Thursday, June 23, 2011


The other day I saw this list of Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms & Associated Features. A few of them I’ve talked about already, but I found others fascinating.

(A) Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have a pattern of undermining themselves at the moment a goal is about to be realized:
(B) Some individuals develop psychotic-like symptoms when under stress:
(C) Individuals with BPD may feel more secure with transitional objects than in interpersonal relationships:
(D) Premature death from suicide may occur in individuals with this disorder, especially in those with co-occurring Mood Disorders or Substance-Related Disorders.
(E) Physical handicaps may result from self-inflicted abuse behaviors or failed suicide attempts.
(F) Recurrent job losses, interrupted education, and broken marriages are common.
(G) Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and early parental loss or separations are more common in the childhood.

I want to talk about a few of these over the next few days or so. So let’s begin shall we…

(A) Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may have a pattern of undermining themselves at the moment a goal is about to be realized:
-         dropping out of school just before graduation
-         regressing severely after a discussion of how well therapy is going
-         destroying a good relationship just when it is clear that the relationship could last

Stopping short of a major goal: I remember studying my ass off at University for weeks, only to ‘burn out’ the week before a major exam. I couldn’t look at the material anymore. I’d work myself up so much, convinced that ‘if I didn’t already know it, I wasn’t going to get it’. I’d create some mental excuse or justification for why I couldn’t study anymore. Inevitably I wouldn’t do as well as I had the rest of the Quarter. This ‘failure’ would work to kick me in the ass again and I’d redouble my efforts to get back on track for finals. It was a constant rollercoaster. Or I’ll slack off and push off completing a project until just before it’s due, practically setting myself up for a negative review. I’m almost asking to be fired. Except I’m not, and nothing could possibly be worse.

Regressing severely after an accomplishment: This. Is something I’m concerned with. I’ll be doing really great with, say, healthy weight loss, but as soon as someone recognizes this or we talk about how well I’m doing, I take a major fall back, nearly destroying all the progress I’ve made.  It makes me wonder if therapy is good for me or not (I know it is). I honestly have no idea why this is. Except that maybe I’ve been working for something for so long, wanted a goal for so long, that when I accomplish it, and it’s recognized, now there’s all this additional pressure to continue performing at this heightened level and if I don’t I’m going to inevitably let someone down. It’s that pressure I can’t stand the thought of. It’s suffocating.  

Destroying a ‘good’ relationship: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived through this. This was like every good period with Evil-Ex I ever had. Or every good period with any person really. Granted with Evil-Ex that was in no way entirely my fault, but I’m sure I sabotaged myself repeatedly.
Sabotage. Yes. That’s the word I want. This is self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is a combination of thoughts, feelings, and actions that create a roadblock to success by working against your own self-interests.  It is when we consciously want something but subconsciously we make sure we don't get it.  When we say we want something and then go about making sure it does not happen. Ultimately it’s due to a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.

Fear of success.  Deep inside, there can be numerous reasons you do not want to succeed.  These are referred to as limiting beliefs.  You must overcome these limiting beliefs and break free from your fear of success.
-         I found a really interesting article on the psychology of Fear of Success. Maybe I’ll post that as it is very relevant to BPD.

Unworthiness:  is the belief or feeling that you do not deserve success.  This is due to low self-esteem and or a poor self-image.
People with a Borderline Personality Disorder often have such an unstable sense of self that it’s impossible to believe well of oneself because they don’t really have a good sense of who they are to begin with.
It takes a lot of effort to keep in mind that you are not only worthy of success, but it is your right to live in abundance and pursue happiness.

Lack of belief in abilities.  Not believing you have enough education. Not enough experience. Goals are too farfetched or unrealistic. You must do everything on your own or it won’t be your success anyways.
This is something I struggle with constantly. I need to remind myself that I do have the background, education, and experience to do what I am doing. I have to force myself to remember that no one knows everything. Not even someone in their established field of decades. Life is a learning experience and all aspects of that are a continuous learning process. It’s ok to not know everything, not be the best at everything, as long as the determination to improve and push yourself forward are there.

Working against true desires.  Unfortunately a lot of people don’t know what they want to begin with. Or work towards what someone else wants instead of their own desires.
This is so often the case with BPD. I have a terrible time making up my mind. I am constantly asking people for what they would prefer, or for opinions to help. Too often I do things that other people would prefer than what I might want. Then again, I don’t always know what I want so does it really matter if I do something I know someone, anyone, will appreciate.
Amusingly I can get a million opinions and which will help me make a decision, but it’s often not the majority opinion and does come back around to what I may want. Like, I need to exclude options for various reasons to narrow it down. If there’s one thing I like, but it doesn’t seem popular, but I’m still drawn to it despite it not being popular, that usually means to me, that I like it and that’s the option for me. Or if I really can’t make up my mind, any decision is better than no decision and I might as well go with the majority opinion.

Often though, I do things because I know other people will like them despite not having the time for my own stuff, resources, or whatever. I put my hopes into making someone else happy, and even if they are, I’m left with something of an empty victory because I’ve reached my goal, but there’s really no personal satisfaction.
Looking for approval from outside. Instead of being able to accept me and my abilities I often find myself looking for outside validation. This can have either/or/both the same reactions as asking for opinions. It’s really just an extension of that b/c it’s asking for opinions on me and my abilities. I can either go with it, rail against it, or flounder somewhere in indecision. No matter which way the thing to remember is that the only truly important opinion is our own. We need to develop the ability to like who we are on our own.

Basically, self-sabotage is like a game of mental tug-of-war.  It is the conscious mind versus the subconscious mind where the subconscious mind eventually wins.  Welcome to Thunder Dome. Two Consciousness Enter, One Consciousness Leaves! The conscious mind can carry out actions and work toward a goal, but it will not be long before the subconscious mind reveals the true feelings and beliefs and takes control over actions.  The key to eliminating self-sabotage is making sure that your conscious and subconscious mind are in harmony.  This is much easier said than done, and I don’t have any failsafe advice on this. It helps me to write down positive affirmations and keep them with me though. Since I have such a hard time internalizing things, having something that I can reference whenever I need to is very helpful.

For someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder these successes are often in the ability to maintain healthy, functional relationships. They are absolutely not limited to this though. Obviously.  


  1. Ahhh...yes, I can relate to anything that resembles self sabotage. While I can relate to all of them or more, I think the one the sticks out the most is regressing after an accomplishment. I didn't know it was an actual symptom, but I wouldn't say anything for weeks about any achievements just for that reason and then when I finally would, it was all over.

    You write very well and I like the way you have described these symptoms. Yeah, I'm there.

  2. My life is a walking ad campaign for this. Blah! No matter how much I think I want to change in the end I screw things back up.

  3. I swear, I'm doing this right now, at this very moment, walking talking sabotage of the things I want so much. I need to look into ways to change this way of thinking and acting ::headdesk::

  4. Haven: just wondering if you saw the article about Marsha Linehan in yesterday's NYTimes and what you thought.

    Anonymous: take it from the second wife of a man whose first wife behaves exactly as you describe (even after she left him and the kids and insisted they divorce): run away as fast as you can and never look back. She will continue to behave exactly as she does now. If you have kids with her, get them into therapy with someone who understand BPD immediately. To protect yourself, practice "low contact communication" (look it up). If you don't have kids with her, you are lucky: you can practice "no contact communication."

  5. Haven, hey, really identify with this, sabotaging the things I want the most, my life story! Again, really good to learn that it is probably due to the BPD and not insanity/stupidity.

    It is so helpful gradually accumulating a catalogue of 'behaviours' or 'symptoms' that are part of the BPD because you don't have to be ashamed of your mess-ups in quite the same way which gives you power. I'm really lucky to be with someone who accepts my BPD as part of the deal and respects me in spite of all the shit!

    The whole 'lack of opinion' thing you write is funny! I identify with that so strongly, I annoy myself with my lack of opinion/desires and my lack of ability to make decisions, it's really interesting to read your thoughts on the matter; I've always assumed for me it's a fear thing that's so entrenched that it's just who I am now, it's squeezed me out. If you have no opinion or desires then you can genuinely focus on others and gain the acceptance/appreciation/affirmation/security etc. that you crave.

    I like the sound of sorting it though . . . so you reckon a meeting of conscious and subconscious mind sorts this out to some extent? Not sure I really understand this . . . I can't picture it . . . how does this work and what would it look like?

    Thanks for your insights once again!!

  6. OMG, funny how you used those examples... I experience the same ones... I dropped out of high school a couple months before I were to graduate. Recently when my group therapist made a comment that people who go through the program go to the hospital less... well, about a week later I ended up in the pshyc ward... (intentionally) I might add. The last example... there are a few friendships that might have have lasted but first sign of rejection (even though it may have been delusional) I stopped my contact with them. Anyway... I guess I wanted to share my experiences too...

  7. Oh god. This describes me so well. Just before high school graduation, the NIGHT before. I took a handful of pills for the first time ever in my life. I mentioned this self sabotage before a major accomplishment in one of my posts. I'm so, so glad I found your blog :)

    1. ::smiles;: Self-sabotage is huge with me. I hate it. When I'm doing well in anything, as soon as I give myself credit for it, I begin to backslide. It's awful.

  8. Replies
    1. I talk about my Evil-Ex a lot. He was my very abusive Narcissistic Personality Disorder Ex. I was with him for almost 3 years, living with him for 2.

  9. I self-sabotaged a relationship (in which I was co-dependent) with someone I believe to be my soul-mate. I then blamed it on him, but refused to let him let me go (I HATE YOU - DON'T LEAVE ME). I can't be without him. I came up with shitty reasoning as to why we weren't going to work, even though we had pretty much a dream relationship, I started acting out and misbehaving and started heavily drinking again (which sparked more emotional instability). I then started a new relationship (I cannot be alone for any long periods of time. I'm 19, haven't been 'single' for more than a month since I was 14) and I am beginning to be co-dependent on him, while still clinging desperately to my ex. I cannot let go of either of them.

    I have no idea what to fucking do, I wish I could cut out my brain.

    1. i hate you, you sound exactly like my ex


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

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