Powerless Against You – Subjugation

Yesterday was a holiday for those of us in the US so I didn’t have therapy. Frankly I wish I had stayed in New York instead of travelling to see my family. For as annoying as going to therapy every week can be it’s better for me to maintain my structure than to throw myself off into triggering situations. So today I’ll throw another schema at you guys.
We’re moving into the Domain of Other-Directedness, specifically the schema of Subjugation.
Typical Presentations of the Schema
People with this schema allow other people to dominate htem. They surrender control to others because they feel coerced by the threat of either punishment or abandonment. There are two forms: The first is subjugations of needs, in which people suppress their own wishes and instead follow the demands of other people; and the second is s subjugation of emotions, in which people suppress their feelings (mainly anger) because they are afraid other people will retaliate against them. The schema involves the perception that one’s own needs and feelings are not valid and important to other people. The schema almost always leads to an accumulation of anger, which manifests in such maladaptive symptoms as passive-aggressive behavior, uncontrolled outbursts of anger, psychosomatic symptoms, withdrawal of affection, acting out, and substance abuse.
Oi! This is me all over the place. Every single thing: accumulation of anger, uncontrolled outbursts, psychosomatic, withdrawal of affection, acting out, alcohol abuse.
People with this schema usually present with a coping style of surrendering to the schema: They are excessively compliant and hypersensitive to feeling trapped.
Hypersensitive to feeling trapped! This is one of the biggest triggers that makes me push away in relationships.
They feel bullied, harassed, and powerless. They experience themselves as being at the mercy of authority figures: The authority figures are stronger and more powerful; therefore, the patients must defer to them. The schema involves a significant level of fear. At the core, people are afraid that if they express their needs and feelings, something bad is going to happen to them. Someone important is going to get angry with, abandon, punish, reject, or criticize them. These patients suppress their needs and feelings, not because they feel they should suppress them, but because they feel they have to suppress them. Their subjugation is not based on an internalized value or a desire to help others; rather, I is based upon the fear of retaliation. In contrast, the Self-Sacrifice, Emotional Inhibition, and Unrelenting Standards schemas are all similar in that people have an internalized value that it is not right to express personal needs or feelings: They believe it is in some way bad or wrong to express needs and feelings, so they feel ashamed or guilty when they do. People with these other three schemas do not feel controlled by other people.  They have an internal locus of control. On the other hand, people with the Subjugation schema have an external locus of control. They believe that they must submit to authority figures, whether they think it is right or not, or else they will be punished in some way.
I don’t know quite how this fits me. I always feel like people are trying to control me, judge me… and I resent it. It makes me extremely angry. I think this is one schema where I overcompensate. I rarely surrender to it so much as rail against it. Or I guess I do both. I fear that I’ll lose someone’s love or friendship so I allow them to exert their opinions or wishes, until the frustration becomes so overwhelming that I act out and flip. This used to be very explosive for me. Now I act in more, I withdraw my affections, refuse to share or give sympathy, and avoid the person(s) until my emotions slip again and I become afraid that I’m losing my connection to them.  
Another thought, is that this particular schema may have less to do with my Borderline tendencies and more to do with the abusive relationships I’ve been in. Especially with my Evil-Ex, I often felt like I had to give in to what he wanted or I would be punished. To be true, often I was punished when I had the audacity to do things that I wanted (like go out with a friend), that didn’t include him. I became so afraid of losing his love and losing the relative peace in our home that I would do anything I could to not disrupt the very tenuous stability we were able to establish.
Thinking about this pisses me the hell off.
Often this schema leads to avoidant behavior. People avoid situations where other people might control them, or where they might become trapped. Some people avoid committed romantic relationships because they experience these relationships as claustrophobic or entrapping. The schema can also lead to overcompensation such as disobedience and oppositionality. Rebelliousness is the most common form of overcompensation for subjugation.
Ah, here we go. I’m all three of these expressions: Surrender, Avoidance, Overcompensation. All brought about my different things, and different scenarios throughout my life. Growing up I always felt like my parents were trying to control me. They over structured my life so I had very little time to do anything other than school and the excessive amount of activities I was involved in. I rebelled. Hard core. I acted out and become utterly uncontrollable.
Goals of Treatment
The basic goal of treatment is to get patients to see that they have a right ot have their needs and feelings, and to express them. Generally, the best way to live is to express needs and feeling appropriately at the moment they occur, rather than waiting until later or not expressing them at all. As long as people express themselves appropriately, it is healthy to express needs and feelings and healthy people usually will not retaliate against them when they do. People who consistently retaliate against them when they express their needs and feelings are not beneficial people for them to choose for close involvements. We encourage patients to seek out relationships with people who allow them to express normal needs and feelings, and to avoid relationship with people who do not.
To this day I have no idea how to find a balance. I still believe my needs and feelings come second to the people around me. At the same time I resent this and believe my needs and feelings SHOULD be acknowledged. This resentment makes me very, very angry. I have no idea how to put this healthy expression of emotions, in the moment, in to practice though. I believe utterly that if I express my needs and feelings that the person I express them too will withdraw their affection and will no longer want to deal with me. 
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
In terms of cognitive strategies, subjugated people have unrealistic negative expectations about the consequences of expressing their needs and feelings to appropriate significant others. It’s important for these people to understand that their expectations are exaggerated. It is also important to learn that they are acting in a healthy manner when they express their needs and feelings appropriately – even though their parents may have communicated that they were “bad” for doing so as children.
I know this is a problem for me. My father routinely told me to “suck it up and deal”, not to express any negative emotions. He would become very angry at me when I was upset and reacted in an unhappy manner. This taught me the necessity of hiding my emotions and feelings. This taught me to bottle it up and hold them all in.
A good strategy is to express anger and assert your rights through imagery and role play. In a safe environment, go over a scenario involving a controlling person, and work out how to exert your feelings by saying what it is you truly feel the need to express in those situations. Expressing anger is crucial. The more people are able to get in touch with their anger and vent it in imagery the more they will be able to fight the schema in their everyday. The purpose of expressing this anger is not purely for ventilation, but rather to help people feel empowered and to stand up for themselves. Anger supplies the motivation and momentum to fight the passivity that almost always accompanies subjugation.
Behaviorally it’s also important for people to select relatively non-controlling partners. Often, subjugated people are drawn to controlling partners. Working on selecting noncontrolling friends is also important.
Sometimes as a consequence of this schema the persons self is undeveloped. When someone has served the needs and preferences of others so assiduously they do not know their own needs and preferences, then these people need to work to individuate. Identifying their own natural inclinations and practice acting on those is important. For example, through imagery it is possible to recreate scenarios when a person suppress their needs and preferences, then aloud they can express what it is that they needed or wanted to do. They can imagine the consequences and work out what is reasonable to expect and what it out of proportion to the situations.
Special Problems with this Schema
As people experiment with expressing their needs and feelings, often they do it imperfectly. A the beginning, they might fail to assert themselves enough to be heard, or they might swing to the opposite extreme and become too aggressive. 
This is actually a fear of mine. I know I have a tendency to swing between these extremes. I won’t voice what I need enough, or I do become very aggressive.
When subjugated people first try to express their needs and feelings, they often say something like: “But I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I feel.” In cases such as these where Subjugation is linked to an Undeveloped Self schema, the therapist can help patients develop a sense of self by showing them how to monitor their wishes and emotions.
Again, this is a problem I have. I can’t even count how many times my therapist has asked me how I felt about certain things, and my only response was “I don’t know how I feel”. I don’t know what I should feel, I don’t know what I’m allowed to feel, I don’t know what I have a right to feel.

