Do you feel like you're walking on eggshells around someone important in your life? Does this phrase immediately strike not just a chord but a whole piano concerto? If so, someone in your life may have either borderline personality disorder (BPD) or borderline traits.
Take a look at the following questions. If you answer "yes" to most of them, your loved one might have BPD:
• Does she see you in one of two modes: either a hateful person who never loved her or a source of blessed, unconditional love?
• Does he continually put you in no-win situations? When you try to explain that his position is the opposite of what he said earlier, does it bring on more criticism?
• Is everything always your fault? Are you the target of constant criticism?
• Are there times when everything seems normal and you're on her good side-even idealized-but then for no obvious reason everything falls apart?
• When he's angry, does it degrade into a take-no-prisoners, vicious attack that leaves you reeling?
• Are you starting to doubt your own sense of reality? Has constant exposure to his skewed sensibility, combined with isolation from family and friends, made you feel like Dorothy confounded in the strange Land of Oz?
Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness that causes those who have it to see people and situations as all good or all bad; to feel empty and without an identity; and to have extreme, blink-of-an-eye mood swings. People with BPD act impulsively; their self-loathing and extreme fear of abandonment can cause them to lash out at others with baseless criticism and blame. Some practice self-harm or see no other option than suicide as a way to end their pain.
People with borderline personality disorder experience the world much differently than most people. For reasons we don't entirely understand, the disorder distorts critical thought processes, resulting in emotions and actions that are out of the norm. If we could look inside the heads of people with BPD to see the way they think, we'd find out they live in a world of extremes. To them, people and situations are all good or all bad, with nothing in between.
They don't just admire or respect someone-they elevate that person to an impossible standard and then knock him down when he inevitably disappoints them. They see themselves this way, too, so that one small misstep leads them to think, I am a worthless person.
BPD is a massive problem worldwide. According to new research, it affects about 6% of the population. It is associated with societal ills like substance abuse, high-conflict disorder, domestic abuse, lost work productivity, gambling, and gambling.It's also associated with a host of other disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and other personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder.
BPD is not infectious, like the measles. But people who are exposed to these behaviors can unwittingly become and integral part of the disorder.
Friends and family members take these actions personally and feel trapped in a toxic cycle of guilt, self-blame, depression, rage, denial, isolation, and confusion.
Meanwhile, their borderline loved one may be lost in a cycle of anguish and shame the family member may not or may not observe. Some people with BPD are aware of their condition and seek help. Their pain is close to the surface that they cope with the pain through self-harm. They want to die. And they do: one person with BPD out of 10 in a clinical setting does commit suicide.
Others act differently. They project their distress outward at their loved ones, who seem to feel it for them. The closer the relationship, the more pain that gets projected. Sometimes close family members are the only ones who know something is terribly wrong. They says things like, "I'm always walking on eggshells." Parents wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.
My name is Randi Kreger, and I have written three best-selling books about borderline personality disorder for friends and family members of those with the disorder: Stop Walking on Eggshells, The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook, and The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells.
I also operate http://www.BPDCentral.com one of the top web-based resources for those living with BPD, and run the Welcome to Oz Online Family Community. I give seminars and workshops on BPD and the family, both for clinicians and laypeople, all over the country. I became interested in BPD when I discovered that someone in my life had the disorder.
In this blog, I'll be examining personality disorders and related issues. If someone you care about has borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder, I will help you:
• Become more confident and clear about who you are and what you need.
• Know where to concentrate your efforts.
• Extricate yourself from non-productive, aggressive conversations.
• Improve your problem-solving skills.
• Learn how to help your family member without trying to rescue them.
• Feel more self-assured about setting limits without backing down.
Please feel free to write me with suggestions and questions. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Copyright © 2015, Randi Kreger. This post (or any part of it) may not be reproduced without prior written permission.
Randi Kreger is the owner of BPDCentral.com and the Welcome to Oz online family community. You can find her books "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder," "The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook," "Stop Walking on Eggshells," and "Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist," at her store at BPDCentral.com.