My Personal Borderline Personality Disorder Story

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This page is all about Borderline Personality Disorder and includes my
Personal Borderline Story about how it is to live with Borderline Personality Disorder

The core disorder in BPD is emotional dysregulation. Emotional dysregulation is viewed as a joint outcome of biological disposition, environmental context, and the transaction between the two during development. The theory asserts that borderline individuals have difficulties in regulating several, if not all, emotions. This systemic dysregulation is produced by emotional vulnerability and by maladaptive and inadequate emotion modulation strategies. From: Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. By Marsha Linehan. 1993

The symptoms of borderline patients are similar to those for which most people seek psychiatric help: depression, mood swings, the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol as a means of trying to feel better; obsessions, phobias, feelings of emptiness and loneliness, inability to tolerate being alone, problems about eating.

Borderline people also show great difficulties in controlling ragefulness; they are unusually impulsive, they fall in and out of love suddenly; they tend to idealize other people and then abruptly despise them. A consequence of all this was that they typically look for help from a therapist and then suddenly quit in terrible disappointment and anger. Underneath all these symptoms, therapists see in borderline people an inability to tolerate the levels of anxiety, frustration, rejection and loss that most people are able to put up with, an inability to soothe and comfort themselves when they become upset, and an inability to control the impulses toward the expression, through action, of love and hate that most people are able to hold in check. What best defines the "borderline" personality, is great difficulty in holding on to a stable, consistent sense of one's self: "What am I?" these people ask. "My life is in chaos; sometimes I feel like I can do anything--other times I want to die because I feel so incompetent, helpless and loathsome. I'm a lot of different people instead of being just one person."

The one word that best characterizes borderline personality is "instability." Their emotions are unstable, fluctuating wildly for no discernible reason. Their thinking is unstable--rational and clear at times, quite psychotic at other times. Their behavior is unstable, often with periods of excellent conduct, high efficiency and trustworthiness alternating with outbreaks of babyishness, suddenly quitting a job, withdrawing into isolation, failing.

Their self control is unstable -- ranging from the extreme self denial of anorexia to being at the mercy of impulses. And their relationships are unstable. They may sacrifice themselves for others, only to reach their limit suddenly and fly into rageful reproaches, or they may curry favor with obedient submission only to rebel, out of the blue, in a tantrum.

Associated with this instability is terrible anxiety, guilt and self-loathing for which relief is sought at any cost -- medicine, drugs. The effect upon others of all this trouble is profound: family members never know what to expect from their volatile child, siblings, or spouse, except they know they can expect trouble: suicide threats and attempts, self-inflicted injuries, outbursts of rage and recrimination, impulsive marriages, divorces, pregnancies and abortions; repeated starting and stopping of jobs and school careers, and a pervasive sense, on the part of the family, of being unable to help.

And, of course, the effect of the illness upon the life of the patient is equally profound: jobs are lost, successes are spoiled, relationships shattered, families alienated. The end result is all too often the failure of a promising life, or a tragic suicide.

I found the most straightforward discussion of the effect of childhood abuse in a book about poverty.   I discovered snippets of information about BPD throughout the book, although the term BPD was never mentioned in the book. 

Sexual abuse is one reason, among others, for the failure to create healthy partnerships.  An abused child’s sense of powerlessness may lead to surrender and to a method of escape that psychiatrists term “dissociation”, in which the victim mentally stands aside watching the assault occur.  The same phenomenon has been observed in victims of other trauma including war.   The out-of-body experience generates protective feelings of indifference and emotional detachment that can remain for years after the event, even for a lifetime.  Children are especially vulnerable.  “Repeated trauma in adult life erodes the structure of the personality already formed,” notes Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, “but repeated trauma in childhood forms and deforms the personality.”


The survivor’s intimate relationships are driven by hunger for protection and care and are haunted by the fear of abandonment or exploitation. In a quest for rescue, she may seek out powerful authority figures who seem to offer the promise of a special caretaking relationship.  By idealizing the person to who she becomes attached, she attempts to keep at bay the constant fear of being either dominated or betrayed.   


Inevitably, however, the person fails to live up to her fantastic expectations.  When disappointed, she may furiously denigrate the same person whom she so recently adored.  Ordinary interpersonal may provoke intense anxiety, depression, or rage.  In the mind of he survivor, even minor hurts evoke past experiences of deliberate cruelty… Thus the survivor develops a pattern of intense, unstable relationships, repeatedly enacting drams of rescue, injustice and betrayal.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)and OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL LINKS

John Gunderson wrote a book called Borderline Personality Disorder (see review). One point I identified with immediately was his 3 levels of Borderline emotions. As he puts it, "manifest psychopathology in terms of relationships to major objects".

A while ago I did a survey and found that 70% of the people with Borderline Personality Disorder surveyed came from an alcoholic home. I took two books, one BPD and one ACOA, and made a comparison of the similar BPD and ACOA symptoms.