You! Who are you? – Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self

Alright! So who’s sick of listening to me complain about my body? Ooh Me! OK, enough of that.

Today let’s get back into schema mode! I know I’m going through these pretty slowly but I have so many ideas for things that I want to talk about and address that I feel like it’s good to switch it up. That way it doesn’t get too boring.
Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self
Typical Presentations of the Schema
When people with an Enmeshment schema enter treatment, they are often so fused with a significant other that neither they nor the therapist can say clearly where the patient’s identity begins and the “enmeshed other” ends. This person is usually a parent or a parental figure, such as a partner, sibling, boss, or best friend. People with this schema feel an extreme emotional involvement and closeness with the parental figure, at the expense of full individuation and normal social development.
            Many of these patients believe that neither they nor the parental figure could survive emotionally without the constant support of the other, that they need each other desperately. They feel an intense bond with this parental figure, almost as though, together, they are one person. (People may even feel that they can read the other person’s mind, or sense what the other person wants without the other having to ask.) They believe it is wrong to set any boundaries with the parental figure, and feel guilty whenever they do. They tell the other person everything and expect the other person to tell them everything. They feel fused with this parental figure and may feel overwhelmed and smothered.
            The characteristics discussed thus far represent the “Enmeshment” part of the schema. There is also the “Underdeveloped Self”, a lack of individual identity, which people often experience as a feeling of emptiness. These people often convey a sense of an absent self, because they have surrendered their identity in order to maintain their connection to the parental figure. People who have an undeveloped Self feel as though they are drifting in the world without direction. They do not know who they are. They have not formed their own preferences or developed their unique gifts or talents, nor have they followed their own natural inclinations – what they naturally are good at and love to do. In extreme cases, they may question whether they really exist.
            The “Enmeshment” and “Undeveloped Self” Parts of the schema often, but not always, go together.  Patients can have an undeveloped self without enmeshment. The undeveloped self can develop for reasons other than enmeshment, such as subjugation. For example, patients dominated as children my never have developed a separate sense of self, because they were forced to do whatever their parents demanded. However, patients who are enmeshed with a parent or parental figure almost always have an undeveloped self as a consequence. Their opinions, interests, choices, and goals are merely reflections of the person with whom they are merged. It is as though the parental figure’s life is more real to them than their own: The parental figure is the star and they are the satellite. Similarly, patients with undeveloped selves might seek out charismatic group leaders with whom they can become enmeshed.
            Typical behaviors include copying the behaviors of the parental figure, talking and thinking about him or her, staying in constant contact with the parent figure, and suppressing all thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are discrepant from the parent figure. When patient do try to separate from the enmeshed person in any way, they feel overcome with guilt.
Goals of Treatment
            The central goal of treatment is to help people express their spontaneous, natural selves – their unique preferences, opinions, decisions, talents, and natural inclinations – rather than suppressing their true selves and merely adopting the identity of the parent figures with whom they are enmeshed. People who have been treated successfully for enmeshment issues are no longer focused to an unhealthy degree on a parental figure.  They are no longer fused with a parental figure and are aware of how they are similar to the parental figure and how they  are different. They set boundaries with the parental figure and have a full sense of their own identity.
            For people who have avoided closeness as adults in order to avoid enmeshment, the goal of treatment is for the patient to establish connections with others that are neither too distant nor too enmeshed.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Bleh, let’s just list some of these things:
         Cognitive strategies challenge the persons view that it is preferable to be enmeshed with a parent figure than to have an identity of one’s own. It is important to explore the adveantages and disadvantages of developing a separate self. Patients identify how they are boht similar to and different from the paretnal figure. It is important to identify the similarities: The goal is not for patients to go to the opposity extreme and deny all similarities with the parental figure i.e. overcompensation. 
         Experimentally, patients visualize separating from the parental figure in imagery. In this sense they might remember scenes or memories and reinvent them by imagining what they really want to say or do or truly felt in that situation. It is possible to discuss differences from the parental figure.
         Behavioral strategies work to identify what a person’s own preferences and natural inclinations are. This is begun by listing experiences a person finds inherently enjoyable. From here they can use that basic feeling or sensation as a marker of enjoyment which will be a guideline to determine other things a person may enjoy. They even list what they do and don’t like about partners and work to act on their own preferences even when those differ from a parental figure.
Special Problems with This Schema
            The most obvious potential problem is that the patient might enmesh with the person trying to help them (therapist), so that the person becomes the new parental figure in the patient’s life. The patient is able to give up the old parental figure, but only to replace the other person with the therapist. Ass with the Dependence/Incompetence schema, the therapist might have to allow some enmeshment at the beginning of treatment but should quickly begin encouraging the patient to individuate.
Boundaries. Setting boundaries is important. ß— This will be a topic for future discussion.
I don’t really relate well to this schema either. Underdeveloped sense of Self is very common with Borderline Personality Disorder. I think my own sense of self is underdeveloped and my sense of identity is unstable, but there’s a difference between UNDERdeveloped and completely UNdeveloped. That being said I do often have a very strong sense of who I am at times. For instance it’s very easy to have a strong sense of who I am when I’m single or unattached to my partner, but given a situation where I am INTENSELY attached to someone I have definitely felt that enmeshed problem of adopting everything my partner is in to. In fact I’ve talked about Engulfment before. It’s incredibly intense. I usually retain my interests, what I like, my preferences, what I’m attracted to… those things don’t go away… but when you’re engulfed with someone else, all those things no longer seem to be important. It’s the things that the other person feels is important that become your priority, not your own needs.  Disentangling yourself from that mentality is hard. You often forget what it was like to have your own opinions, or how it felt before you became engulfed/enmeshed with another person. That person has taken over your mind and they become all you see, making them happy, doing things that they are pleased with is all that matters. It sounds kind of creepy actually. Probably because it is kind of creepy. No one should have that kind of power over you. I know this. I say this. But I’ve fallen into this. It’s not something you can help or you try to do, it just happens. And often it happens gradually. The more you become involved with someone, they more their interests are presented to you, the more you are exposed to what they like, the more you want to have things in common, the more commonalities you want to share, until you wake up one day and it seems like you’re absolutely perfect for each other because you REALLY ARE into all of these things that they like. Somewhere in the constant exposure you may actually {think you} enjoy all these things that your partner likes. These things do become a part of you on some level.
I can’t think straight today. I’m arguing with Friend about Occupy Wall Street and he’s getting under my skin because all his arguments are elitist bullshit or poorly thought out and he’s making me mad and argumentative.  ß— No longer engulfed. Yay me.

Dual Identity

Don’t worry, I’m still on my sexuality kick but in reading something else I saw this excerpt and didn’t want to forget it since it’s very relevant to how I’m feeling right now. We all know I’m a super-villian, but there are days I border on feeling like a hero. An anti-hero at the very least ::smiles:: Dual Natured.

“…BPD shares some features with bipolar disorder, for which it is frequently mistaken, but unlike bipolar disorder, BPD does not lead to lengthy cycles of highs and lows. Instead it causes more rapid mood swings. In less than 24 hours, people with BPD can experience euphoria, suicidal depression and everything in between. BPD is also characterized by a disturbing, but fascinating, dual nature: when people with the disorder are not experiencing flagrant symptoms, they often appear highly functional. “You could meet a patient with BPD in a social setting and not have an inkling that the patient had a major psychiatric disorder,” says psychiatrist Glen O. Gabbard of the Baylor College of Medicine. “The very next day the same patient could appear in an emergency room in a suicidal crisis and require hospitalization.”…”

Mirror, Mirror – #Trust30: Day 3

Mirror, Mirror by Esther Poyer

“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mirror, mirror on the wall… find the nearest mirror. Look. Keep looking for 3 minutes. Write about what you see.

I find this exercise repulsive. It very much hit me in a depersonalized space and exemplifies my unstable sense of identity so I decided to cross post it here as well.

The thought of looking into my own eyes only to see a stranger staring back at me is, disconcerting. I recognize the girl on the other side of the mirror.

