There is a lot of information out there about BPD (also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder – EUPD) these days in terms of its causes, symptoms, treatment and prognosis; far too much to talk about in a single blog post. So, for today, I wanted to write about the criteria for diagnosing BPD. To summarise, in my own words, they are:
- A pathological fear of abandonment.
- Intense and unstable interpersonal relationships.
- Unstable self-image.
- Impulsive and reckless behaviour.
- Suicidal ideation.
- Intense and rapid changes in mood.
- Chronic feelings of emptiness.
- Intense and difficult to control anger.
- Dissociative identity disorder symptoms.
In order to be diagnosed with BPD, you must meet at least 5 of these criteria. To a greater or lesser extent, I meet 7 of them. I don’t take part in impulsive or reckless behaviour (quite the reverse) and I don’t particularly get angry, or have problems controlling my temper (let’s all be grateful for that, shall we?). I’ve already talked about suicidal ideation in a previous post, so today I thought I would write about number 3 on the list – unstable self-image.
A classic manifestation of an unstable self-image might be someone regularly changing their clothes, appearance and beliefs in order to fit in with whoever they are around. A chameleon, if you will. This is not me. I have a strong sense of who I am and what I believe in. I don’t fold to social pressure. I can stand up to people. I don’t worry about what people think of me (which is not to say that I don’t value the opinions of those close to me). But somewhere, something has got broken. It is a rather more subtle and hard-to-explain feeling, but none-the-less, it is very disturbing for me. The best summary I can come up with is that I lack a linear narrative of myself through my life. A load of hippy crap, no? I think so. But it also happens to be true.
“Slate is a metamorphic rock. It is derived from shale or mudstone that has experienced intense heat or pressure beneath the earth’s surface. Slate is made up of parallel foliated plates. This gives it the ability to break smoothly and evenly along its cleavage.” (Clark, 2017).
In other words, slate can be quite hard, but it is brittle. It will fracture. If you hit it, layers of it will flake away. That seems to be what happens to me. Each time I experience a traumatic life event, a layer, a version of me gets left behind. I have to reinvent myself every time. Those previous versions of me are not me. I cannot relate to them or feel any connection to them. They do not belong to me. There are so many ghost-versions of me walking around still. I find them in the strangest places – places I have lived, places I visited as a child, the places I have worked, the places I associate with those I have loved. And I feel sad when I remember. Sad for the part of me that is lost. I wonder how many more layers I can lose. Like a photocopier low on toner, will each version of me be a little more faded, until I disappear entirely? I’m crying while I write this, but I don’t know why. It’s only a metaphor; I know it’s not real and it doesn’t really matter. But for some reason, it makes me inexpressibly sad. I find myself wondering if there is a way to regather those versions and unite them – the world is getting cluttered.
The reason this is pertinent this week, is that I bumped into an old ghost on Monday. On Monday I ticked off #5 – go back to work. So yeah, back to teaching (I work in an FE college). It was okay. Really. I got through the day. I saw colleagues (who are also friends). I did my work. I didn’t cry. I ate lunch. I maybe even enjoyed parts of it. It was hard though. Walking through those big, sliding doors, I saw another version of myself coming out. The version who was happy. A good teacher. Worthwhile. She had purpose, things to look forward to, enough sarcasm to drown a BTEC class. I liked her. I envied her. And then she was gone. I miss her.
Clark, S. (2017). The Characteristics of Slate. [online] eHow UK. Available at: http://www.ehow.co.uk/info_8199338_characteristics-slate.html [Accessed 30 Mar. 20