This is a hard topic for me to discuss, but I just live in the hope that maybe someone will see it one day and finally get me. I don’t have the support someone living with BPD should have, nor do I have the medication or ability to see a psychiatrist. I started this blog as an outlet to be real, and I intend on doing it more frequently. Without further ado, lets discuss what “Splitting” means for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Splitting is a term used to describe the inability to hold opposing thoughts, feelings or beliefs. Some could say they are seeing the world in black or white POV. It is a highly distorted way of thinking in which the positive or negative attributes of a person or event are neither weighed nor cohesive. It is a defense mechanism in which people with BPD can see people, events or even themselves in “all or nothing” terms. When you split, you can easily discard the things you perceive as bad, and can bask in the things viewed as good.
Examples of “Splitting Behavior”
- They can see opportunities as complete bs or 100% solid
- People are either on their side or totally against them
- Things will either always be perfect or a disaster
- People can be seen as perfect or evil
So you might be asking yourself, what causes a person to just split? Do you know you are splitting? Can you stop it or do anything to prevent it? I have had people ask me if it is like DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), and for me the answers are not so black and white. People with BPD experience intense fears, fear of abandonment and instability. These are some things that cause/trigger a split. There are times I can see myself behaving a certain way and I know as it is happening it is not okay, but I can not stop it. There are times I will do things and not realize until later and be like, what the fuck did I just do/say?! I am not a doctor, so if anyone is reading this please- this is my story, each person is different. What causes a split? It could be triggered by an event that forces the person to take extreme viewpoints, or something simple like getting into a small argument with someone (for most their “favorite person”-which we will discuss later) A split can and usually will come on all of a sudden and can last days, weeks, months or even years before the shift back.
What can be the symptoms of a split? Splitting is actually considered a consistent and distorted behavior usually accompanied by these other symptoms:
- Acting out with no thought of consequence
- Denial or ignoring facts and reality
- Trying to get others to understand your emotional pain
- Thinking they have superior intelligence or power.
- Passive aggression or hostility
- Projection or blame shifting
- Treating someone a certain way that forces them to respond to you with the feelings you’ve projected on them.
- Risky behavior with no thought of consequence
There are ways to cope with BPD and splitting, but as I mentioned they will be different for each person. One long term treatment involves developing your own coping mechanisms to improve perspectives. Many people who experience splitting have been through childhood trauma, abuse and abandonment. If you can reduce anxiety, this can be great for reducing splitting episodes.
Here are a few techniques to cope if you are cause in a split
- Calm your breathing – A huge wave of anxiety will usually accompany splitting. Try to take long and deep breaths.
- Focus on all your senses – This includes grounding yourself in your surroundings. What can you smell, taste, touch etc?
- Reach out – If you have one, reach out to your mental healthcare professional. A friend or family member who can help.
If you love someone with BPD there will be times you feel helpless. It can be hard and it is not easy to help many with their BPD. I encourage you to learn as much as you can about BPD. Our up and down behavior is hard for many to deal with, so please be patient and educate yourself on the illness. Learn the triggers that impact the person you love. Many times there are specific things that can trigger us, pay attention to the little things because I am here to tell you…Sometimes it is something very tiny. What might be most important, learn your own limits. If you feel like what your loved one is going through is beyond your help, that is okay. Tell them this, and try to help them seek out appropriate help.
Look, living with Borderline Personality Disorder (for me) is a nightmare. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Until a few years ago I did not even know what the term “splitting” was, and now I am helping others to understand it. I plan on discussing more things having to do with BPD. This by no means was the whole enchilada of the talk, just the tip of the iceburg. I am not a medical professional, so please if you need professional medical help- seek it. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am here for you…