She has my father’s eyes, my mother’s nose. Cherry black hair and more metal than half the machines out in my shop, but she isn’t me. Is she? Maybe she is and I just can’t see, beyond the surface layer of skin and sinew that binds me up inside.

I’d find her attractive if she wasn’t so comfortably unfamiliar.

Floating two feet to the left of me I sense my motions walking through a world detached from the rest of me. Too often it feels like watching some other force pilot a body I recognize as my own, watching the reactions to my movements to guess the next step that someone else will be taking. It’s worse when I think about it. The detachment more pronounced. Staring at myself is all the more disconcerting for the knowledge that I should know who this woman is. Cognitively I know that I should see her and internalize that she is me, and cognitively I do know what she is, but I have no attachment to my reflection. She’s who I want my physical Self to appear to be. But is she really me?  Hm, in part I believe she is. Certain things draw my eye. I am attracted to certain things, so naturally I want to incorporate those things into my Self. Isn’t that how we develop our personalities and self image growing up? We see things we appreciate, mimic them, until we make them our own. I’m well past the mimicry. What draws us is integral to that which we are so what I see is who I want to be. On the outside.  Fortunately for me, I can’t see my insides reflected on this glass. A sight I’ve seen before. That is a part of me, that should stay where it belongs. Blood and tissue, fat and tears; things I work to keep from my mirror. I don’t want to see what I know is actually there. Don’t want to see who I’m afraid I might be. I don’t want to look. Nothing you can do, can make me.

Eyes lie. Tell me this is someone I am, who I should be, who I can be. Maybe this time she speaks the truth, but her words have proven false so many times I no longer know the sound of those that ring true. Pretty words from soft lips look like promises wrapped in straight jackets of gold. The madness she feels is real. Truth.

Writing this was very triggering and I had to stop.  

crossposted: Asylum


The other day I saw this list of Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms & Associated Features. A few of them I’ve talked about already, but I found others fascinating.
(A) Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have a pattern of undermining themselves at the moment a goal is about to be realized:
(B) Some individuals develop psychotic-like symptoms when under stress:
(C) Individuals with BPD may feel more secure with transitional objects than in interpersonal relationships:
(D) Premature death from suicide may occur in individuals with this disorder, especially in those with co-occurring Mood Disorders or Substance-Related Disorders.
(E) Physical handicaps may result from self-inflicted abuse behaviors or failed suicide attempts.
(F) Recurrent job losses, interrupted education, and broken marriages are common.
(G) Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and early parental loss or separations are more common in the childhood.
I want to talk about a few of these over the next few days or so. So let’s begin shall we…
(A) Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have a pattern of undermining themselves at the moment a goal is about to be realized:
         dropping out of school just before graduation
         regressing severely after a discussion of how well therapy is going
         destroying a good relationship just when it is clear that the relationship could last
Stopping short of a major goal: I remember studying my ass off at University for weeks, only to ‘burn out’ the week before a major exam. I couldn’t look at the material anymore. I’d work myself up so much, convinced that ‘if I didn’t already know it, I wasn’t going to get it’. I’d create some mental excuse or justification for why I couldn’t study anymore. Inevitably I wouldn’t do as well as I had the rest of the Quarter. This ‘failure’ would work to kick me in the ass again and I’d redouble my efforts to get back on track for finals. It was a constant rollercoaster. Or I’ll slack off and push off completing a project until just before it’s due, practically setting myself up for a negative review. I’m almost asking to be fired. Except I’m not, and nothing could possibly be worse.
Regressing severely after an accomplishment: This. Is something I’m concerned with. I’ll be doing really great with, say, healthy weight loss, but as soon as someone recognizes this or we talk about how well I’m doing, I take a major fall back, nearly destroying all the progress I’ve made.  It makes me wonder if therapy is good for me or not (I know it is). I honestly have no idea why this is. Except that maybe I’ve been working for something for so long, wanted a goal for so long, that when I accomplish it, and it’s recognized, now there’s all this additional pressure to continue performing at this heightened level and if I don’t I’m going to inevitably let someone down. It’s that pressure I can’t stand the thought of. It’s suffocating.  
