Impulsive Behaviour in BPD (Trigger Warning)
Discourse and personal experience based on the NHS given symptom for Borderline Personality Disorder
TRIGGER WARNING: Self-harm, bullying, child abuse, sexual abuse
Disclaimer: The following account of the given NHS symptom relates solely to the writer and is, in no way, a blanket generalisation of how all people think it feel. It has been shared to potentially allow more understanding, or to allow other sufferers to take comfort knowing they aren't alone.
Taken directly from the NHS website (2020):
If you have BPD, there are 2 main types of impulses you may find extremely difficult to control:
an impulse to self-harm – such as cutting your arms with razors or burning your skin with cigarettes; in severe cases, especially if you also feel intensely sad and depressed, this impulse can lead to feeling suicidal and you may attempt suicide
a strong impulse to engage in reckless and irresponsible activities – such as binge drinking, drug misuse, going on a spending or gambling spree, or having unprotected sex with strangers
(Source: NHS, 2020, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms/)
We now have the third symptom from the NHS website, impulsive behaviour. I've been holding off writing about this because it can be incredibly difficult to discuss and a lot of people may react negatively when you speak about it. Some people can't handle things like this, or lack the understanding. In some people's cases, they lack the compassion and empathy, and frankly I pity those people.
I personally have struggled with self harming behaviour since the age of 12. Initially caused by severe school bullying, I took to scraping the skin off my arms with my own nails as a method of coping with all the hurt and anger. Children, being cruel, used this as further ammunition. I shan't say any more on this section of my life due to some unfavourable opinions on events surrounding this.
This developed further over time into slicing my forearms and, on a couple of rare occasions, thighs, but never to the stage I needed stitches. At my worst, I'd be self harming every few days. On a few occasions I also took attempted overdoses, only one of which was serious enough to require hospital treatment and terrified me.
I have currently been clean from self harm for 19 months, which is the longest to date in 18 years.
Regarding the other impulses, I am ashamed to say that those were a part of my life too in the form of promiscuous behaviour.
Now, as I said above, this all started from roughly age 12. At this point, I spent a great deal of time online, considering socialising in the real world wouldn't happen. This was at the time of Yahoo, MSN and AOL instant messengers. Over the years I made some WONDERFUL friends online.
The online world isn't just made up of good people though. At 12 years old you shouldn't have adults telling you to get undressed and send pictures or go on webcam. It happened, and it only occurred to me a couple of years ago while studying cyber-crime that this was actually abuse.
Where I am now has taken a LOT of work. I won't lie to you, even now the urge to self harm can still strike. I won't give any advice on stopping as I've learned over time that it's situational. What works for someone may not for another. This is also true for medications, therapies, and any other support.
I look back on that part of my life a lot. With shame. With pity. I know I shouldn't. I was a child thrown into some nasty circumstances. I know of others who feel the same. We need to bear in mind that it's all part of a medical condition.
One day I hope to be able to think back and see a survivor and how far I've come. For now I'm still trying, still breathing, and that's enough.