Eli5: Borderline personality disorder??


Was recently diagnosed and I still don’t really have a grasp of what it essentially is. Specifically the symptom “Unstable view of one’s self image”. But the whole thing kinda still confuses me.

In: Other

Have you tried asking the doc “OK, explain like I’m 5”?

It didn’t like my previous answer because I used my personal experience with the disorder but the fact of the matter is that that’s my experience in my professional work as well because I both have it and work in psychiatric healthcare. 🖕

People get so overwhelmed with their emotions and especially adrenaline that they forget who they are and what they want out of a situation and they do things that they later express regret for.

And many of them have difficulty retaining their own opinions on everything from their clothes to what acceptable behavior even is when someone they have an emotional dependency on says otherwise. In fact my psychiatric nursing instructor specifically told us to try to shift to neutral language to help them strengthen their own sense of self in the absence of providing opinions for them.

BPD people are typically pathologically over-dramatic.

Most people’s emotional level tends to hover around 4-6 out of 10, with occasional spikes up and down. Shit happens, oh that’s annoying. Yay cookies. Few things are the end of the world, few things are the best thing ever.

For BPD people, they’re either on 1-2 or 9-10. Emotional effects are much more intense. When they’re happy, they’re over the fucking moon. When they’re sad, it’s stage-IV cancer of the puppy. When they’re in love, it’s every romantic thing crammed into one, and when they’re angry they are r a g e.

And as a big part of this, they are *super* fragile, prone to tip from one state to another with every passing breeze.

Most of all they have a massive, all-encompassing fear of being abandoned and rejected, and tend to feel that they’re barely tolerated by people (so they’re *extra super nice* and overly clingy to people who are nice to them, in order to keep hold of them), until there’s some little slight, some sign that it’s all a sham, some proof that their being-valued was all a hollow shell that comes crumbling down… and they become anger and heartbreak incarnate.

They will go crying to their *real friends* about how awful their now-dead-to-them *fake* friends were, garnering allies to take vengeance upon them.

And when they start out a romantic entanglement, they’ll often ‘love-bomb’ the object of their affections… with if not the actual intent then at least the *effect* of maximising codependency upon them *so they will never leave*.

They don’t set out to be bad people, but they can easily fall into extremely toxic patterns, because their emotions kick them in the teeth with every little bump in the road… and they can end up clinging to whoever they can, and punishing those that upset them.

Watch the show *Crazy Ex-girlfriend* sometime – it’s frighteningly good portrayal.

Please keep in mind all personality disorders exist on a spectrum. It’s not like you either have a “perfectly normal personality” or “completely disordered”. Human traits exists on a spectrum. Many mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety share a few of the same personality traits that are often elevated in anyone diagnosed with certain personality disorders.

There’s also dozens of ways that fear of abandonment can show up instead of the the stereotypical raging, obsessive calling ect. Mine shows up as perfectionism particularly in my appearance and people pleasing.

The reason I’m sharing this is because it took years for me to get diagnosed property because of the outdated misconception that everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder acts in those extreme behaviors. That’s simply a false perception that’s fueled by Hollywood movies and True Crime talking heads in the media.

Any psychologist that specializes in personality disorders will tell you that’s completely false. There’s also high functioning vs low functioning (which can change). Traits exist on a spectrum and therefore can present themselves in many ways. I’m referred to as “quiet” BPD or “acting in”. It doesn’t mean I’m introverted but that those maladaptive coping skills and traits are acted inward vs out.

Which makes sense as most see BPD as a form of traumatic attachment combined with a sensitive temperament. Trauma puts someone in “flight or fight” mode. Fight would be acting out and flight would be acting in.

To be honest I’ve noticed quite a few women I work with, whom were not diagnosed with BPD but anxiety or depression, have a lot of the same behaviors I exhibited except I was very discreet.

For example, being so distraught you have to leave work because a guy with 50 red flags who you’ve only been seeing a month, dumps you. I would just pretend to have a migraine and ask to leave calmly. It wasn’t often this happened because I knew not to get involved with dating due to my attachment issues and the fact that I also choose guys who were narcissistic and cold.

Aside from the list of criteria, it’s very common for people with untreated BPD to not do adult things unless pushed such as getting your annual checkup or dental cleanings. We often look for someone to re parent us as just working full time and paying bills is about all that an untreated BPD (mid-high functioning) can handle as we can get easily overwhelmed and have what resembles ADHD. In reality it’s not ADHD but just hard to focus when your mind is chronically in a fight or flight mode.

Just like two different people with depression or anxiety can present vastly different so can personality disorders. Having emotional dysregulation is extremely common in the population. It’s much more common than bipolar or other mood disorders but unfortunately it often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in those who are higher functioning or act in.

My favourite animation.

[Borderline Bill](https://youtu.be/BFop1UxiDdY)

There are many different permutations of BPD. You may not feel like other Borderlines are anything like you. You might be able to relate to others very well. I hope the diagnosis helps you either way!