Are there any positive aspects to BPD
This is what it feels like to date with a borderline personality disorder
Excerpt from the film "Silver Linings Playbook"
Most people come into contact with the topic of borderline personality disorder (BPD) for the first time through Hollywood: Glenn Close made this diagnosis in A fateful affair posed, Winona Ryder suffers in Crazy in mind and Jennifer Lawrence could possibly be in Silver linings be affected by it (the exact illness of her figure is not mentioned). The largely inaccurate BPS cliché, which was also created by the filmic portrayal of the disease, shows such a crazy, manic and irrepressible woman.
To learn more about BPD, I spoke to three people who are familiar with the disease: Dr. Barbara Greenberg, who treats people with BPD, 32 year old Thomas, who is with a woman with BPD, and Karla, 29who was recently diagnosed with BPD.
VICE: What exactly is borderline personality disorder?
Dr. Barbara Greenberg: This is a personality disorder that manifests itself primarily in extremely intense moods, instability in interpersonal relationships and a black and white picture of the world. Things are either all really good or all really bad. People suffering from BPD feel empty and constantly try to fight against what they perceive to be rejection and abandonment. That's why they often just imagine these two things. They are so afraid of being alone or of being abandoned that they sense problems where there actually aren't any. So they also need security all the time. In my opinion, this is one of the worst personality disorders you can have. In addition, many men suffer from BPD as well - but this stamp is left on more women. That has always pissed me off.
Is it really true that more women have borderline personality disorder? Or is that just a stereotype that leads to more women being viewed as sick because of their emotional behaviors?
As well ... as. I do believe that more women are being diagnosed with this diagnosis because they get sad, depressed and worried when they are angry. When men have intense emotions, they let it all out - screaming, hitting a wall, drinking or smoking. Women are much better at "torturing" themselves.
How does the fear of being abandoned then affect love relationships?
When these people enter into a relationship, they're going to fall head over heels far too quickly. Men and women - regardless of their sexual orientation - tend to find people with BPD really good at the beginning, because they are very hard-working and passionate. Everything they do is totally partner-centric - and who doesn't like that in a relationship? But a few weeks later things like messages like “Why didn't you call me back immediately? Are you with someone else? ". People with BPD get attached very quickly and put all their energy into the relationship - but they are also quickly disappointed. They develop strong feelings for their partner and are really hurt, if only they doing the smallest thing that they are disappointed with. Everything is totally passionate. But that also means that it can go from totally happy to totally disappointed and angry very quickly.
And how are people without BPD affected by this behavior?
They can't cope with it at all, because most of the time they're not prepared for it. They probably don't even know that there is such a thing. Ultimately, people with BPD are abandoned by their partners for simply displaying feelings and moods that are too extreme. It is also not easy for these partners to concentrate on other things when the relationship demands so much from them.
“Everything is totally passionate. But that also means that it can go from totally happy very quickly to totally disappointed and angry. "- Dr. Barbara Greenberg
Can you treat BPD?
Absolutely. Treatment options are available, and it is usually women who seek therapy because their relationship problems are leading to depression or perhaps even self-harming behavior. Dialectical-behavioral therapy has a promising success rate in the treatment of borderline personality disorders, because it trains patients to develop skills that enable them to get a grip on their emotions. People with BPD somehow have an urge to express each feeling through an appropriate act. For example, if people without BPD are angry, they may not be showing it to the outside world. We practically swallow the whole thing. However, with BPS it is not possible to initially hide uncomfortable feelings. Action has to be taken. You learn to suppress this urge during therapy. Patients are taught to deal with such a situation and not always to express negative emotions directly. The whole thing has something of a Buddhist, Zen-like treatment. They are also shown how to strike the middle ground - not seeing a person just as good or just bad. Everyone has many traits - both positive and negative.
What advice would you give to someone who is with someone with BPD and doesn't want to let it escalate?
If the relationship is to work, then you have to know what you are getting into and give your counterpart security: "I won't leave you, you can feel safe with me." Alternatively, you can also suggest therapy before entering into a relationship, but if it becomes too much for you, you should end it today rather than tomorrow.
