So why do I say that? I have experience dealing with both Borderlines and Histrionics. I don’t want to divulge too many details as that would give away too much of the plot of the novel, but what I will say is that both Histrionic and Borderline Personality Disorders can overlap because of how similar they are.
How similar, you ask? Well, symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder are:
- Be uncomfortable unless he or she is the center of attention
- Dress provocatively and/or exhibit inappropriately seductive or flirtatious behavior
- Shift emotions rapidly
- Act very dramatically as though performing before an audience with exaggerated emotions and expressions, yet appears to lack sincerity
- Be overly concerned with physical appearance
- Constantly seek reassurance or approval
- Be gullible and easily influenced by others
- Be excessively sensitive to criticism or disapproval
- Have a low tolerance for frustration and be easily bored by routine, often beginning projects without finishing them or skipping from one event to another
- Not think before acting
- Make rash decisions
- Be self-centered and rarely show concern for others
- Have difficulty maintaining relationships, often seeming fake or shallow in their dealings with others
- Threaten or attempt suicide to get attention
Well, if that doesn’t look eerily similar to BPD then what does? The whole spectrum of personality disorders can overlap and seem muddied from time to time. The protagonist of my novel could suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder (more on this another day) or Dependent Personality Disorder easily. But she doesn’t. She’s Borderline.
Her enemy, the other main character, is Histrionic and Borderline. When they first meet, it is a sport of exerting wills on one another. But as they soften, they become entangled in one another and one another’s experiences in the most unhealthy ways. This is a recipe for what seems to be a lifetime of #FAIL for both, though one of the characters tries to supersede the trauma that such entanglement makes.
There is a third character who suffers from Avoidant Personality Disorder, who is the pinnicle of grounding for the protagonist. It is a he, and he is also in this tangled web of misery and hijinks, to the detriment of all three.
So what compelled me to write these troubled characters? I knew them. I knew all three very well, lived with them, cried with them, picked up the pieces of each one, ultimately failing and moving on. It is me moving through a turbulent period of my life, laying it out on the page like a roadmap to the past so that I may find comfort, peace, and answers where there ultimately aren’t any. But hey, there’s no harm in trying?
The differences between my life and this story are many and one key to difference is the ending. Some writers punish what they don’t understand, people who have harmed them in some ways and when I wrote the original short story to this novel, I punished plenty. But working in a notebook, I laid threadbare everything I felt and as I decided to write the thing, I found I actually loved these people, despite the pain they caused and am trying to paint them with as deft a hand as any writer to confess a trauma in either fiction or non-fiction.
People who suffer from these disorders cannot help how they feel, that is, until they learn how to think their way out of initial discomfort and past the intense emotions their automatic thoughts bring. An automatic thought? I can see your wheels turning. “Aren’t all thoughts automatic?” Kind of. But these thoughts that are thought by the sufferer of these illnesses are not recognized. Sort of a like a thought switches a feeling and the person doesn’t even know what the thought that triggered the anger, depression, suicidality was. It takes a ton of practice through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness therapies to recognize the thought behind the feeling.
Often times, though, BPDs and Histrionics leave therapy. BPDs don’t trust easily and Histrionics don’t believe they need therapy at all. With BPD there can be a history of lurid and intense attachments to therpaists which make a consumer/therapist relationship hard for both parties. The Borderline becomes frustrated and hurt that their needs aren’t being met by the therapist and leave. Histrionics, on the other hand, will enter therapy only to quit after a period, believing whole heartedly that nothing is wrong.
This isn’t true of all that suffer, I just want to point that out. But it is true of a lot that suffer.
Do you know someone who suffers? Do you suffer from either one of these disorders? Leave a comment in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.