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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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What keeps Borderline Personality Disorder – BPD going?

Here I look at factors that can affect the recovery from BPD… Firstly…

Chaotic or adverse life events…

People with BPD encounter an overwhelming large number of unpleasant, stressful events and hassles. (Like me with buying Spanish property, relationships, jobs, bankruptcy etc – and these were often brought about by my tendency to do things spontaneously and without enough thought, or thought but do it anyway! Also with my OCD traits in thinking, analysing, but impulsive in the end anyway despite my research) Conflict with others is the main stressor and can trigger self harm and suicidal behaviour. (Definitely for me) Being rejected, failing at something and being alone are common triggers for emotional distress among people with BPD. I suffered with all of these. Being rejected was the worst, then failure does me in and being alone was scary along with my inability to take on responsibility even for myself.

If you are constantly under stress you may find that you are easily irritated, emotionally vulnerable and lack in the resources needed to cope with life. However, if you are constantly encountering stressful life events, you might find that your coping resources are so depleted that you turn to suicide attempts, self harm or drug use. For me, self harm and drinking alcohol and harming my boyfriend with abuse.


Many BPD behaviours work well in the short term to make people feel better (like binge eating, risky sex, drug taking, alcohol use, reckless driving etc) leading often to people continuing to do them, as it works for them at the time and they feel a release and less distressed at the time.

Negative reinforcement – Is when our behaviours work in a sense to get rid of something unpleasant – an unwanted feeling/emotion (alcohol, drugs and binge eating) Great at the time, but temporary and self harming never helps!

Positive reinforcement – Is when your behaviour works to produce something pleasant (drugs, harming yourself or taking risks) which can make you excited and happier temporarily.

Both with the same outcome – self harm only harms us and does not help at all!

One has to stop these reinforcements so that you can find other ways to feel better or get excitement in life.

The vicious circle – adverse life events – emotional stress – problem coping behaviours etc, but the problem coping behaviours lead to more problems which will lead to more problem coping behaviours which might get worse and worse.

Biological factors can be the reason for the onset of mental illness – heredity/genes, the size and functioning of brain areas (the amygdale, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex) and neuro transmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Borderline personality traits can include neuroticism, emotional vulnerability and impulsivity.

Environmental causes – childhood trauma, invalidating environments. Read my article on invalidating environments/behaviours and their effect on BPD sufferers by CLICKING HERE  and problems with attachment. I had all of these – trauma with bullying at a young age, and the anger of my mother and father… invalidating by my brother, father and boyfriend… problems with attachment to my mother. I was lucky to have my Great Aunt Agnes, but she was not the main point of my family when I was a child and I was still essentially brought up by my Mother (who suffered with catatonic schizophrenia and was hospitalised over many years on and off), unlike my brothers who had more time with my Great Aunt.

When I first found out I had BPD I was glad that my problems had and name and could be understood, but within a couple of weeks, I started to feel like I didn’t want to have this ‘disorder’ and started to deny it. I was worried about it and felt alone as I found out that it is an unpredictable disorder that has no end as the information available was not very helpful or positive towards people with BPD or their chances of getting over it. In fact, I was left feeling worse than ever. That is when the stress made my symptoms worse, the doctors wouldn’t help much and I was forced into helping myself, which I did for four years through writing my book – my memoir of my life. Buy my book here on Amazon:  CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE AMAZON PAGE 

Although a personality disorder sounded like it was part of my personality and would be there forever, it became clear that I could help myself to get out of the ‘unwanted’ parts of my personality by looking at each symptom one by one, understanding it and where it might have come from and doing something positive to change it. At the end of the day, I had been saying that ‘I was never like this before or never like that before’ and that was correct, as it was a progressive disorder that changed at different times of my life depending on what was going on in my life at the time. Once this all made sense, I started to work upon the unwanted bits…

However, it can be harder to recover from BPD if you have another psychiatric disorder as well and BPD is often accompanied by a variety of them. This is because the symptoms altogether can be too much to deal with or some symptoms that are the same are twice as bad, like a double dose.

See my article on disorders that can co-occur with BPD HERE 

Substance use disorder – Alcohol and drug use can make a person more outgoing, relaxed or maybe they just like the buzz, but it is temporary, damaging physically and can be devastating when mental illness symptoms are already present. Use is also associated with triggering mental health issues and also creating mental illness simply by their use. Simply put, drugs and alcohol do not help ANYONE, least of all those with mental illness. Some people may feel that it helps with their mental symptoms at the time, like escapism, but it is just a temporary cover. The outcome (emotions and relationship problems) can just make things worse. I took drugs for a few years and abused alcohol for many – one of my regrets now, and I wholeheartedly would advise anyone to resist the draw of mind altering drugs completely.

PTSD – Post traumatic stress disorder and dissociation – people with this disorder tend to avoid the situations and thoughts that remind them of the trauma they experienced (like me, when I completely forgot that I was raped and all the other horrible bits I found in my diary) leading to dissociation. People with BPD tend to avoid their emotions in order to cope with them. This double dose of avoidance leads to issues in using the active thinking required to recover from BPD and so it interferes with getting better.

Mood and anxiety disorders – major depression and panic disorder. Panic disorder means that you avoid places or experiences where you might get a panic attack. Avoidance can make it much worse as life becomes even more scary. My anxiety was progressive.

Depression makes you withdraw and isolation occurs – to get over it you have to get more active and start activities, challenging it. The avoidance provokes emotional pain and prevents you from finding the path to confidence and getting better. I would stay in for days on end, unable to get out of the house due to depression.

See my article on depression CLICK HERE 

• Avoidant personality disorder

• Dependent personality disorder

• Other personality disorders

OCD – Obsessive compulsive personality disorder – a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and control that is so extreme and pervasive that it interferes with openness, flexibility and getting things done efficiently. My OCD took over at various times in my life, without me realising it for a long time.

See my article on OCD CLICK HERE 

BUT, despite all of this, there is hope, you can get better, I know from my experiences it is not a walk in the park, it requires hard work, dedication and willingness to accept what is wrong, and not the black/white borderline thinking that can distort the truths and make you feel that it is ‘everyone else, if that is a trait you suffer with. I am going to post a new article with tips on how I got better but for now, here’s some of my tips to cope with BPD and the difficult emotions that can come with it. Just think of a time when you can lead a life worth living, it is worth some effort now to get to that and all the happy years that can follow … CLICK HERE 


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