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Author Topic: FAQ: How should I explain "personality disorder" to friends?  (Read 7266 times)
CKYMargera00

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« on: October 12, 2007, 10:23:59 AM »

How do people manage to have actual relationships with friends and family when their living with a partner that has a PD? Something always seems to happen to cause a rift in most of the friendships that I have because of my husband. I have such a hard time explaining his PD’s to my friends. He causes problems with them because either A. he doesn’t like them and he makes it very clear or B. he ends up starting some sort of game with them and they get hurt in the long run (not physically, but emotionally). Or he causes problems and tries to turn them against me and get them on his “side”

I mean after being with someone for seven years, talking to therapists, doctors, counselors, reading books, I have no clue how I am going to explain it to them.  And if I do, one of three scenarios usually happen:

  • When they hear PD, they freak. The first thing they think of is Hannibal Lector. At that point there is no way to get past that thought.


  • They somehow, end up throwing it in my face or twisting my words, and put it on me.


  • They don’t understand it.  Usually when that happens, it’s the best scenario out of the three-yet it also has been the one that causes the most problems.


I look back at 90% of my friendships in the past 7 years and I honestly cannot think of one friend that I still talk to on a regular basis, we’re still friends but we don’t have the relationship that we used to.  Usually there has been something to do with my husband that has caused the issues.

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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2007, 06:49:59 PM »

I found this video quite useful when trying to explain to others that wonder what BPD is. 

It takes 8 minutes.  It is easy to just copy and past the link to friends & family members so they can simply view the video.

It is as if the recipient of the email has a moment of ... ."ohhhh"... ."now i get it"

https://bpdfamily.org/2010/09/video-what-is-borderline-personality.html
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There are two ways of spreading light, be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. E. Warton

CKYMargera00

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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2007, 07:05:42 PM »

Thanks. This would come across a lot better.

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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 02:19:40 PM »

I have found unless my close freinds have been hearing a long running commentary on the PD person, and usually also have a major in psychology, they cannot understand. The responses I would get would be: (my freinds) I don't see why you like her, or why you don't just dump her and get someone new,or  (from people I don't know that well or some of her freinds) it must just be a misunderstanding, every couple has problems.

I've decided unless someone has a had a partner, family member, close freind, or client (therapist) with a PD they CANNOT understand. Most people assume that everyone is fundamentally similar, and when a person is so completely dysfunctional at the core but appears normal outwardly they simply cannot comprehend. It is just too subtle (outwardly) and complex a disorder for ordinary people to grasp.
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js4bpd1
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2007, 12:51:14 PM »

Yes, friends are a tough bunch to convince. I have a sister that has seen the behaviors for years but does not understand them. Now with my understanding that being that I read and post here I have come a long ways. My sister just hates my ex as much as I do but has no care to know more about the disorders.

This May give you an example to understand that others spend way to much time on themselves to have time to spend about your problems. Everyone is at hyper speed for they see everyone is at hyper speed. Does anyone remember what it was like to spend a day smelling the roses? That hardly happens now. But you can. Will your friends have that time or will they want to. For some reason I have noticed we are going too fast but no one knows why. That leaves us suffering people wanting to reach someone close to us but... .time is money!

What we can do is talk on this board. Get to know others who have time. Get to know a therapist. But make sure they listen more then they talk. It takes time to heal and with your PD still on the loose consider No (or Limited) Contact. This will let you see there are more options out there then what your PD may want you to think. Make a plan for you and you do it!

If friends actually want to listen then share otherwise do not get high hopes thinking they will be able to help. This is your battle as you can see, we here are here for you when you need some understanding.

JS
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CaptainM
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 07:31:13 PM »

In terms of good references, the book Stop Walking On Eggshells is just brilliant. It gives a lot of great explanations and helpful information as to how to deal with particular situations and helped me immensely with my exBPDso (whilst we were still together).