If you're looking for a BPD mail group here they are:

Click to subscribe to DID_MPD
For those with DID/MPD/DDNOS or any degree of dissociation. Support and information.

  • List for Teenagers With BPD This list is for those between the ages of 12-20 who have either been diagnosed with BPD or suspect that they may have BPD. It is also for those whose doctors may suspect this and not yet be willing to make a diagnosis due to age. There is also credence to the reality that the turbulent change experienced in adolescence mirrors some Borderline experience.

  • Borderline Recovery List This list is for those who are quite a ways down the road upon their journey of recovery from BPD. It is a list upon which personal responsibility is expected (and posts must reflect this) and a list for those who are beyond the chaos, whether or not they are still dealing with some bordeerline traits.

  • Borderpd Email List For anyone who has Borderline Personality Disorder or anyone who wants to better understand BPD. This is support list and it generates a lot of mail.

  • Here is a very good transcript of an online discussion on the subject of Borderline Personality Disorder featuring Melissa Ford Thornton, author of the book: Eclipses: Behind the Borderline Personality Disorder. Melissa has Borderline Personality Disorder.

    Here are some comments about Borderline Personality Disorder that I am collecting from newsgroups and maillists. The information discussed is not not necessarily professional. I included them here to give people in investigating BPD more than textbook explanations of the disorder.

    ***Please Note***

    In my PERSONAL STORY story I speak frankly about my experience with Borderline Personality Disorder based on the DSM criteria. If you are critical, or tend to find fault with people with disabilities, read no further.
    Click here to go to my home page. If you are genuinely interested in learning more about the disability and how it can effect people, especially me, here's my

    Other traits BP's seem to have in common (although not in the medical criteria) include nail biting, peeling skin from cuticals, foot or leg pumping when sitting, picking scabs, scraping, pulling at or cutting off other body developments, and squeezing pimples.

    We have music running through our heads constantly. Many are sensitive to sunlight, and many have low blood pressure. We like rocking chairs, sometimes rocking even when we don't have a rocking chair, and we often lay in bed and rock ourselves to sleep. Borderline people are usually notably intelligent and talented.

    There are two kinds of Borderlines; acting-in and acting-out. It is usually the acting-in borderlines who communicate on the internet. It is usually the spouses and friends of acting-out borderlines who come to the web looking for insight and understanding. Acting-in borderlines recognize their disorder and seek help while acting-out borderlines act as if their problems are caused by others and they are out to get even through a myriad of mean and destructive actions.
    Acting-in borderlines often appear deceivingly competent. When the spouse of an acting-in borderline tries to explain feeling frustrated and abused to friends and acquaintances, the spouse may be perceived as exaggerating and overly-sensitive. But while the borderline may act quite competent and normal to the general public, behind the scenes the borderline is splitting, projecting, manipulating, and self abusing, creating a situation where the spouse feels he/she is "walking on eggshells" always in fear of disturbing the delicate balance of emotions the borderline is constantly battling.

    Sometimes my own thoughts are so overpowering I forget that someone is talking to me. This happens frequently when my husband is explaining something to me, and suddenly I realize I have no idea what he's been talking about, so I pretend I've been listening, and try to catch up with the discussion. Once in a while he will say something like "you haven't heard a word I've said, have you?" When we're listening to an ' audio book in the car, as hard as I try to follow the story, my mind drifts and I haven't a clue of what's been happening in the story.

    When I am feeling abandoned, angry, anxious, whatever, I mow the lawn or rake leaves. When I mow the noise of the mower helps tame the voices in my head. I harness the bad feeling by exerting energy, while I am mesmerized by the appearance of the differences I create.

    Borderlines naturally sort of "hang on the periphery;" close enough so they still see themselves as part of the human race, but not so far away that the cut themselves off from all contact. One little bump could be enough to send a borderline over the edge

    Borderlines hate being misunderstood, having all our actions (anger sadness, ect.) attributed to our BP diagnosis for their benefit, and having people tell us we dwell too much on the subject, that we should just "knock it off" or that we have "no right to feel that way."

    Here I bring up emotional blackmail, and I have to admit that I feel sort of a traitor here, because when I first read about this I saw I was extremely guilty of it. Emotional blackmail is certainly not exclusively a tool of borderlines, but every time a person with BPD threatens to self harm if somebody doesn't do something, or threatens to do anything in an attempt to manipulate somebody else, it is called emotional blackmail. Emotional blackmail is a leading contributor of things that lead to divorce. My Emotional Blackmail page is written for the person BEING emotionally blackmailed, not the person doing it. I saw no nice way of sticking up for the borderline here. Being borderline myself, I know how difficult it is to abandon the practice of emotionally blackmailing others. I have a lifetime of practice.

