Black Women's Health and Happiness

Insights into physical, mental, and spiritual health for women of color.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Who's at Risk; What Sufferers Do (Part 2)

NFL's Brandon Marshall's revelation can help spread word of BPD.

This is Part Two re: Borderline Personality Disorder; how early family dynamics can lead to the disorder, and what sufferers of the condition do. I also ponder the possible greater risk/prevalence of BPD in modern-day Black children. Please be sure to read Part One: click here. Continuing...

All of these factors cause them to have an "invalidating environment," meaning that their young minds are forced to experience things before it should, so their youth is "invalidated." Not given proper maturation and emotional reasoning tools, impulsive reactivity is how they cope/manage in the face of feeling abandoned, or violated, by the very people who should be present to love them.

Into adulthood, the BPD's fear of abandonment is very disruptive to friendships, and especially intimate relationships. As a result, they overly cling, falsely accuse, overreact, have trust issues, etc., because they so fear that the person they love is going to abandon them. There is no evidence of such, it is just what the person perceives, and it's very real to them in their heads.

Borderlines also have no sense of consequences. They also have a very inconsistent self-image, which may not truly manifest itself until later. Despite being highly intelligent and capable, they may have disrupted education, or repeat job firings.

Many sufferers of BPD self-injure, and 9-10 perecent commit suicide. Yes, it's a serious condition.

An innocent comment to the rest of us...to them, can be taken way out of proportion and they rage, flare, overreact, storm out, etc. In their minds, at that time, it seemed normal and they can't understand why their friends (or, later in life, their love interest), don't get it. Hours later, they may realize they overreacted, but they don't know why, and by that time, the entire day, activity, moment, etc., has been ruined by the rage. Internally, this is extremely painful to the BPD sufferer, and yes, their loved one. Though not intentional, the mood swings and rage of the borderline amounts to emotional abuse to the one they are addressing. When this happens every few days, it's tough to bear.

A few weeks ago, I'd begun researching which child psych journal in which to introduce this topic (as it relates to Black children). But when I read of Miami Dolphin Brandon Marshall revealing that he suffers from BPD, I thought to broach the subject now.

I am so proud of Mr. Marshall for having the courage to speak out publicly about the disorder; and especially him having the insight to seek the help in the first place. Kudos to him--an intelligent, rough and tough, capable NFL star who is man enough to seek counseling. Real men--even men of faith--can and do go for counseling.

To all parents, of all ethnicities, examine the environment in which you are raising your children. Despite celebrity trends to glorify single parenting, there is something to be said for a two parent, mother/father household.

For the Black community, this is particularly true, given the high rate of dropouts, school delinquency, too many children unsupervised in the streets, too many born without fathers; absentee fathers. The cycle is destroying any community progress that had been achieved in the past 50 years of our lives. (I discuss not just health and sex, but the issue of Black family structure, the crisis with some Black men, the crisis with some Black women, and emotional/domestic abuse in Living Well, Despite Catchin' Hell.)

If your household resembles the opening description mentioned in part one, please get your child/loved one evaluated for BPD, and do it soon. As with any other condition, the sooner it is diagnosed, the easier and better it is to treat. Mental illness cannot be cured, per se, but it can be managed, and people can go on and live happy, productive, well-reasoned lives surrounded by people who love them. Concerning BPD, the condition might even be avoided, or minimized, when children are brought up with proper, consistent input from both parents--mother and father.

I will post my recommendation for a full BPD evaluation protocol soon; it will include discussion of the neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropsychopharmacology of the disorder.

To all...Be Healthy, Be Blessed... and make sure you are Living Well.

Copyright © 2011 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved.

I spoke about BPD on the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show on 8/10/2011. When I get the link, I'll add it to this post.

Melody T. McCloud, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and the author of First Do No Harm: How to Heal Your Relationships Using the Wisdom of Professional Caregivers.

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