I recently was reminded of a relationship I had that occurred about four years ago. It was very shortlived but nonetheless taught me such an incredible lesson. This girl ended up telling me that no one wants to be around me because I don’t value my life and why would someone want to love me when I would rather kill myself than appreciate those around me that do care. At the time I thought she was the most insensitive person ever and I was heartbroken. Well, four years later here I am, understanding and even agreeing with what she said.
In that relationship, like most others, I was all too open about my issues because quite frankly, I was being manipulative. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I can see that my borderline personality disorder took over and announced it to anyone that was willing to listen that I was mentally ill. Why? Because then they would feel bad for me and not leave me. This whole production was a guilt trip. Do I think that everyone who overshares does it to be manipulative? No. Do I think I was ever aware of myself being manipulative? Absolutely not.
Was I deathly afraid of someone leaving me because of my mental illnesses? Yes. Then why and go parade it around? Well, that’s because I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which according to the DSM-5 is as follows (I actually meet every single criterion for this disorder):
The Criteria for a Diagnosis
BPD is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion, as well as marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more)of the following:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes between idealization and devaluation (also known as “splitting“)
- Identity disturbance: Markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
- Impulsive behavior in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-harming behavior
- Emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., intense episodic sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
I wasn’t actually diagnosed with BPD until my major suicide attempt in 2012. But I fit the criteria very early on. Having bulimia and cutting since 2005 and having my dad “leave me” at a very young age and being sexually abused as a child I am basically the poster child for this disorder, right? Well, here’s the thing. I don’t think anybody really put much emphasis on BPD because I was so young and plus I wasn’t involved in any romantic relationships until late 2009.
I could go on and on about the details of every girlfriend I had that ended up sour because of my BPD. However, I won’t because a) I’m not going to solely blame myself and b) I’m not giving the BPD all the power. But what I will say is that the majority of my relationships had a pattern. I would initially be so attracted to the girl and have sex right away. I would become obsessed with her and claim I love her (when usually it was just lust). Eventually, one of two things would happen. Either I would get bored with her and break up with her or she would break up with me, usually because of my instability and lack of self-confidence.
My last relationship actually ended roughly because at times I would be wholeheartedly in love with my ex and then I would randomly switch to not caring about her at all. I couldn’t take it any longer and ended the healthiest relationship I have ever had. I tried researching what I was feeling but couldn’t get any answers. Now I know it’s called splitting and it makes SO MUCH SENSE.
I’ve since decided to be single until I address these issues even further through group DBT therapy and getting a new therapist that specializes in trauma. For so many years my treatment has been focused on the eating disorder (and now that I’m in recovery) finally, I’m able to confront my BPD and PTSD due to all the trauma I’ve endured in my life.
As always, you can check out the card featured in this post, and many more, right on my Etsy site here