All or nothing
Black and White
Good or Evil
Innocent or Guilty
No Grey Area
Some individuals who experience Borderline Personality Disorder (and other mental health issues) will engage in a type of thinking called splitting. Most people (whoever they are….) have the ability to see both the positive and the negative in a situation or individual. They can accept something in its entirety. For those experiencing BPD it is difficult to understand these contradictions and incorporate them into their every day thinking.
The result is two rigid categories of “good” or “bad”. Idealizing and devaluing come out of this type of thinking and it’s how people experiencing BPD can quickly switch from one to the other. To them a person cannot be both good and bad, you can only be one.
Split thinking can also be attributed to the individual doing the thinking. They can begin to see only one side of themselves which causes a fragmented sense of self and distress.
This of course does not happen all the time. I personally have the ability to see the “grey” in certain situations and people. Seeing the “grey” becomes more difficult, if not impossible, when I have never had a positive experience with the person or situation. Without a reference point I end up happily putting them into the “bad” category. If I don’t have a positive point of reference which helps me understand that you have the capability of being a good person then I can’t imagine that you are good.
I am describing splitting as being a horrible experience but I have actually saved myself a lot of pain, physical and emotional, by having split thinking. When I was younger I held on to every painful memory, experience and person. It was not helping my depression to hang on to people who were controlling and abusive. I used to think that everyone was good and that it was my fault. If I was a better person than they would be happier with me. I don’t know how I began split thinking but I now have the ability to say, “This person has hurt me. Fuck them.” And for the most part that person will never bother me again.
Many would say that going to the extreme of hate so quickly is dangerous but I’m not distressed by it. I have let people back in that I have in the past thrown into the “bad” category but there are people or situations that will never be “good” in my mind.
Splitting has allowed me to let go. Splitting has allowed me to save myself pain.
I won’t say that I would like to keep this way of thinking because I do want to see people and situations as a whole. A middle ground seems so impossible at times that I don’t know how to do it. I’m all about extremes. Sometimes that’s “good” and sometimes that’s “bad”. Can there be a grey area about extremes?
Source: Understanding Splitting
Thought: It seems like mental health is all or nothing. You’re either crazy or you’re normal. Last I checked extreme binary thinking is a symptom of my supposed diagnosis, BPD! Seems a little hypocritical. Anyways, there needs to be middle ground in our emotions. Just because you behave a little differently from what others would like shouldn’t mean you’re mentally ill and just because you follow the conduct shouldn’t mean you’re normal. Let’s so more of that grey you’ve been condemning me for not seeing!
So far I have explained what a personality disorder is medically and one way that I have been perceived by another. One more comment to add to that perception before I move on.
It is extremely dangerous to define someone by their symptoms and illness like this stupid man did! We are all unique and have good and bad parts about us! We should be seen as WHOLE human beings, not just silly checklist symptoms! We are more complex than that!
So….Borderline Personality Disorder……hmmmmmmm
There are no statistics in Canada that talk about the prevalence of this disorder (unlike depression). USA stats show that as of 2008 6% of the population will have BPD and most will be women. About 1 in 100 adults….which would explain why I can’t find a BPD buddy! (http://www.camh.net/About_Addiction_Mental_Health/Mental_Health_Information/BPD/about%20BPD.html#WhatisBPD)
I personally feel that, compared to the few others with BPD that I’ve spoken too, that I’m not greatly affected by the disorder. I’ve always considered myself to be a “mild” case. This could be because I may more so have the tendencies. The psychiatrist did base the diagnosis off of how I used to behave and very little on how I currently was.
The biggest traits that I feel I portray are the intense rage and split thinking (black and white).
I really don’t just get anger. I do go into a rage very quickly over many things that I feel hurt me. The problem, I find, isn’t whether or not I should be upset with the situation but I find it difficult to control how upset I get. So it’s not the situation, it’s my response which then wrecks any valid point I may have because I’m screaming and throwing stuff around. All while this is happening though I’m yelling at myself in my head to stop but it’s like rolling a ball down a hill. I can’t stop until I reach the bottom or something gets in my way.
I may be screaming and yelling but no one is listening. People shut down when I go into a rage and rightfully so. This hurts me more because even though I know inside I’m expressing myself in the wrong way I really need someone to listen to me. I am angry because I am hurt and I want that hurt to go away.
The rage is very painful. It doesn’t just cause emotional damage to myself and those it’s directed at but it also physically hurts me. When I am that angry the risk of me self harming increases. I’ll usually bang my head against something when I’m angry and the coming down into sadness is when I’m more likely to cut although I’m less impulsive when I’m sad so I can usually avoid that self harm method. There was an incident of where I had worked myself up to the point of where I was experiencing pain in my heart. That scared me so much that I was able to quickly pull myself out of the rage and began breathing because I knew I had gone to far.
It’s in a rage that other traits to come out such as impulsiveness and overall instability commonly associated with BPD. It’s this rage that can make my personal relationships, image of myself and my life unstable.
My split thinking really doesn’t bother me and has been more helpful than destructive. Experiencing BPD has sometimes been described as not having an “emotional skin”. Splitting is my skin. I do have the ability to see grey in certain things or eventually see them in situations I didn’t earlier but for the most part seeing things as all good or all bad has protected me from getting too emotionally invested in issues I shouldn’t. If someone wrongs me it doesn’t bother me to push them out of my life. For example: one of my friend’s said extremely hurtful things about me behind my back and it didn’t pain me for a second to not talk to him for a few years. Because of how emotional I can get splitting helps me not waste my time and cope in a way that for once doesn’t hurt me.
