Tolerating Mysterious Behaviours in BPD
I am becoming frustrated with my understanding of my Borderline Personality Disorder.
I am a huge advocate of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy as a means of learning about, and managing BPD on a daily basis. I have spent several years learning the techniques and applying them regularly, and I am a particular fan of the logical approach to uncovering, and working through, the causes of the disorder. My entire philosophy has been that, in order to manage it, I have to understand it. In order to understand it, I have to know where it comes from. Otherwise, how am I going to recognise triggers and stop spirals before they start?
I think I understand a lot of it. I know why I have Borderline Personality Disorder, and I know why I have OCD and anxiety problems. Because I understand the causes, I know, in broad terms, what sets off a crisis for me. I am aware of the warning signs, and I know which techniques to apply to head it off at the pass. It’s still exhausting, and hard work, but I’m in a much better position than I was before I began to understand.
But, there are two ‘cause and effect’ situations that remain a total mystery:
- Specific sounds = rage
- Repetition = despair
Certain sounds enrage me instantaneously. And I don’t mean feelings of great irritation or frustration – I mean full-on, put-your-fist-through-the-wall, rage. Instantaneously. For example – and this may sound bizarre - I cannot be in the same room as someone eating cereal. Eat any other food in my presence, and it will not even register in my consciousness, but eat a bowl of cereal and it’s like flicking The Hulk Switch.
Now, obviously, that particular example is easy to manage – I just leave the room. Problem solved. But it bugs me, because it is such a specific reaction to a specific circumstance. Try as I might, I simply cannot figure out what the cause is. It frustrates me, because it means there is a part of my mind that is unknowable. It must have such a simple explanation, but I just don’t know what it is. I experience a similar reaction to the sound of car or motorbike engines ‘revving' - something I have less control over, clearly. I once lived next to an airport, and I can listen to aircraft engines all day – but ‘rev’ your BMW anywhere near me and I become a hulking rage-monster. Why is that?
The other thing I cannot fathom is my relationship with repetition, or routine. On the one hand, doing the same thing over and over again – for example, our household’s normal morning routine – drives me to despair. I’m not being overly-dramatic with my word usage there – I literally become overwhelmed with an intense feeling of hopelessness. I start the school term full of positive determination, and usually by day three, the monotony has ground me down. I simply have no tolerance for it. However, on the other hand, I need routine in order to function properly. During the school holidays, I enjoy the lack of routine for about three days, and then I lose all motivation descend into a period of low mood. Leaving the house at all becomes very difficult.
Despite trying to figure that one out for years, I still have no real explanation for it, so I attribute it to the contradictory nature of BPD – vehemently wanting something and not wanting it simultaneously. That allows me to accept it, and try to manage it. It’s quite a difficult one to manage, but I try to alleviate it by mixing things up a little – trying to create a balance between routine and no routine. Perhaps we’ll do one thing slightly different during the morning routine, while the overall process remains the same. Or, maybe we’ll plan to go somewhere on certain days during the holidays, but choose the destination the night before. It sounds obvious, but when your natural inclination is to become set in one extreme or the other, it's actually quite a difficult one to get your head around.
That approach – that ongoing quest for balance – is the general management approach that applies across the board for BPD. This disorder that creates extreme thinking and emotional dysregulation requires a constant search for the middle ground within oneself. Perhaps that explains my lack of tolerance for the mysterious behaviours. If I’m going to understand my behaviour, I have to understand all of it, immediately, or none at all. Anything in between just drives me nuts.