While this symptom might sound quite lame and not that troublesome it is often way more complicated than you might think. In fact, this is the symptom many of us BPD sufferers hate the most as it will often leave us feeling tired both physically and mentally. It’s about not knowing who you are, what you are supposed to do in life and generally having the feeling of not fitting in anywhere or with anything. You could also describe this disorder as an ‘identity disturbance’ or ‘feelings of emptiness’.
What is the BPD Symptom of Unclear or Shifting Self-Image?
The easiest way to tell you what this symptom is, is to tell you how it makes me personally feel. There are times I respect myself, then in the same hour (or less sometimes), I will suddenly hate myself to the point that I consider self-harming or even committing suicide. These days of course I have learnt to live with those thoughts, so I am a lot more in control. Unclear or Shifting Self-Image is about not knowing who YOU are or who you want to be. You can change things about yourself at the drop of hat, from the job you do, to the friends you hang out with. You can even change the way you look overnight as well as your sexual identity. Why? Because who you are and who you want to be is always changing and this often leads people with BPD to feel tired all the time and generally fed up with the disorder.
What Can Trigger the Symptom of Unclear or Shifting Self-Image?
For me personally, the most triggering thing is catching a reflection of myself in the mirror or just a mild reflection in a window or puddle. I once changed jobs because I didn’t like the coffee cup someone was drinking from! Even today I can’t settle on who I am. Often it is caused by your environment as you try to mould yourself to a certain situation using the almost Camelion like aspect of BPD. In truth anything, even the smallest of things can trigger this symptom making it definitely one of the most tiresome and indeed troublesome of them all.
How Bad Can the Symptom of Unclear or Shifting Self-Image?
While changing jobs or swapping friends isn’t so bad the aspect of the shifting self-image is the bad part of this symptom. When you are feeling good about yourself all is good, but when that flips to the negative opinion things can get a little dark very quickly. From feeling on top of the world one hour to wanting to hurt yourself or even end your own life the next, its something that is mostly harmless until it suddenly isn’t.
How Can I Stop the Symptom of Unclear or Shifting Self-Image?
The key to learning to live with this symptom is to learn to control your own impulsivity and tolerate distress. Simply starting to learn to notice this behaviour is the best way to deal with it, then moving on to thinking about the changes you are about to make in your life. Make write down the pros and cons of what you are about to do, or at least think of them before implementing them. Sadly medication can often be a hindrance with this symptom, but therapies like Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are both great ways of learning to deal with it.
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