Rescue me: Conceptions of Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

I’ve talked about self-destructive behavior before but not from a damsel in distress sort of perspective. John G. Gunderson’s next conception of BPD is: 

– Repetitive self-destructive behavior, often designed to prompt rescue:  

Self destructive behavior is always an indicator that 
something is wrong. What exactly is wrong is sometimes impossible to pin point. There may be no rational idea of what it is, only a feeling that something isn’t right, necessary, and not there. When you can’t identify the cause in yourself, it’s a natural extension to look outward, to someone else for ‘answers’. When you can’t help yourself, maybe someone else can. Now, I will say that a lot of people that embrace self-destructive/masochistic behaviors may not be looking for rescue or help. It is an indicator that there is something wrong but many people that display such tendencies keep these hidden. I’ve fluxuated though I tend to keep it hidden.

For those that don’t make an attempt to hide these behaviors, they are very often a cry for help. When you have no idea what is causing such empty, hollow, toxic feelings it’s like your mind has been dropped into a pit of despair with no way to claw yourself out. This might be a foundation for why people with BPD latch on so tightly to those close to them. Look to them for help to pull themselves up. Or to be their savior and pull them out of the dark completely.  Talking through problems is normal, but someone with BPD doesn’t feel things normally. Feelings are intense, often brutal, needing release /right now/, causing the person to act out in ways that will gain them attention. Attention that will make people notice /right now/. Act, right now. Attention from someone that will care for them, care for them enough to stop them, to protect them from themselves and the emptiness or hurt that is so pervasive. Rescue them from themselves. 

In general and especially when I was in college I kept my self destructive behavior completely hidden. I didn’t want help. I didn’t want to let anyone in. I didn’t want anyone to know I was in pain. I didn’t want anyone to know I was vulnerable. It was my way of coping, reminding myself that I was still alive, connected to the world when I had no one to lean on.

It’s incredibly embarrassing for me to admit that I have ever done this with the intention of gaining someone’s attention. In high school I did this more times than I care to admit (though not as much as I could have), but only with one specific person.  Be it a cry to help stop my eating disorder or threats of suicide, I needed to know someone cared. Someone that I wanted so badly to care for me, to care. Oddly when I was cutting or burning I rarely let anyone know and hid this as best I could.

Evil-ex would spin me out of control so bad that I would have complete nervous breakdowns, destroyed by the shear levels of anxiety and inability to maintain my own sanity. I needed to remember that I was connected to something. Instead of cutting I would beg him to take my knives away and keep them from me. This got his attention but also contempt. I never got the care or support I so desperately needed. Eventually I no longer needed to injure myself. Dating him, living with him, was more painful than anything I could do to myself.
The few times Boring-ex and I broke up were the only times I got emotional with him at all. I couldn’t stand being with him most of the time. But I was frantic at the thought of losing someone else once I had ended it. The last time we broke up was actually a shock to me and I acted out without thinking, made a veiled threat of suicide… he needed to know how badly he had hurt me. I needed him to remember I wasn’t someone he could throw away. Wanted him to take back what he’d said and want to take care of me. (This was immediately after we broke up so of course I wanted him back). While I did injure myself, I didn’t actually have any intention of killing myself, but he didn’t know that. This got the cops called on me and a trip to the psychiatric ER. Fail.  
The only commonality between these incidents; none of them have ever gained me the outcome I’d hoped for. Never once, did I get the kind of love, protection, or caring that I wanted. Utterly ineffective and only resulted in more pain and drama for everyone involved.

Considering I have an 18 year history of self-harm the times I’ve done it with the desire to have someone care for me are relatively rare. Except in my most turbulent periods, generally I’ve never believed in anyone enough to rely on someone to rescue me.  I have to rescue myself. Everyone else just let’s me down.
I’ve also come to the realization that this is a terrible way to get attention. While yes, in the short term it may inspire immediate reaction and attention, once the initial shock is over, it often inspires fear, disgust, and the people you want to be closer to push away. Most people can’t handle, or don’t want to be the rescuer. Regardless of how much you may want someone to rescue you, someone else will not see it this way. Having such a big responsibility thrown at them is scary and may cause them to draw away in order to avoid the drama and frustration of dealing with someone that is incapable of dealing with themselves. Your average person also isn’t equipped mentally or emotionally to handle such situations. Going to someone you care about, telling them that you need help and support to get professional help is a much wiser course of action that will be much healthier in the long run.  

