BPD, Guilt and Shame

Recently I’ve been feeling remorseful, my brain has a habit of reminding me of past mistakes when things are going well, like I don’t deserve good things because of what I’ve done in the past. It could even be a small mistake but my brain will catastrophize it, telling me I’m not worthy or I’m just too stupid, causing feelings of guilt to escalate to shame. I was reading an article that describes how those with BPD can experience chronic shame leading to self harming behaviours. I remember doing DBT and talking about my unhealthy levels of guilt that would lead me to punish myself in various ways. I think a lot of us can be too hard on ourselves when we’ve faced abuse, bullying, invalidation and/or mental illness, unfortunately all these things can lead to one another.

Even if you haven’t been abused you could experience shame for having a mental illness especially when you have one that’s highly stigmatised like BPD. These days I’m hesitant to mention my disorder in case others misjudge me because of it. We can also blame ourselves for struggling with mental health. All in all I find that guilt/shame and mental illness go hand in hand. For example chronic shame as a result of being bullied can result in anxiety/depression and then you may feel more guilt as you experience these illnesses and feel there is something inherently wrong with you.

So what is Guilt and shame?

Guilt is the feeling you experience when you’ve done something wrong and need to put it right. Shame is the feeling of distress as the result of doing something others deem wrong, the feeling of shame can cause a sense of worthlessness if not dealt with properly. Like when I was being bullied I started feeling ashamed of myself and felt there was something wrong with me. Of course being bullied isn’t just a one time thing so it’s not something you can brush off, therefore my feelings of shame became so chronic I decided I was worthless and unlovable. Guilt can turn into shame if what you did wrong isn’t fixed or forgiven by yourself or others. I struggle with forgiving myself for mistakes so my pangs of guilt quickly turn to shame, thus leading to self harm. I hope that explanation makes sense.

Why we feel guilt and shame

Guilt is a good indicator of our values, if we do something that is against what we believe, for example, lying or being mean to others then we can feel remorse. Shame is a more painful emotion because while guilt says “I made a mistake” shame says “I am a mistake”. Guilt allows us to learn and grow but shame can make us feel like we’re bad and can’t be changed so it’s counterproductive to guilt.

Shame can make us want to retreat and give up while guilt allows room for forgiveness and hope. That being said shame can be used to change an unacceptable behaviour, you see it a lot when famous people get “exposed” on social media. It can make our society a better place by calling out and changing unwanted behaviour. However what behaviour is and is not acceptable can be subjective and can differ from person to person or groups of people. When you feel ashamed you have to consider “do I feel ashamed because I don’t meet the standards of others or because I don’t meet my OWN values?”. Its up to you which is most important to you and whether or not you want to change.

How guilt and shame relate to BPD

BPD can cause highly emotional and impulsive behaviours like, we may say things in anger or overspend enough to lose a lot of money. When we’re calmed we realise what we’ve done wrong and feel guilt which will be heightened with the disorder. This feeling can also lead to shame as we tend to split and over generalise our behaviours as all bad or all good. When we experience guilt after making a mistake we can quickly turn to thinking we’re bad people and unworthy of good things.

Since we’re so sensitive and emotional people it can be very invalidating of our feelings and experiences. We may be told that we’re “over reacting” or “too sensitive and need to lighten/toughen up” we could also be made fun of or shamed for our emotional reactions. For example, my first panic attack was in front of a class and since then I couldn’t do speeches for class because I would always see or hear people mocking me for having a panic attack. These things can lead to feeling ashamed of our thoughts and emotions thus leading us to internalise our experiences and punish ourselves for not being “normal” enough.

How to cope with guilt and shame using DBT

I know I’ve been preaching more and more about DBT lately but I do think it genuinely helps and, besides, writing down what I know in real life context helps me remember them. So, here are some examples of how DBT can help you deal with guilt and shame.

Check the facts: When you check the facts you clearly state the facts of the situation and see if your emotion fits the facts. This means you don’t twist the situation based on your own interpretation. For example your significant other comes home late from work, you may think they’re having an affair and this makes you feel angry so you explode at them. Now, your feelings are valid but often it’s our interpretation of an event that makes us feel this way however thoughts and opinions are not facts. The fact of the situation is simply that your SO came home late and there could be a multitude of reasons for that like they had to work overtime or the traffic was bad. Checking the facts can help you evaluate the best course of action to handle the situation.

An example of guilt that fits the facts is that you made a mistake that’s hurt someone. In this case you’d use problem solving. If your guilt does not fit the facts then you can use opposite action.

Shame that fits the facts is when you’ll be rejected by others if a part of your personality or behaviour is made public. Another is that you’ve behaved in a way that goes against your true values, usually to fit in with a particular group.

Problem solving— For guilt that fits the facts you can use problem solving skills to make amends. Problem solving entails brainstorming all the ways of handling a situation to get a desired outcome, you then weigh up the pros and cons of the solutions and troubleshoot which ones will help best. For example if you made a genuine mistake that has hurt someone, apologising and admitting what you did was wrong to that person can help both parties move forward. However the risk to this solution is that the other person may not forgive you and then you’ll have to evaluate where you went wrong and try to do better in the future.

For shame that fits the facts it really depends on your situation. If you’re with a group of people that don’t accept a part of you or make you behave in ways that go against your core beliefs then finding a way to leave that group could be the best option. Try meeting new people that are a better fit to your values or, if leaving the group is too difficult, try using interpersonal skills to communicate yourself clearly and be more assertive with your boundaries.

Opposite Action– for guilt that does not fit the facts, for example you feel guilty for something that is out of your control (I.e. Someone’s manipulation or abuse) then you need to practise opposite action which is where you look at what your emotion wants you to do but you do the exact opposite to that. For example if feeling guilty makes you want to self harm then instead you practise self-compassion or if you feel the need to apologise for something that isn’t your fault then use the skill FAST which has an emphasis on self respect and not apologising.

On the other end of the spectrum sometimes you may turn your guilt into anger and deflect blame onto the other person and not take responsibility for your actions by manipulating or lashing out, this behaviour can lead to more guilt and anger. Opposite action for this can be being gentle with yourself and the other parties involved, taking responsibility without shaming/hurting yourself or those around you.