Be very careful about what you're discussing with who though as you need to think about yourself first and foremost. How would he react if it got back to him that you were talking about this stuff behind his back? I understand your intentions, just please do put yourself and your own well-being first.

In the end, even if these people begin to know and understand BPD, be assured that you're not trying to have everyone in his life 'cater' for him - whilst the BPD classification helps us understand their behaviour, it certainly doesn't excuse it.

But yes, for helping family members understand his behaviours better, I would definitely recommend Stop Walking on Eggshells. It's an eye-opening and validating read for us nons.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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Weird Fishes
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2011, 07:30:17 PM »

YES.

Just had a conversation with one of my best and most supportive friends-no stranger to T and the dark side of human nature-and came away feeling so alienated!

I couldn't explain it well (and considering how much research I do?  Huh?). She basically implied PD's were constructions of psychologists and too subjective to have any meaning, that "everyone has a personality disorder", then told me that "it didn't excuse their behavior" (well duh) and basically that they just needed to shut up and deal with it. 

Which is not untrue!  But she seemed to have missed the boat entirely.
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Rhymes w/Orange
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2011, 10:09:28 PM »

I asked my T about it and he said that if it were me asking him about another person, he wouldn't give details, but might say something like, they're having some difficulties. Maybe adding something about the situation a person was asking about like, They are having trouble with controlling their temper sometimes, (or) handling conflict, (or) understanding complicated situations, or whatever. His advice was to keep it vague because there's just too little chance that people will be able to understand adequately.

I still wish I could just explain myself and have people understand. Oh well, I have this forum where people understand without me explaining... .
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myboneshurt

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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2012, 12:52:34 AM »

Hi Everyone,

As a person who's been in a relationship with a BPD for 2.5 years (broke up a few days ago) and through all the resources found in this site and Family Connections, that many of us know what BPD is and its affect on the BPD's loved ones.  But I have a tough time explaining it to our mutual friends that my exBPD is not a bad person, although her behavior towards me and the awful event that made us break up can cause resentment when I have to explain why my BPDex isn't around anymore.

The DSM-5.0 and other explanations on this site are very helpful for us to make the determination of the disorder, but how do you explain this without getting others to block out what you say?  Is there a way to explain it, in plain terms, to people in 15 seconds or less?

Thank you for your input.

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Surnia
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 01:35:52 AM »

I can tell you what I did:

Divorced from my H who has strong N traits according to my T, I never told anybody about narcissism. I told friends or my parents, that we had huge problems, we could never sort something out together, he blamed me for everything, he did not go out for work, so I was the only breadwinner. And couple counseling was a disaster.

I stay focused on examples not on a possible diagnose. I feel better with it. Many people around have not a very profound knowledge about mental problems and I do not know what I do provoke when I would use therms like N or BPD.
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Randi Kreger
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 10:20:58 AM »

I would use terms that THEY would understand. Stress that it is a biological disease both in the chemical structure of the brain and brain chemistry, that meds can improve things; however, people with BPD are still responsible for their own behavior.The rest really depends on what typeof BP you have.
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I had a borderline mother and narcissistic father. Author of stop walking on eggshells, The stop walking on eggshells workbook, the essential family guide to borderline personality disorder, and the upcoming book stop walking on egg shells for partners


Rose Tiger
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2012, 11:34:45 AM »

I told coworkers that it was too hard to blend families.  That is something they can understand.  I told friends, close ones, that he was emotionally abusive.  I told my brother, that he is a nice guy around others but he is different in private and I won't let myself or my daughter be treated that way.  Most folks don't  want to hear the nitty gritty and those are things I can discuss with my counselor and here.  

I suppose if I had to describe BPD in laymen terms I would say severely emotionally immature.  And leave it at that.
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tryingtogetit
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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 03:55:56 PM »

Ok, my two cents.

I'd prob go something like: She's very sensitive and feels and expresses things really severely. Unfortunately I can't respond to her appropriately (and have my own things to sort out).
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yeeter
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« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2012, 04:22:26 PM »

Unless a clinical diagnosis has been made, my position is that there is nothing productive to labeling.