9 comments on “Rescue me: Conceptions of Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

  1. As always such great information, I have learned so much from reading your blog. I have been able to put words to my thoughts and able to make others understand me a bit more. I have even started to understand myself a little bit too. Something I haven't been able to do in my 30+ yrs on this planet.

  2. @Dafeenah… I'm so glad you have taken so much from my writing. Writing all this, getting it out, helps me understand myself. In writing I often realize things that I hadn't before. I'm glad it does so for you too.

  3. DID HE DIED GUY?!Where the hell you been? I see how it is. You're all neglected and decided to come hang out with the cute Borderline girls. Can't say I blame you, buddy.Gah, Haven, I don't know. I think that a lot of "rehabilitation" that requires an actual professional is bullshit, unless they have some hidden pearls of wisdom that the rest of the world doesn't, thus the reason to fork out 80-150 bucks an hour.You don't need professional help, you just need a constant smack in the face of common sense to keep you from forgetting. I guess no one else in your life is willing to keep correcting your path for you at a cost of free. Maybe you need some new friends that enjoy being rude.

  4. Yay Did He Died Guy! The thing is, if a person wants to be there so much that they would be a real rescuer, then a Borderline wouldn't have to act out to get their attention. Self destructive behavior to get someone's attention probably means that that person isn't where the Borderline wants him/her and acting out is only going to work to scare them. Not always, maybe there're people that really do want to rescue someone from themselves because they see something worth saving there, but it's a lot for the average person to handle.Eh, I think therapy is necessary to a point. And more often than not, a decent therapist does give that smack of common sense. A good therapist isn't going to coddle someone with BPD, it's about figuring out a new way of thinking and changing behavior that, left to their own devices, a borderline wouldn't figure out how to do on their own. Heh. I imagine when someone is injuring themselves, threatening suicide, etc… friends are less likely to be rude and blunt for fear of pushing their friend over the edge. I used to have a friend that never said anything about my cutting because he knew as long as I was doing that, I still wanted to live. Average joe guy doesn't want to feel responsible for the kinds of rash actions a borderline is likely to take. A swift kick in the ass is pretty helpful and definitely necessary for some (like me), where do you find these friends? Maybe I should take out an add. " SWF looking for cute friend willing to deal with brain crazy and smack some common sense into me when I get out of hand. Polite need not apply. Military training a plus. Good luck. "But others? Eh, idk what other people need.

  5. " SWF looking for cute friend willing to deal with brain crazy and smack some common sense into me when I get out of hand. Polite need not apply. Military training a plus. Good luck. " Ha ha !I was involved in a long term relationship. I'm seeing now more clearly than ever why I would opt for a different dynamic. He absorbed too much of my pain, he would panic with me, and then I was disgusted with him for panicking about what was everyday chaos for me. I lost respect for him, and it made me feel like my cry was not answered. Really not productive. I got no "smack in the face." He can't lay off women like me. It's pitiful how we (his new gf and I) can, in effect, sap another's energy without even knowing it. My most recent socio ex told me one day to stop being dramatic. I was in heaven! Now I look for Goldilocks to find me a mate.

  6. To date I have no clue what I need in a relationship. Well I know things that don't work for me = over emotional (let's face it, I have enough of this for everyone), coddling, clingy, needs to take care of me, unintelligent, utter lack of creativity, no sex drive. Other than that, not a clue. I don't know what kind of personality will actually work with mine. Either I find people that don't care enough and drive me crazy, or people that care too much and drive me crazy. Somehow I think this is more my problem and not theirs.

  7. We're picky and we don't give people a chance. I used to go on "practice dates" to literally practice letting someone in who wasn't an obvious match. I have also gone out with the opposite of what I usually go for. But I feel the same way.

  8. I guess that's why it's so much easier for me to be alone. I know I'll become an obsessive, needy mess…This happened to me recently. I would try to push him away by talking about my deep depression/suicidal thoughts. I really did feel that way at the time and I emotionally bled all over him. He was very supportive, but you're right; That's not the kind of attention you want at all! It's not the kind of thing someone else needs in their life. Why the hell would a guy stick with me when he could find someone who's normal? Anyway, I noticed I was becoming obsessed even though I didn't even think we had much in common. I just wanted someone to desire me and accept me. I ended up deleting my email account so I wouldn't have to be in contact with him and have those intense, painful feelings anymore. It would drive me crazy waiting for him to email me. I felt so much pain. It's like time would stand still until I saw a new message from him in my inbox. Ugh, I hate being borderline. I didn't ask for this crap.

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