I’d say the same applies for shame that isn’t justified like something you feel is shameful isn’t actually shameful to those around you and others accept you as you are. As I mentioned before with guilt, shame can also turn into anger or bullying where you project what you’re ashamed of onto others. What I mean by this is, a girl spread a rumour about me being a lesbian around the school and she got nearly everyone to pay attention to me and my flaws like anger problems when this girl herself was violent and a lesbian.

She knew others would shame her so she projected her shame onto me and got everyone to shame me instead of her. If you feel tempted to do something like this a good opposite action would be to practise Radical Acceptance where you learn to accept yourself completely flaws and all. However you may be the type of person to hide away and isolate yourself when you feel ashamed, opposite action for this would be admitting what your ashamed of to people you trust and letting yourself connect with others and be honest about yourself.

Thank you for reading, if you liked this post then I suggest reading bpd, jealousy and envy which this post is based off of or check out the links below! thanks again.

Love,

NI2M ♥️

Related Resources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/bpd-and-shame-425474

16 ‘Habits’ of People Dealing With ‘Borderline Guilt’

Guilt Vs. Shame | Understanding Emotions: What is the difference between Guilt and Shame?

Apply Opposite Action to Guilt & Shame

Growing Up With BPD

Trigger warning: This post talks about self harm and suicidal behaviours

When I was diagnosed with BPD at age 18 a lot of things fell into place. When I showed my mum a leaflet about the diagnosis she was able to link a lot of my behavior to the disorder. Fair to say we both agreed with the diagnosis, in hindsight the signs were there all along but professionals are reluctant to diagnose children and teens with BPD as the mood swings and unsure identity could be put down to growing up. They tend to wait until you’re 18 or older to diagnose you but I think if someone had picked up on the signs at an early stage I might have got better but instead the symptoms got progressively worse.

For as long as I can remember intense emotions have affected my life. When I was in nursery and primary school I would get so distressed about going and being separated from my mum that I would cry, scream and put myself at risk to avoid going. I’d run away from home or undo my seat belt in the car in the hopes that we would crash and I would get hurt or die so I wouldn’t have to go to school.

I would cry out of nowhere even if, like a minute ago, I was laughing I could suddenly start crying or get angry at the drop of a hat. Attachments were an obvious issue for me as well, not just being overly attached to my mum but I would get attached to toys and games, getting incredibly upset if they broke. At the age of 10 I was in therapy for anger management problems. I only got six sessions with the therapists but when they “dropped” me I felt unwanted, unimportant and abandoned.

I used to go horse riding every week which I enjoyed but from one week to the next I could feel completely different about it. I remember looking forward to this special riding party with other kids but on the day of the party I was crying and screaming like I was being forced to go to school.

My friendships were very unstable in my primary school/early high school life. I would get angry easily for reasons that not even I knew sometimes but it meant a fight nearly every other day. We would always make up and be good friends until the next time I got upset with them. Being friends with me was like trying to handle a ticking time bomb that could go off at any minute or with even a slight wrong touch. There are a lot of diary entries from my first year of high school talking about this one girl and each entry would be either about how bad of a friend she was or how we made up after a fight… Again.

Suicidal ideation was around from a young age too. I wrote in my diary about how I hurt a friend and how I felt so guilty that if she didn’t forgive me I might as well end my life. This may all sound dramatic but this was how I was genuinely feeling at the time. I was considered a drama queen and a crybaby for years because of this emotional intensity.

I was bullied as I wore my heart on my sleeve and it was obvious there was something wrong with me as I was able to go from laughing to crying to lashing out in a matter of minutes. I was aware of how my emotional sensitivity was a problem but I didn’t know how to control it. In my teen years these erratic emotions morphed into severe depression and anxiety.

I was crying almost every night and having a panic attack nearly everyday, I’d also learned how to self harm and that became my way of releasing my emotional pain and self hatred. I eventually got counselling and group therapy for these things which helped a little but as the disorder could not yet be diagnosed, the issues were still there. I just became better at hiding/suppressing my emotions at school and with family, saving my “meltdowns” for when I was alone.

I changed my mind a lot too, picking my subjects to take at GCSE was a nightmare as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be when I got older. My aspirations would change nearly every week and I went to the office multiple times to change my options, I eventually settled for Drama, Art and Child development as, for a short while, I wanted to be a social worker,that dream changed quickly though.

In college things seemed to be looking up, I was happier there but underneath the cheeriness was the fear that if I let my “true” self show everyone would hate me and I would be bullied again so I played up the happy/hyperactive persona as that is the side of me people seemed to prefer. However, this escalated into mania that would last a couple of hours but by the end of the day I was emotionally and physically drained from all the hyperactivity. If something went wrong during the day or I perceived someone as being upset with me, my mood would quickly change to depressed and distressed.

So you see, when I was a child, I had no pause button on my emotional reactions. Whenever I felt overwhelmed I didn’t know how to stop the tears or the rage, I didn’t know how to react to these intense emotions in a healthy way or communicate how I was feeling to others appropriately so very soon a wedge was driven between me and the other kids. It was when I started being bullied more severely in high school that I learned to not let my feelings show, bottling them up and suppressing them as much as I could but even then some of it would show, especially the rage.

The emotional intensity, mood swings, unstable relationships, attachment issues and lack of identity were there with me from a very early age. Things have improved since I got neurofeedback, DBT therapy and medication but there are definitely things I need to work on like resolving my trauma and coming to terms with the way my life is now because of said trauma. I understand why professionals are reluctant to diagnose people with the disorder before 18 but I think early intervention is key for BPD. I think there is a term called ’emerging personality disorder” that identifies symptoms of a personality disorder in young people without actually diagnosing them. I think this would have been useful for me as it would have got me treated sooner and improved my school life but alas that was not the case. I do think it would be a good idea to teach children about how to deal with difficult emotions and how to look after their mental health, not necessarily if they show signs of mental illness but in general.

Hope you liked this post, do feel free to let me know what you think or share your experience with a personality disorder in childhood. Thanks for reading.

NI2M ❤

19 Signs You Grew Up With Borderline Personality Disorder

18 Signs You Grew Up With ‘Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder’

https://thetab.com/uk/sheffield/2018/10/11/this-is-what-it-is-really-like-growing-up-with-borderline-personality-disorder-36588

BPD Obsessions

A while ago I was really into the sims and I’m talking OBSESSED with it to the point that I could barely think of anything else. I couldn’t afford the actual PC version but I made do with the Create-A-Sim demo, the mobile version and youtube videos. It got to the point that, when I tried to do something else, I would get agitated and itch to get back to the sims like withdrawal symptoms of an addiction. I would daydream about owning The sims on PC and create storylines for my characters. When my phone got stolen I became really distressed as it meant I lost all my Sims mobile progress and the characters I created and loved were gone. It’s sad I know but I think at the time the game was the only thing making me happy.

This happened other times as I grew up as well, when I was in year 10 I became obsessed with this online game called Poptropica, I would play it for hours in my spare time and then talk about my adventures in the game with my friends the next day. It was actually one of them that pointed out how obsessed I can get with things. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and just put it down to me being my weird self but once I was diagnosed with BPD a lot of the behaviors like this started making sense. The sudden attachment I would get to these things that made me feel happy the way I couldn’t seem to control and got addicted to the euphoric feeling, spending as much time on that thing as possible until I eventually got bored of it.

disorder-personality-4I guess, for me, these things are a form of escapism, especially if I’m going through a time where I feel particularly lonely and depressed. When I found something that made me feel excited and happy I would cling on to it and consume my life with it. It’s not just games I can get obsessed with but also ideas, TV shows, books and even people.

With people though it tends not to be someone I know in real life as I’m afraid of intimacy or overstepping boundaries so I tend to get attached to far away people I won’t ever meet like celebrities and youtubers. I had a crush on Jacksepticeye for a while and would watch his videos for hours a day until I just found I lost interest again. I do this with other youtubers, but I don’t usually develop crushes, just rather enjoy their content and enjoy how happy they make me.

About a year ago, I became obsessed with crystals, angels and general spirituality. Whenever I went out I became fixated on buying everything I ‘needed’ to be spiritual. I spent a lot of money buying as many books about crystals, angels, etc as possible. I collected things to put on my altar/sacred space. I joined online groups about witchcraft and other such things. I even attended workshops to learn to read tarot and changed my diet. After a few months, when my contract for my first job ended, my obsession seemed to die down however I felt guilty for buying all the things and not using them so I still practice when I feel the need to.

There are other obsessions I had that are still part of my life today. When I was about 14 I got really into the music of the band EVANESCENCE. I learned all the words to nearly all their songs, Idolized Amy Lee and got my dad to take me to see them in concert… twice. I found Evanescence and Amy Lee could put words to how I was feeling in a way that I couldn’t and, even though their songs were dark, it made me happy to pretend I was on stage singing their songs. I’ve got nearly all their albums and some merch, some recent as I still love them over 5 years later.

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Around the same time I developed an interest in Evanescence, I started watching BBC Merlin and loved it. The show was about three seasons in when I joined the fandom so there were school nights spent having Merlin Marathons to catch up and, while I waited for the fourth and fifth seasons, I’d watch sneak peeks of the new episodes, watch and read fan-made content and get as much memorabilia as I could. Even though it was cancelled years ago I still come up with my own fan stories, own everything I bought for it and even still dream about the show!

Its fair to say that although my obsessions with Evanescence, Merlin and spirituality have died down they are still a part of what makes me who I am. Not all of my obsessions have continued this way though, like I mentioned with the sims, I can be really into something for a while until I exhaust myself day and night with it and lose interest. I think this has a lot to do with ‘all or nothing’ thinking where we either really care about something or have no interest in it at all. When we do care about something we can be incredibly passionate and go overboard with our interest as we struggle to regulate our intense emotions. When obsessed with something like a hobby it can consume our minds and lives so much that it feels like our identity as well.

I hadn’t realized, until I did research for this post, that as BPD sufferers we can become obsessive over thoughts and memories. I always put this down to having a bit of OCD or an overly analytical mind but it’s actually a BPD thing. Where if something particularly distressing happens I will overthink, analyze and obsess about it until my brain seems to finally let go. For example, when I fall out with friends I obsessively think and write about what happened from multiple angles, picking apart the event, what they said as well as what I said. How they made me feel and how I imagine I made them feel. Its basically like beating a dead horse but my brain can’t seem to let go until I’ve exhausted all realms of possibilities or it gets distracted for a while.

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There are also obsessions with a crush/romantic partner we can have but I don’t really have experience in that department. I guess my brain just feels safer attaching itself to fiction and things rather than real life people but if you have any experience with BPD obsessions romantic or otherwise then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Thank you for reading, take care ❤

BPD and Obsessions

When BPD Makes You Obsessed With Trying New and Interesting Hobbies

13 ‘Obsessive’ Things People With Borderline Personality Disorder Do

BPD AND THE STRUGGLE TO DISAGREE

I hate disagreeing with people, it brings up intense anxiety and panic in me, especially if I like the person and want them to like me. It’s always been hard for me to comprehend how people can disagree on things and still have a good relationship. I’ve always thought of disagreements as a way of damaging a relationship. The only time I feel able to openly disagree with someone is if I’m really angry and believe I’m right then I tend to get destructive and withdraw from the relationship as I suddenly despise the person and want nothing to do with them. I think this is called ‘splitting’ which I’ll probably write a full post about another time.

With more awareness of my problems with emotional regulation and lack of interpersonal skills, I’ve been consciously trying to remain calm when disagreeing with someone. It’s not easy though as my value of being true to my beliefs conflicts with the disorder’s desire to be loved and accepted by all. I want to be honest and stand up for what I believe in but I also want to just agree with the person so they won’t hate me. As, for me, disagreements turn to hatred fast. I try to remember that not everyone thinks this way and its okay to disagree. It’s all about finding a balance of validating the other person’s feelings while also validating your own and that’s been a difficult balance to find.

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When someone disagrees with me, it feels like an attack and fight or flight kicks in where I either panic, backtrack what I said and apologize (even if I have nothing to apologize for) or get so aggressively angry and defensive that I push the person away and cut them off completely. Because why would I want to be associated with someone I disagree with? and vice versa. I couldn’t see why someone would want to associate with me if we didn’t see eye to eye on everything. If I was in a relationship with someone I thought we’d have to be an exact reflection of each other and want the same things otherwise we couldn’t stay together. I just didn’t see how it could work. I’d do whatever the other person wanted me to and act how I think I should because I didn’t want to upset them in any way.

