High Functioning, Low Functioning: Part 1 – Low Function in Borderline Personality Disorder

High functioning vs. Low functioning. These dividers can be applied to most any mood or personality disorder. What this means is that people with BPD vary a great deal in how they function in their every day lives. From the ability to live a normal lifestyle, maintain a steady job, cope with mundane trials of the day to day, relate and interact with the people around them, etc.

“People who are close to low functioning BP’s often find themselves living from crisis to crisis. They often feel manipulated by self-mutilation and suicide attempts. However, because the BP is obviously ill, non-BP’s continue to offer their support. Some BP’s are so incapacitated by their illness that they are unable to work. They may spend a great deal of time in the hospital because of self-mutilation, severe eating disorders, substance abuse, or suicide attempts. BPD makes it very hard for them to form relationships, so they may have a weak support system. They may be so incapable of dealing with money that they have no cash for food or a place to live.”

My best friends in college really made me see just how pervasive BPD was in my life. Our lives were so parallel, so exactly the same. When her mood would shift, my mood would have shifted in the same way (even before we had talked to each other and knew how the other felt). When I was up, she was up. It was actually pretty creepy how synced our lives were. She was the first person I ever met that truly understood how my brain worked. How we fuctioned was our one difference. Where she was low functioning, I was very clearly high functioning.

She mostly managed to do the essential things. But more often than not, if she was down, she couldn’t get out of bed. She’d lie there for days trapped in her depression, lost to the world. Everything dragging and painful. Her relationships were traumatic and charged with furious fights and tears. She’d get drunk, drive to a secluded spot and cut her arms, waiting for her girlfriend to find her. Continuing the fight. Not wanting to be with her, but being afraid to lose her at the same time. Every relationship was marked by the last encounter. She would count the days until the next explosion and measure the value of her relationships by how long the ‘good periods’ lasted. Which, inevitably, weren’t very long. Her home life was a mess of turbulence, pushing away even her family who she believed couldn’t accept her and wouldn’t support her in seeking the help she needed. Her emotions were written all over her face. There was no hiding how she felt. No hiding from how she functioned. Her anxiety made it impossible for her to face the world. Every action that someone did, everything someone said could have a dozen different meanings, all of them bad and meant to injure her. Of course, this wasn’t generally true, but it’s what it felt like for her. This made her push people away, refuse to allow closer bonds to form, or if they did she’d pick them apart looking for weak links that could be used against her.

In time though, she realized she couldn’t keep living like this. She has since started therapy and is on anti-anxiety medication. She is engaged and is successfully completing University. It took dedication on her part, but she’s slowly pulling herself up.

Of course, there’s a lot of room in between high-functioning and low functioning BP’s.

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4 comments on “High Functioning, Low Functioning: Part 1 – Low Function in Borderline Personality Disorder

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