Destroying a ‘good’ relationship: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived through this. This was like every good period with Evil-Ex I ever had. Or every good period with any person really. Granted with Evil-Ex that was in no way entirely my fault, but I’m sure I sabotaged myself repeatedly.
Sabotage. Yes. That’s the word I want. This is self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is a combination of thoughts, feelings, and actions that create a roadblock to success by working against your own self-interests.  It is when we consciously want something but subconsciously we make sure we don’t get it.  When we say we want something and then go about making sure it does not happen. Ultimately it’s due to a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.
Fear of success.  Deep inside, there can be numerous reasons you do not want to succeed.  These are referred to as limiting beliefs.  You must overcome these limiting beliefs and break free from your fear of success.
         I found a really interesting article on the psychology of Fear of Success. Maybe I’ll post that as it is very relevant to BPD.
Unworthiness:  is the belief or feeling that you do not deserve success.  This is due to low self-esteem and or a poor self-image.
People with a Borderline Personality Disorder often have such an unstable sense of self that it’s impossible to believe well of oneself because they don’t really have a good sense of who they are to begin with.
It takes a lot of effort to keep in mind that you are not only worthy of success, but it is your right to live in abundance and pursue happiness.
Lack of belief in abilities.  Not believing you have enough education. Not enough experience. Goals are too farfetched or unrealistic. You must do everything on your own or it won’t be your success anyways.
This is something I struggle with constantly. I need to remind myself that I do have the background, education, and experience to do what I am doing. I have to force myself to remember that no one knows everything. Not even someone in their established field of decades. Life is a learning experience and all aspects of that are a continuous learning process. It’s ok to not know everything, not be the best at everything, as long as the determination to improve and push yourself forward are there.
Working against true desires.  Unfortunately a lot of people don’t know what they want to begin with. Or work towards what someone else wants instead of their own desires.
This is so often the case with BPD. I have a terrible time making up my mind. I am constantly asking people for what they would prefer, or for opinions to help. Too often I do things that other people would prefer than what I might want. Then again, I don’t always know what I want so does it really matter if I do something I know someone, anyone, will appreciate.
Amusingly I can get a million opinions and which will help me make a decision, but it’s often not the majority opinion and does come back around to what I may want. Like, I need to exclude options for various reasons to narrow it down. If there’s one thing I like, but it doesn’t seem popular, but I’m still drawn to it despite it not being popular, that usually means to me, that I like it and that’s the option for me. Or if I really can’t make up my mind, any decision is better than no decision and I might as well go with the majority opinion.
Often though, I do things because I know other people will like them despite not having the time for my own stuff, resources, or whatever. I put my hopes into making someone else happy, and even if they are, I’m left with something of an empty victory because I’ve reached my goal, but there’s really no personal satisfaction.
Looking for approval from outside. Instead of being able to accept me and my abilities I often find myself looking for outside validation. This can have either/or/both the same reactions as asking for opinions. It’s really just an extension of that b/c it’s asking for opinions on me and my abilities. I can either go with it, rail against it, or flounder somewhere in indecision. No matter which way the thing to remember is that the only truly important opinion is our own. We need to develop the ability to like who we are on our own.
Basically, self-sabotage is like a game of mental tug-of-war.  It is the conscious mind versus the subconscious mind where the subconscious mind eventually wins.  Welcome to Thunder Dome. Two Consciousness Enter, One Consciousness Leaves! The conscious mind can carry out actions and work toward a goal, but it will not be long before the subconscious mind reveals the true feelings and beliefs and takes control over actions.  The key to eliminating self-sabotage is making sure that your conscious and subconscious mind are in harmony.  This is much easier said than done, and I don’t have any failsafe advice on this. It helps me to write down positive affirmations and keep them with me though. Since I have such a hard time internalizing things, having something that I can reference whenever I need to is very helpful.
For someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder these successes are often in the ability to maintain healthy, functional relationships. They are absolutely not limited to this though. Obviously.  

