Stuart has linked a blog called Beyond the Borderline Personality by blogger Haven.
(Yes, Stuart’s blog is the only blog I consistently read almost every single day. Sue me. No, wait. Don’t sue me.)
I’m writing on this mainly because people like to “diagnose” me online, for some reason. Maybe they think if they challenge my diagnoses they’ll win a battle over me or something. I have no idea. Anyway, BPD is one of the “diagnoses” angry people have flung at me before. I thought I’d go over some of what Haven has written.
She offers a quote:
“You know you’re borderline when you’ve spent so much time acting normal, other’s say ‘you’re cured’ so you show them you’re not.”
Haven responds to that:
This is me. This is the plight of the Quiet Borderline. This is why it’s so hard for us to ask for help, and to get help, because so often when we do finally attempt to shed that mask, people look at us and say… But you’re so normal, I think you’re fine.
One of my diagnoses is Asperger Syndrome. I wonder how people might confuse Asperger with this “mask” part of BPD because of the fact that Aspies have to learn how to behave based on observations of how other people are acting. It has been something of a torture for me to learn which behaviors are expected of me because I have mind blindness. I always feel that I am behind a wall, on some level, because of that. It is not a “mask” that I put on. It’s a wall that God put into my head.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve run into this. xRoommate told me she didn’t think I was Borderline. Current Roommate (who is also a Psych major) has told me she would never guess I was Borderline. I think this is a two part problem.
Haven is accomplished at wearing a mask, I suppose.
The stigma surrounding BPD focuses so strongly on the angry, volatile, aggressive, explosive cases of BPD, that it’s become stereotyped to the exclusion of evidence to the contrary.
So it is with all mental illnesses. This is why doctors have to do the diagnoses, not your blog readers and not your family and not your friends. Doctors.
To the outside world I do not rage. I do not show how quickly my moods can change. I hold it inside until I’m alone and can let the façade slip.
One of my diagnoses is Bipolar Disorder. I could probably name at least 100 people who have seen me rage publicly. The ability to put up a facade isn’t something I have during an episode. Certainly, I will do my best to keep myself quiet during an episode, and certainly I am able to control to a certain point, but sometimes, no. There is zero control.
“Acting normal”, not letting people see my emotional instability, not letting people see things that would make them question whether I have it together, is vitally important.
It’s important to me, too. It’s just not always possible for me.
I learned growing up and from the abusive relationships that I’ve been in, that anything “abnormal” mentally and emotionally is something to be ashamed of and can be used against me to humiliate me and alienate me from the people I need in my life. How can someone love you if you’re broken? So I hide it.
I didn’t ever know that kind of pressure. I have two brothers in nursing homes due to brain injuries. One was injured in 1979 and the other in 1992. I have several family members with Bipolar Disorder. My family has always known about mental issues and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. It was in that environment that I learned about dignity and that we love those most who are broken.
Until it’s too much to hold inside. Until I’ve finally, finally reached a point where I need to reach out for help. When I’m literally dizzy and shaking from the anxiety, depression, rage, and pain I’m feeling and can’t keep going on my own anymore. When I finally cede that I need to try, I hear… But you seem so normal. You’ll be fine.
That part I understand deeply. Trying to maintain control, I never really know what I look like to other people. I have been suicidal before and people told me I seemed fine. I know what that feeling is like. Then there are those who would call the police and tell them I’m suicidal when I am not. That’s extremely annoying to both me and the police.
Invalidation. Of course I seem normal, because that’s all I’ve let you see! You don’t see what’s happening inside because I’m positive you won’t be able to deal with it and won’t like me anymore. Not to mention I feel guilty bringing my problems to you even this one time, let alone all the times when things feel like they’re too much for me to handle, so I bury them so you won’t be burdened with how much I’m hurting. Of course you don’t see all that is inside of me.
That must be torture.
Read the whole article. And remember, don’t try to diagnose people unless you are a doctor trained to diagnose mental disorder and the patient has physically come into your office and talked to you. You’re only making things worse otherwise.