People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or the latest name, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) experience this every day. Me too. Well maybe 67 seasons in one day is perhaps a slight exaggeration, but to leave at four, just doesn’t explain adequately what it is like. Unfortunately the Aussie/Kiwi combo of Crowded House weren’t willing to change their lyrics for me.
What I mean is that we can be all over the place in terms of our emotions and moods, and if you think it is hard for you to keep a track, it’s at a whole lot harder for the person. This song is about the emotional storms along with sunny times that normal relationships go through. Crowded House – Four Seasons In One Day Lyrics
I used to live in Auckland, New Zealand for a while (twice actually – once as a child and then as an adult). Auckland is NZ’s largest city and is a the place well known for having weather of four seasons in one day. Every day. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration too but it certainly feels like that when you live there. I was never sure what sort of clothes to wear, did I need a jacket or an umbrella? Or should I plan on heading to the beach? Actually probably all of those could be used in one day. But you get used to it. It helps if you have a car, but even so you can build contingency plans around the knowledge that the weather could do absolutely anything. And even if you get caught in the rain, it’s likely that it will pass and the sun will be back in half an hour.
So how does this relate to BPD? I’m only an expert as far as that I live with it. One of the first things we deal with are the extreme intensities of our emotions. One minute I can be happy, but the next I’m raging angry. For me, that anger is usually directed at myself but regardless of where it is directed, if you think it’s hard for you to handle, imagine what it is like for us. We don’t always know why the extreme change happens. It just does. There are times for me that I don’t actually realise what I’m feeling, until I open my mouth. Then it can all pour out and then it’s often too late to avoid damage.
My understanding (and please don’t take this as the textbook answer for everyone) is that it is because my feelings change as I try to know who I am, and that knowledge varies depending on who I am with, and where I am. As someone with BPD I also tend to be impulsive and while that has advantages in some situations, it also definitely has disadvantages. I can respond to something someone has said, or something that has happened without giving myself time to think it through first. This is something that I battle with regularly and am learning to pull myself back, and give myself time. But I admit it doesn’t always happen.
I end up being more than just one Cate. No, I don’t have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) but I do have lots of different parts of me. Actually I think we all do this, regardless of a diagnosis of BPD, but perhaps the BPD makes it more extreme.
I have a Cate who is fun with my nieces and nephews, but then my mother, who often sees another angrier Cate I call ‘Nasty Cate’, and she wonders where the change in me has come. She doesn’t always get the ‘Nasty Cate’ treatment, and also doesn’t understand the different Cate’s inside of me, so struggles to know what to expect from me. She doesn’t understand how I can be one person to her, and then a minute later be entirely different with L and her brothers.
I can be the same in the workplace. One minute I am compassionate Cate, there to help support clients, but I will change in an instant when I leave that client and go to a fellow staff member, whose opinion I don’t respect.
As an example a few years ago I was working with a man who had a physical disability which meant he often had urinary accidents and as a result tended to smell. He explained it to me one day and I was perfectly fine with helping to work out how our organisation could help him. While he was still with me another staff member came in and told him in no uncertain terms that the smell was not acceptable and he wasn’t to come to a meal there in that state. I was furious, and did all I could to make up for her hurtful words, but I never really forgave her for it and after that, she always got ‘angry (and if I admit it ‘slightly obnoxious) Cate’.
Eventually I found myself in a situation where ‘nice Cate’ got on really well with the clients and my bosses, but other staff got a different Cate. To cut a long story short, I ended up without a job but also with completely confused people wondering who all these different Cate’s were. I know I did nothing wrong in my dealings with the client, but not being able to be consistent with people I worked with cost me my job. I never told them it was perhaps related to BPD, but I know it was.
There are many Cate’s and to be honest I am sometimes fearful of some of them. I end up with one Cate who wants life and has hope, yet there is another Cate who wants death. That Cate continues to see suicide as a solution and a way out of everything, regardless of my attempts to rein her in.
It means that I having been posting lately about hope and feeling better as one Cate, but behind the computer screen there is another Cate (also in me) who is still set to destroy me. So who do you believe? Do you just decide that everything Cate says is lies?
None of it is lies. Every bit of it is genuinely felt by me, so please don’t just disregard what I say. The reason I am writing about this is because while it might be hard for you to comprehend, it is so much more difficult for me (and the others you know who have BPD). It’s at least 67 seasons in one day, although probably more.
I am really fortunate to have a great therapist who works with me on this, but it takes time. A lot of time (and money). But I really feel for those people with BPD who don’t have access to those resources. Without them, I’m pretty sure I know where I’d be. Imagine living with 67 seasons of weather in one day. Now try 67+ emotional states.
“I’m so good at beginnings, but in the end I always seem to destroy everything, including myself.”
Kiera Van Gelder, The Buddha and the Borderline
“Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.”
Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance
- Cautiously Optimistic (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Anything Other Than A Smile (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Happiness Is… (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Cate’s Crocodiles (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- BPD – Why It’s Hard To Talk About (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- All or Nothing Kind of Girl (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- You know you’re a Borderline when… – 10 signs you have BPD (showard76.wordpress.com)
- How to communicate with someone with BPD (showard76.wordpress.com)