So do you think there is hope for BPD sufferers to have a successful relationship after therapy?
In any case, I am quite certain of that. I've had so many patients who felt much better afterwards. I like working with these people. Their emotions are not suppressed and they don't know any other way to behave accordingly. If you then show them an easier way to be and act, they will see how much easier their life can be. There is definitely hope.
VICE: When did your friend tell you about her diagnosis of BPD?
Thomas: My friend didn't get the official medical diagnosis of BPD until we'd been together for a few months. The circumstances of this diagnosis were really unpleasant - as were some incidents in the months before. In retrospect, however, it was only these incidents that led to the diagnosis.
Did you have any behavioral patterns prior to the diagnosis that raised questions?
Before I was diagnosed with BPD, I already knew that my girlfriend was suffering from a type of depression combined with a social phobia. In my opinion, something of this can still be seen today. She grew up in a volatile, negative family environment where she was also treated very badly. I witnessed the whole thing briefly myself and quite honestly: If my girlfriend had got out there without any psychological damage, it would have bordered on a miracle. Before she was diagnosed, I had a hard time reading many of her mood swings - now I know it was due to her borderline personality disorder. I always thought that it was somehow because of me, that she felt uncomfortable around me. Before my girlfriend, I had no idea that there was such a thing as BPS.
"For me, this disease is all about pain and fear, as well as struggling with these two things." - Thomas
Then how did you find out about borderline personality disorder?
I've done a lot of research since my girlfriend was diagnosed, mostly with the aim of better understanding and protecting her. The Internet and various articles have helped me with this.
What are the biggest misconceptions about BPD?
In my opinion, BPS is completely misunderstood (if people have heard of it at all). People with it are mostly seen as "crazy." In the field of personality disorders, it's probably compared to things like antisocial personality disorder or even sociopathy, although you can't really put them next to each other. There are many nuances in BPD "Complexities and signs to recognize, but for me this disease is all about pain and fear and the struggle with those two things. I see the whole thing almost like some kind of wounded animal. But in general you always think. "that these people are crazy - and this misconception is very hurtful. They are not crazy, they suffer.
Is rap finally breaking the taboo on mental health problems?
VICE: How do your relationship partners react when you tell them about your borderline personality disorder?
Karla: When it comes to love relationships, I am extremely picky. Usually I only have an affair here and there and I don't see the need to talk about my mental state. However, something more serious developed with one guy. During these years I suffered from BPD, first unwittingly and then knowingly. We had a casual relationship for a good four years. He knew about my anxiety and depression diagnosed in 2013 and 2014. Then when I told my ex about borderline personality disorder, he had no idea what it meant, how it felt, or how to live with someone who had it. He then spent hours finding out about borderline. But a year or two earlier, he'd been researching anxiety disorder to get a better understanding. I was really impressed that he didn't run away from fear. Instead, it has put the not-so-nice aspects of our relationship in a whole new light. He understood how difficult it all must be and assured me several times that he would support me in every possible way - as long as I am open and honest myself. And I always was, maybe a little too much.
How do the symptoms of your illness affect your interpersonal relationships?
My BPD symptoms are almost constantly affecting my relationships with my family, friends, and lovers. It is impossible to explain all the different effects. That's why I'll just give you an example: We met at my girlfriend's before we went to our favorite bar. At this preheat we were maybe four girls and six boys. When I feel like someone is secretly trying to beat me up, I get totally defensive, overly emotional, moody, and dramatic. Maybe then I will confront them directly. In reality, however, this person is not even aware of what he was saying. In this case, I acted according to my symptoms. In the end, I was rather embarrassed about the whole thing. I doubt my girlfriend even knew what was going on. When any small thing happens, some people with BPD classify their environment into the categories of "good" and "bad friends" - keyword black and white thinking. Unfortunately, I've done that several times in the past.
Are you currently receiving treatment? Does this help you with your relationships?
Yes, I am currently in dialectical behavioral therapy. As for my relationships, I've definitely made progress, but I can't wait to see and feel more new things.
If you suspect that you or someone close to you may have BPD, then you canhereProvide detailed information about the disease and the available treatment options.
* Names have been changed
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