This Borderline Personality Disorder profile was created by combining stories of life experiences, lived by a number of individuals who have battled this condition. We hope you or your loved one find peace in identifying with any/all of these symptoms, because it will show you that you are far from alone. In fact, after reading these profiles, feel free to check out these stories of everyday #SameHere Heroes, as well as Celebrities, all of whom have faced their own mental health hurdles, showing that life challenges do not discriminate.
BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
Some Common Symptoms: Emotional instability is a very common symptom of Borderline Personality, periods of uncontrollable anger, intense emotions that fluctuate along with impulsivity and mood swings, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships often feeling like one is deeply in love followed by feelings like they no longer want to be with their partner, will do almost anything to avoid abandonment – which is often their biggest fear, feelings of dissociation, sometimes turn to self-harm.
Jean grew up an only child, just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and was raised a huge sports fan, especially when it came to rooting for the local teams. She looked forward every weekend to watching a game on TV with both her mom and dad, because regardless of the time of year, they both had very demanding jobs that kept them out of the house, often. Her father worked in the automotive industry and after starting his career on the factory floor, had worked his way into management. This position came with benefits he’d never even dreamed of, but with those benefits came long hours and late nights at the office. He always wanted to “be there” for his employees, as in a way, he felt indebted to them for the reputation he’d developed around the office, and therefore the stability he felt in his position. Jean’s mother was a marketing professional who was gifted with an extremely creative mind, but found herself on the road at least two weeks each month, because her agency saw her as a “closer” who could make a deal happen, if she got time with prospects, in person.
Fortunately, Jean’s aunt, Jenn (her mother’s sister), lived nearby in Auburn Hills, because growing up, while her parents were rarely home during the week, they had an open door policy with Jenn, who was able to check on Jean and make sure everything was always “OK.” Jenn was never interested in having kids of her own. Relationships just never seemed to work out long term for her, and she liked her independence. She didn’t see Jean as a liability or major responsibility when she was left to watch her, but she didn’t love the added “asks” of her family and often just came to check on Jean, only to leave and go back to her own house to relax on days after work.
Jean’s obsession with sports led her to sign up to play in a softball, volleyball, and basketball league while she was still in elementary school. Aunt Jenn would have to drive Jean to practices, depending on the season, or pay for taxi’s to take her to and from. Jenn didn’t take the time to get to know too many of the other parent’s on Jean’s teams, so coordinating carpools wasn’t really an option. It was disappointing to Jean that her family only got to her own games every so often on weekends, but she relished those times that they did. Other parents would come to most games, so that upset her to be “alone” but she grew up a tough cookie, and learned to deal at games where she didn’t feel as supported as others. Her coaches did, however, notice, in all three sports, that Jean had a quick temper. Usually mild-mannered, Jean would have flare-ups at umpires and referees when calls didn’t go her way and would need time off the field or court to “cool down” when she’d find herself in these states. It was almost as if her emotions took over and she needed significant time to get back to being “even keel.”
In Junior High, Jean decided to concentrate on her grades, and therefore cut down her sports participation to the one sport she loved the most – basketball. While this made things easier on her in terms of the time available to do school work, she found herself getting bored very easily, and especially with her parents rarely home, she’d feel lost for hours at a time in her house. She had a good share of friends, but always felt paranoid that they were saying things behind her back. She had this feeling like she had a sixth sense, and could tell that – while they were always friendly in person, they just didn’t feel as close with her, as they seemed to feel towards their other friends.
As she got into high school, Jean got involved with some questionable groups of friends. She started drinking at a very young age – only 14, and even started “cutting” herself on her forearms, because she liked the feelings that came along with piercing her skin. Because of where the cuts were on her arm, Jean was easily able to conceal them with long sleeve shirts so that her parents (when they were home), her aunt, and her school teachers couldn’t really notice. This was around the time when most young girls start being interested in boys. While Jean enjoyed flirting, and all the attention that came along with it, she never found herself fully going on dates, or getting to know any of the boys in her school or town too seriously. When she was asked out, she would find an excuse as to why she couldn’t go, and rarely felt comfortable enough talking with her parents or aunt about any of these situations.
