When one has been unfriended and shunned on social media and in real life by people who overreact by you calling them out for not respecting your boundaries, one turns one’s ancient, neglected cooking blog into a billboard. A couple of days ago, a friend of mine posted something about Borderline Personality Disorder, aka BPD, and when I went to look it up on Wikipedia, I was floored. “That’s X!” I thought. “And…that’s also Y…and Z. And also a bit me sometimes.”
There’s a lot of good literature out there on BPD, but specifically I’d like to quote what the Wikipedia article says about emotions:
People with BPD feel emotions more easily, more deeply, and longer than others do. In addition, emotions may repeatedly resurge and persist a long time. Consequently, it may take more time for people with BPD than others to return to a stable emotional baseline following an intense emotional experience. People with BPD often engage in idealization and devaluation of others, alternating between high positive regard and great disappointment. (Italics mine)
In Marsha Linehan‘s view, the sensitivity, intensity, and duration with which people with BPD feel emotions have both positive and negative effects. People with BPD are often exceptionally enthusiastic, idealistic, joyful, and loving. However, they may feel overwhelmed by negative emotions (“anxiety, depression, guilt/shame, worry, anger, etc.”), experiencing intense grief instead of sadness, shame and humiliation instead of mild embarrassment, rage instead of annoyance, and panic instead of nervousness.
And then there’s the anger component (also from Wikipedia):
Impulsive behavior is common, including substance or alcohol abuse, eating disorders, unprotected sex or indiscriminate sex with multiple partners, reckless spending, and reckless driving. Impulsive behavior may also include leaving jobs or relationships, running away, and self-injury.
People with BPD act impulsively because it gives them immediate relief from their emotional pain. However, in the long term, people with BPD suffer increased pain from the shame and guilt that follow such actions. A cycle often begins in which people with BPD feel emotional pain, engage in impulsive behavior to relieve that pain, feel shame and guilt over their actions, feel emotional pain from the shame and guilt, and then experience stronger urges to engage in impulsive behavior to relieve the new pain. As time goes on, impulsive behavior may become an automatic response to emotional pain
Lastly, I’d like to quote from an excellent article by Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D.:
Intense, inappropriate anger is one of the most troubling symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is so intense that it is often referred to as “borderline rage.” While anger is a key feature of BPD, very little is known about why people with BPD experience anger differently than other people or even how this experience is different. New research, however, is shedding light on the nature of borderline rage.
What is Borderline Anger?
Borderline anger is more than just a standard emotional reaction. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), anger in BPD is described as “inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).”
Clinically, anger in BPD is called “inappropriate,” because the level of anger seems to be more intense than is warranted by the situation or event that triggered it. For example, a person with BPD may react to an event that may seem small or unimportant to someone else (e.g., a misunderstanding) with very strong feelings of anger and unhealthy expressions of anger (e.g., yelling, being sarcastic or becoming physically violent).
I’m not posting this to anger anyone–I’m genuinely concerned about the people who I believe have this. And even if they continue to choose never to speak to me again because I dared to speak up, then I hope they’ll get the help they need and live good lives, without continuing the cycle of anger/hurt in their own and their families’ lives.