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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,


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

Dissociation, Flat Affect and Feeling Empty with BPD

What do Zen Buddhism and Borderline Personality Disorder have in common?

Zen Buddism and BPDNothing.  Not really.  But the whole “clear your mind and think of nothing” thing that Zen Buddhism claims can be a path of enlightenment?  Well, we’ve got something close, but much, much worse.

We can’t think of nothing, but we can become nothingness itself.

For me, this happens right on the heels of an abandonment incident.  I allow the other party to become such a part of me that when they leave, they take what was me with them.  I’m kind of in that sort of a state now.

“The Empties” as I like to call them are what your doctor will call “flat affect” or “dissociation.”  Basically, it’s a feeling of not being real.  When the Empties hit, we walk through life with expressionless faces.  We have no opinions on anything.  We eat only because our bodies tell us to, because food really has no flavor.  Movies, books, games, friends… none of them hold any real interest and none can hold our attention for long.

We drift like rotting logs in a fetid river, just going with the flow, remaining alive, but not really living.  Even zombies have it better, because they at least want something and seek to get it.  Not for us.  For us, life is over, or more to a point, life is on hold.

This is another time when we are likely to hurt ourselves.  Not because we want to escape our pain, but because we want the pain.  We want to feel something, anything again.  The thin red line drawn by a razorblade on a bicep or inner thigh is a source of comfort.

“I’m bleeding.  Only living things bleed.  Therefore, I am alive.”

That’s the mindset of self-injury… well, some of the time, anyway.  If you’re cutting yourself and hoping someone will notice, that’s a desire for attention.  If you’re cutting yourself deep and hoping to hit an artery, that’s a desire for peace.  If you’re cutting someplace no one will see and not deep enough to kill, that’s a desire for life.

Sick, isn’t it?  I’ve said it before.  You’ve got to hurt to heal.  But I promise you, self-injury isn’t the way to do it.

You see, your body isn’t where you need to hurt.  Your heart is where you need to hurt.  And I know how sick you are of hurting, my friends.  God, how I know!  But you’ve been hurting the wrong way.  You’ve been hurting in unproductive ways.  And you’ve been hurting alone.

It’s time you stopped.  It’s time you let the real hurting, and the real healing, begin.  And we’ll get to how to do that soon.  I promise.  But first, we’re going to make sure Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is really what fits.

Until next time, keep your chin off of the floor.  Rug burn isn’t attractive.

Your brother in arms,


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)

Borderline Personality Disorder and Zen Buddhism