*The following post discusses self harm and suicide. Please make sure you are in a safe place mentally before reading. If you are struggling with suicidal or self harm thoughts please contact someone. LifeLine: 13 11 14, a friend, your GP or your local mental health crisis team.*
For the next few weeks I will be dedicating posts to explaining the diagnostic criteria of Borderline Personality Disorder. I am hoping that by writing these posts, there will be more positive information about BPD. At the moment a lot of the information I have found is a little (OK a lot) disheartening, especially for those who are newly diagnosed.
Last week I talked about Black and White Thinking and today’s post will be about the sense of self worth, or rather the lack of. Having a sense of self means that you know who you are, what your qualities and strengths are and your personal attributes. Your self worth is how much you value yourself and your input into the world around you. It all sounds a little philosophical, but it’s an important factor in feeling safe in our world.
The sense of self and our worth is something that is built on from a young age, usually by the people around us. Marsha Linehan believes that our sense of who we are is developed by observing our own emotions, how they compare to those around us and their reaction to those emotions. She believes that the inward feelings, and the outward responses are often skewed, leading to the unstable sense of self.
I once believed that my feelings were a separate being to myself. It’s a common belief for people who have an unstable sense of self, which is also common for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. I believed that feelings were the weak side and that my mind was strong, I even had a name for this ‘other’ being for quite a while.
Using this other being, also allowed me to have someone else to blame when things didn’t go right. I almost felt like I was standing outside my body and watching it move all on it’s own. I felt powerless and would often do things that I could feel myself screaming from the inside not to do. My impulse control was low (I’ll be talking more about this in future posts) and I would emotionally act out in order to cover up what I was really feeling.
I have talked quite a few times on the blog and my Facebook Page about being more than my diagnosis. However for years I struggled to name those other things, even things that seem simple now like daughter, sister, friend. I saw myself as a mass of illness, rotten to the core. My suicidal tendencies were at their worst during this time, as I tried to kill the illness. I believed that I could do that and survive, like something out of a science fiction movie.
My self of self and the worth that I have placed on myself has definitely improved over the last few years. I’m not in that dark hole, and I can see that there is more to me than an illness. I still struggle with my place in the world and seeing my own worth as a person. It’s definitely a work in progress though.
Do you know who you are?
Have you ever struggled with your sense of self?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT.
I think my knowledge of who I am is always shifting, I think we reinvent ourselves pretty often. Thanks for sharing, it’s good to learn more.
Thank you for these powerful posts. Xxx
Through our relationship counselling, I have recently come to accept the fact that as a result of certain relationships as a child, that I have never fully given myself to my partner. Although I always kind of knew I was doing it, I didn’t realise how much it was affecting my relationship. I have for a very long time been able to ‘block’ certain emotions especially when it comes to my relationship with Mic. Although I love him, I have always limited my **insert appropriate word** (dedication/commitment) to this relationship to a point that ‘when’ (stupid thought right there) our relationship breaks down, I won’t. A huge hurdle right there that I am now working on. I really love your posts by the way 😀
I think you are explaining things really clearly and that will help people Tegan. From a spiritual perspective I think it helps if we all realise that we are more than our bodies, thoughts and feelings. Our real self is our divine self – who we are when we stop those thoughts and judgments – and if we can align or true self with the positive, creative energy of the universe (God) then who we really are is LOVE. I know this is a bit ‘cooky’ deep and hard to wrap the head around, particularly because our egos, fuelled by society’s expectations, like to separate us from others – whether the ego tells you you are ‘less than’ or ‘more than’ the end result is you feel separate and isolated from other people. I totally get the psychology focus on self-awareness and self-esteem, but I also wonder how much we would all gain from having a sense of identity derived from our divine self, expressed in our own unique ways with love.
I think you are explaining things really clearly and that will help people Tegan. From a spiritual perspective I think it helps if we all realise that we are more than our bodies, thoughts and feelings. Our real self is our divine self – who we are when we stop those thoughts and judgments – and if we can align our true self with the positive, creative energy of the universe (God) then who we really are is LOVE. I know this is a bit ‘cooky’ deep and hard to wrap the head around, particularly because our egos, fuelled by society’s expectations, like to separate us from others – whether the ego tells you you are ‘less than’ or ‘more than’ the end result is you feel separate and isolated from other people. I totally get the psychology focus on self-awareness and self-esteem, but I also wonder how much we would all gain from having a sense of identity derived from our divine self, expressed in our own unique ways with love.
Yes, I do wonder sometimes if I know who I am, what I’m here for, am I on the right path. This is another great post to raise awareness, Tegan
Tegan can I just say your write so extremely well about such difficult subjects. Giving words to feelings and emotions that are hard to comprehend. I hope you are proud of what you do. I am currently very much finding the self” The I am and the I am not it is a wonderful step into believing in yourself and also understanding what makes you tick. May your sense of self continue to rise.
Tegan, you have a way with words lovely lady. I find your posts so interesting as I have known a couple of people with mental health issues and it is important to see them not only their illness. Keep writing Tegan xx
Thanks so much for writing this.
Keep writing these posts. They are powerful and important. You are no doubt helping so many people not only understand but I’m sure you’re helping many feel less alone.
Absolutely spot on for me (bipolar with PTSD and social anxiety) with respect to the feeling out of control of my emotional self, then blaming the ‘not me’ when I screw up.. It’s a rare day indeed when I’m able to accept responsibility for my behaviours and apologise. I wish I could say I’m getting better at it.
I often act out emotionally when I’ve been impulsive and I’m (somewhere in my subconscious) stressed about the impending consequences… No need to say having the fallout from both at the same time is twice as bad as just dealing with my impulsivity.
My fiancé is amazing, though, and often will know I’ve done something im not ready to admit to yet when I’m flaring up for no reason. Sometimes he has a giggle at me blaming anyone and anything (including the part of myself thats off the leash lol) rather than be accountable. Infuriating at the time, but absolutely a rare find – someone who loves me and delights in me even at my worst.
I’ve just started a blog, not publishing yet but as a therapeutic exercise.. I’m loving reading your work, I tend to write essays instead of comments so I’ll just tell you here that the five or six I’ve read are fantastic, a great mix of ‘parenting/life’ and ‘mental illness/life’.. Well done for keeping at it so long too!!
ps I’ll be starting bloglife at
“extremelynormal-normallyextreme.weebly” soonish.. I’ll post the link when I’ve got it ready 😉