I want to talk about the self-harm aspect as it is related to BPD today. It is something I have recent experience with, and it’s been on my mind.
A big part of borderline is significant mood shifts, especially as they can be affected from relationships and interactions with others. Borderline mood shifts tend to last mere hours or sometimes for a few days, and they typically have some sort of trigger. When the mood shifts downward, it can lead to a strong urge to self-harm, for various reasons.
One of these reasons could be a form of self-punishment, seen as needed by the borderline. I feel this when I start an argument with someone, the urge to give myself “what I deserve” because I know no one else will do it for me. I feel as though I trick people into liking me or thinking I’m a good person, like I’m actually just manipulating them. So I trick them into thinking I don’t deserve physical punishment for who I am as a person, and the person that starts those arguments is really who I am, and that person is terrible and selfish and everything bad a person can be. It’s a vicious cycle that leads me to believing I need to hurt myself, whether it be cutting myself, hitting myself, carving words into my skin, pulling hair out.
The only complication there is that I know the people I care about don’t want me to do that, even when they’re angry with me. And I’m not supposed to hurt them, so I’m not allowed to give myself the punishment I deserve, which is torturous enough alone. Then I am stuck, suffering and unable to do anything at all except put all energy into not acting at all, in order to avoid harming myself.
Another reason borderlines lean toward self-harm is more of a manipulative nature, in the form of threats usually. Someone with borderline might threaten to hurt themselves or even kill themselves in an attempt to satisfy a need to feel cared about. They may make these threats to someone they really want comfort from, as a sort of test almost. Sometimes they may even outright say not to stop them, which usually comes as a catch-22 because: stop them, and they might get upset that you didn’t honor their request, even if secretly pleased that you cared enough to; or don’t stop them, and if they go through with those threats obviously they could hurt themselves or worse, as well as go with the feelings that you don’t care enough about them to stop them. There is rarely a win-win situation.
Sometimes a borderline might hurt themselves in an attempt just to feel something too. Just to know what it feels like, just to have some sort of sensation overriding the usual empty feeling inside. It can be a sort of relief, a reminder that there are still feelings that can indeed be felt. If you’ve ever been at a point where you’re constantly feeling absolutely nothing, you might understand how even pain could be a relief.
I might go into schizophrenia in my next few posts. Any requests are also welcome of course, as well as any comments or questions. I’m glad people seem to like this sort of blog, but I wouldn’t be opposed to interaction either, haha. I mostly speak from experience, so some of what I say might be flawed as well – if so, feel free to say something and I will do my best to correct it.