Friday, May 6, 2011

Understatments understate

“Your risk for relapse of symptoms of borderline personality disorder is greatest when you feel threatened by being left alone (abandonment).”

Relapse - is the reappearance of or increase in symptoms in a person with an illness or disease after a period of improvement

Saw this statement over at

I’m so amused. As if the symptoms of BPD aren’t expected to reoccur. As if they ever go away in the first place (without treatment).
OMG Don't leave me!
Maybe we should try a twelve step program. Personality Disorders Anonymous or PDA (Public Dispalys of Affection are acceptable for the Histrionic). Eh, hem. Step #1, “Hi, my name is Haven. I have a generally untreatable personality disorder but I hope by sitting with other emotionally volatile people I’ll be able to stop being emotionally volatile.” What? This may help if Step #2 comes with a straight jacket and step #3 is a lobotomy. Not that I haven’t considered lobotomy a viable option on occasion, but even I think that’s a little extreme after a couple hours.

Heh. Treatment for BPD is difficult,  though certainly, not impossible. The outlook is actually getting better and better every day, but relapse is going to be part of the process. Relapse is going to be a very common part of the process. To say that the risk of relapse is greatest when threatened by being left alone:

1.) There is no consistent cause for what sets us off.  
2.) Does not automatically imply abandonment.

Being abandoned does mean being left, but being left alone does not necessarily mean abandonment.
Or maybe it does but it’s a mild form of it.  Personally I need to be in a relationship for the thought of being left (not necessarily alone) to make me most crazed. That’s the kind of abandonment that would set me up for the greatest relapse.  Left and removed from someone’s life forever, abandoned to the ether to never be seen again. This does not mean just anyone leaving me alone.

I’m alone a lot. I live with one Roommate who has a boyfriend so she’s out of the apartment all the time. I’m very happy for her. She deserves someone who makes her happy. She’s one of the best people I know. Some people might consider this statement as me Splitting her into the all good category. She’s never let me down though, and until she does she’ll stay right where she is. I’ve known her for years. Hell, my very first memory of significance concerning her was of her taking care of me after I unintentionally gave myself alcohol  poisoning on vacation (I didn’t know I was drinking Everclear – never again). She didn’t know me and yet she took care of me. That’s not something that is easily overridden. Years later and she still hasn’t let me down in a way that people inevitably do. That said, I have begun to notice that I drink a lot more when she isn’t in the apartment. Drinking takes me out of my head, even just a little bit so the emptiness isn’t so bottomless. As I type this I wonder if part of it is some subconscious connection to the fact that my first strong memory of her was of her taking care of me because of alcohol. I digress.

I do have a pretty severe intolerance to being alone. I have a lack of object constancy. If you’re not with me, I lose my connection to you. What’s more, if I’m not with you I cannot internalize the thought that I am still a part of your thoughts or your life. How can I be an part of your life if I’m not doing anything with/for you? You’re gone. I’m gone. I don’t know where I am.

What also gets me is the statement of ‘after a period of improvement’. What improvement? I’m far from healed. I’ve just begun this process. Just because we’re not in a constant state of suicidal ideation or ripping open our arms doesn’t mark a period of improvement. It marks a period of lessened triggers. My symptoms don’t go away, they just aren’t as apparent.
As mentioned, I’m alone a lot. And yes, some of the absolute worst times for me have been at the thought of being completely abandoned by someone. Even someone I didn’t really care for. Take a look at my trip to the Psych ER. I didn’t even like Boring-ex. However, relapses are relative. My being alone when Roommate is gone is a pretty mild ‘relapse’, though frequent. When I was at University the stress and anxiety cause by the course load I took on, the fear of failure, the need to punish myself for lack of perfection drove me to some incredibly traumatic tailspins. I had a nearly complete nervous breakdown when I received a ‘B’ in a class. Keep in mind that my major was considered one of the hardest majors to complete. The pressure I put on myself was unreasonable, but it had nothing to do with being alone. All relative.  

There are so many things wrong in this write up. Maybe I’m nitpicking. Maybe I’m just rant-y. Bad article. All bad.

I guess my amusement comes from the incredible understatement of this sentence. One sentence. Totally enough to sum up BPD abandonment implications. Right.

Angry penguin is angry


  1. I think this is part of the problem that leads to people not understanding PD properly. These lame ass definitions and explanations. When a loved one reads such a simplistic view of what we are experiencing, then they can't understand why we just "can't get over it". This is part of the reason for the stigma and misunderstanding regarding PD. These definitions definitely need to be written by people with PD not some stuffy ass doctor whose more concerned with getting published than actually helping.

    I am reading a book right now and I plan on starting a series on my blog about it. So far it is amazing. One thing that stuck out to me and which seems appropriate for your post is the author says "Treating depression is making the most of the life you have between episodes".

