Borderline Personality Disorder Facts and Statistics: Part 2

As promised I’m going to take a look at some of the more relevant facts and statistics concerning Borderline Personality Disorders. I’m only going to cover a few per post because there’s a lot of them. Don’t worry, there will be more.
– 2% of the general population are afflicted with BPD.
That’s a lot of people. That’s 1 in every 50.  In the United States alone this translates to approximately 5.4 million people. Perspective: this is the entire population of Tibet or Denmark (suppresses joke about ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’). That’s enough people to make our own country. Hah, that’s actually a pretty scary thought. We could have an emotional regulation tax. The government would be rich. The likelihood of finding better treatment would sky rocket though, or plummet, crash and burn depending on whether our universal health care coverage administration could manage their mood swings. Considering the massive amount of people that BPD affects, you would think there would be much more research into this disorder but to this day BPD remains one of the most misunderstood personality disorders. Often being considered a ‘catch all’ for a multitude of co-morbid symptoms (which it certainly has) instead of it’s own distinct disease. There has been some research, but not nearly as much as other personality and mood disorders. Most of this research has gone into assessing the symptoms, and understanding the causes, but it’s still a long ways from finding a cure or finding optimal treatment. Is there really a cure for personalities though? Part of me still resents the implication that there’s something wrong with my personality. I happen to like my personality. I’m pretty fantastic (on good days). Also, modest. On the other hand, I have a lot more bad days than good and I do recognize that I have a lot of defective tendencies that I am working to change.
Random: 1 in 50 people have digestive problems w/ daylilies. Gradually build up to eating them. WTF?!?
– 69% to 75% exhibit self-destructive behaviors such as self-mutilation, chemical dependency, eating disorders and suicide attempts.
I wonder if this is counted by individual people or by how many of each of these destructive behaviors present. I’ve had every single one of these self-destructive behaviors at some point + more. As mentioned before my thoughts of self-harm are slipping away. For one of the first times in my life I don’t need such an extreme reminder that I am, in fact, living in this world. This is such a surprising revelation for me because for almost 18 years these thoughts have been a constant companion. One I am not unhappy to be rid of. Chemical dependency for me was alcohol. I’ve never done drugs (except by Rx), nor will I. I have this thing where I actually like my brain functioning to it’s fullest potential. I’m still fighting with my eating disorder and my body image. This is one of the more insidious, less overt, of my problems because I hide it so well. I manage to come across as a health nut, but not problematic. I’ve been in recovery from this for years with only minor relapses. My body image is a completely different story though.
Instead of suicide attempts I would think this has more to do with suicidal gestures, thoughts, threats, as well as attempts. I threatened myself with suicide often when I was younger. I didn’t tell almost anyone about this, especially not anyone that would have done something about it. When things were so bad that I believed this was my only option, I didn’t want anyone to stop me. Telling people who would stop me is counterintuitive to the success of this plan. What’s the point of wanting to die and then telling people who will take away that necessary relief? I didn’t have hope for ‘a cure’. I didn’t have hope for anything. There was maybe one person that I can look back on that I think it was more a need for attention, a need to know that someone cared, more than anything. It was certainly a cry for help. I couldn’t hold onto the belief that anyone would remain in my life, that I wouldn’t always be alone. I needed the affirmation that there would be someone that stays. Ironically, I got rid of him years later and, surprise, my life has gone on and improved considerably.
– 8 – 10% die by suicide usually due to lack of impulse control over depression.
Lack of impulse control. Hm. I’m not sure most people consider suicide on a whim. It’s rarely a spontaneous decision. Suicide is a last result, when things have been so bad, for so long, it’s impossible to believe that things will get better. It’s a thought that is only toyed with at first. Creeping thoughts now and again that become pervasive over time as things don’t seem to ever get better. As happiness and hope become things so far lost to the past that a future including these elusive things can’t be seen. It’s not an impulse, it’s a cancer of the psyche that infects over time.
– Successful suicide rate doubles with a history of self-destructive behaviors and suicide attempts.
I can see how this would be true. Once you’ve thought about it for so long, made a couple attempts, the prospect of death can become less scary, more necessary because it becomes so ingrained in everyday thought. Personally? Suicide is my greatest failure. And by ‘greatest’ I mean one that I am most grateful for. Nothing makes you appreciate failure so much as looking back on the wonderful things I could have missed out on had I succeeded in ending my life when I was younger. Every now and again when I hit a low or things go wrong and I feel absolutely hopeless the thoughts creep back, but I no longer consider suicide an option. For as bad as things can seem sometimes I have lived enough, experienced enough, to know that things change. As long as there is a chance for change, there is a chance for things to get better.
My sense of humor is often inappropriate
– 10% of all mental health outpatients; 20% of psychiatric inpatients