That pattern lasted for her first two years in school, after which point she finally started dating her first “official” boyfriend, as a junior. She’d spent time in class daydreaming about their relationship, and even though she had never felt what she believed was love, her feelings were growing extremely fast, and she would wonder if “this was what love is.” Those strong feelings only lasted so long. Leaving basketball practice one night after school, she saw her boyfriend leaving on another bus with another girl. Although this wasn’t proof of her boyfriend doing anything wrong, as he and this girl lived in a similar area of town, it infuriated Jean to see him with another girl like this, and she called him that night to say she no longer wanted to see him and never wanted to talk to him again. She wasn’t quite sure why the scene triggered such an intense response from her, but she knew in her heart, it didn’t feel right, and she needed to end it.
As Jean got her driver’s license, she became even more independent. She quit the basketball team, and used money she had saved up from various part-time jobs she had participated in over most summers, towards a nice new car lease. Unfortunately for Jean, and for her car, she was far from a careful driver. In fact, she would probably be considered a reckless driver with how she’d weave in and out of lanes at high speeds, and often make questionable moves when trying to navigate through traffic. Although she was an ambitious student, towards the top of her class, with great grades, driving just wasn’t as simple for her as it was for others. She’d end up smashing her car 2X pretty badly while still in high school. Fortunately, she had saved up enough money to fix the car both times.
Jean graduated high school and decided to go out of town for college, as she felt like she grew up without much support, so being far from her parents and aunt wouldn’t be too challenging. At school, very early on, she met and quick fell hard for a senior in a fraternity. Their relationship felt great and supportive and she finally felt like she knew what it meant to be in love. As the two got into the Spring semester, Jean started to have negative thoughts about what might happen when her boyfriend graduated. It was at this time she started to notice some things she hadn’t paid attention to before. Her boyfriend never seemed to compliment her on the clothes she wore, or the cards she wrote for him. Although she loved him, there were times he acted distant and cold. One night towards the end of the semester, she made the decision he wasn’t the guy for her, and after almost a full school year together, she ended things abruptly. Shocked by her decision, her boyfriend tried to gain a greater understanding as to what had happened that could have caused this almost ‘drastic 180″ from her, but the more he asked, the more he got answers that just confused him. She told him that he was never fully there for her, he couldn’t be trusted to always be in her corner, and she felt a need to be alone. To her boyfriend, it was almost as if his Jean had forgotten about all the great times they had spent together, and was painting him as the bad guy, who had ruined everything about their future. It left him very confused.
As the school year ended, Jean moved home for the summer, and found herself depressed and locked into her room and even in her bed. Fearing she was falling into a dark spot, Jenn notified her parents of her concern, and her parents took Jean to a psychiatrist for evaluation. After going over her history from childhood, up to this point, the doctor determined that Jean was suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Though they didn’t intend to hurt her, the absence of her parents out of much of her life growing up, and even the absenteeism of her aunt caused her to feel neglected. Her greatest fear was abandonment, and this fear manifested in the way her two relationships came to abrupt ends. To protect herself, she would paint the “other person” – whether friends, family or boyfriends, in her relationships as “the bad guy” and her mind was convinced the find the wrong in everyone, even in places there was none, so that she could justify abandoning them, before the possibility of them abandoning her. The hardest part of this diagnosis was that – the doctor acknowledged that in her mind, facts as she saw them were “real” as self-protection mechanisms…facts that she actually believed to have happened…but different than the facts others had pointed out to her. It was as if events she observed or lived through happened differently than to everyone else involved. This created many rifts in her relationships because it was as if she was referencing a different reality than what others in her life had experienced.
The psychiatrist sent Jenn for what she, and many leading psychiatrists believe is the best treatment and rehab option for those with Borderline Personality Disorder – DBT or dialectical behavior therapy, one of the STARR treatment options. Personality disorders are hard to treat, but through DBT, suffers can be shown the enormity or lack thereof, of most situations they are overreacting to, to help them better understand the healthiest way to reframe situations and cope! Jean still lives with Borderline Personality Disorder, but she has learned how to reframe situations and better respond to them in a more even-keeled manner. No serious boyfriend yet to report, but she’s excited to get back to Detroit now and work on meeting that special someone.
Learn STARR Exercises that can help those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder: