What causes BPD? Linehan Theory – Part 4

Continuing my 4 Part series of Dr. Linehan’s theory I’ll now explore Unremitted crisis vs. Inhibited grief.
Unremitted crisisuninterrupted; constant, unpardoned (as a sin) feeling that a condition of instability or danger leading to a decisive change which the trend of all future events, esp. for better or for worse, is determined by a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life. Steadily maintained.

Ok, yes. Especially with my depression and trying to hold onto the thought that people care about me and aren’t going to leave, I always feel like I’m struggling to hold on. Everything feels dire or like there’s impending doom whether it’s externally perceived or battling my own internal thoughts and feelings. I NEED to understand what’s happening and what’s more I need those that care for me to understand, intervene, be there for me to lean on if I need.
What’s more I often feel like people won’t forgive me for any small infraction. I get worked up if I’ve done anything wrong and have a nearly fatalistic attitude that people will walk out of my life. Dissolving in a puddle of self doubt until I can prove that I am not a bad person. Again, this has to do with my inability to believe that one action does not negate all previous actions. That people take me as a whole series of our interactions not just single episodes. I can’t say this is completely unjustified though. I have had people, people that I was very close too, walk out of my life at the first infraction (however big), or once a single mistake was made all further actions were then in question and I was made to feel like I wouldn’t be forgiven no matter what I did to make up for it. While this may be true, it’s not entirely unjustified, but now it permeates my experiences with people.
Fortunately my current apartment and roommate are a safe haven for me, I have some reprieve from the constant upheaval. Some, not always, but it’s at least a calm environment.

Inhibited grief – to restrain, hinder, arrest, or check keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.

Definitely. I’m at constant odds whether I have a right to feel the way I do about any given situation. I don’t understand what I’m allowed to expect or what I deserve from other people so I constantly question whether my emotional responses are appropriate. Do people really owe me anything? What can I actually expect of them? What do I deserve from people when I need help? Do I have a right to impinge on their time and divert their attention from what they were doing? Especially if it’s from a loss. I’m sure things are often my fault, guilt, and I don’t know if I have the right to believe/expect that others should work things out with me. If I don’t have the right, then my feelings aren’t justified and I need to hold them in. But when I know something isn’t entirely my fault, I feel absolutely no remorse if the contributing party isn’t willing to communicate with me. Black or white.
I may want to pursue the topic, push someone to work things through with me but I restrain myself for feeling like I have no right to do so. I hold back and wait. Which only causes me to get more anxious and allows my thoughts to wander down all the possibilities that may be going through their minds and often come to the worst conclusions in my own mind. I feel the loss, sadness, over something that hasn’t even occurred yet. Or may never occur at all. I can’t quiet the distress that it creates and suffer for it in silence being unable to decide if I’m allowed to pursue a solution just to make myself feel better. Then I regret not being able to rectify whatever it was that occurred. This cycles back to making myself feel guilty for something that may or may not be my fault.

What causes BPD? Linehan theory Part 3

Up next we have: Active passivity vs. Apparent Competence

Active passivitythis is defined as: the tendency to be passive when confronted with a problem and actively seek a rescuer. 
 No. Not even a little. When confronted with a problem I confront it right back. I don’t run away from anything. I’m not afraid of people’s reactions in the way that is typical of BPD. I’m hate the thought of negative outcomes but I also believe that as long as a problem can be worked on, talked through, and people are willing to communicate it is possible to get through a problem and not have a devastating outcome. I suspect my Dissociative Disorder acts up in this arena as well. When faced with conflict my emotions turn off completely and I argue with pure logic. I can talk about emotions but not feel them. Then if it becomes inevitable that a situation can not be resolved I go numb to the negative emotions that should come of it. This doesn’t always work. However, I don’t need a white knight, I’ll save myself, thanks.
My personality tends to be too dominant, independent to rely on other people. I can see where some passivity comes into my life, and I guess if I’m really honest, I do hope for someone to come along, see me, and accept me for all that I am. Save me from a lifetime of loneliness. But I’m also not willing to latch onto every shmuck that falls my way. I have standards after all.
Apparent competenceappearing to be capable when in reality internally things are falling apart. Sure. Because I actually am extremely competent. I worked my ass off to be intellectually, logically, mentally competent in some of the hardest fields I could have chosen to pursue. Not to mention some very useful creative fields. I read constantly and I know A LOT about a great many things. That doesn’t mean that internally things aren’t still falling apart for me though.
After a lifetime of rollercoaster emotions I’m disgusted by my own lack of control in this arena. I’ve worked hard to control my emotions. I learned to mask my inner turmoil, not display it, so I always appear calm and rational. In my defense, I am rational. But sometimes it’s too hard to get past the overwhelming emotional upheaval to think straight. I often have the impulse to lash out and say things that reflect how I feel, but I’m sick of being ruled by my emotions, so I hold in my reactions. It doesn’t stop me from experiencing them, but it stops the expression of them. I try very hard not to unleash my emotions publically because the repercussions would only act to alienate me from the people around me. When this happens, I try not to be around other people. I hate anyone seeing me like this. I’d rather them continue to believe the calm, friendly façade. However, underneath the surface little by little it builds up until I can’t control it and I have to either physically vent my emotional frustration or have a self inflicted melt down, alone.
I’m learning how to deal with this though. Through therapy and my journaling I am learning to recognize the emotions that are not … for a given instance. Once you can recognize that a situation is not beyond your capacity to handle, can take a step back and analyze why a feeling is so intense it becomes easier to understand it and thus, manage it and learn to respond more appropriately in the future. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it does work. So maybe this field isn’t quite a ‘yes’ for me either because I actually am learning to competently deal with my emotions.

As a side note: I HATE considering myself an emotional person. Anyone that meets me and gets to know me a little would tell you I am one of the most rational women you’ve ever met. Not emotional at all. Just like one of the guys. Crude, funny, outgoing and witty. These certainly are parts of my personality, but they’re parts I put into focus in order to mask everything else beneath the surface.

What causes BPD? Linehan theory Part 2

Continuing on with Dr. Linehan’s theory I’ll take a look at Vulnerability vs. Invalidation
Vulnerability – I detest admitting vulnerability. Over the years I have built defenses and fortresses of walls to keep other people out. Do I have vulnerabilities? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeh, everyone does. I’m loathe to put them out there where others can easily find them and use them against me though. Because they have. So I don’t. I know where my strong points end and my weaknesses begin. That doesn’t mean I need to wear these on my sleeve. Rarely, oh so very rarely, someone will put in the effort to get close to me, really want to get to know me. Slowly, my walls begin to crumble around this person. They can now see into the darker areas of my world. I have no secrets, but there are things I don’t share right away. Every time I open up, reveal something less pleasant about myself, I wait in fear, that their entire opinion of me will shatter and change, and they’ll leave. Every revelation is a wrench to my heart. The closer someone gets to me, the greater the potential that they can hurt me.
InvalidationYes. This especially applies to my emotions. I am constantly questioning whether I have a right to feel the way I do when it comes to other people. Who’s to say what right I have? If the person feels otherwise about something, then my feelings aren’t justified and therefore not valid for the situation. If my feelings aren’t valid or accepted, I’m not valid or accepted. You can’t only accept parts of me, I have to be accepted as a whole. Or not at all. However this also applies to my work, my crafts, my hobbies. I do things, present things to people hoping it meets with approval but looking for criticism that will invalidate my ability, prove that yet again, what I have done, is not good enough. I don’t get defensive with criticism but having become so accustomed to it, I have a tendency to not believe people when they only give me praise with no critique. 
Constantly putting myself out there for others to view and judge exposes my vulnerabilities. Opens me up to the potential criticisms of others, then when I look for those criticisms, expect them, it heightens my feelings of vulnerability because I’ve put myself at the judgment of others. Will I be accepted, or won’t I? Because I have a hard time with object constancy, I often can’t hold onto the feeling that each individual event isn’t the sole basis for a relationship/friendship. Just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that people will leave me or not value me. It’s a self fulfilling cycle of hurt. Emotional masochism.
When you are constantly discredited it’s difficult to hold onto a solid sense of self. Who you are is perpetually in question. It weakens the ability to accept or even understand criticism or praise as something constructive and not necessarily judgemental. The judgement of the self is so impaired that it leaves someone with BPD open to adopting a skewed opinion of themselves based on the views of others.   When a sense of self is not solidly in place, changeable at the influence of others, this leaves a person susceptible to being wounded and hurt. Each word of praise or criticism is taken as a completely separate event, with no context to past interaction. Praise is a beautiful high. Criticism or harsh words a crushing low. This increases the need to be loved and accepted, causing someone with BPD to expose themselves even more, perpetuating a cycle of intense emotional turmoil.

What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

One theory is presented by Dr. Linehan’s. Linehan has developed a comprehensive sociobiological theory which appears to be borne out by the successes found in controlled studies of her Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Linehan theorizes that borderlines are born with an innate biological tendency to react more intensely to lower levels of stress than others and to take longer to recover. They peak “higher” emotionally on less provocation and take longer coming down. In addition, they were raised in environments in which their beliefs about themselves and their environment were continually devalued and invalidated. These factors combine to create adults who are uncertain of the truth of their own feelings and who are confronted by three basic dialectics they have failed to master (and thus rush frantically from pole to pole of):
 
– vulnerability vs. invalidation
– active passivity (tendency to be passive when confronted with a problem and actively seek a rescuer) vs. apparent competence (appearing to be capable when in reality internally things are falling apart)
 – unremitting crises vs. inhibited grief.

So it’s nature and nurture here, or nature and lack of nurture. So let’s see how this applies to me.
“Beliefs about the self were constantly devalued.” I hate to say this is true, because I was raised with incredibly loving parents in a very loving home where both my parents wanted the best for us, for us to be the best. My father however, was an art critic, our coach, our teacher… so everything we did was always capable of being improved upon, never good enough, always something wrong, always could be better. That’s not to say he never praised us, he often did, it was always followed by… “and now you could do this”, “that’s good but this is off, try doing this”, “but this could be improved in this way”, “watch out for this”. For me this translated as, if there’s something wrong with my work, there’s something wrong with me and I need to work harder, to the point of obsession, in order to be the right kind of person. If I’d get hurt or upset, about anything, I was often told to suck it up and deal like a grown up. Crying was not acceptable so I learned to hide my feelings. He didn’t mean to cause these feelings, but I guess being predisposed to this kind of thinking made his critiques all the more impactful.

One of my earliest memories was when I was 3 years old. I had a Little Shop of Horrors coloring book. I did an entire picture all in orange crayon. It was the very first time I had stayed completely in the lines and not messed up. I proudly showed my father. He said good job girl, took my crayon, and decided it was now a good time to show me how to shade my colors. On my current picture. He went outside of the lines. I was heartbroken with disappointment that my painstaking achievement wasn’t good enough and was now ruined. I thought I had done so well, but apparently I hadn’t done well enough. It may not seem like much, but to a 3 year old, it seemed like a big deal. That’s just one example, I could go on with a lifetime of me being pushed to be the best, pushing myself to be the best, but maybe another time.

I will say that as a result of a lifetime of this, it is difficult for me to ever believe that what I do is good enough, that I am good enough. I constantly question and second guess my own sense of self worth and often measure it by what people think of the things I do for them, be it cooking, baking, costuming, gifts, art, work, etc. In an odd twist, I also have a hard time believing people, believe they are telling the truth, unless they give me uneditted criticism. It’s so ingrained in my thinking that I can always improve things, that unless someone tells me how I can do things better the next time I doubt whether the thing that I’ve done was actually ok. So I set higher goals, harder goals, and work my ass off to prove to myself that what I do is valuable. That I am capable of doing things of value. I’ve never set a goal I haven’t accomplished beautifully, and yet, I always wait for someone to tell me how to improve.
Now do I think this is the only theory? or the best theory? No, but it’s interesting to explore.

Coming up next… Vulnerability vs. Invalidation