Emotional Instability is the the third symptom in the list of diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which I will talking about more in depth. I have already talked about Black and White Thinking and Unstable Sense of Self. All up there is 9 diagnostic criteria which I will be covering.
Marsha Linehan says that people with BPD can be likened to someone with third degree burns. They are walking around with their fragility exposed, and every slight feels excruciatingly painful. The reactions of a person with BPD are often over the top for the situation that they are in. This is often because they haven’t be taught or learned how to express their emotions appropriately.
Intense anger is a separate symptom to emotional instability but it is the one that I struggle with myself. However, through therapy I have began to understand that the anger is often a mask for other emotions that I am experiencing. Anger can often be a mask for sadness. It can also be a reaction to feeling out of control.
Self harm is often used as a way to deal with emotional instability. Often, the emotions are either too strong to deal with, or feeling nothing (or numb) becomes too much. So I was harming myself to either feel something, anything at all. I was also harming to have something physical to deal with, to replace the emotional instability.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that it’s believed that people with a mental illness often have a lack of insight into their symptoms when they are most symptomatic. This is also true, again for myself at least, for BPD. I cringe looking back at some of the things that I did while the most symptomatic, especially when it was my emotional instability to blame.
At the time though I was acting out, dealing with emotions that were overwhelming. I was lashing out at the people around me and I was hell bent on trying to get rid of those emotions. It was excruciating and I still catch myself now falling down that hole. I stop the communication, I can’t articulate what is wrong and my insight goes out the window.
The emotional bursts are similar to those of a small child and I feeling a burning guilt as I watch myself react. I do have better coping skills and I can often pull myself back off the ledge. It’s still a learning process though and I am still learning about appropriate emotion responses. I feel strange saying that as a 27 year old woman, but it’s where I’m at.
How do you cope when you feel overwhelmed by emotions?
Do you know someone who struggles with emotional instability?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT