“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
A New Perspective On A Diagnosis
So I’ve shared before that one of my diagnoses is Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition that the media loves to misrepresent. The famous bunny boiler scene from Fatal Attraction springs to mind as a horrendous example.
While Alex (the bunny boiler) does display some of the symptoms of BPD, her tendency to hurt others (especially that poor rabbit) is such an awful representation. People with BPD direct all their anger at themselves typically which explains why self-harm is one of the major symptoms of the disorder. Alex comes across way more as a psycho/sociopath, manipulating the lives of those around her as if it’s a game and hurting who she needs to to get her way. She attempts to murder her love interest and his wife throughout the movie. Not exactly self-harm, is it.
If you want a more recent example then you can look at Netflix’s Daredevil and the newly introduced Bullseye, an assassin with superhuman accuracy with any ranged weapon (hence the name). In season 3 the justification for Bullseye’s murderous tendencies is that he has BPD (and OCD of all things) and again, while he displays some of the symptoms, this diagnosis is highly offensive to people with the real disorder.
After a quick look around it seems that some people believe that Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader (Star Wars) is believed to have it… Yes… Because I am on the verge of slaughtering children and becoming an unfeeling murderer. Jesus wept.
There are three problems at play (as I see it).
- People just don’t care enough to do their research. Anxiety and depression are too boring these days to throw into a plot as an excuse for awful behaviour. People find split personality type disorders almost a joke and a cop-out as a plot device. So they found a relatively unknown disorder that sounds threatening enough.
- As with a lot of mental health conditions BPD shares a lot of symptoms with a lot of other diagnoses. This can make it easy to mislabel the disorder (if you’re being kinder than I was in point 1) and it’s not like everyone watching will know it even exists, let alone a list of symptoms.
- The name is scary so it’s easy to throw in to make someone sound more threatening. There’s something about the word ‘Borderline’ that invokes fear. It makes it sounds like you are on the edge of snapping, on the verge of becoming violent or destructive. Maybe there’s also a bit of a hangover of the split-personality type disorders being scary that I mentioned earlier due to the word ‘Personality’ being in there. ‘Borderline’ combined with ‘Personality’ can set off some alarm bells with people that you are a dangerous person – and the media is heavily to blame for this.
So to move on to the reason for this entry is that I’ve recently become aware of a (small) movement to rename BPD to ‘Emotional Intensity Disorder‘. I think that this is a much better, more descriptive name of what it’s actually like to have BPD. For those who don’t know, the main symptom (as I see it) of BPD is the inability to regulate your emotional responses to situations.
Genuinely true story: A friend didn’t say thank you to me once after I gave them a hand, which I think most people would dismiss as a mistake or something that doesn’t really matter that much between friends. I on the other hand took it as a massive insult and decided that that person had zero respect for me, which proceeded to spiral into no one had respect for me. Ultimately, and sadly, I ended up ludicrously upset and I’m sorry to say that I ended up self-harming.
All the way through that there was a part of my brain that knew I was acting irrationally, the problem is that it was overwhelmed by the other 95% of my brain that was spiralling out of control, fuelled by adrenaline. My body was producing so much adrenaline that I couldn’t help but cry and there are times where I will actually start shaking.
And maybe this is where some people could have a problem with Emotional Intensity Disorder: it might make you sound like a bit of a crybaby. But I’ll tell you something, I’d rather someone think I was a crybaby and on the verge of tears than think I was dangerous and on the verge of violence.
Living with BPD can be a real burden. At any moment I could start down a path that will end up with me in tears but here’s the strange thing: I’m not 100% sure I would cure it completely (in me) if I could. The opposite situation – of ending up on a path of pure euphoria – is a high that I don’t know if I can give up willingly.
I walk around the house doing silly voices to try and make people around me laugh and smile because it gives me such a good feeling. If you want to know just how stupid it can get, ask my partner about the “Silly Comet” if you get a chance. I get such a level of giddy joy when I trigger a laughing fit in my partner that I’m genuinely struggling to put it into words and even just thinking about my partner’s laugh is bringing a smile to my face as I type.
Happiness and sadness are always two sides to the same coin – BPD/EID just means that your coin can flip that much easier. I’m hoping that one day I can learn the techniques that will help me suppress that sad side of things and keep that euphoria side of the coin glued face up for a bit longer.
Thanks for reading and remember to take care of yourselves. Peace!
Whilst talking to my partner about this write up they brought to my attention that a show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a character (the main one apparently) that is diagnosed with BPD and it is a much better representation. So I guess I’ll take a look and report back in a while 🙂 .
A pretty good example of how silly I can be when in a ‘high’ state: I was trying to think of what video to put here for this one, hoping for maybe something serious. But my brain immediately and instinctively went “You need to put he Half-Life 2 Cotton Eye Joe video!”. Enjoy ❤ .