This people pleasing tendency often leads me to feel bitter and resentful, like I bend over backwards for these people and they don’t treat me the same in return (because everyone is different and shows love in different ways). Inevitably the other person would do or say something that would push me over the edge and I would snap. It would come out of nowhere for the other party involved but for me it would have been building up over time and I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore. The term “treading on eggshells” is used a lot by people when describing their relationship with someone with BPD which I can understand but, at least for me, it would go the other way too. I felt I had to be so careful in everything I said and did so people wouldn’t get angry with me.

I hate when people are angry with me it makes me feel like I did something wrong and with BPD making a mistake and being a bad person are the same thing. Only bad people do bad things and it can be hard for us to comprehend that those who love us can say nasty things when angry. As far as we’re concerned they hate us because why would they say those things unless they hate us? It goes the other way around for me too. I once got into a fight with my mum and I told her I wished she was dead because I was so angry I thought I hated her at the time. When we both calmed down and I apologized I didn’t understand how she could still love me and forgive me after I said something so awful because doesn’t that make ME awful?

In conflict, especially with BPD, it can be hard to accept other perspectives in a situation because of ‘black and white’ thinking. You’re either wrong or right, good or bad, when I try to see another POV I get really distressed because if the other person makes a valid point does that make everything I believe wrong and them right? No, because the world is rarely black and white but shades of grey 😉 sometimes we don’t want to listen or validate the other person’s argument as it can feel like a betrayal to our own values and community. Like with extreme feminism/anti feminism or religion, we can develop an “us or them” mentality “you’re either with us or against us” no in-between or middle ground because the community can shun you for not completely agreeing with or obeying/believing them. It’s why I don’t really get involved in politics or label myself with any religion as it feels very much like having to pick a side and close myself off to other perspectives

Anyway, recently I had a DBT session about interpersonal effectiveness and I realized its not the fact we disagree that’s the problem, it’s the way we disagree with each-other that’s the issue. I see it a lot, especially online, when people disagree with each-other and they yell, treat each-other with aggression and no respect. Insults and swear words are thrown around which gets neither party anywhere. Its fair that, when someone calls you a “piece of shit” for not sharing their views , you want to fight back and defend yourself but you can’t fight fire with fire. My therapist taught me a DBT skill called GIVE which I think even those without BPD could do with learning.

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G stands for GENTLE- Treat the other person with kindness and respect (I know this can be hard especially if you consider their actions and statements to be immoral but they’re more likely to listen to you if you don’t attack them)

INTERESTED- act interested in what the other person is saying by making eye contact, keeping your attention on what the other person is saying without interrupting them. Nod from time to time as they talk to show you’re listening.

VALIDATE- What the other person has said and how they’re feeling by saying things like “I see this is important to you” or “I understand that you’re angry” try to understand where they’re coming from and work from there. This is NOT the same as agreeing with the other person but showing compassion for them is more likely to calm them down and get them to listen to you rather than shouting or insulting them.

EASY MANNER- Notice your body language, voice and choice of words; make sure you are not shutting the other person out by crossing your arms, raising your voice or belittling them. You can smile and use humor (if appropriate) to ease the tension as well.

Related Resources:

https://www.phumlanikango.com/mental-health/2018/7/31/bpd-relationships-understanding-what-goes-on-in-our-minds

‘Don’t Disagree or They’ll Hate You’: My Guide to Friendship With BPD

How I’ve Learned to Manage Conflict in Life With Borderline Personality Disorder

Coping With Nightmares

It’s all well and good people telling you that all you need to do to feel mentally better is “sleep better” “get a good night sleep” etc. But when you suffer from insomnia and nightmares, that sleep can be a lot harder to get. I don’t struggle so much with getting to sleep thanks to mirtazapine but staying asleep has been an issue recently. Nearly every night this past week or so I’ve been waking up in the night from nightmares. Some about demons and ghosts, others based on my life, things that have or could happen.

My therapist tells me I shouldn’t think of these realistic nightmares as nightmares but more of my brain trying to process what I’ve been through and what it could mean for my future, which I understand but when you wake up at three in the morning with your heart racing, terrified of your worst fears haunting you in your sleep I can’t help but consider that a nightmare.

I guess its because of my focus being on therapy and recovery that’s resurfacing past trauma and anxiety. I just have to take it as my brain trying to make sense of things but it doesn’t stop them distressing me. Settling down and getting back to sleep after waking up from a nightmare can be hard so here are my tips and ideas on how to cope and calm down after a nightmare;

  • Deep breaths– There are different breathing techniques you can try such as 7-11 and square breathing or there are guided breathing exercises you can find online such as this one below.

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  • Get out of bed/leave the room– when suffering from nightmares your safe haven of your bedroom and bed can seem fear inducing so I suggest taking a time out away from your room, perhaps go to the bathroom and wash your face to ground yourself.
  • Self care/self soothing– I have a self soothe box full of things to comfort me from soft scarves to scented candles. If nightmares are a regular occurrence for you I suggest keeping things you find comforting in your room and near your bed so you can access them easily when in post-nightmare anxiety. You could also make yourself a warm drink and watch/read something that cheers you up.
  • Write down your nightmare– This may seem terrifying but often dreams and nightmares could be our brain telling us something that we don’t address in daily life, so getting it out on paper can not only be releasing but can help you analyze what could be causing them. If you don’t feel comfortable having your nightmares recorded then you can destroy the paper afterwards.
  • Talk to someone– Especially if your nightmares are related to past trauma, its good to talk about what’s bothering you to someone you trust; this can be a friend, family member, therapist or if you don’t feel you can talk about it with someone you know and need help with the distress urgently I suggest getting in touch with a mental health crisis/helpline such as Samaritans.
  • Getting back to sleep– as I said before getting back to sleep after a nightmare can be hard so once you feel safer/calmer you could try listening to a meditation/ calming music or try a muscle relaxation exercise to help you settle back in bed to sleep.