The splitting helps with the good because I think it is important to go all in to something (some would argue this is the attachment issues that are associated with BPD). If you don’t know when stop giving it your all that is when you will run into problems but for the most part I know when that point is.
There is a horrible book out there called The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Simon Baron-Cohen. I haven’t read it but I glanced inside and as the description says:“Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger’s: All of these syndromes have one thing in common–lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world.”
I can agree that a lack of empathy can be dangerous and we have seen that in the world (ie: Hitler) but I think overall the concept of empathy is in the eye of the beholder. I should be able to decide when being empathetic is important. I can’t be empathetic all the time! Not everyone and every situation deserves that energy! (Is this rant proof of those with BPD not having empathy?)
This book also bothers me because right off the bat in the title it is giving the reader no chance to judge for themselves who the people experiencing these disorders are. I know I immediately thought that this man was calling people with borderline personality disorder evil. I thought about how much empathy I have and was greatly offended.
Also to top it off he used an example of an unempathetic “borderline” that hits way too close to home. January 1, 2008 my friend, Stefanie Rengel, was murdered by an idiot, David. He did it because his stupid girlfriend, Melissa, thought Stef was a threat to their relationship. David stabbed her multiple times and left her bleeding in the snow to die only a few houses away from her own. Both were sentenced as adults and are in prison. Melissa was diagnosed as BPD which infuriated me! I didn’t want the bitch who murdered my friend to share that link with me! I believe there is nothing wrong with her except being stupid in thinking murder was the way to get what she wanted! So…..the author of The Science of Evil used MY FRIEND’S MURDER AS AN EXAMPLE OF MY ILLNESS! This boosted up the offensiveness big time!!!! I WOULD NEVER KILL SOMEONE but yet this is the impression that this author wants to leave his readers with of BPD…….
When I’m not in a rage I swear no one would call me a mental illness of any kind and that is commonly what I’m told when people find out I have a diagnosis. This still begs the question “what does crazy look like”. Crazy looks like you and me! But anyways, my good traits I feel or more numerous than my bad. I am very compassionate, have a lot of friends, am great with kids (which is my job), I love to socialize, I’m funny, I’m very nice, empathetic, open-minded, nonjudgmental (where it’s important), understanding and I feel a really good person overall!
We all have our flaws and I find it unfortunate that mine have been deemed disordered but I will always go about my life, doing my thing and just being happy!
It upsets me that some can see having mental health issues as being a curse. Does it have its moments of being horrible to the extent that you’d rather not exist any more? Hell yes! I feel that having these issues gives us great insight into who we are and challenges us to always self improve and try hard at what we do (not that I enjoy overcompensating because people think I’m incapable but hopefully you get what I mean).
I realized a few months ago that since I began displaying borderline traits I have improved greatly in my life. This could be because of my awesome management skills or not actually being “ill” at all, just being myself.
I remember the day when I possibly turned completely borderline. It was like a switch.
I experienced an unnamed trauma which finally gave me a reason to be as depressed as everyone thought I didn’t have the right reasons to be. I found myself just as alone, dealing with this trauma, as I normally was. It was devastating. I needed the support but everyone kept telling me that it was no big deal. My partner at the time couldn’t support me either. He always started crying when I wanted to talk about it. “Don’t you think it hurts me too?” He’d say through his tears. I would stop crying and try to comfort him.
Finally, a week or two after the incident occurred something happened. My partner was crying again when I had tried to talk to him and that’s all I remember. My memory picked up again about an hour later in a conversation that made no sense to me. My partner explained that someone else had come through me. My tone had changed, my body language, my speech, and my expression had changed. We realized that I had developed another personality so to speak.
He named her Sarah. She was a bitch. She wasn’t afraid to say what was supposed to be said. She was cocky, relentless and overall everything I was not. My partner told me that Sarah had told him how he was being a baby and treating me like shit; that although she didn’t care for me, she thought that he was being pathetic, crying over the incident and letting me silently fall apart. That wasn’t a man, she had told him.
Sarah came around quiet frequently and my partner became the biggest trigger that would bring her on. He liked her. I thought and still do that, that is sick, to like my other personality, my coping mechanism which meant that I couldn’t deal with reality, more than me.
After we broke up Sarah only made two more appearances. She wasn’t even around for a year and for that I am thankful.
While writing my story for a mental health organization I work with I began to analyze Sarah for the first time. She is one half of my borderline traits. Sarah never left me. She just melted into me.
How did this safe my life? I became angry, I developed black and white thinking and I gained confidence.
I had never been angry before. People walked all over me. Becoming angry allowed me to gain control in my life. I could tell people that they had wronged me and that I was not going to be their punching bag anymore.
I think that my black and white thinking is my super power. I had never been able to let go of those who hurt me. By “splitting” I could easily show myself how someone was not worth my time and effort. I could painlessly walk away from that person or that situation instead of hating myself for screwing up.
All of this just lead to confidence. I could finally protect myself from others and from myself.
Bad days will always exist but I’d rather be who I am now than who I was before.