If a really close friend, they can read up and learn if they are interested.  To the general public - 'irreconcilable differences' is a fine term.
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waverider
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 04:41:08 AM »

Emotionally dysfunctional which creates illogical and problematic decision making behavior.

Dont even bother trying to explain BPD (odds are they wont even remember the name). Unless someone works in the field or lives closely with someone who suffer sit, they will glaze over or jump on specific issue with a simplistic solution.

You have to live it to start to even know it.
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yeeter
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2012, 07:40:36 AM »

You have to live it to start to even know it.

This is the dillema.  Without a lot of effort learning, they CANNOT understand it.  So no 15 second blurb is going to do it justice.  And - it seems you are worried about how you might come across to them (which was being reasonable?, who is more at fault for the failure?, etc etc  are common questions people want to know).  So simple answers likely wont satisfy this - other than to look like you are pointing figures at the other person.

I have a select few close friends I have shared.  They read and learned and understand pieces.  Otherwise I let it go.
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tryingtogetit
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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2012, 06:03:52 AM »

I'll have another stab at it and combine some of te responses above.

It probably depends on your intentions and to who you talk.

Your intentions sound good and caring, I respect you for that. The only thing to watch out for if this is not a way for you to continue this care (some would call it control of her) but you be the judge. Of course sharing diagnosis with others is a privacy issue so you have to make judgments for that too. She might be very sensitive and suspiscious of others if she feels you've been talking about her. And you wouldn't be helping her by giving other people the idea she's 'crazy', which is how some would take it.

If you feel she's likely to do self-harm in any form then yes, absolutely talk with some of her closest about this. Tell them whatever you know and guide them to this forum to be able to watch out for her. Ideally choose someone who has some experience with mental illnesses and who's not scared by them. You can use Randi Krieger , yeeter or Waveriders suggestions here.

For other close friends who might be scared of labels (but could be good support for her), don't use them, you could use rose tiger, surnia, paguy or my suggestions instead.

For other people, further away, who only have a fairly general interest there's no point of them knowing anything so go with yeeter

Hope that brings you somewhere
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Rose Tiger
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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2012, 07:12:31 AM »

I didn't tell very many outside of counselling and here that he has a personality disorder.  I did tell a couple of very close friends who deal with personality disorders in their families, who knew what borderline and narcissism meant.  I would not tell mutual friends anything other than it didn't work out.  If they pushed for info, I'd say we both made mistakes and it didn't work out.  And then change the subject.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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tryingtogetit
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« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2012, 11:38:52 AM »

thanks rose tiger, that's what i meant! 
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SeaCliff
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« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2013, 04:02:55 PM »

My 15 Second BPD Description:

"A relationship disorder" at it's true core related to unconscious fears typically related to childhood traumas. How they treat us, their current or formed loved ones, is how they themselves were treated as young children, sadly. A person may not treat others around them any better than they treat themselves.

What they see in themselves, they tend to project outward towards us so it is truly "The Pot Calling The Kettle Black Illness", figuratively. Since they feel unlovable, they figure there must be something wrong with us for caring about them, ironically. To blame is to b-lame.
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« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2013, 05:58:59 AM »

BPD is a hyper sensitivity to an emotional response. A mountain is made out of a molehill and catastrophes are created. There is an inability to regulate these emotions and the chaos that is in the BPD's mind is recreated in the non BPD's mind. To me, it seems like there is a spectrum that everyone is on [like with Asperger traits] and at one end is the severely affected BPD. WE all exhibit these traits if stressed or at some points in our lives, but usually we have some coping strategies that help us get through. For the BPD, their coping skills are limited and tend to be unhealthy ones, such as self harm in various forms.

I am learning so much about this disorder from this site and from my daughter, but this would explain her behaviour as a high functioning person.
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yeeter
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« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2013, 07:38:50 AM »

And its more confusing because often times there is more than one thing going on.

