Like every other movement working against stigma, pride is a powerful primary tool. Self-acceptance comes first.
I am more than my _____
BY LAUREN DIAZ | NOVEMBER 19, 2015, 11:50 AM
“How about I hold up a sign that says, ‘I AM MORE THAN MY BPD?’”
“How about you don’t?”
This is a brief exchange I had with myself at the 2015 photo campaign for Active Minds at Columbia University, entitled “My Mental Health Matters.” The table was littered with an array of paper signs to choose from, but I was drawn to the one with the blank. This could have been my coming out, but the stigma-fearing answer was “no.” I put down the sign and grabbed a new one that read “NO SHAME”. I smiled for the picture. I tried to look pretty, tried to look normal, but the words I held up were a lie.
On October 9, 2015 I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Fear of abandonment, unstable and intense relationships, lack of a sense of self, dissociation, impulsive behavior, self-harm, suicidal gestures–it goes on and on. I fit the profile, but this did not upset me much, since doctors had shared their suspicions with me for some time now. As a matter of fact, I was relieved. “Yes,” I thought, “I finally get to put a name to the thing. Put a name to the thing, control the thing”.
After speaking with my doctor and doing my own research, it became clear that BPD was “the bad one” that you didn’t want to get slapped with. It was the disorder no one liked to talk about, except implicitly in horror movies. I am the woman in “Single White Female,” “Fatal Attraction,” “The Roommate,” and many more disturbing stories of psychotic women. Or rather, they are caricatures of me. I am not a murderous, manipulative, or obsessive stalker. I and many other borderlines would be more likely to hurt ourselves out of pure emotional pain rather than hurt someone else.
BPD is inherently complex and misunderstood, and so are Borderlines. Aspiration-driven Columbia pretends to be open and accepting of mental illness, but how often is this really addressed and publicized, and does it truly cover a wide enough spectrum? We are growing more comfortable addressing depression openly, but unfortunately, BPD is categorized as a personality disorder, not a mood disorder. These we are less comfortable with. The assumption is that these people are intrinsically screwed up. They are crazy and volatile to the very core and fit neatly into a box provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This false belief is ultimately damaging.
People with drug use disorder were much more likely to have psychiatric illnesses, the researchers reported in JAMA Psychiatry, as they were… 1.8 times as likely to have borderline personality disorder, when compared to people without drug abuse.
Ten Percent of Adults Have a Drug-Use Disorder in Their Lifetime
A survey of American adults revealed that drug-use disorder is common, co-occurs with a range of mental health disorders and often goes untreated. The study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, found that about 4% of Americans met the criteria for drug use disorder in the past year and about 10 percent have had drug use disorder at some time in their lives.
A diagnosis of drug-use disorder is based on a list of symptoms including craving, withdrawal, lack of control, and negative effects on personal and professional responsibilities. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer uses the terms abuse and dependence. Instead, DSM-5 uses a single disorder which is rated by severity (mild, moderate, and severe) depending on the number of symptoms met. Individuals must meet at least two of 11 symptoms to be diagnosed with a drug-use disorder.
Considering some of the unique aspects of psychopathic language, it might be possible to detect the psychopath in online environments where information is exclusively text based.
The Language of Psychopaths
New Findings and Implications for Law Enforcement
By Michael Woodworth, Ph.D.; Jeffrey Hancock, Ph.D.; Stephen Porter, Ph.D.; Robert Hare, Ph.D.; Matt Logan, Ph.D.; Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.; and Sharon Smith, Ph.D.
For psychopaths, not only a lack of affect but also inappropriate emotion may reveal the extent of their callousness. Recent research suggested that much can be learned about these individuals by close examination of their language. Their highly persuasive nonverbal behavior often distracts the listener from identifying their psychopathic nature. For example, on a publically available police interview with murderer and rapist Paul Bernardo, his powerful use of communication via his hand gesturing is easily observable and often distracts from his spoken lies. The authors offer their insights into the unique considerations pertaining to psychopaths’ communication.
Robert Pickton, convicted of the second-degree murder of six women in December 2007, initially was on trial for 26 counts of first-degree murder. He once bragged to a cellmate that he intended to kill 50 women. Details provided in court revealed brutal and heinous murders that often included torture, degradation, and dismemberment of the victims. The authors opine that Mr. Pickton probably would meet the criteria for psychopathy, a destructive personality disorder that combines a profound lack of conscience with several problematic interpersonal, emotional, and behavioral characteristics.