    Jerold Kriesman and Hal Straus, authors of "I Hate You - Don't Leave Me" refer to BPD as "emotional hemophelia; "a (borderline) person lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate his spurts of feeling. Stimulate a passion, and the borderline emotionally bleeds to death".
    Quite frequently people with BPD have a very hard time controlling their emotions. They may feel ruled by them. One researcher, (Marsha Linehan) said "People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement."

    A study of BPD patients at Harvard University produced a theory of genetic predisposition to developing BPD. The study found that in PD patients, the hippocampus and thalamic glands don't function the way they are suppose to, so once a BPD starts to feel an emotion, they can't control it (like an emotional hemophiliac).

    Some information on depression in some Borderline people

    Borderline Personality disorder (BPD: An independent, but frequently encountered side effect of Bipolar disorder (occasionally unipolar). The BPD label is applied to those with treatment - resistant bipolar disorder, rather than to another psychiatric term, because of the excessive mood of BPD patients.

    "Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) seems to be a syndrome not a disease. A syndrome is a bunch of symptoms that frequently occur together, while a disease represents a number of symptoms that occur together but which have a single cause. Malaria is a disease, congestive heart failure is a syndrome. Most psychiatric disorders are probably syndromes with multiple causes".

    "It seems that there are two pathways by which one may develop BPD. The first is by way of early life abuse/neglect and the second is by way of having a bipolar disorder. Of course some of the people diagnosed with BPD have a history of both."

    "When there is a significant degree of bipolarity in the makeup of someone with BPD, mood stabilizers and antidepressants can be very useful therapeutic modalities. When there is a history of neglect/ abuse without a personal or family history of bipolarity, medications have less to offer and psychotherapy becomes the primary treatment."

    Depression in the borderline personality may represent expression of character, a reactive mood, or independent affective disorder. Research indicates it has both a core biologic dysregulation and a pathological personality organization. This requires the use of both medical and psychological therapy for comprehensive treatment.


    In the 1975 hospital report I was once diagnosed as histrionic. As I learn to recognize and gradually grow out of my borderline behavior, I find the histrionic personality emerging. This may have been cultured when I came out of dental braces at the age of 45, in 1995. Now, I'm glad to be rid of some of the more serious borderline behavior, but I find it rather embarrassing to admit to the histrionic/narcissistic personality, so now I "have" Composite Cluster B Disorder(CCBD).

    Here are some of the more popular books about Borderline personality Disorder.

    By entering keywords, like "Borderline Personality" or Histrionic Personality Disorder, you can get a list of books on those subjects. If you can't afford to buy them, take the ISBN numbers to your local library and fill out a request to inter-library loan (borrow) the books.

    Here Are Some recommened Books on self injury

    Angry thoughts
    Most would cry
    I can't.
    Thoughts of Revenge
    strong enough to kill
    turn inward
    and beat against my brain
    and tear apart my insides
    And I can't help but think
    that someday they will.
    I'm trapped here with this feeling
    determined never to enter so freely again
    friendship so innocent turned uninnocently strong...
    ended so quickly -- like death
    Internal screams that cry no tears
    No outward proof that I'm even real

    Other Places to Visit for further information

    Click here to search for more borderline personality disorder sites

    Click here to search for site sites about Social Security Disability (SSI)

    Although Boston State Hospital sent me my 1974/75 hospital records in 1995 with a simple request, I was continually denied access to my 1975 medical records from Human Resource Institute in Brookline, MA until I hired a lawyer to get them. On February 3, 1998, they arrived.

    On June 12 1998 I applied for SSI, On August 10, 1998 I saw a therapist, and on 13 August I started attending a local anger management/abuse therapy group three nights a week that I thought included borderlines. It didn't, and it wasn't helping, so on Oct 9 I started seeing an individual intern therapist. That ended Nov 24 and now I have no one. On January 22, 1999, I was awarded SSI.

    Here are the Social Security requirements for determining a personality disorders to be a disability:

    12.08 Personality Disorders: A personality disorder exists when personality traits are inflexible and maladaptive and cause either significant impairment in social or occupational functioning or subjective distress. Characteristic features are typical of the individual's long-term functioning and are not limited to discrete episodes of illness.

    The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied.

    A. Deeply ingrained, maladaptive patterns of behavior associated with one of the following:

    1. Seclusiveness or autistic thinking; or
    2. Pathologically inappropriate suspiciousness or hostility; or
    3. Oddities of thought, perception, speech and behavior; or
    4. Persistent disturbances of mood or affect; or
    5. Pathological dependence, passivity, or aggressivity; or
    6. Intense and unstable interpersonal relationships and impulsive and damaging behavior;

    B. Resulting in three of the following:

    1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
    2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
    3. Deficiencies of concentration, persistence or pace resulting in frequent failure to complete tasks in a timely manner (in work settings or elsewhere); or
    4. Repeated episodes of deterioration or decompensation in work or work-like settings which cause the individual to withdraw from that situation or to experience exacerbation of signs and symptoms (which may include deterioration of adaptive behaviors).

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    This page was updated 13 Apr 2003