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26 February 2007

This thread got me to thinking.. There seems to be so much 'run away now' in context of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Probably for good reason. But what is someone who has the disorder to do? They've got the right to seek companionship, family life and success as much as anybody else - and, ironically, therapists and counselors are quite discriminatory against people with this diagnosis![More:]
Cognitive therapy/dialectical therapy is not available to everyone everywhere. What is someone with a BPD diagnosis to do? Try to manage their condition and educate their loved ones, for sure. But how should such a person go about trying to seek love in their life? Is it unethical to try to seek love and companionship?
personality disorders are very hard to treat right now; there aren't enough drugs, there isn't enough research, and there just isn't enough knowledge or skills around to teach people how to handle the symptons of their disorder.

BPD's can, and only if it's very minor, barely manage their condition. It's not like depression or bi-polar or other mental illnesses that you can use drugs/thearpy/support groups to help with.

also, you need to realize that love and companionship for a person with BPD is vastly different idea and concept for a person without BPD. the ideas of equality, kindness, treating each other with respect, understanding, tolerance, etc etc that are all associated with love and companionship aren't on the radar for people with BPD. i've seen people with BPD find stable relationships with others with similar problems but these things rarely work out well. i'm not saying that they don't deserve or shouldn't be allowed to try and obtain love but that it will be rare and i doubt it will be in any form that a 'normal' person would be able to understand or relate too.
posted by stynxno 26 February | 12:14
Okay, stynxno, so what should such a person do? Seriously, not being combative here. Should they seek healing, even though it may never come? Should they stay away from others until a certain benchmark? What benchmark and how do they get there?

I see a lot of dehumanising thinking in that thread, is all.
posted by By the Grace of God 26 February | 12:17
Is it unethical to try to seek love and companionship?

No, but nor is it unethical to use information to premptively preserve your sanity. Years ago, me and pips had friend who, to my layperson's eye, was a classic BPD and a drinker and drug abuser, too. She almost moved in with us permanently, but her weird behavior over just a week made us very relieved when she decided not to.

I see a lot of dehumanising thinking in that thread, is all.

you ever heard the espression 'it's was me or him?' In psychic survival terms right now, when it comes to Borderlines, and anti-social personality disorder people, that's what it comes down to. Getting involved is contraindicated for self-preservation.
posted by jonmc 26 February | 12:20
what they should do is not something i can tell. there are things i'd like them to do. i would like to seek healing, to try to get better...but what is better? what would be better for them? can they even perceive what 'better' means? some can, some can't depending on the level of illness.

people are saying 'run' because a normal, relatively mentally healthy and stable individual will not be able to mentally handle being in a relationship with this type of person. the amount of sacrifice required, the amount of mental strength and hardness would render the development of love for this person non-existent. it's not dehumanising thinking - it's realizing that they don't think in the same method/manner/or way that a normally healthy individual does. and preparing oneself to be able to handle that would make the relationship unequal and unhealthy.

more research needs to be done in BPD and i support that. but so little is being done now because the brain is so complex, the treatement for each individual suffering BPD would probably have to be tailored - and how many companies (and pharmacuticals are profit driven) want to invest millions of dollars to help with 1 patient? they'll never recoup their invesment or make any profit.
posted by stynxno 26 February | 12:29
To clarify, I think that it's perfectly good advice for that person to run away. It's a month relationship, for Pete's sake. :) My beef is with the dehumanisation of people with BPD in the thread.

Also, the question comes up: What happens to people who can't get completely better? There are no sanatoria for such people - they're here in society and they're people, a part of society. What's the most polite, respectful way for them to live in society?
posted by By the Grace of God 26 February | 12:40
That's the $64,000 Question, since the inability to live politely and respectfully is part and parcel of their illness.
posted by jonmc 26 February | 12:47
My ex husband was diagnosed with BPD.
It made a lot of sense.
It was why he would promise to stay clean, and then find a way to make it my fault he didn't. It was why he did, well, a lot of the things he did.

And I stayed with him LONGER because of it. Because then it became not just "god, I'm married to this junkie who lies, cheats, and steals from me" but rather "he has an illness, it's outside his control, it would be cruel and wrong to leave someone because they're SICK."

Eventually I realized it was him or me. I'd gained over 100 pounds in three years. I was starting to hurt myself. I was sleeping two, maybe three hours a night and sick constantly because of it. I'd lost all my friends, and my family was starting to distance themselves.
So I left. Because I realized it would never change. That my entire life had gone from bad to worse, and could only go further down. That I was basically going through living hell every second of every day, and looking forward to things either staying the same or getting even worse.