  2. Well.

    I left my borderline boyfriend after he raged at me. I called the cops. Had him arrested. He spent two nights in jail and I put out a restraining order. No phone calls, no emails, no third party contact. Nothing. Relationship. Over. I love it! I got the last laugh cause I saw the ax dropping.

    If you guys are in so much fucking pain why would you want to hurt others they way you hurt? So fucking self-centered and so fucking selfish. Because you're little child hearts are wounded everyone in your path deserves to suffer? Such assholery.

    No one gives a fuck about your pain cause you sure as hell don't give a rat's ass about the pain you Borderlines spread.

  3. Haven, thanks for writing this--I like how it captures "relapses" of the mental sort. But chances are good that I'm mental in some way, so ... misery loves company, I suppose.

    More later when I'm more able to focus!

  4. Haven,

    Your friend from ATL here. So when is it that the threat of abandonement ISN'T there? That's what I'd like to know. Maybe it is less threatening when you're not as close. I wish I had known more about my SO's struggles before we broke up. I believe we could have had a better LTR b/c I would've been more patient than I even am normally. Who knows? Hindsight is always 20/20. I can certainly appreciate that it's not something that's easy to deal with. Best of luck to you!

  5. @Auburn ... The threat of abandonment is usually there. Maybe it always is there. And yes, when I'm not as close to people I fear much less that they'll leave. For that reason I actively try to keep people at a distance. It's when they get close to me that the chance of true hurt becomes more real.

    I can't honestly say that being more patient would have helped. Sometimes it can make it worse because then we feel like we're disappointing our SO for not being able to be better. Nothing is so clear cut, there's always another way to set us off. There's very little logic in any of this, if any at all.

    But thank you =)

  6. I enjoyed visiting your website. Thanks for sharing your world. I am BPD too. I am 44 yrs old and was diagnosed at 30. I am engaged and live with my fiance. he is an unbelievably patient and understanding man and tries to give me the world. however it is never enough. i want to leave him everyday and i stay stuck in a state of confusion wondering is it my BPD that makes me wanna leave or am i not really with the right person. i don't really believe there is a right person for someone with BPD. I want the relationship to work but my brain fights me everyday. I wish so badly i could have a normal healthy relationship but my brain just wont let me. i have had 8 yrs of therapy but most days i still have a war going on in my head. the man im with takes care of everything, and i do feel secure for the first time. however i cant stay connected to him or anyone really.

  7. I agree with that last comment by Anonymous. I have come to realise that my husband will probably never be able to do enough. He cant replace the mothering relationship I realise I crave and never had & never will have. I have become dis attached to him in some ways because he has many aspergers traits & is fairly emotionally distant & flat, I have a feeling this is the reason we have managed to stay married for so long. It means he doesn't react to my moods. Also we've had some issues around his inability to cope when my eldest daughter was born, he pulled away & moved into a different bedroom in the attic for 6months & wouldn't feed or change her, he rarely held her & I wasn't able to leave her with him while I showered. I was heart broken & felt utterly abandoned, I thought I was broken. I dont know if I can ever repair my relationship, I've certainly modified my idea of what I can have in my marriage & its immensely painful. I cant turn to him for emotional support, I rely on him for financial support & a little practical help, I care about him, but emotionally & sexually I really struggle.

    I have been looking for that emotional support all my life, I cycle through friends, my husband is uninvolved in my friendships, i fall into intense friendships usually until something interrupts their life, then they pull away & I cant handle it & withdraw. Quarrels with friends rarely happen & only one friendship as an adult has survived a disagreement. I've been in therapy for about 4.5yrs & am starting to try very hard not to end friendships this way. This past week I've fallen out with a friend, a friend I've let in. He knows about the bpd, he knows about my tendency to push pull, he knows how badly allowing him in close has triggered me & he promised he would love me & I would be safe with him & that he will not abandon me. We've talked about boundaries, about what I can expect from him and about my mechanisms of control & how transference works, me thinking he is in pain because he's had a disagreement with his wife & panicking because I'm so worried when actually he is fine.

    Last week I didn't hear from him, he went out of touch for over a week, I couldn't handle it, I couldn't understand it, after id told him, sent him articles to read, after he's held me while I broke my heart & sobbed with him because it hurt so much to feel accepted & safe.

    I am so angry, but what right do I have to be angry? He is human, he cant possibly understand the intensity of the fear I was experiencing. He cant understand that I thought Id lost him and it makes me want to die. I have no one I can trust, no one who I can call if I'm so low I cant manage. Not a friend who has always been there. Not a family member who would ever put me first or who hasn't rejected me very painfully. I dont know if i can keep doing this. I cant manage the fear & the pain over something that isn't real. He needed some space, end of. I escalated it because of my fear of him leaving.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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