splitting in BPD
Since May is Borderline Personality Awareness month, I thought I would do another post about BPD. The first post I ever released back in November was about my experience with BPD and how my life has changed since discovering the illness and how its effected me. This post is going to be focused on splitting which is something that a lot of people with BPD suffer with and I will be giving you some more detail on what splitting is and how this way of thinking affects my life.
Split thinking / splitting is not having the ability to access a full range of thoughts and feelings, this results in having equally extreme but opposite “black and white” thinking. Good / bad, love / hate, pass / fail, right / wrong, valued / worthless, always /never, complete fact/ complete lie etc. During the day, these extremes can flip back and fourth without any warning or reason. It is considered a defence mechanism by which people with BPD can view people in all or nothing terms. Splitting tends to interfere in relationships, it often leads to self destructive behaviours. With splitting there is no middle ground, no grey area. Splitting has became a way that my mind has tried to protect itself, if I perceive any sort of threat to myself, my mind goes into cutting them out of my life, cutting off all emotional attachments to the threat itself rather than to try and address the problem rationally.
Splitting is extremely intense, I often find myself completely overwhelmed with anger towards someone, or utterly obsessed with the love I feel for someone. Many times people around me tell me to just ‘chill out’ or ‘calm down’ but often they do not realise quite how difficult that can be for someone with BPD. I get deep rages of anger, and extreme floods of lust. It’s like you can either be my best friend, or my worst enemy. Of course, there is a rational part of my mind that tells me to try and ignore these intense feelings, but often my emotions are far too strong, and completely overpower my ability to think with reason. Splitting is often a reaction to the fear of abandonment, if you have read my previous blog posts you would know that a very big schema of mine is the abandonment schema. The idea of being rejected is too painful for me to handle, it’s much easier to just convince myself that person was toxic and evil. Being highly sensitive to rejection often causes you to overreact to real or perceived rejections.
People with BPD often have little awareness of their own emotional needs, which is also often a result of the fear of abandonment. Usually, and I myself, have definitely experienced this, you get an attachment to one particular person, your “favourite person.” This results in you being extremely, and in most cases too dependant on that person, for happiness and support. This person is put on a pedestal and is completely idolised in a way that no one really should be. This can be dangerous because seeing as sufferers of BPD feel emotions so intensely, if something happens that conflicts with that idealised view, perhaps it be a fight with your boyfriend / girlfriend, a harsh comment from a friend, or anything along them lines, it can mean you go straight from idolisation to devaluation. Its such a quick and sudden movement which may lead you to believe that there was nothing good about that person or situation. It is possible that the relationship or past could be seen as ideal again, but often that negative view will always remain present.
Splitting has effected a lot of my relationships and friendships. It is the classic “I hate you, don’t leave me.” But it also has effected the relationship I have with myself. Almost every day, I have extreme thoughts of, “I love myself, I’m beautiful, I’m great” and “I am disgusting, I hate everything about myself, I am a bad person, I don’t deserve to be alive”. I know that sounds extreme, but that is exactly what it is. Whenever I am feeling particularly low or bad about myself, I lose all ability to think rationally about the positive qualities that I have. The emotional attachment to the good parts of myself becomes non existent. All I see are my flaws, a bad person who deserves to be punished, someone that isn’t and will never be good enough. Splitting majorly reinforces feelings of shame.
Often sufferers of BPD are always in defence mode. Almost preparing for when the next person is going to hurt them, betray them, or abandon them. So by splitting, I am almost assigning a radical and extreme meaning to whatever reaches me from the outside world so that I can always be one step ahead in protecting myself from getting hurt. For example, and this has happened to me before, I’ve seen someone that I know in public, and either waved or said hi, and been ignored. In my head that results in, that person being an absolute twat. Realistically, and what actually happened, was that the person didn’t see me. Perhaps they are busy rushing off somewhere, didn’t have their glasses on etc, however in my mind it automatically goes to the extreme, that person doesn’t like me, they don’t want to speak to me, which then leads on to well they aren’t worthy of my time, I wont try and speak to them again. This is all just another example of how I use splitting as a way of avoiding getting hurt.
So thats about it on splitting, it’s extremely intense, it’s destructive, and it’s certainly something I am working on. It takes a lot of hard work to try and drag yourself away from all these chaotic thoughts in your mind when splitting occurs, and to try and stay with your healthy mind rather than letting your mind run to the extremes. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope if you know anyone who suffers with BPD, you can try and empathise with them if you have noticed perhaps they have experienced this to. We are not monsters, we are human beings who are extremely emotionally sensitive. I have irrational thinking, and impulsive behaviours and sometimes make sabotaging life choices. I am a roller coaster of emotions every single day, but I am a good person, and I will get better.