Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens - the Symptons and Signs

The Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

 One can find information online about the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder and generally, the descriptions are similar.  The causes and treatment of such are not agreed upon.  Basically, Borderline Personality Disorder is marked by emotionally instability.  Inside of this core of instability is a sense of abandonment, which is over arching and persistent.  The behavior is marked by a lack of impulse control characterized by over spending, bad driving, sexual promiscuity, self harm --including cutting, substance abuse, and eating disorders. We have experienced a bit of all of that. 

 An Assertive and Clever Child

 Our daughter had signs of being a different drummer forever, really.  She was loud, smart, confident, and bold from the onset.  She talked constantly at an early age.  She learned to walk at eight months, which made her a toddler at 12 months and totally not in the same category as my friends' 12 month old babies.  She started in the Toddler Room at the preschool at 24 months; she walked in and punched every child in the room.  She needed to move to preschool at 30 months as she was more appropriate with older kids -- more assertive, bolder, and yes, intelligent.  She was never a behavior problem or the rebel without a cause.  When she started reading and writing at four, it seemed ridiculous to make her wait a year to start kindergarten -- especially since she had met the criteria to graduate from kindergarten.  Two different teachers urged me to start her in kindergarten early and it was a relief.  She was much happier learning and doing more.  She was not off the charts brilliant, I don't think, but she was clearly bright.

 Alone in a Crowd

 Throughout grade school and middle school, she had friends.  But she also did not fit in very well, mostly in a good way.   She read voraciously.  She was independent in her thinking.  She would never bully or join in the typical girl meanness.  She was often and most generally the favorite among her teachers.  She was rule oriented and organized.  While she had friends those friendships were often short lived or shallow or changing and she spent a fair amount of time alone. 

 Trouble Starts

 In middle school, she came to me, her mother, to tell me she had been cutting herself.  It was completely shocking for me as I could not imagine such a thing.  Did she learn this from someone at school? Was she unhappy?  This started 8 years of (worthless) therapy, where she and therapists managed to circumvent any progress.  And the other symptoms popped up, just as we got one thing under control, another would start.  She was and is a bad driver -- weird that that could be a symptom.  And she had some bouts with eating disorders - bulimia - which I successfully treated with intense work outs with a trainer, since she was an excellent athlete.  She was never good with a budget but that got worse in college.  She managed to avoid substance abuse in high school but got roped into alcohol in college.  

 Easier to Bop the Impulse Problems Than You'd Imagine

 So scary bouts with cutting and bulimia were easier to treat than imaginable -- perhaps because we were early.  I think really that because it is basically an impulse control issue and not an addiction as yet, it is easier to play whop-a-mole than one would think.  If it becomes an addiction, however, the lack of impulse control and the tendency toward emotional instability makes successful treatment difficult.  Leading me to believe that this is the type of person one would classify as having an addictive personality.  Early intervention, which may just be a conversation about the issue, is essential.  And, somewhat dangerous as your patient will likely react badly.  Don't worry - such fits end.

 Why is she like this?

I spent an enormous amount of time with her daily when she was young, as I knew she was a bit apart and needed attention.  For the rest of my life, some idiot will tell me or infer that her mother did not love her or was not close and that is why this started.  I can tell you with 100% surety that that is not the case.  I had her tested for learning differences and the researcher said she was very bright.  I changed schools, changed sports, and thought of ways for her to get engaged with friends, clubs, and activities.   She was successful in academics, competitions, sports, and in groups.  While she definitely has trouble with relationships, she does have long term relationships, which is a very good sign.

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