Each person with BPD is as different in thoughts, feelings, and action as those without this disorder. Those having BPD are not a “type” prone to all do the same things. Are there behaviors we are prone to because of BPD? The simple answer is yes. Is sexual promiscuity always present in BPD? No. I personally don’t believe that aspect is a BPD behavior, I feel like it is more often related to things that created the BPD disorder in the first place. Feelings such as emptiness felt by most sufferers, issues of abandonment, fear, low self esteem, invalidating environment and thoughts, shame etc., these are the BPD issues that I feel most likely lead to sexual promiscuity, cheating, and affairs in the disorder. Does that make it acceptable or excusable when these issues happen? Absolutely not, it may provide understanding as to what went wrong or why but it will never excuse it. Having a better understanding will help all involved heal, change behaviors, allow us to learn and have recognition, but it will never erase or stop the pain caused by falling on such a negative coping behavior. Those of us having BPD may be prone to promiscuity and other negative skills, but we can learn to change that.
This topic as many of you may know is close to my heart. I have tried to explain my past actions to myself, to my husband and to others. During my research I have seen through searches, in conversations with both of the sides affected, where the issue of affairs, cheating, and promiscuity with this disorder is common. I have seen where people not having the disorder describe those with BPD almost as sirens, capturing the interest and hearts of innocent victims, so we can chew them up and spit them out after we get some sick pleasure from tormenting them. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say I don’t feel that is accurate for most having BPD. Some lesser known disorders that could be the culprit for this behavior are; Histrionic personality disorder (HPD), or Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), to name a few. However, I am sure that there are a small number of men and women who have BPD that use the disorder to get away with or do things. This is true for many people with different illnesses and disorders as well.
At the end of the day I feel that it is a very small population which gives many with the disorder a bad name. I can also say in my case I never would have allowed what happened were I thinking and acting rationally. So what is my “excuse”? Did BPD cause me to have an affair? No, BPD did not make me cheat; I do believe some of the thinking and issues related to it made it more likely. I know the improper treatment I received at Prairie St. Johns in Fargo,ND played a huge part, over medication from their doctors LaWana M. Burtnett, M.D. and Natalya Bronson, M.D., as well as a lack of testing to find out exactly what was going on, and the best ways to treat it.
So what the heck happened? What can you do to prevent this in your life? And is there hope in a relationship or marriage with BPD, even after an affair? Well to start here is the situation I was in; I was called by my mother and given information that the man who had assaulted me for years when I was a child was suddenly alive, when I was told he had died. This created a huge sudden emotional shock. At the time this all happened I was pretty sure I had BPD but never had it diagnosed, I was diagnosed with Bipolar and other disorders, and knew I had issues, but I sure wish I had known about BPD. Learning that information set me off balance and I struggled to right myself. I spun into chaos and went for help at a recommended hospital (Prairie St. John’s). The hospital never tested me or they would have (probably) found that I had borderline personality disorder. I was officially diagnosed after this issue at an independent and reputable facility. The medications given to me were not recommended for people who also have BPD. Some of the medications caused emotional detachment and numbness. Things just went out of control from there.
Looking back there are many things I wish I knew, things I wish I could go back and change, and then the reality of accepting what has happened and where to go from here. I am currently not on any medications, instead I am using DBT and other therapy techniques. This is not possible for all those having this disorder, and should only be done with careful consideration, and under guidance and observation of your chosen mental health clinician. I have been working hard on learning skills, and my chosen coping mechanisms to live a much better life. So what can you or your loved ones do?
- Learn about the disorder(s) and what they will mean to you and your life. If you are a loved one or support person please find a support group or counselor for you too. You are going to have hard times, bad days, and questions in relation to these disorders as well. Find education groups such as NAMI’s Family to Family Classes
- Learn about situations that may trigger negative behaviors, perhaps to make a behavior journal so as you begin to have issues you can target people, places or activities to avoid or limit. Be aware of your friends and those you surround yourself with, be sure that most interactions are positive, encouraging, and with people who have your best interest in mind. Don’t be afraid to say enough is enough to a negative situation or people. Stand up for you!
- If you are married or in a permanently committed relationship that is healthy and safe. Meaning you are with a stable, safe person who cares about your well being. Or if you have a trusted friend or family member aware of your disorder and is willing to be your support and or emergency person, consider putting together a mental/medical power of attorney (please note the one listed here is an example and each state has its own form, you can usually find this through your states Attorney’s General office or their website) It is recommended to have two or three copies available one being in your car in case of emergency.
- Be honest about your needs, your feelings, or things that may be going on in your life that may feel overwhelming.
- Put together a list of counselors, psychiatrists, or any one you work with, a copy of your insurance information, any medication you may be taking and the dosages, a list of friends and family as well as contacts for them, and a list of emergency numbers such as the national suicide help line 1-800-273-8255, they also have an online chat available from 5 pm – 1 am eastern standard time Keep this information in an easy to access location, have a back up on your computer, and send one to your partner, a friend , or family member for easy access as well.
- Consider having a comfort bag or box for emergencies. Put in favorite books, teas (perhaps in plastic bags), scented candles, oils, bath products, lotions you find comforting, a journal for writing thoughts and feelings, a pen/pencil, your emergency contact list, comforting fabrics, and any other items you find comforting and helpful when you are under stress or sad. Place them in an easy to access location (I like to escape to my bathroom for example), if using DBT, perhaps some DBT skill cards and a copy list of pleasant events or perhaps this pleasant events schedule
These are just a few thoughts and ideas that I feel would be valuable in maintaining a healthy and happy life, as well as a relationship. I hope you find them helpful and are able to use them to improve your life. I much prefer being over prepared rather than under prepared, especially when it comes to mental health.