I hope these tips help you and please feel free to let me know if you have any ideas of your own that have worked for you 🙂 thanks for reading, take care ❤

More to read on Trauma and Nightmares;

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-trauma-can-affect-your-dreams

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/when-trauma-follows-you-into-your-nightmares-0708144

https://karinsieger.com/cope-with-nightmares/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201311/five-steps-conquering-nightmares

BPD, Jealousy and Envy

I believe we all get jealous at some stage of our lives.  I used to quite a lot.  It used to be so bad at times I could feel it eating away at me and I would develop a strong dislike for someone, but not understanding why. Since starting my medication and neurofeedback therapy, I’ve felt it less often and intense. I still get envious though.  I find what triggers it is someone getting more attention or affection than me eg someone I perceive as being more liked/popular than me. It’s a hard thing to admit and I hate feeling this way but the green eyed monster can be powerful.

When I was attached to someone, this could be my mum or a friend, I would feel very possessive of them. If they had other people around who could fill my shoes, I would fear them leaving me as I tend to see myself as “second best” or the “backup plan”. I truly believed that a friend or family member would leave me as soon as they found someone better. It took me years to accept my mum’s best friend.  Before then I saw her as the enemy, the one taking my mum’s love and attention away from me, the one who my mum would leave me for. As crazy as this appears, this type of thinking makes sense when given my family history.

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I never really did anything about it though. When the green eyed monster came, I would feel ashamed for not just being happy for the people I loved and I would suppress the feeling. However this envy/jealousy would grow into resentment and bitterness because I didn’t properly address the emotions at the first stage. Thus leading to tension in my relationships with others and paranoid thinking which can morph into serious trust issues and destroy relationships.

I’m more socially isolated at the moment so I don’t experience jealousy as such but more envy.  Social media is a big trigger for this envy. When I think someone is doing better than me with content, followers or praise I find that pit of irrational hatred for the person I see as doing better than me. Like I said, I would see them as competition and I would feel bitterness for myself and life. Why can’t I be as well liked as they are? Why does their site look better than mine? Why isn’t my writing as good as theirs? etc. Then shame would kick in. Why can’t I just be happy for them? Why do I have to be so negative? Why can’t I just be grateful? I have decided to try and understand jealousy/envy instead of pushing it away like I usually do…
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The difference between envy and jealousy:

Envy vs. Jealousy. The main difference between envy and jealousy is that envy is the emotion of coveting what someone else has, while jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else.

Quote from: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Envy_vs_Jealousy

so, to summarize, Jealousy relates to personal relationships (romantic, familial and friendly) whereas envy relates to more materialistic things and can be felt towards a complete stranger.

Why do we get jealous or envious?

In DBT emotional regulation, one of the first things we learn is that each emotion has a function, even the ones we deem bad. Each one is there to motivate us to do something either negative or positive. Its not the emotion that’s necessarily bad its the actions we choose to take because of them. For example, Jealousy can motivate us to do better than our third party competition in order to keep the one we cherish and impress them. A negative action to take with Jealousy is to become possessive of a loved one, controlling or clingy to make sure the one you love can’t leave.

Envy can motivate us to push ourselves a bit more so we can do just as well as the person we’re envious of and achieve that success we crave. However this feeling can lead to things like bullying, where you try to tear down the person you deem more successful and happy to make them feel as bad as you. So you see, if we take these emotions and not judge them we can use them to become better friends, partners or family members and achieve more than we thought possible.

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Artwork by: Unknown

Jealousy and Envy in BPD

Jealousy and envy seem to be more of a problem in those of us with BPD. The jealousy probably stems from our insecurity and fear of abandonment. A blogger (linked below) said that envy in BPD could be due to our chronic sense of emptiness, causing the desire to have what others have that make them happy so that we may know happiness. It could also boil down to the fact that we can feel more intensely than others, which can lead to problematic behaviors when those feelings (i.e jealousy or envy) are not managed properly.

How to combat jealousy and envy (in a healthy way)

Another thing we learn in DBT emotional regulation is Opposite Action where we can choose to calm ourselves by acting the opposite way to how we’re feeling. You observe the emotion, what its motivating you to do and, if the action is deemed ineffective, we can use Opposite Action to neutralize the emotions.

For (a real life) example I was talking to someone via text and they stopped replying. I assumed I said something wrong or that they didn’t like me so I felt anxious and afraid. Because of this I was tempted to keep texting them until they answered, apologize or get angry to grab their attention. I knew that would be wrong so instead I cried while eating cake until I felt sick.

Now, in hindsight, once I checked that my actions would be ineffective or make things worse I could have practiced opposite action which would have been to show self compassion by challenging my assumptions of the worst “they hate me” and practicing self care instead of making myself ill.

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Image from: comic “working with envy” by Colleen Butters

Here are some OPPOSITE ACTION ideas for envy/jealousy:

  1. Count your blessings “name them one by one, count your blessings don’t you spoil the fun” (sorry, just whenever I came across that phase the song I was taught in school comes to mind lol)
  2. Challenge thoughts instead of acting on them. For example (on social media) think something like “is their life really that perfect? They could just be showing me what they want me to see and not the “ugly” parts of their life”
  3. Appreciate/ be kind to yourself. If you feel envious/ jealous it may be because you’re insecure and have low self esteem. So, take some time to appreciate that you’re doing your best and make a list (or ask a loved one to) of all your achievements and positive qualities.
  4. ACKNOWLEDGE, COMMUNICATE, RESOLVE– demonstrated in the “dealing with jealousy” video linked below. These three steps are more personal for myself as, like I mentioned before, I deal with jealousy by suppressing, withdrawing and leaving the situation unresolved because of the shame I have around the emotion. So this would be a very good Opposite Action for me.
  5. Think about the other person– People with BPD can be so empathetic, I find it hard not to cry when I see someone else cry or be sick when someone else has been. I’m very good at feeling others’ pain even when I don’t want to, I imagine this is the same for a lot of us, being so emotionally sensitive. If we find it easy to feel the pain of others, then we can learn to feel people’s pleasure too by putting ourselves in the shoes of the person we envy. I believe an article linked below mentions MUDITA which is sympathetic joy. I personally would much rather be able to experience people’s joy more than their pain, so I’d like to give this a practice 🙂

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to let me know your experiences with envy/jealousy. Have you been the jealous/envious one before? Have you ever been on the receiving end of jealousy/envy? How do you handle these feelings when they arise?