Yeah, everyone deserves a chance at happiness and love and so on. But when someone is suffering from a disorder that pretty much compells them to manipulate every person around them and go on self-destructive streaks, well, their seeking love tends to ruin the lives of anyone they end up with.
posted by kellydamnit 26 February | 13:06
My sister-in-law had been diagnosed with BPD. My wife thought she was mostly done with it, and then around Christmas time we found out she and her husband are getting divorced.

Since that news, it's followed with bizarre behavior, basically moving in with a guy after she knew him 1-2 weeks and then already talking about marrying him. She went from a mostly normal husband, to a boyfriend who is incredibly goth and devoted to paganism.

I'd like her to be happy, as much for my wife's sanity as hers, but I'm not sure what anyone can do.
posted by drezdn 26 February | 13:36
Well, from the viewpoint of a crazy person, here goes:

I suspect, from my behaviors back when I was young, that I used to have borderline. (I definitely do NOT now, per two shrinks and one therapist.) I also have a sister in law, a friend, and a former friend (former because she moved and disappeared) with the disorder.

What they all (and I ) had in common are the emotions of the disorder. However, the actions that a person with this chooses to do make a big difference. One friend (the friend that I have now) is actually pretty pleasant most of the time even tho she still struggles. The other friend was hell on earth to most people-but I got along with her fine (the key was I wouldn't put up with crap but she knew as I was setting the boundary that I was not rejecting her. She didn't always appreciate the boundary but she dealt with it. Meanwhile my s-i-l is married to an unstable bipolar who is much more ill than me and has her own problems-but her marriage has lasted for years.

So, I think the key is each person with this disorder is an individual and it is okay to hold them accountable for their behavior. From what I understand there are also books and web resources for borderlines who want help but cannot afford therapy. I do believe there are some borderlines that are so totally toxic that any relationship with them would be pure hell and should be avoided at all costs.

I do feel pity and empathy for these people-I KNOW how much they hurt-but they simply have to learn that their emotions cannot dictate their behaviors. I know just how hard that is from personal experience, but it has to be done.
posted by bunnyfire 26 February | 14:13
OK, ah, er. In the linked AskMe I mentioned a couple I know that went though this. I will say here, where there are slightly less members that the couple in question is myself and my wife. 13 years of marriage, she has/had... whatever... BPD and at times it was very hard, we even spent some time apart because of it. But, as others have mentioned the boundaries issue help a lot, as well she knew her problems and wanted to change them, and has managed to do so for quite a long time now. As mentioned in the other thread, the things that made it bearable for me was not only the boundaries, but the insistence that she continue to make the effort to improve her situation better, and she has. People are right when they say that mental illness is not an either/or thing. There are degrees.
Responsibility, boundaries, effort, the ability to remove the emotions of the moment, these and much more hard work is what works (for some at least).
From my perspective, at this time and place, I am glad to be married to this lady, I love her and I think we complement each other well.
I can not find fault with people who are unable to deal with the associated behaviors many people with BPD exhibit.
Beyond almost anything else I wish there was effective treatment for those with SPMI, beyond medication. It can be a disability that is much more cruel than the standard visible disabilities, the sheer transgressive nature of associated behaviors with someone who is manic, or depressed, or schizoid, or... means that not only is the illness a personal calamity but an intense social one as well.

-bah- sorry so long.
posted by edgeways 26 February | 16:13
"Don't date crazy people." This sort of advice is driving me batshit insane.

It's been on AskMeFi a couple of times recently, but I've also seen it elsewhere on the interwebs, and ... dude! We're all freakin' crazy. Just because we've been diagnosed (which, generally, is a good thing because it means we're getting help) doesn't mean we're undatable.

I myself am certifiably insane and have spent a few days in the booby hatch in the past. But there's crazy and then there's crazy, and you can't tell on the internet which kind of crazy we're talking. It's just not fair to put a blanket ban on dating the crazies.

Because really, honestly, do you know anyone who is sane? I don't. I don't think I ever have. And if I did, I'd find that person very boring and scary and probably more crazy than the rest of us combined.

I'm just glad I'm in a long-term relationship so I don't have to worry about this nonsense.

End rant.
posted by brina 26 February | 20:33
"Don't date crazy people."

Speaking as a crazy person, I would have to agree. I wouldn't want to date me.
posted by dersins 26 February | 20:39
I wonder how a couple with BPD would do. Would they negate each other's BPD or make it worse? I guess worse, but I wonder if it's been done.
posted by deborah 26 February | 20:41
I myself am certifiably insane and have spent a few days in the booby hatch in the past. But there's crazy and then there's crazy, and you can't tell on the internet which kind of crazy we're talking.

dude, if you know you're nutso (like me), then you've taken responsibility and you're fine. you're nutso, but you're not even nutso. don't date idiots who are freakin' bananas and refuse to even admit it.


also, it's a crazy world. if you're sane in this world, you're obviously bugfuckin' insane.
posted by shane 26 February | 21:05
I've told men and women, "Don't date the crazies" before, and I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way. Really. I usually say it when someone comes to me all pissed off/crying/whatever because their boyfriend/girlfriend has done something "completely inexplicable". My point is usually that if you can't talk to your girlfriend/boyfriend about your relationship problems because they completely scare you/have you under their thumb/threatened to call the cops, then maybe that's not a healthy relationship for either of you.
posted by muddgirl 26 February | 21:13
what do you mean by dehumanizing? or can you provide an example?

i see a lot of similarity in questions like "should i date someone with bpd?" with "should i date a [x]?" where x =

- abusive heroin junkie
- polygamist
- former child actor/actress
- republican
- someone who is cruel to animals
- cannibal
- convicted child molester or rapist
- etc

that's not to say that all of these people are equally undateable, unhuman, and are unworthy of being loved or whatever. yet, there are some people who are just... not really good dating material. i guess no one ever said natural selection was "fair". thankfully, however, jesus loves all of us.
posted by Wedge 26 February | 23:47
Wedge, you just provided an excellent example of "dehumanizing" by comparing someone with a legitimate medical diagnosis to a cannibal, rapist or republican.

posted by dersins 26 February | 23:53
But Jesus right off the bat said he wasn't dating anyone.

Knowing if you are the crazy person should be a prerequisite to dating.
It generally sucks to find out during for both parties, and it cuts down on those "No, you're crazy." "No, you." fights.
posted by ethylene 26 February | 23:53
Btw, you are the crazy person.
All of you.
posted by ethylene 26 February | 23:55
Well, to be fair, questions like that will always be answered in this way on an internet forum, or by anyone sufficiently removed from the situation because there no other logical answer.

Consider the question "I am looking at two cars, one is used, the other one is new. The used one needs some body work, but I really, really like it. The new one gets very good gas mileage."

Everyone would say go with new car, of course. But what if the used car was a rare classic with only 1,000 miles on it? It becomes more complicated. Anytime someone asks "should I go for/stick with X imperfect thing?" pretty much everyone answers, "No! You deserve better!" - but I think a lot of that has to do with the idea that we can all get the perfect job/education/relationship/house/child if we just work hard enough at it. Nobody wants to admit that the perfect life is really probably not attainable, and that pretty much every choice we make involves compromise and a shifting of goals.

If you look at the person you love right now, and imagined them "crazy" tomorrow, would you stay or would you go? You have a history, a shared life, etc., so you would stay. You would stay as long as you could, anyway, and try to deal with the problem in any way you could. Because you don't love people because they "aren't crazy". Crazy people aren't merely the sum of their diagnoses - they are much, much more, and one can indeed fall in love with someone despite a mental disorder, and in the end prefer that choice over a less tumultuous relationship, depending on who you (and they) are and what you want/need. That's the way real life works, but there's no way an internet forum can address all the issues involved in such a thing.

But are you going to tell your pal, acquaintance, coworker, cousin, or the person who delivers the pizza, "Hey, you're thinking of dating a loon? Hells, yeah! Go for it! I'm sure it will turn out okay!" Er, probably not.
posted by taz 27 February | 01:38
Waittaminute....I'M a Republican! Married to one!
posted by bunnyfire 27 February | 08:50
You know what? Worrying about what the borderline person is supposed to do is completely pointless. They're supposed to behave like civil, responsible members of society, just like the rest of us. That's what they ought to do.

But they don't and won't. That's why it's a disorder. They're going to do just as they please, which is to say they're going to make a lot of heartache for everyone around them.
posted by ikkyu2 28 February | 21:19
Surgical success linked to skill at video games || Career Counseling Question