A friend with BPD pointed me to this excellent article called ‘I can’t get it right’ – Understanding a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder. She said that it painted a very accurate picture of how she felt much of the time, and the same is certainly true for me.
What I like about this article is that rather than focusing specifically on the DSM IV criteria as an aid to describing BPD symptoms, it highlights three key aspects of how many individuals with BPD experience the world. These aspects are: feelings are ‘too real’; out of sight is out of mind; and extreme sensitivity and rage. These three aspects describe how many individuals with BPD experience their thoughts and feelings as being ‘as real as reality’; that they may find it difficult to maintain object constancy and retain a sense of consistency about the people in their lives; and that at least partly because of lack of object constancy, they can be extremely sensitive to others’ words and actions, which can often be interpreted in isolation, without taking account of prior context or knowledge.
This article is aimed at those supporting individuals with BPD, and it provides a compassionate and thoughtful description and also reminds loved ones that the behaviour of someone with BPD is often motivated by attempts to shield themselves from pain, rather than a desire to hurt or manipulate. It describes behaviour and tries to show what lies behind it, and what may be going on in the mind of the individual with BPD. The article also emphasizes the important message of hope and the existence of effective treatments that can make a real difference to those with BPD, and to their families.
Finally, although aimed at loved ones, I hope this piece will be helpful for those with BPD as well. It certainly gave me a greater insight into and understanding of some of my difficulties, particularly with regard to the section on feelings – ‘what do you mean my thoughts and feelings may not be real‘ being my gut reaction, the moment I read that paragraph…!