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Manifestations of Borderline Personality Disorder

Snowflake,  you’re not the only one.

We are not all alike. We are not the same. Just like everyone else.


When someone is initially introduced to Borderline Personality Disorder it’s easy to think that all Borderlines are the same, especially with such common stigmas surrounding the disorder. Anger, hostility, self-harm, empty, low self-esteem, lunar laser based world destructo-beam contruction, etc… they’re all thought to be commonly shared.  According to the DSM-IV and the checklist that clinicians will use to diagnose you with, it’s very easy to assume that there are a limited number of combinations and therefore a limited number of ways to view BPD. Thus resulting in a general conclusion that all BPD sufferers are the same type of people. What you don’t hear about are the differences. Every person is different and therefore has a different combination of symptoms. Even if you inevitably have the same sets of symptom as someone else (there’s only a limited set of 9 criteria listed in the DSM); how they present in you, affects you, consumes you, are probably very different from the next person. Except for the lunar laser based world destructo-bream construction part. I mean, who doesn’t want that?

I found a blog break down by another person whose life was affected by BPD. It’s not from a scientific article, it does not have any accredited backing, it was not written by a mental health professional. However, I found it an interesting assessment. It captures another perspective on how you can view various presentations of BPD.
 It’s broken down into 5 manifestations of Borderline Personality Disorder.
§  Low Functioning Borderline – The “Low Functioning” borderline is what most people think of when they are first introduced to the condition. Low functioning BPDs are a living train wreck. They have intense difficulties taking care of their basic needs, are constantly experiencing mood swings. They also have an extremely hard time managing any sort of relationship with another human being. Low Functioning BPDs are often hospitalized more than other BPD types, for the very reason that they can’t live productively without constant coaching and supervision. These patients are challenging for all but the most experienced psychiatrists. Unless otherwise treated, low functioning borderlines lead self-destructive lives and attempt to manipulate those around them with desperate acts, including self-harm (cutting, etc.).
§  High Functioning Borderline– The High Functioning Borderline Personality shares many core aspects of the low functioning borderline personality, except for the fact that they can manage their lives, appear to be productive, and generally keep their relationships civil (even diplomatic in nature). High Functioning borderlines can appear to be normal, driven people one moment; then moody, inconsolable, and manipulative the next. Somehow, there is a mechanism within the minds of High Functioning Borderlines that allows them to lead somewhat “competent” lives, despite the fact that they are in a constant battle with BPD. High functioning BPDs are no better than low functioning: it’s basically the same face wearing a different mask.
§  Extroverted Borderline– Anyone familiar with the Meyer-Briggs personality tests will understand the psychological differences between extroversion and introversion. When these characteristics are mixed with BPD, there are two different results. The Extroverted Borderline pushes all their feelings, fears, manipulation, rage, and moodiness outward to the people around them. In essence, if you are around an extroverted BPD, you feel like you’re living through their emotions while coping with your own at the same time. Further, extroverted BPDs will attempt self abusive acts in plain view of others in order to avoid abandonment or to express their rage. For example, an Extroverted BPD might cut themselves and then immediately share it with family and friends around them, hoping to gain sympathy or attention. In most cases, these types of behaviors frighten non-Borderlines, and they wonder whether or not the Extroverted BPD should be committed to a psych ward.
§  Introverted Borderline– Contrary to popular belief, “introverted” doesn’t necessarily describe someone who is a recluse (agoraphobic). Instead, introversion is characterized by experiencing life in a self-reflective, private, and at times distant manner. To others, introverts may appear shy or lacking in people skills. This might be true, however, introverts make up for their lack of social skills with rich inner lives, thoughts, and deep thinking. As a result, the introverted Borderline primarily focuses all their BPD emotions and reactions inward. Instead of having a rage episode in public, they might retreat to their rooms and cry for hours on end, perhaps even cutting themselves for their own amusement or as stress relief. Introverted Borderlines live in an odd world: on one hand, they spend most of their time in personal thought and reflection, looking to fill themselves with a viable sense of self; but on the other, they are conflicted by emptiness and the bottomless emotional pit that BPD produces. Introverted BPDs might be harder to “spot” unless you happen to know one personally, in which case you might notice occasional depressive symptoms and evidence of self harm.
§  Transparent Borderline– The Transparent Borderline is a bit of a mix between a high functioning borderline and either extroverted or introverted tendencies. In plain terms, Transparent Borderlines live double lives: on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different. As a result, they may or may not be high functioning due to this conflicted state of mind. Transparent Borderlines spend most of their emotional energy trying to balance the personality demands of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the both of which experience strong BPD emotions like anyone else with the disease. Like Introverted Borderlines, Transparent Borderlines are harder to spot, and often only confess their true disposition after a harrowing rage, major break up, or other severely traumatic event that brings all their BPD feelings to the fore.
I’ve talked about High-Functioning vs. Low-Functioning Borderlines before. This takes it just a step further.
While I was reading through these I mentally noted that I seemed to fit both High-Functioning and Introverted.  While I was younger I definitely would have fit Extroverted more, but as I’ve grown older I am much more the picture of the Introvert.  When I got to Transparent Borderline I was amused by the opening line talking of being a mix of these.
As I was mentioning yesterday about not being able to maintain my mask, this statement really caught me:  “on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different.” I’ve talked about unstable sense of identity before and it still rings so true for me. I do realize that I appear to be different people in different situations. To the point where people don’t feel like they know me at all. I can maintain one identity, or another, but when I try to mingle them it becomes too much for me. I don’t have the energy for it because it does feel like I’m trying to be two people at once. I need one role to play.
No one would point to me and assume I have a Borderline Personality Disorder at first glance. Not until they’ve managed to get through my wards and break down my walls. Then it becomes increasingly obvious. I’m trying something different with a new buddy of mine.  I’m letting him know, quickly, how I tend to react to certain situations. I can’t actually let down the walls and let it be seen, but I can acknowledge this and give voice to my behaviors. I’ve not stated directly that I’m BPD, but I’ve alluded to the notion that I have a PD and given obvious clues as to which it would be. I think saying “Hi, I’m Borderline, RUN!” would skew my assessment of the whole thing. Thus far it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. This may be either his blindness in favor of my more redeeming qualities (I do have them, I swear), his wanting to jump into my pants, or a typical male trait of hearing what he wants to hear (sorry guys! I know you’re not all like this!).  
Whichever manifestation of Borderline you or a loved one falls into, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re all devastating to us and those close to us. We shouldn’t all be treated the same.

Shadow of my Self

Losing control of my mask.

It was a weekend. A long, long weekend. I’m including Monday in this too, even though I was technically working. I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.

