way I ramble on about the "problems" in my own life that pale by comparison.

But at the same time, I'd suggest that comparing yourself to a checklist of requirements for the Bipolar Merit Badge might help you survey the situation, but I might also point you in the wrong direction. It can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I'd also like to "tag" you - to answer the same question you just asked me: what are the things that you value? I found it to be an excellent exercise, and focused me on the silver lining.

Anonymous said...

I think you're brave for writing it all out, and borderline or not, DBT helps. it's a mindfulness therapy done one on one or in groups. i think just getting some of the stuff out on paper helps too.

Anonymous said...

This is a brave post and it took a lot of courage to write - but getting it all out of our heads is a way of confronting it and trying to understand what isn't understandable.

I usually find looking up symptoms and descriptions of certain disorders can be an anxiety trigger. Many mental illnesses overlap and it makes diagnosis difficult for professionals let alone us trying to make sense of it all. I've been diagnosed as Borderline, Schizo-affective, avoidant, and just about everything in between until Dec 2006 when finally a psychiatrist got it right with bipolar.

Good to see you posting again - I'm still on a misbehaving PC and only online when it lets me!


Anonymous said...

I hope my last comment about BPD did not cause any unwanted stress or anxiety. The thing with most diagnoses is there is a lot more to it then what it is written down so you do you need to be careful when investigating any disorder as through certain perspectives they will all fit. This is part of the reason why a lot of people go through what seems like a million and one diagnosis before finding the right one(s) and why doctors spend so long in school. My suggestion was just that a suggestion and a possible area to explore with your doctor and nothing more

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but I applaud you on writing what must have been such a difficult post. Kudos to you for being so open!

I have to say Congratulations on the quitting smoking too. I quit a little under 18 months ago, and I too, still find I get the odd craving at the strangest of times.

If you suspect you may have BPD, I would urge you to see a Doctor and try and get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Only then can it be treated and made easier to handle.

A friend of mine's mom has BPD, but she refuses to admit anything is wrong, and in doing so, has made life difficult for all those around her. I urge you not to let it get to that stage.

Good Luck!

Here via Blogexplosion.

Anonymous said...

Hey honey're you doin'.
I noticed that you are getting as bad as I am.. the posts are more infrequent. You must be run off your feet with work, visitors, school, family and all the rest of life.
This was an amazing post. It must have taken a long time to write and think through. it made me look back over the things that you have written before and I realised again how beautifully you write. It must be a great relief to get a lot of this out and made real. The odd thing is when I look at the writing it makes me think that you have lived so well when you look at the things that have happened. In a lot of ways your responses are 'normal' (whatever that is). Any person who has been through all that is going to react. it would be stranger if you didn't.
I think I agree with some of the others who have responded.. don't focus too much on getting a diagnosis off the internet. Apart from anything else, you don't know the quality of the knowledge.
There are medical and other people who are qualified and experienced and who can help you work through the feelings, thoughts and memories. More importantly they can help you find ways of making it all make sense.
Hopefully one of these nights we'll be on line at the same time and we'll get a catch up. Sorry this was so long.
see you soon
Keep smiling and I'm sending big Mammy's day hugs to a fellow traveller.

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