A true Borderline Personality Disorder story
BPD – The likeable guy who suddenly isn’t
I once knew a man who I met through a friend. When I met him, she was already planning on marrying him so I could not say much of anything. He was an utterly likeable guy who was fun, fun-loving and an all-around joy to be near, but there was something I couldn’t understand.
My friend, due to her previous life experiences involving traumatic loss, was extremely opposed to anyone she loved being in the police service. Her fiancé had been a marine and had later gone into the military police. He had retired from the military and was working in his family business as the Vice President but had also grown his hair out, dressed in very casual clothing and loved race-cars. He swore “blind” that he would never enter the military or law enforcement again.
This fun-loving person with long hair, wearing tank tops and racing cars was the guy I met. He was also mechanically inept – couldn’t put a shelf on a wall or even put a barbeque grill together with instructions. After they had got married, my husband and another friend spent many hours doing “fix-it” work around their house – taking things such as grass spreaders and playground sets apart to put them back together correctly.
He was also very generous – spending money all the time for all and anyone around. He would take 15 people to see a rock concert or a hockey game, bought the boys new video game systems and video games every weekend, bought garden supplies, supplies to put in a backyard kiln after my friend had said she thought she might want to make a pot, had a pool installed, bought a go-cart and mini-bike for the boys, $3000 vacuum cleaner… He traded her car in for a new, better, bigger car at least once a year, sometimes after only a few months. They were not in financial distress, but he was never concerned with how much money he spent.
I could never reconcile the goofball man with long hair and a beard who used to be a marine and an MP.
Fast forward a few years. One day, my friend called me, totally hysterical because she came home to find him with a military style haircut, wearing a police uniform with guns and all – preparing to go to a part-time job that he had gotten with a police department in a small town nearby, having done all this in secret. He swore it was only part-time because they needed the extra income (which they didn’t).
For several months, she expressed her extreme displeasure, fear, hatred. Each time I would drive to their house, I would think, “What are the police doing here?”
Then I would remember that it was his patrol car.
Fast forward a few more months. He is now working full-time as a cop – even though he promised it would only be part time. She hates it. He is also starting to exhibit bizarre behavior, restrictive rules for the kids, can’t keep from calling her every 10 minutes – even while he is at work, even while she is grocery shopping or picking up kids from school.
Tensions rise, arguments ensue, culminating in an episode involving him threatening to shoot himself in front of the 10 year old who runs from the house in his underwear to hide at the neighbors.
He eventually calms down and suggests that they need marital counseling – that she needs “help.” Of course, he says it is “her” that needs help, and he is only going for her problems.
They go to the counseling where the therapist disagrees with his idea that the core issue is her problem. They are both referred to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnoses him with Borderline Personality Disorder – giving him medication and recommends extended therapy. The psychiatrist gives her a prescription for situational anxiety disorder – as she is having intermittent panic attacks due to his behavior. He recommends that my friend go to therapy to deal with her emotions surrounding the family issues and for their son to go to therapy to deal with the fact that his father flips out.
She decides to stay – based on his agreement to take medications and go to therapy. Which he does not. He does not believe the therapist or the physician were correct.
He then tells her that she needs to go to all of his police and wives functions – and makes plans to join the State Police Controlled Substances Crime division – sponsored by the governor. Another episode involving a mental breakdown and a couple of loaded firearms occurs.
She puts her kid in the car – and leaves a beautiful home with a pool and all the money she could want, in order to escape. He calls and calls and appears not to understand what happened, blaming the whole situation on her paranoia. She never goes back and now lives as a single mom in a low-rent housing unit without financial assistance from him. Apparently this is much better than dealing with him.
This man, my goofball friend – turned into a raving nutcase and likely it was not the first time (or the last time) he had done so. He went back to his former wife to marry her for the third time.
Years later, we still get “restricted number” phone calls from him – for no apparent reason other than to check up on her.
Until this experience, I always thought that Borderline Personality Disorder was a fairly benign thing – they were secret manipulators but relatively innocuous – along the same lines as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is irritating but not dangerous. Now I know that is not true, Borderline Personality Disorder, also known as “Emotionally Unstable” Personality Disorder is a real and valid psychiatric disorder that should be treated.
It is characterized by:
• Occupational – Economic issues such as a sudden shift in career field cue to sudden changes in values, self-opinion
• Separation anxiety and abandonment issues
• Suicidal behavior
• Multiple separations or divorces
• Unstable, intense close relationships are vacillating with extreme anger
• Harmful impulsiveness – including spending, reckless driving, thrill-seeking
• Physical Violence
• Chronic feelings of boredom which may contribute to impulsive activities
The National Institute of Mental Health says that Borderline Personality disorder is likely to last for many years and may be subject to relapse of symptoms which remiss but those core symptoms such as highly changeable moods and impulsive behavior will likely continue.