Friday I hung out with Friend. I don’t know why I was there. Usually I feel some connection. I was alone in that room. Watching movies, geeking out, I couldn’t contribute. He kept talking, I wish he wouldn’t, I couldn’t think. I had nothing to say. I found myself mindlessly agreeing with him. About nothing particularly important, but I no longer had anything to say to him. He doesn’t even feel familiar to me.
No one does. Monday, waiting for my plane I texted all the friends I should feel close to. Nothing. Empty. Hollow tubes connecting where solid ties should exist. I don’t know what to do.
Saturday I knew it would be a bad day. As soon as I got home from Friends the night before I knew I was alone. Utterly. I slept as much as I could. Forcing my sleeping drugs down my throat to not feel. Saved by an unlikely source, my tattoo artist called me and I hung out at the shop going over his design. It’s not right, not yet. I’m obsessing over it. Figuring out how to make it more my own. I’ll sit down with him again this week, but I need to do it before Saturday when I’m having it done. I’m dreaming about it, how it can go wrong. How I’ll settle to not upset him since he put so much work into it already. But this needs to be about me, not just his talent. I will live with this and I can’t let someone else   I can’t. I have to remember this. Too often I let others have too much leeway. This is one area I cannot compromise. I’ll take this for me, because it is for me.
Sunday, I hung out with another guy I’m becoming friends with. I don’t know how to discourage him from liking me in a way that is more than I can offer, more than I care to offer. I don’t want to lead him on. I’m suspicious this is the only reason he’s around. I’m unable to not question his motives. I don’t know if I’m paranoid or perceptive. Got home that night and I finally gave in. Alone in my apartment I drank, ate, binged, purged. The last thought before going to bed should not be, this is how bulimia is supposed to be.
Monday I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.  Me and a colleague, networking with others in my industry.
I couldn’t maintain my mask. People talk about masks occasionally. That image you present to the outside world to cover up what hides inside. The shroud thrown over your true Self to blend in with the crowd. Masking the madness within. It didn’t crumble completely. The weight of being someone I’m not for so long at one time, for someone that knows nothing of me other than the professionalism I present. There was no walking away. No slipping out to slough off the pressure pulling me down.
I work alone, occasionally mingling with coworkers. I can take a break when I need to drop the façade with no one monitoring me. During the day, meeting other professionals in my field, I held up. I held up for a long time. Too long. Usually I can walk away, take some time to release the pressure building up from crushing down my core. No opportunity this day. Not even a minute for me.


Walking the Ring I felt myself floating away. My mind reeling in that depersonalized spiral. My surroundings surreal. Watching the wall of electronics and machinery I floated two feet to my right. Hovering heady and light. I felt too tall; disembodied.  I’ve become so used to my dissociated emotions, but I have generally felt grounded. My body my own. Not this time.
Next, visiting a manufacturer, touring the machine shop my vision blurred. I viewed everything through a foggy lens that wouldn’t rub from my glasses. I love machine shops, the noise, the smell, the rush of productivity… too much, too much for me that day. I couldn’t focus my thoughts; I couldn’t tune my attention to what was being told to me.  I relied too much on my colleague to keep up the conversation. Interjecting only when I knew I needed to.
By the time we got back to the airport I could no longer project the professionalism. Not an emotional crumble, but too personal. Talk of school, spending my time alone, geekery, movies, forgetting to watch my pronouns, I felt like I was lying when I mentioned past boyfriends knowing that this was not my preference; knowing I did this only to redirect attention from a part of me I’ve embraced. I’m not used to repressing parts of me that I am believe in. Hiding in a closet has never been my way; however I never spend time socially with colleagues making it easy for me to never mention it. Professional is not personal, and my personal has no place in my professional. My identities don’t bleed together. There is no seamless transition. There is one, or there is the other. I tried to toe this line, but even talking about subjects that were safer I felt myself hunching over my beer, staring into the amber liquid looking for a way out. I played to my exhaustion, and his. It’s all I could think to do.
Coming into work this morning I feel well rested. I feel utterly out of place. This is not my environment. It’s wrong. Clothes that don’t fit, an office that is not me, air I can’t breathe. I no longer have a choice. I picked my path and now I have to see it through, but something broke. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces; glue them back together. The cracks in my armor are apparent to me and everyone will see that my façade is a fraud. I’m sure of it. I’m living someone else’s life.

Social Adaptation: Conceptions of Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 5

Skipping around a bit. I may not do all the conceptions as presented by John G. Gunderson. Embarrassing impulsive behavior and abandonment issues are pretty done to death here and I just don’t feel like doing it again.

– Poor social adaptation: in a way, borderlines tend not to know or understand the rules regarding performance in job and academic settings.
Hm. I think often times this is a problem with boundaries. Someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t understand the proper boundaries for different environments. So ruled by their emotions they neglect to notice that those around them do not respond in the same way. The instinctive nature to act out, not hold in, is not appropriate for a place external to their personal sphere. What is going on inside does not trump what needs to be done outside.  In the work place, you’re there for the customer, to produce a product that is unrelated to your own life.  Being so often emotionally overwhelmed it overshadows the ability to perform for someone else.
I tend towards the extreme opposite. My identity slips from one to another to completely immerse myself into different environments. I’d like to say this is a tribute to my more High Functioning tendencies, but I can’t. I don’t utterly disrupt the setting, instead I lose myself.  At work, I have almost no personality. I feel awkward and out of place because I have no solid sense of self. If I act the way I normally would, I would, be causing a scene. I would disrupt the professionalism of the environment. Also, being in an almost completely older, male dominated environment I don’t even maintain a steady adaptation of the shadow I do create. When I’m out on the floor, in meetings, talking to shop workers or other engineers, I’m harder, more forceful, business bitch efficient.  But in less formal venues, sitting around my office, training sessions… I always keep a notebook and a book with me. I generally try to hide inside myself, not make eye contact, try to look busy. When I don’t, inevitably, people talk to me. I have very little patience for random people. Especially random boys trying to dazzle me with their less than witty repartee. It’s a physical effort to keep the catty sarcastic bitch reigned in. To not yawn in their face and show my boredom. I fail utterly at social etiquette. Those niceties that make people comfortable around you. Want to be around you. I can ride on my looks a bit here. It’s a double edged sword though. And I have this annoying tendency to smile, which I’m told is rather pleasant. Especially when I talk to new people. I need to learn to smile less when I talk to new people. I feel it gives the wrong impression. That I am less prickly than I really am and invites people to drop in on me rather more often than I would normally encourage. I can’t seem to manage to NOT smile though. It’s like a nervous tick, with more teeth. I don’t want to be unprofessional and stone cold = bitch, don’t want to be too soft and friendly = people won’t leave me alone at all and I have to constantly fend off silly boys bothering me. If I’m too nice I’m girly and it undermines my intelligence. No, this is not a distorted perception. In my field this has been a big problem. If I throw all my education to the fore I’m a snob and people don’t want to deal with me. I have absolutely no balance here. No idea how to fit in. To blend. No matter what I do I feel like I stick out.
My thoughts are disjointed on this subject and I may have missed the point. Mostly I want the day to end so I can go to the gym, draw, write, read, go do something relaxing and more engaging. Dealing with people, trying to maintain an image of myself that I don’t belong in, is exhausting. Wrapping myself in someone else’s skin. It makes my face hurt. 

