(BPD A-Z) is a series aiming to cover an abridged run-through of some of the most characteristic elements of Borderline Personality Disorder, written by former sufferer, who has since recovered from BPD & had her diagnosis changed to C-PTSD since the time of writing (updated in 2022).
By this post, you’re probably all too aware that BPD is a raging little shit with little rhyme nor reason, but you may be wondering: where the hell does it come from? Is it a genetic disorder; a chemical imbalance? Is it environmentally fuelled? Are we just oversensitive aliens, unequipped for the trials and tribulations of everyday life?
As tends to be the case with all things Borderline Personality Disorder related, this is technically still unclear, due to current lack of research and the many guises that the illness takes.
One of the most prevalent cited causes for BPD are the abandonment issues we discussed in the first part of this blog series. Whether real or perceived, feelings of neglect and invalidation in formative childhood years correlate with a diagnosis later in life. This is dubbed as ‘childhood trauma’ in most writings, but doesn’t have to have been as drastic as such wording suggests.
Another recurring trait in those with BPD is perfectionism. As to whether this is the result of the ‘fear of abandonment’ – forming an obsession with getting everything right – has yet to be proven.
Personally, I relate very much to the above – I’d describe myself as a ‘faulty perfectionist/fraught overachiever’ (or ‘tortured genius’ if I’m pissed and think I’m being funny…). School was always a way I could prove my worth – something that arguably isn’t at the forefront of your average 10-year-old’s mind, but in the aftermath of my parents’ messy divorce, it was a means of control which was mine alone. The question is, which came first: the perfectionism or the predisposition for developing BPD?
In recent years, studies have begun to reveal an array of potential causes that relate to our grey matter. There have actually been findings that have shown certain parts of the brain within afflicted individuals are oftentimes either a different size, or operate at a different rate to those of ‘neurotypical’ subjects.
A tendency of the illness to be passed down has started emerging, with many sufferers finding a familial link; often a parent who exhibits many of the key traits who may not have been officially diagnosed. Whether that is an environmental effect or purely hereditary has also yet to be found.
Upon receiving a diagnosis of BPD, it’s important to reflect upon – ideally through the guidance of therapy – what may have been the cause of its emergence. Once you feel like you have adequately identified this, the next step has to be to learn how to move on from it – something DBT founder Marsha Linehan calls ‘radical acceptance’.
Many of us BPD-ers are highly nostalgic folk, whether for good memories or bad; with a definite tendency to ‘live in the past’ if left untreated. This can manifest in myriad ways; from returning to toxic relationships as they remind you of the inconsistent push/pull of affection in your youth, to living a life poisonously embittered by something someone afflicted upon you in your past.
Of course, this is all entirely relative and I’m not sitting here saying “forgive your abuser and crack on, mate”, I’m saying that all you can do is move forward and stop the past from eating you alive for any longer. You deserve to live – not to exist – but to live and to thrive.
If you relate to the above and would like to discuss/learn more, you can find me harping on about mental health (not exclusively BPD) on Twitter @Ebzo.