Friday, March 9, 2012

Borderline Between Happy And Insane

Last night, my husband had to work most of the night, and I thought he was going to have to be gone the entire night. Knowing I have been in a pretty dark, unstable place lately, I asked a good friend if he was alright with me crashing on his couch, so I wouldn't be isolated or alone in case something came up. Being the awesome friend he is, he said that would be great.
We were sitting there, about eleven at night, watching Smokey And The Bandit and talking. He was highlighting some papers he'd printed off, mostly about Borderline Personality Disorder. His ex-girlfriend of several years exhibits a LOT of symptoms of this, and he was reading some of the more surprising/dead-on ones out loud. Several of them hit me really close to home, although my habits aren't quite as extreme as most folks diagnosed with BPD exhibit.
When my friend mentioned that it's generally caused by neglect in childhood, my ears perked up. One of the most common symptoms is idealization and devaluation episodes- and I don't go to the extremes his ex-girlfriend did, but I have, for a long time, recognized the pattern of behavior in myself. Many of my relationships wouldn't last a month- things were ideal at first, beautiful, wonderful, what I wanted for the rest of my life, and then it seemed reality would set in and I was out. I can look at the explanations of BPD now, and realize that many of the behaviors I've worked so hard to change have been linked as much to a milder form of BPD as to PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are very commonly diagnosed in the same person, and are considered to be very closely linked issues. I can see, with the information that I have now, that the way I've idealized my husband much of the time, only to find myself on other days playing with a lot of "what if's" in my head is simply another symptom of all of this. I can see that the rapid emotional changes aren't simply my reactions to trauma-related stimuli. I have recognized, over  many years now, that I have had some pretty major abandonment issues, and, reflecting on my life, I'm really not terribly surprised by that.
Am I happy to know that I have symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder? Not a chance. It is, however, a little bit of weight off my shoulders knowing that my lack of gratitude, my bouncy-ball emotions, my fear of abandonment and unexplainable jealousy isn't just a character flaw that I've inherited from my mother or something. It feels really good to know that even the non-PTSD behaviors that have frustrated and worried me are logical and something that can be dealt with.

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