In my wifes case, she has high uNPD characteristics which switch to uBPD when stressed or anxious (which is often).  A tough combination.  And even tougher to explain the implications in 15 seconds - as was said, you pretty much have to live it. 

On a positive side (an eternal optimist... .  part of my problem    ) - I have a new found appreciation for how people get stuck in unhealthy/abusive relationships.  Never thought in a million years I would be one to do that.  Some of the friends I shared with are quite shocked that it happened to me.  Subtle things... .  .like when you go to the doctor and they ask the question:  'do you feel safe at home' - come with a whole new meaning now.

Then the range of symptoms are so broad.  Some might be more emotional or verbal warefare, where others might be more physical danger.  Our own enmeshment has a lot to do with it, so how can I describe the other person without also throwing in my own issues. 

What a journey.  But I cant think of a simple response that in any way does justice to the dynamics.
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UpwardAndOnward

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« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2013, 06:12:52 PM »

i once heard the term "emotional vampire." i thought that summed it up nicely... .  
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Rose Tiger
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« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2013, 01:34:31 AM »

i once heard the term "emotional vampire." i thought that summed it up nicely... .  

There is a lot of truth to that, my Ex seemed to enjoy getting me riled. 
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yeeter
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« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2013, 07:21:57 AM »

While this description might resonate, to use it when describing to others is kinda negative labeling and casting blame/pointing fingers.  And doesnt really explain the underlying illness.  IMO.
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Wimowe
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« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2013, 03:22:42 PM »



My uBPDxgf know a lot of people in common so I've taken care not to use the term BPD or even describe her behaviors.  Most of them know that we've broken up.  Were any of these people to ask (nobody has), I believe I would say either "We wanted different things" or the definitely edgier "We apparently had different ideas of how to conduct a relationship."

The closest I've come to alleging that my ex might suffer from BPD is to say the trajectory of my relationship with her was very similar to that described as typical of a relationship with a pwBPD.  Other than that, I disclaim being in any way qualified to make such a diagnosis. The only people I've mentioned BPD to are: my T (who recognizes the behaviors but has become dubious of the BPD diagnostic category in general);  my Al-Anon sponsor; an Al-Anon friend who's been in much the same process of leaving relationship; these discussion forums; a brother and a sister to whom I'm close.  I haven't mentioned BPD to another of my sisters who was on friendly terms with my ex.

When I share in Twelve Step recovery rooms, I do my best to keep the focus on myself -- my reactions, failures, and growth.  I have shared that the relationship had become abusive.

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Themis
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« Reply #26 on: March 01, 2013, 07:37:32 AM »

I generally describe it like this:

"He's very moody/mercurial, and has black and white thinking."

If I mention his temper people jump to conclusions about abuse, and that's not what's happening.

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motherof1yearold
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« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2013, 06:08:01 PM »

Since my smear campaign and highly 'popular' divorce I am really struggling explaining to people what BPD is and why he did and said the things he did.
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« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2013, 07:09:30 PM »

I was at a High School informal reunion get-together recently and someone asked me a question about something bizarre and cruel thing my uBPDmom had done when I was in my mid-teens. She burned my concert ticket in a non-sensical BPD rage. I probably only told a couple of people: the girl I was going to take  :'( and another friend. The guy who asked me about it, wasn't one of them as far as I can remember. In other words, probably a lot of people knew then and now 

So, he asked me if uBPDmom had burned the ticket... .  all I could say is "yes" with no emotion. At least, my old High School friends have an idea of the torment.
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jj2121
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« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2015, 09:19:47 AM »

My ex uBPD hurt me so much and friends asked with happened with us. I probably should not have but I basically told them about how crazy she was and what she would say to me,because I was so annoyed. I did say to my ex though,that I don't hate you and I never could,but you can't treat people like that. I don't feel guilty about it though.
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