People with BPD often experience instantaneous shifts in their attitude toward people close to them, veering from idealization (love and admiration) to devaluation (anger and dislike).
Borderline personality disorder triggers turmoil and rage
by Gail Johnson
For as long as she can remember, 26-year-old Tannis Jackson has found herself routinely slipping into fits of rage. After one particularly bad day at work, she became so infuriated she made her own head bleed
“I remember being so angry I pulled out two fistfuls of hair and smashed my head against the wall,” Jackson tells the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “There was no other way to express how I felt.”
Jackson (who requested anonymity), who works in a health-care field in the Interior, didn’t know why she couldn’t control her everyday emotions. She just knew that the most minor conflict would aggravate her delicate state of mind, leading to explosive outbursts. Imagine a cup of water filled to the rim: when everything is going smoothly, the water stays still and calm. But any slight disruption, such as a disagreement, has an effect like a tsunami, making the water churn and spill over, with devastating consequences.
“I wasn’t able to cope with anything,” she explains. “I would have temper tantrums, and I would take things out on myself. If I had a bad day at work, I figured everything was my fault. Every day was a struggle.”
People with BPD often experience instantaneous shifts in their attitude toward people close to them, veering from idealization (love and admiration) to devaluation (anger and dislike). Although people suffering from depression typically endure the same low mood for weeks, those with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, sadness, or anxiety that last just hours.
They often feel misunderstood or mistreated and lack a sense of identity. They might make desperate attempts to avoid being alone and act impulsively, spending excessive amounts of money or having risky sex. They can come across as manipulative, controlling, unwilling to change, and attention-seeking.
As his presidential campaign trundles forward, millions of sane Americans are wondering: What exactly is wrong with this strange individual? Now, we have an answer.
Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!
BY HENRY ALFORD
For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”
That mental-health professionals are even willing to talk about Trump in the first place may attest to their deep concern about a Trump presidency. As Dr. Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the master’s of bioethics program at Columbia University, pointed out, the American Psychiatric Association declares it unethical for psychiatrists to comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments. This so-called Goldwater rule arose after the publication of a 1964 Fact magazine article in which psychiatrists were polled about Senator Barry Goldwater’s fitness to be president. Senator Goldwater brought a $2 million suit against the magazine and its publisher; the Supreme Court awarded him $1 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.
But you don’t need to have met Donald Trump to feel like you know him; even the smallest exposure can make you feel like you’ve just crossed a large body of water in a small boat with him. Indeed, though narcissistic personality disorder was removed from the most recent issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for somewhat arcane reasons, the traits that have defined the disorder in the past—grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one’s superiority; a lack of empathy—are writ large in Mr. Trump’s behavior.
“He’s very easy to diagnose,” said psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan. “In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He’ll do anything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. ‘You’re fired!’ would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants.” Michaelis took a slightly different twist on Trump’s desire to deport immigrants: “This man is known for his golf courses, but, with due respect, who does he think works on these golf courses?”
We didn’t know how to help. Those six words resonate strongly and seem to be commonplace when discussing mental health, especially in family circles. From personal experience, it’s an emotionally draining and frustrating occurrence.
“We Didn’t Know How To Help”
Increased awareness critical when supporting a loved one with mental illness
BY MIKE STILLON
NOVEMBER 10, 2015
Mental illness has historically been a difficult topic for discussion, for such reasons as a lack of knowledge of its effects or the naive belief that it’s a rarity even in today’s society.
Unfortunately, due to this rationale, public awareness isn’t as high as it could be. This is especially problematic for families who have a loved one struggling with their mental health.
As an example, in September 2014 I had a panic attack for the first time. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life, as I had no control over my body and no idea what to do next. Thankfully, my roommate at the time was there to help me through.
Not even two weeks later I had another panic attack, but this time I was alone. Scared and concerned for my safety, I turned to the only people I could think of that could help – my family.
Struggling for breath, I trekked down to my old home and crashed through the front door. By that time I could barely see, and proceeded to faint in the hallway.
When I woke up, I expected to be on a bed with my mother and father consoling me. That wasn’t the case. Instead, dazed and confused, the first thing I heard was their laughter.
It was during that evening that I realized something was wrong, and that mental health awareness needed to be a more prominent topic of discussion within families going forward.
The main thing that resonated with me was that my roommate knew exactly what to do when I was struggling, yet my family did not.