Take care ❤

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201103/envy-the-emotion-kept-secret

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/turning-straw-gold/201207/transforming-envy-joy

https://www.borderlineblog.com/envy-envy-and-more-envy.php

https://www.my-borderline-personality-disorder.com/2018/10/bpd-trauma-and-jealousy.html

Hope Of Recovery?

I’ve heard people refer to BPD as a “dead end diagnosis” that its not treatable or even a mental illness. I’ve also had people tell me that’s bullshit and recovery from BPD is possible. It’s hard to handle these conflicting POVs especially when they come from mental health professionals. BPD is a controversial topic in psychology, some psychiatrists/psychologists believe that people with BPD don’t have empathy while others believe they do. It’s pretty much the same in all round psychology, when I studied it in college, there was always a case for a theory but also a case against it so it all boils down to the professional’s personal perspective.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone with the disorder as we’re still individuals so we may or may not believe in recovery, taking medication or that the diagnosis is a real one. Again, it really depends on who you ask. Mental illness is a personal battle that we fight in whatever way works best for us. I believe that we can research and theorize about the human mind all we want but not everyone can fit the label or box that we tend to get put in with a diagnosis. This is my story so far but don’t think you have to feel the way I did or do the things I did because you’re an individual, much more than your diagnosis.

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Personally, I was relieved to have the diagnosis of BPD as it meant I finally had an explanation for what’s wrong with me. This was before I realized how negatively stigmatized the disorder is and how invalidating people can be because you have BPD. I once had a psychiatrist ask if I attempted suicide for attention, when I brought it up with the crisis team (which I’ll talk about in another post) they just said its the diagnosis and unfortunately even professionals are going to be dicks about it (ok that wasn’t their exact words but you get the gist). I mean, how can professionals talk down to and about their clients because of something they are supposed to understand but clearly don’t?

I’ve been lucky compared to most though, I managed to get access to neurofeedback therapy and I’m now doing DBT therapy thanks to my supportive parents. I know not everyone with mental illness has such a supportive family. In fact,even now, mental illness is still met with ignorance from friends, family and professionals so, how the hell are we supposed to recover from BPD when met with such stigma? When we’re told by professionals that what we’re experiencing is a stupid diagnosis and there is no hope of recovery?

tumblr_n49jkd8fYm1tz8okxo1_500Can I recover from it? to be honest I’m not sure I could ever recover completely but I have been learning to manage it through DBT and my mental state has improved after roughly 6 months of neurofeedback therapy and the right medication. Things aren’t perfect by any means. I’ve definitely not fully recovered but things are better than they were last year. I’m better at processing things and calming myself down when things get bad. Doing my own reading about it and connecting with others who have BPD online has been a sort of self help/ peer support therapy for me.

The diagnosis can be isolating and lonely when you think that no one understands how you feel and people IRL can make you feel worse because of misconceptions they have about the disorder. So meeting people experiencing similar issues can be really uplifting. Honestly I think if it wasn’t for this blog or the people I’ve met on twitter I would still be so incredibly lonely and ashamed. But reading about others’ experience gives me hope and a reason to fight despite people telling me there is no hope for people like me.

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As I said before, your journey is a personal one so if you can find a way to recover from the disorder completely, that’s awesome. If not and you’re just managing to get through each day that’s okay, I’m still learning too so I don’t want to preach a certain way of life like its the cure-all.. The best I can do is encourage you to try different things and not give up on yourself even if others try to shame you or say you’re hopeless. Only you can decide what works best for you and recovery looks different for everyone.

TW: This next part contains reference to suicidal ideation and self  harm

For example, recently I had a terrible interview that left me wanting to die and cut myself.  It was hard battling that storm of self hatred and rage and I ended up snapping a hairband on my skin. This may not seem that much of a change to you, you may even consider this a relapse but considering that I’d been dealing with the urge to self harm on and off for weeks and at that point gave in to temptation, that’s pretty good for me. Even in crisis I resisted the urge to the point I couldn’t take anymore but instead of grabbing something sharp I went for the hairband which caused significantly less damage while also satisfying the urge. It may not be as good as not self harming at all or going for a run instead but it is an improvement for me 🙂

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Thanks for reading and do feel free to let me know your experience with BPD ❤

 

Recommended Reading:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/treatment-and-support/#.XJ0YB_ZFzIU

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/both-sides-the-couch/201309/borderline-personality-disorder-the-power-recovery

https://bpdtransformation.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/how-did-i-recover-from-borderline-personality-disorder/

http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/borderline-personality-disorder-vol7/borderline-personality-disorder

https://themighty.com/2017/04/my-journey-borderline-personality-disorder-treatment-and-recovery/

 

Narcissism Vs BPD

Recently I got into a bit of a fight on twitter after someone claimed that people with BPD are narcisstic and can’t form attachments, of course there was uproar. I can admit that SOME people with BPD can be abusive and perhaps narcisstic but that’s a small portion, like not all people with schizophrenia are violent. Most of the people I know with BPD are kind and loving and just want to help and be helped.

Now BPD, I’ve been told, uses the term borderline as we can display symptoms of other disorders. For example I’m borderline OCD which means I have symptoms of the disorder but not enough to be officially diagnosed with it. The disorder also can have co-occuring disorders such as depression and anxiety. If you have BPD the chances are you have another diagnosis linked with it. Everyone with BPD is different based on their life experience, personalities, co-occuring disorders and their symptoms. This means that a SMALL number of those of us with BPD can have NPD or narcissistic traits but not all of us.

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Though, to outsiders our symptoms can be mistaken for narcissism. For example threats of self harm or suicide could be seen as manipulative but we don’t have the intention to manipulate, its an unhealthy way of expressing how we feel (doesn’t make this behavior okay and its important to get professional help at this stage.) I understand why some people might tar us with the same brush as those with NPD but the difference is our inner world. We do things with other reasons and feel differently to those with narcissism.

For example we engage in risky behaviours because we feel manic or impulsive, not because we don’t care about the consequences of our behavior. We often do, but the urge or emotion is so strong we need to perform these acts for the feeling to stop and will probably later, when we’ve calmed down, come to regret it.