I beat the stats on the inpatient thing, though probably I shouldn’t have. Other than one evening in the psych ER which was do to an overreaction from an ex {<~~~ bastard}, I’ve never seen the inside of a hospital for psych problems. Physical medical problems caused by mental problems (remind me to tell you about the sweet potato some time) yes, but not for being out of my mind in need of a ‘rest’. I am certainly an outpatient if you consider seeing talking to my PCP, my psychiatrist, and going to therapy twice a week outpatient.  What can I say, I’ve grown and matured a lot when it comes to my mental health. BPD is not easy to deal with. After more than 15 years trying to fight it on my own, finally I found assistance and it’s made so much difference. Ok, so maybe my learning curve isn’t so high but I’m getting help now.



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Pulling the trigger

Unfortunately I have a lot of these.
– Being alone when I need friends (specific friends) – my loneliness is the worst trigger I have.
– My best friend not texting or IMing back – feeling ignored, abandoned, automatically thinking I’d done something wrong that caused this lack of attention.
– Seeing women that I wish I looked like.
– A friend sending me artistic nudes – reminding me of how I used to look or thinking that since I don’t look that way I am not good enough in his eyes.
– Seeing highly stylized clothing that I love but can’t yet pull off.  
– Going over my calorie count for the day – loss of self imposed control .
– Clothes not fitting right – remind of control lost.
– Not getting enough sleep.
(I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting)
– Finding something from friends lost. Thoughts/situations that remind me of them…  
Causes me to drink. Causes me to eat more. Causes me to obsess about my weight. Causes me to indulge my bulimia (purging and exercise). Causes me to feel like I have failed myself. Lost control of the structure I’ve imposed on myself to fix my body image. Making me so self conscious of my mistake that I can’t bear to let anyone else see me. Compounding my loneliness. Restarting the cycle. Once I’ve lost control for the night, it feels like the entire day has been ruined. That there is no point continuing to try. I might as well continue to indulge the spiral. Spinning down into the dark recesses of my mind. A black hole of cyclic thinking. Nothing solid to hold onto to pull myself back from the horizon of events about to unfold. Sucking me into a vortex from which there is no escape.
I drink to escape my own mind. I want it to dull the racing that pushes me towards the edge faster. I’ve begun to realize that this has exactly the opposite effect. It may slow my thoughts, but it doesn’t change their nature. Knowing this, I’ve been able to suffer this less often. I look to more healthy means of escapism (discuss more here) to distract myself.
I don’t weigh myself everyday or almost ever. I can’t bear the thought of the scale. I measure my waist. I go by how my clothes fit. If they don’t give me what I want to see, I obsess. Every time I renew my promises to work on it. My dedication is restored, but in the mean time, I am more depressed because I’ve let my goal slip from my grasp. I work on it, but everything seems hopeless. Failure.
I have the unfortunate tendency to see myself as either all good, or all bad. If I maintain my structure for the day I have done well. I am good. If I’ve slipped off the path I want to travel I feel worthless. Lost my control. I don’t even have the strength to get through one more day on track. I am bad. I am either white or I am black. There are no shades of grey when it comes to myself. This something my therapist has me working on. I remind myself that one day does not destroy the progress that I’ve made.
I’ve learned to look at every day as a new opportunity. One day does not determine the rest of my life. Does not end my world. I may not have been exactly what I wanted the day before. I may have messed up, but the next day is a new chance. I remind myself that if something is really important to me, I have to work on it. I have to put in real effort. There is no immediate gratification when I am trying to change my lifestyle. For as much as I want change right now I need to remind myself that some things take time, but as long as I am willing to push myself, I will reach my goals. There’s always another opportunity to reaffirm what I want for myself, and to work towards it.  
It also helps me to set longer term goals, giving me something to aim for. This allows me some room to be more flexible, to be less rigid in my thinking. Less black and white.
– Seeing bloody images.
– Friends complaining about tiny injuries.
– Beautiful scars.
– Needing attention – Being so alone, removed from the world, that I can’t/won’t be out with friends.
I also have a tendency to punish myself. To remind me that what I did was not acceptable. Traditionally this has manifested as self harm or damaging thoughts. Over the last few months though these thoughts have disappeared. Self harm is almost always on my mind even though I very rarely act on it. My control has gotten very good and I only act on it maybe a couple times a year. But the thoughts are always there at the back of my mind. Until a couple months ago. That I haven’t had these thoughts, is something new, something good. I didn’t even realize that they were missing until yesterday. I felt I messed up, but instead of wanting to punish myself I reminded myself that I could start again in the morning. That this one incident wasn’t a permanent mark. At least, not as long as I didn’t leave one (I mean this figuratively as much as literally). I still feel like yesterday was an all bad day for me, but I have hope that today will be better. That I can have the will power to set me back where I want to be.  There are still days I’m so lonely and really need friends, but the other three no longer seem to hold any power of me. That’s an accomplishment all on its own.
If I can overcome some of the more destructive triggers I have, there’s hope that I can overcome the rest.  

Dangerous Situations – Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 7

I find what suits me by jumping in, feet first. If there is a walk of life I don’t understand, an experience I haven’t tried, I just do it. Somewhere along the way I consider the consequences but I don’t feel I’m fully justified in making an assessment of something until I’ve tried it on. The one exception to this is I’ve never done drugs, I’ve been tempted but I value my brain too much. My body though, well, my body is tough, it can take the wear and tear.
When I was younger and thought I wasn’t into guys, I didn’t sit and ponder it, I just started dating girls. I met women on-line and never though twice about meeting them in person. Dating women isn’t exactly dangerous (except occasionally to my sanity), more so the meeting people on line, in real life, by myself. This is one of the best things I ever did though. Gradually I realized, not that I was a lesbian, but that guys weren’t my primary attraction, not my preference. I figured it out by doing, not just thinking.
When I found out a boyfriend of mine was a skinhead, I researched where his beliefs came from and submerged myself in the subculture. I would travel out of state, alone, being a small, white, unimposing female, travelling to huge rallies of skinheads and klan just to understand the mentality of this group that was so foreign to me. In general they were poorly educated racist fucks, but they were also very inclusive and ready to accept me with open arms. Once I put myself in that place, I could make my own judgements and not feel like a hypocrite saying it wasn’t right, because I’d tried it. I was lucky I wasn’t raped and molested considering I am pretty much the embodiment of everything they stand against (of course I didn’t let this be known).
When I’m out with friends, especially dancing, lining up the shots of alcohol and downing them fast enough for the music to drown out the racing thoughts in my mind, one after another letting the world spin into a comfortable blur. Everything seems softer.  Don’t think, just drink, again and again.
Even, driving. Hell, I’m a New Yorker, you have to be aggressive on the road or you won’t get anywhere. And you won’t get anywhere fast. I’m less careful about drinking and driving than I should be considering I was arrested for a DUI last summer (charges got dropped). I love to drive, it’s freeing and my mind can roam out on the open road. I drive stick and I have control of my car. Control my car, control my life. It’s the same things really…..
My brain just doesn’t want to say Stop.

Drinking and Drugging – Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 3

 Alcohol and anti-psychotics don’t mix. You’re probably saying, why would you even consider
drinking after you just started new medication? Because I like wine, and I wanted to enjoy my trip out to the wineries, that’s why. I’d be lying if I said that was the only time though. I mix alcohol with my medication almost constantly. Or benzo’s with my meds. It’s dangerous. I don’t care.
I like to drink, it makes me feel less dissociated. Of course I always end up eating more, feel fat, but at least I feel connected to my own body. Of course then I hate the body that I’m attached too. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not usually that much. I’ll take my meds as prescribed and have a couple glasses of wine or half of a Xanax (never a whole one) to calm me down. It doesn’t sound like much, but when your meds clear through your liver it can’t be good to throw other drugs on top of it, make it work double time. Double the work for twice the effect. Quadruple the effect really, because drugs and alcohol work synergistically, which means that they act on each other to create an affect larger than the component sum.
When I’m alone I’m left to my own thoughts. It’s not a pleasant place to be. I tell myself I’ll just have one glass, ok, maybe two. By the time my mind starts to calm down I’ve easily polished off a bottle of wine by myself over the course of an evening. It’s not hard.
It’s not safe. Especially when I’m already out and about or need to drive somewhere. I learned my lesson hard about drinking and driving. I was arrested and charged with a DUI last summer but the charge was dropped (story for a different day) so I never drive when I’m trashed or even when I have the potential to be drunk. But when your meds clear through your liver you get drunk faster and on less, so there’s really no way to tell how much is in your system or when you’re safe. Most days I care, some days I’m reckless. Especially if it’s just a short trip somewhere.
What’s worse, alcohol is a depressant. When you’re clinically depressed drinking alcohol produces precisely the opposite effect that you want to have. It may feel good in the moment but it depresses your system even more. Spinning me down into a deeper depression the next day once I wake up.
I sleep worse, I eat more, and now I’ve noticed a very obvious tremor to my hands (betting on this being the anti-psych/SSRI + alcohol mix effect). I can’t draw, typing is hard, my concentration is fine, but I feel like crap. Why do I still drink? It feels good in the moment. I just wish I could remember what the consequences feel like the next day, in advance.  
Don’t Drink and Drug.
Now, if only I could take my own advice.