(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).
TRIGGER WARNING: mention of suicidal behaviours
Ever have one of those days where just abso-bloody-lutely everything seems to be going awry and you can’t help but get sucked into a seething mood? A mood that no chocolate, Netflix marathons (not even Queer Eye), or depths of bubble bath can cure? I often write that some elements of BPD are akin to the behaviours of ‘neurotypicals’ – but on hefty dose of acid and speed – which is where we come to the symptom of emotional dysregulation.
When a regular person experiences a debilitatingly irksome mood, it’s a complete pain in the arse but, it will eventually pass as seamlessly as it arose. However, factor a BPD sufferer into that scenario and we could be hitting a potential danger-zone.
With Borderline Personality Disorder, that feeling of being annoyed quickly becomes creeping anger, which then takes off like wild fire – where every perceived slight or issue elevates us until we’re seething in red mist – with no quick fix to anchor us back down to earth. The only way to clear the red mist is to do something reckless and/or self-destructive or, once regulation skills have been learned, by waiting until it passes through the use of distractions (also known as ‘mindfulness’ in DBT terms).
When we factor in the impulsivity issues that are synonymous with BPD; this often proves dangerous. Self-harming, substance abuse, overspending and risky sex are but a few avenues we launch ourselves down when these moods become too much to bear.
Given our inability to self-soothe and regulate our emotions pre-therapy, we often tend to feel like these unpleasant feelings are never going to pass – which can be said for both depressed and positive moods.
This dysregulation can also present in ‘good’ moods that ascend into mania. When this happens, the BPD sufferer may feel as though they’re completely on top of the world – and that they can no longer recall ever even feeling depressed. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that we’re never going to come back down; we’ll never feel sad again.
One of the most troublesome aspects of this is that it can influence those with the disorder to stop taking their medication cold turkey, convinced that – thanks to our unnaturally elevated mood – we’re actually cured and no longer need them.
Inevitably, this leads to a huge crash and, oftentimes, suicidal behaviour. This exact thing happened to me earlier this year, when I hit a manic period; told myself that my medication proved only to make me worse and abruptly stopped taking my anti-depressants – without professional supervision or advice.
Within 48 hours, I was hospitalised on a drip following a paracetamol overdose. Emotional dysregulation is more than your girlfriend being a crank for prolonged periods of time for little reason, or your brother irresponsibly spending all his savings on a holiday to Ibiza in the midst of a manic peak: it can be deadly.
If you feel affected by anything discussed in this post, or know someone exhibiting similar symptoms with their mental health, feel free to follow and contact me on Twitter @Ebzo. Please bear in mind that I am not a professional and any advice given will be taken solely from my own experiences and research (I am also still very much a BPD sufferer too, as much as I may be high functioning!).