For some time I was questioning whether or not I was a narcissist. I have a family member who’s narcissistic and abusive so I figured, having someone like that in my blood, there’s a chance I could be too. I would question basically everything I did, am I playing the victim? Am I being emotionally manipulative? and on the questions would go until I realized that someone narcissistic probably wouldn’t care so much about being a narcissist. I’ve never consciously tried to manipulate someone. Maybe my behaviour could seem like I was but it would never be my intention. I would just be overshadowed by rage and anxious desperation.

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The person I fought with on twitter mentioned that they seem to be dropped by those with BPD quickly and freely, she thought that people with BPD couldn’t get attached because of this and that’s just not true. If anything those of us with BPD can get attached too fast too much. If I met someone online I would immediately want them to be my friend and get low if I didn’t hear from them again. I have a bit of a rocky relationship history with therapists. I would get along with them and feel really positive about them the first few weeks but then they would say something I didn’t like or push me to go where I didn’t want to and I would switch to hating them and feel unsafe seeing them as they might make me talk about or bring up emotions I couldn’t deal with.

This happened a couple of weeks back and I took a break from seeing my therapist last week but knew I would have to face her again if I wanted the most out of the treatment. I saw her today and felt really on edge and defensive the whole time. I think this can happen with a lot of BPD sufferers and their therapists. It seemed to happen often with this lady on twitter and her BPD clients. Probably because she saw and spoke about those of us with BPD in a very negative and ignorant way. Granted we probably shouldn’t “ditch” or “drop” people so quickly and I can understand why it may seem we don’t care but we do care a lot, too much and we often don’t know how to express ourselves in a healthy manner, even with therapists, so we push away or leave people fast as not to be hurt or have our trust broken again, its self preservation not indifference despite appearances.

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I’m aware that people with BPD can have very high standards as with narcissism but the difference is that we also hold ourselves to that high standard as well. When someone hurts us or makes a mistake it can be very difficult for us to see past their wrongs and forgive them but it also goes vice versa, if we make a mistake we can feel terrible about it, like we’re bad people and undeserving of love. Whereas with a narcissist they believe they are superior and can do no wrong while everyone else can’t meet their standards.

Now let’s address the manipulative behaviors that both conditions can display. People with BPD tend to overdo the chameleon effect where we basically take on other people’s body language and views, I understand how this can be taken as manipulative but unlike those with narcissism, we don’t do it to make people like us so we can use them for our own gain, people with BPD don’t really have a strong sense of self or identity so when we’re around certain types of people we can “try on” their identities, we don’t do this intentionally though.

Personally, I hate when this happens and I’m very selective of who I spend most of my time with as, some people, I really don’t want to become; I hang out with people I feel good and safe around, people with traits I admire and don’t mind taking on. With BPD its an automatic thing, whether to get a sense of identity or to survive. The mirroring and changes in behavior depending on where we are and who we’re with are not intentional, we often hate saying and doing things just to fit in but the overwhelming fear of rejection and abandonment as well as the lack of identity can mean we genuinely believe in what we’re saying and doing, at least until we leave those people and that environment or become aware of our disorder. Since being diagnosed I’m hyper aware of my behaviour with different people, its not easy to change it though as its pretty much automatic now and I still don’t have a strong understanding of who I am, I’m trying though.

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I could probably go on but this post is already one of my longest yet so I think I’ll leave it there now but please keep in mind that people with BPD are all different, this is just my story and others might have different views because we are more than our diagnosis. What I will say though is that, from what I learned, both BPD and NPD can be the result of trauma and fear of abandonment, we just deal with it differently so I can’t help but have some empathy for those with NPD and hope that they can get treatment and recover even though it’s difficult. Take care ❤

Recommended Reading:

https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/understanding-bpd-emotional-manipulation-techniques-and-how-treatment-can-help/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-differences-between-abusers-with-narcissistic-personality-disorder-vs-borderline-personality-disorder/

https://www.verywellmind.com/narcissistic-personality-disorder-425426

https://www.clearviewwomenscenter.com/blog/bpd-npd/

Photography by: Unknown

REJECTION WITH BPD

I’ve lost count how many jobs I applied for and times I got rejected before I finally got a really good job. It was a temporary contract though so now I’m back on the market looking for a new job. After my previous success I had high hopes for the next application I made, only to get rejected again. I found it hard to cope after that, I felt like my world had been rocked but I didn’t really pay attention to those feelings until my most recent job application.

I’d wanted to do some prep before the interview but when I tried to research and prepare my answers thoughts such as “this is pointless” “I’m not good enough” and “what’s the point in trying if they’re just going to reject me” started invading my mind. I got really upset and abandoned the mission. I struggled to understand why I was suddenly so depressed when just a month ago I was so hopeful and happy to get a new job. Then after my latest interview it hit me. Rejection.

I hadn’t realised until then just how much my BPD still affects me. The reason I was so hopeful back in January was because of my previous success but then I got rejected and that affected my mood.

You see, people with BPD try so hard to be accepted, to avoid rejection from people as well as abandonment. I knew that application rejections happen all the time to everyone but that didn’t stop the hurt. Feeling like I wasn’t good enough or disliked. It was worse when the interviewers would reject me without giving a reason or feedback, so I didn’t know what I did wrong and how I could fix it to be accepted next time.

The job applications, interviews and rejections were a long, disappointing, depressing process. I imagine it would be rough for a “normal” person but everything seems X10 worse when you have BPD. I’m happy I had at least that one successful time though, it has helped me feel more optimistic that someone somewhere will like and accept me. It just feels like finding a needle in a haystack and the harder and longer I have to look the more hopeless and frustrated I get.

Every rejection feels like a slap in the face, even though I know it can’t be personal and questions start swarming my headspace “why didn’t they like me?” “Why do I even bother trying?” “What did I do wrong?” “Why do they hate me?” And on it goes. The other side to how I would react to rejection was blaming “the powers that be” in the company, I remember getting rejected after a trial shift and thinking “that shift leader was a bitch, she probably talked shit about me to the managers” even though she would have been reprimanded for doing something like that so she probably didn’t. I still held a grudge against that poor girl for months.

