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Borderline Personality Disorder in the News

In the news (and movies): Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) doesn’t get a lot of “press” or screen time.

We have all seen movies and news stories about people with bipolar disorder. (Girl Interrupted, Mad Love, Borderline Personality Disorder Newsand the unforgettable Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, drug addiction) (Chris Farley, Philip Seymore Hoffman, and Anna Nicole Smith), and major depression (Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Princess Diana).  Many of these movies or real-life examples also show how mental disorders are intertwined.

Depression comes with alcoholism, bipolar disorder comes with drug addiction, bipolar disorder comes with a lot of issues – but not much attention gets paid to Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder has a few issues:

  1. It is a personality disorder and not a psychiatric disorder that can be treated with medication
  2. It is hard to diagnose and can often be confused with other disorders
  3. Borderline patients may misrepresent their behavior to medical professionals
  4. Borderline patients are often “difficult” to be around
  5. Borderline personality disorder is not well known – make it not well known… and, for this reason, there is no reason to write a news story or make a movie about it.

“Good news”;

I put that in parentheses because the diagnosis is not great – but it is good that BPD is getting a bit of attention.  Two notable examples – one not so great and one which may or may not be great.

Not So Great;

The trial of Jodi Arias.  In 2008, Travis Alexander was brutally murdered.  He was stabbed over 20 times, shot, and photographed after his death.  The alleged perpetrator: his girlfriend, Jodi Arias.

The case has been pending for many years – one of the reasons may be the development of a clear understanding of why Arias acted the way that she did after the murder.  Reportedly, Arias was witnessed immediately after Alexander’s memorial (including explicit text messages sent for “flirting”), and she has been pegged as a possible borderline patient.  This is in addition to Alexander’s former friends that reported her stalking behavior, and her statements that the boyfriend was a pedophile and a domestic abuser.

Arias’ own friends and a court psychologist have reported erratic behavior, similar to that of BPD.  No verdict has been issued as of yet, and we may never know, but it does bring BPD into the news (not in a nice way but into the light, however).

In fact, some mental health professionals have expressed the belief that BPD patients may be more dangerous – both emotionally and physically – than most other mental disorders, some likening it to a form of sociopathy.

Possibly good news;

Borderline Personality Disorder in the NewsOn the movie front, Kristen Wiig (of Bridesmaids –and the new, all-female Ghostbusters) has starred in a”dramedy”. Dramedy is  a combination of a comedy and drama that is centered around a woman with BPD.   In Welcome to Me, the character, portrayed by Wiig, wins the lottery and uses part of the money to start a talk show.

Along the way, she skips out on treatment, quits taking her meds and ends up living in a casino.  No word on reviews for the show, but it has some big names including Joan Cusack and Tim Robbins. It is produced in part by Will Farrell, and even though it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, theater showings have not been announced.

If you know a BPD patient – imagine what he or she might do after winning the lottery.  BPD is hard to diagnose, hard to predict and even tougher to be around.

Whether the movie is any good, whether the trial comes to a just end…

Melissa Lind

Borderline Personality Disorder has gotten some attention!

The Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks come quite quickly, with little or no warning.

What is the physical aspects of an anxiety attack, you may ask?

An anxiety attack, which is also referred to as a panic attack, is not the same thing as “feeling anxious.” We all feel anxious from time to time, and many people even feel anxious all of the time — because they suffer from an anxiety disorder. However, anxiety attack — which is, of course, brought on by extreme anxiety — is just a side effect of anxiety.

Anxiety AttackAn anxiety attack comes on fairly fast, with little or no warning. They last as long as 10 minutes, but the average attack lasts between one and five minutes. After one has suffered one or several anxiety attacks, they accept it for what it is. First-time sufferers often think that they have a heart attack, or even a nervous breakdown. They may even think that they are dying — even though they aren’t.

While many people may think that anxiety attacks are brought on by mental issues, this isn’t quite true. We all have a fight or flight response. Sometimes, when one suffers from anxiety disorders, the fight or flight response goes into “overdrive.” This causes the body to be flooded with hormones, including adrenalin, which causes the other symptoms of a panic attack.

An anxiety attack can be quite overwhelming and scary. Several things occur at once — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Physically, people may start profusely sweating. They may become short of breath, have a pounding heart, experience chest pain, become dizzy and/or lightheaded, feel nauseous, and even hyperventilate. They may feel as they are being choked or smothered, and there are numerous other physical aspects of an anxiety attack.

Mentally, the person will feel complete out of control, experience as they are going crazy, may hear things louder than they actually are have racing thoughts, and have impaired vision. They may seem like life has either slowed down or sped up. They may feel as they are in a dream (or nightmare) state. Tunnel vision is also common during a panic attack.

Emotionally, they will feel terror. They may fear that they are dying, and they may experience flashbacks to either earlier anxiety attacks or other traumatic events in their lives.

As you can see, anxiety attack is no joking matter for the person experiencing it. Luckily, there are medications that can be prescribed to minimize the appearance of panic attacks, as well as the symptoms experienced during such attacks.

Is It Really Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the hardest disorders to diagnose

Borderline Personality DisorderMy diagnosis is formal and was made by a professional.  Don’t use this to diagnose yourself.  We’re all people, we’re all different.  While I match many of the diagnostic criteria, I don’t match them all.  However, if you haven’t been formally diagnosed and you’re reading this and nodding your head, you may want to talk to a professional about it.

So here goes.  What makes Bruce Anderson suffer from Borderline Personalty Disorder (and what doesn’t).

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder:

1.  Feels emotions more easily, deeply, and longer than others do—CHECK.

Is this a bad thing?  Sometimes.  But sometimes it’s good.  If I wasn’t able to keep those emotions running high, I could’ve never written my prizewinning screenplay, which is emotionally brutal and makes everyone who reads it cry.  But when I get hurt, it takes a long, long time to shut it off.  Something most people get over in a few hours can take me a few days or more.

2.  Exhibits signs of impulsive behavior, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, unprotected sex, and reckless spending or driving—CHECK.

I smoke.  I drink.  At one time, I did drugs.  I’ve fathered two children that I love, but never intended to have.  Casinos are very dangerous places for me.  But I drive like an old man, very slowly, most of the time.

3.  Self-Harm and Suicidal Behavior—CHECK.

The scars are mostly faded, but the razorblades and lit cigarette were once close friends of mine.  So are booze and pills.

4.  Unstable, intense personal relationships—CHECK.

Married twice.  More girlfriends than I can count.  Every relationship ends in tears, usually mine.

5.  Black and white thinking—NO.  Well, MAYBE in the moment.

But I’m pretty realistic when it comes to how I see others.  I realize that no one is all-bad or all-good, though I do have a tendency to idealize my romantic partners.

6.  Manipulative behavior to obtain nurturance—DOUBLE CHECK.

Maybe even triple.  I’ll do anything, things I’m terribly ashamed of later, to get that feeling of being loved and cared for.

7.  Poor sense of self—CHECK, but not so much anymore.

It took me to the age of almost forty to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I want to write and teach, and I’m doing just that.  And it feels good.  At the same time, it is sometimes hard for me to know what I value and enjoy.

Do I really write because I like to?  Do I really teach because I love it?  Maybe.  It could be just that I’ve found that I’m good at both, and being good at both gets me attention and admiration from others.  I’m not really sure that I enjoy anything.

8.  Dissociation, feeling empty, or zoning out—CHECK.

Now, everyone zones out from time to time, but probably not to the same level that I do, and probably not for the same reasons.  Periods of high emotions can make me shut down at a cognitive level.  I become so preoccupied by the wave of emotion crashing over me that I can think of nothing else.  Sometimes, this is nice.  Like that first feeling of new love where my heart goes all aflutter.  That’s AWESOME.  But most of the time, it’s a negative emotion that has
my attention.  And that pretty much sucks.

Well, those are pretty much my life in a nutshell.  Sucks to be me sometimes, but not all of the time.  I gotta try to remember that.  Until next time.

Your bother in arms,

-Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)

Treating Borderline Personality Disorder

Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder

Signs and Symptoms of BPD

When is Depression Treatment Necessary?

We may wonder when depression treatment is needed

Depression and LonelinessThere is a variety of forms for depression treatment, and they can be used in a wide range of circumstances. All of us, from time to time, have periods where we are “low” emotionally. In some cases, these “blue periods” may be sufficiently intense to make us wonder whether or not we should avail ourselves to medical interventions.

There is no clear answer to the query. All of us have unique emotional compositions, and depression strikes different people in different ways. However, there are a few solid indicators we can reference in order to determine if our sense of sadness is a normal part of our healthy emotional range or an incident of depression warranting medical advice.

The first consideration is the severity of primary symptoms. If one is feeling a bit glum, that is a far cry from experiencing the sense of utter hopelessness often associated with cases of clinical depression. A mild twinge of the “blues” is significantly different in severity to having lost one`s zest for life and the ability to appreciate previously enjoyed activities. If symptoms are out of the ordinary, depression treatment may be required. Stated in clear terms: bad moods are normal. Depression is not.

Another factor to evaluate is the presence of additional symptoms. Rarely does depression only influence one`s moods. Those suffer from a diagnosable case of this mental illness, usually experiencing other symptoms. If feeling down is accompanied by changes in appetite or sleeping habits, a heightened sense of anxiety, or other commonly experienced depression symptoms, depression treatment may be justified.

One can easily search for a list of the many possible symptoms associated with depressive disorders online. If you are trying to fix your health or that of another, such information will not serve as a replacement for a professional opinion, but can provide you with valuable background information.

Finally, we should consider not only at symptoms and their severity, but also at their longevity. Many people will experience intense periods of situational depression that tend to dissipate over the course of a few weeks. Life`s challenges can be difficult, and shameful feelings in response to them are perfectly normal. However, if those feelings don`t begin to wane in a few weeks, one may want to consider depression treatment options.

The decision to seek professional help can be difficult. If you have any doubt in whether or not you or someone you know is experiencing actual depression, as opposed to a simple “bad mood,” you should act by caution and explore the possibility of treatment before simply assuming the situation will pass “on its own.”

Deciding whether or not seek medical guidance should be informed but must be cautious. Depression is an extremely serious medical disorder and should not be taken lightly. If any warning signs occur, it is perfectly reasonable to make an appointment to investigate depression treatment.