Hi! My name is Stephanie and while I am not a doctor I would like to share my perspective on what BPD is for me. Please note that this is MY own personal opinion and it might not match yours, but I do thank BPD.ORG.UK for allowing me to platform this post here. I am not a blogger or a writer, but I wanted to share this with everyone as it’s been in my head for a while now…
It begins with a child. Children have great potential and dream of things they want to do or the person they want to be when they grow up. But it just so happens that their brain chemistry is a bit off balance. They may have too little serotonin or maybe a little too much dopamine. This causes them to be a moody child, prone towards impulsiveness, aggression and unhappiness. When they are upset they are not able to soothe themselves like the other kids their age.
In addition to this biological predisposition, they may receive invalidating messages from society and their caregivers. They are told what is acceptable, unacceptable, wrong, right, possible and impossible. The thoughts, standards and expectations of others become embedded in their minds and if they deviate from this, they feel guilt. The child may be told that they are not pretty, capable or good enough. They may be told that it’s not okay to feel angry or depressed. They may be loved for what they do not for who they are. The love they receive may be conditional, meaning they need to earn approval from others in order to satisfy their need to be loved and belong.
Much of this conditioning fosters fear and self-doubt leading to inner turmoil and anxiety. Anxiety is distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. Children feel self-doubt and form a poor self-image because of this turmoil and anxiety. Their negative attitude toward themselves also creates low self-esteem. They feel disempowered, vulnerable and incapable. Children try to make sense of the world by constructing views of others and realities that are consistent with their negative views of themselves. They may even seek negative relationships and situations that validate their beliefs about themselves, also known as self-fulfilling prophecies. Children begin to think this behaviour is appropriate for them and it becomes ingrained in their personalities.
When problems arise, they often overestimate the magnitude of the problem and feel incapable of solving the problem. To alleviate the distress caused by their turmoil and anxiety, they use a variety of coping mechanisms to avoid solving the problem. Internal coping mechanisms are healthy and natural ways that people offset or overcome adversity, disadvantage or disability without correcting or eliminating the underlying condition. Complications arise, however, when coping mechanisms are self-destructive, persistently used or lead to maladaptive patterns of behaviour. In the case of the borderline personality disorder, coping mechanisms take on a pathological quality since they are often used in unhealthy ways that lead to personality dysfunction.
Borderlines use coping mechanisms, especially defence mechanisms to help them protect their fragile self-image, to cope with a harshly perceived reality by distorting it and to reduce the anxiety their internalized fear produces. Fear is at the core of their personality—their enduring patterns of thought, emotion and action. They repress intolerable and unacceptable feelings, thoughts and desires. They also protect their ego from external threats such as abandonment, failure and disappointment. Coping mechanisms help them put a distance between themselves and the perceived threat or discomfort.
If left untreated, the borderline cycle is a vicious downward spiral. As an individual continues to hide behind an arsenal of coping mechanisms, their sense of self will weaken and their problems will accumulate until they are completely overwhelmed. At this point, they may continue to live life addicted, alone or they may even choose to end their life. I was one of the lucky ones who got themselves out of this spiral, but sadly far too many of us don’t.