The first company I ever applied for also rejected me after a trial shift, not long after that they ended up being shut down and I celebrated like “that’s what you get for rejecting me, assholes” as if they rejected me because of some personal vendetta they had against me. I used to take job rejection way too personally so how have I managed to not crumble from all this rejection?

Well, firstly, I’ve been trying to change my concept of rejection, instead of thinking “I wasn’t right for the job” I try thinking “Maybe the job wasn’t right for me”. Thinking this way has helped heal the hurt I felt after being rejected so many times. I also use my free time to plan and do other things I enjoy so I don’t get too bored or isolated. I’ve been going to groups at my local wellbeing centre as well as attending DBT sessions weekly and doing voluntary work on Saturdays. I’d like to start doing more soon to prepare me for paid work again as, when I worked as a Christmas temp, the time and the energy required was overwhelming considering it was my first paid job. Recently I’ve come to accept that I may not be ready for paid work and I should stop pushing myself so hard for a while. For now I think I need to focus on my recovery and hopefully I’ll be able to work in the future.

Read how Val Prozorova overcame anger and fear of rejection while dealing with BPD:

https://themighty.com/2017/06/bpd-borderline-personality-disorder-rejection/

and check out Recovery Mum’s videos on BPD and Rejection:

More videos to show some love:

BPD’s NEED FOR ATTENTION AND VALIDATION

When you have BPD, your inner world can be in chaos and outsiders don’t often understand why we react the way we do to things. So the actions we take on our feelings can be considered dramatic, an over reaction or something we do for attention. I remember a psychiatrist asking me if I attempted suicide for attention. I don’t know if he thought this because I was a teen, or I have a sister with special needs or he was judging me based on the diagnosis of BPD. Whatever he thought… Fuck him.

Two of the common characteristics is threats of suicide or self harming behavior. When we’re in a fight with someone, we can turn to these behaviors (I once self harmed when my mum got angry with me as that is one of my triggers).  But we may not follow through with them and we often get dismissed as manipulative or attention seeking.

Growing up I was known for being a drama queen and I admit to being a bit of an attention whore, but not on purpose. You see my emotions run deep and they can be so intense they cause eruptive or “dramatic” reactions. What people don’t see however is the thoughts and things that lead up to that reaction.

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I tend to suppress my emotions for fear of them being “wrong”. Its like shaking up a fizzy drink bottle. All the bubbles popping and the pressure desperate to be released until eventually the lid is opened (something triggering happens) and the contents of the bottle (myself) explodes and spills out.

I react in extreme ways, attempting suicide or self harming, not with the intent to manipulate or get attention. But, the emotion that fizzled inside for some time grips me so intensely that suicide seems the best way out or self harm the best way to get relief. Logic really doesn’t get a look in at these times.

Sometimes though we can say what we’re going to do but not act on it. This is usually an act of desperation and fear.  Again, the emotions become so overwhelming that the person with BPD literally has to cry for help, but most of these cries fall on deaf ears and are met with labels of “attention seeker” or “manipulative”

“Attention-seekers like myself are written off as lost causes instead of treated like people who are seriously and constantly hurting, who are only “wasting your time” because they know their own is running out. I want your attention the same way a person drowning wants the attention of a lifeguard, but I can’t scream for help and raise my hand because instead of drowning in water I am drowning in my own heightened emotions.”

Quote from: https://themighty.com/2016/07/borderline-personality-disorder-and-attention-seeking/

Recently I have found myself craving attention and using a lot of social media to get it, trying not to go to extremes to get that attention though. I’d describe my BPD as a child that has been neglected. The disorder is significant as it can relate to past trauma that needs to be dealt with but not by ignoring it. I learned the hard way that pushing aside “negative” feelings is bad and forced positivity can be destructive for someone like me.

You see, a few months at the end of 2018 I decided to put all my focus on spirituality and “being a better person”. I even literally tried to “just think positively” and while it did help for a while there was always BPD, still there, just manifesting itself as obsessions with crystals, witchcraft and self help books. As well as underlying anxiety that if I don’t meditate or stick to a routine then I’m not living right.

The reality hit me when I started work. Interacting with people in a busy environment induced anxiety in me. I found getting up in the mornings hard. I felt out of control of my life and frustrated that I couldn’t “just be happy”. I mean I tried to do everything right! I was meditating, practicing positive affirmations and all that jazz but it wasn’t working and I hated it. I hated myself for not being happy and I ended up self harming badly again. Image result for bpd

BPD had come back like a bitch, I was depressed and dissociating while at work. I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted my colleagues to give me a hug and tell me everything was okay, but I didn’t want to seem needy so I kept quiet for a long time.

Now I’m paying the price as BPD consumes my every thought and action. I not only write blog posts about it but also poems and artwork to explore the depths of my madness. I hate feeling like this, like I’m nothing without the disorder or not important unless I’m struggling. I was getting sick and tired of my life revolving around the BPD which is why I tried so hard to change. Only to end up feeling isolated and grasping on to any scrap of affection I could get. There are times where I wish I had physical wounds from my pain and trauma that I could show people while screaming “LOOK AT ME”.  Trying to get them to understand what I’ve been through, as people seem to only believe what they see.

“One of my biggest BPD symptoms is talking too much about my illness. Because when I’m not talking about it, I feel a lot of negative emotions. I feel alone, unloved, worthless. When I’m talking about my mental health, it’s the only time I feel cared for. I need the attention, the sympathy — I crave it. This leads me to go totally over the top and talk about it constantly. And that drives people away. People feel I am relying on them too much and that I don’t care about them. It makes me appear self-absorbed. The trouble is, when people leave me because of this, it makes me hate myself even more and so I need the attention more than ever and want to talk about my illness more to get that. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Quote from: https://themighty.com/2018/01/attention-seeking-bpd-borderline-personality-disorder/

“The fact of the matter is, I can be a difficult person. I am have trouble regulating my moods, I have the emotional intensity of a toddler, – But when I’m at my worst, that’s when I need the most love and acceptance to help me out of that place. Because really, that’s all anyone with BPD wants, to be loved and accepted for who we are.” – Claire

Quote from: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about-mental-health/types-problems/personality-disorders