Said Alice to the Caterpillar – Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance

Number 3 on the DSM IV spectrum is identity disturbance, but I think this ties in closely with number 9 which is where Severe Dissociation comes into play so I’ll cover these in series. One post after the other.
3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
Identity disturbance. For me this is a shifting depending on my environment, my mood, my company. An ex of mine used to point this out to me. I don’t think I ever fully understood what he meant when he would tell me I was like different people. My personality changing depending on what we were doing. Unstable sense of who I am.
Caterpillar: Who… are… you?
Alice: Why, I hardly know, sir. I’ve changed so much since this morning, you see…
Caterpillar: No, I do not C, explain yourself.
Alice: I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, you see, because I’m not myself, you know.
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: I can’t put it any more clearly, sir, because it isn’t clear to me.
Whether I’m at work, with a group of friends, even in my own head the way I identify, socially/sexually, is transient. I tell myself I’m fluid; that one thing bleeds to another, never solidifying into one stable set of features grouped to form a whole. Travelling from group to group with skill points of Illusion, Subterfuge, and Charisma. Every personality point is part of you, but some scenes don’t utilize all skill sets. So for the Borderline Personality this translates as coming across as very different people depending on the setting.
To me it feels normal to be more outgoing, loud, wilder when I’m out dancing, it’s appropriate there. But what’s more I feel like I’m that kind of person.  It’s not an act, I AM wilder. When I’m hanging out with friends, I’m quieter, my intelligence comes out and I joke, heap on the sarcasm and enjoy people’s company. I’m a nerd girl. When I’m at work I am reserved, aloof, stone cold and efficient; my personality almost completely held back. I’m an efficient machine. When I’m with my family I am open, my walls crumble, I’m more melancholy but loved. I’m small. To me this normal. The variations are not subtle. Not one overarching personality with small variations, appropriate for the environment, it’s a completely different set of traits depending on the location. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, maybe everybody feels like this. To me it seems like certain things are appropriate for certain places, and not for others, so depending on what the circumstances are, will decide which parts of me show. Which me, is the real me?
At work I adopt a more business like persona. Amusingly I make no effort to conceal my piercings or tattoos, things that are glaringly different in my professional setting, I’m waiting for the rejection. Though I do wear clothes that are completely appropriate for the office if not my personal style. My work persona is by far my least stable. By this I mean, I feel like I am the most out of my own skin, trying to fit an image I imagine to be acceptable for a professional setting but which is not me. I don’t maintain this character well. I always feel out of place, if not like an outright fraud, even though I know I am capable of doing my work better than anyone else. I do not have any sense of solidarity with my working environment or the kinds of people in my office. It’s a place to go where I waste 8-10 hours a day and come home with a monetary exchange.
I am anatomically female but I don’t feel like a girl. I’ve never been a boy so I can’t say I feel like a boy, though I do value masculine qualities more than feminine. I have no gender identity. Or if you ask I will tell you I gender ID neutral. In the GLBTT community I would call myself Queer.
I don’t see rigid definitions. I don’t believe in absolutes. With no absolutes comes a certain fluidity that blends from one area to another. Like a chameleon changing colors to fit the foliage as you walk through an unknown social jungle. The leaves and bark may change but the wind still bites without a solid shield from the elements.  
Because the Borderline may not have a full sense of self they may adopt the group culture in a desperate attempt to fit in, not be excluded. This works as long as the group is a stable set of characters. If things begin to vary from the norm, change, people have problems or things become socially tumultuous, this will affect the Borderline’s sense of stability. The group is falling apart, so she/he will feel like she is falling apart as well. If she/he’s based so much of herself on the group dynamic, and the group dynamic fails, it’s as if who she is crumbling down around her and she has nothing to grab onto for stability or control. Changing to fit the group has never been my social experience, personally, though that crumbling stability seems to happen all too often.
For me, in smaller social settings, I don’t blend. I stubbornly stick to who I want to be, think I am. I am me, I’m just not sure what that means most days. Not being able to attain a group identity, to fit in a with a set of people, always makes me feel Other. An outsider, looking in. I laugh with the group but don’t feel included in the joke.

This bleeds into my Dissociation, especially when my body image is a mess…