Monday, March 28, 2016

Forms of Child Abuse


(In this picture I am the second child on the left).

          Most people with a mental illness have experienced some form of child abuse.  This abuse is not always physical.  Emotional child abuse can take on several forms. 

Degradation is where a parent constantly devalues the child's achievements and magnifies misbehavior.  The child then becomes convinced that she is bad or worthless.

Psychologically absent parents show little interest in the child's development and provide no affection of times of need.  This abuse is called unavailability.  This kind of child abuse has been on the rise for quite some time as we are seeing more cases of both parents pursuing careers that take up a lot of their time.

Domination is the use of extreme threats to control a child's behavior.  Some child development experts have compared this form of abuse to the techniques used by terrorists to brainwash captives.

I am lucky to have parents that love me and have treated me well throughout my life.  My father’s career involves him traveling often.  I remember missing him a lot when I was a child, especially on my birthdays.  I am very blessed, though, that when my father was around he paid a lot of attention to me and loved me very much.  I have experienced child abuse but it did not involve my parents or any relatives.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

BPD, Constitutional Factors

Studies propose a link between impulsive acts and abnormalities in the metabolism of serotonin (a chemical neurotransmitter implicated in mood disorders).  Researchers have suggested that the same impulsivity observed among those with BPD (and perhaps people with eating disorders and substance abusers) may be related to similar metabolic defects.  A borderliner’s frequent abuse of food, alcohol and other drugs- typically interpreted as self destructive behavior- is often an attempt to self medicate inner emotional turmoil and dysfunction of the brain.  Studies reveal abnormal brainwave activity over the temporal lobe of people with BPD.  These researchers also found abnormally high levels of pituitary hormone during tests. 

This was the case with me- my BPD was intensified because of a hormone-secreting tumor on my pituitary gland.  This rare disease is called Acromegaly.  When I had the tumor removed in 2007 at the age of nineteen my whole perception of the world changed.  It was like I finally woke up from an intense nightmare.  I find it difficult to remember much about my life when I was a teenager due to the hormone-induced mania I experienced during those years.

BPD, A Discussion

“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”  – Marsha M. Linehan

Many people have seen Girl Interrupted, a movie about a young female with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but what is Borderline really about?

Borderline Personality Disorder: The personality disorder which sits on the borderline between neurotic (anxiety) and psychotic personality disorders.

An individual with Borderline Personality lacks a sense of self, experiences a deep emptiness, and fears abandonment above all else. There are patterns of intense and unstable relationships for a Borderliner, emotional instability, regular outbursts of anger, occasional acts of aggression, and frequent impulsive behavior. Suicidal threats or incidents of self-harm are commonplace for us.  

Some symptoms of BPD are: emotional instability, reckless spending, "black and white" thinking, and disassociation (usually during painful events). These symptoms make it difficult for us to live our lives in the manner most people do, and can cause ongoing issues within relationships and working environments. These symptoms are often hard to treat and, sadly, can lead to isolation for many.

It was once thought that BPD was caused by poor parenting but both biological and environmental factors can place a person at risk for developing this disorder (around 60% of the risk is genetic).  Abnormalities in a Borderliner's brain affect the proper functioning of pathways that serve behavioral, emotional, informational, impulsive and cognitive functions.  “Some research supports a biological basis for the disorder. First, there are indications that erratic mood swings, social cognitive difficulties and maladaptive behaviors may be used by prefrontal and temporolimbic dysfunction.” (Swift, 2009). 

          Although these genetic factors place a person at risk. environmental aspects of our lives such as poor parenting can be the most critical factor in our disorder.  Repeated emotional, physical, sexual abuse; and inconsistent, unsupportive care are almost always in the mix. 

          In my case there are many factors that have contributed to a couple of my alters having this disorder (my defining diagnosis is Dissociative Identity Disorder and only a select few of my identities are affected by BPD).  I experienced a traumatic birth in which the doctor overseeing the process used a powerful vacuum on my head for an unreasonable amount of time (I was born in Indonesia in 1987, whereas if I were born in the United states at that time or afterward I would have been born by C-section).  My mother recalls with helpless dismay that had large dark bruises on my head for several weeks following my birth.  Research I have done suggests that this kind of birth (as well as birth assisted by forceps) permanently damages a newborn's brain to varying extents.  My behavior from infancy onward shows clear signs of brain damaged and even if BPD were not in my genes, this damage made me completely susceptible to the disease.  A rare hormone disease characterized by a brain tumor which was most likely cause by childhood trauma also increased the risk of me developing Borderline Personality.  I have also experienced several instances of abandonment, physical and sexual abuse that my clinicians an I agree have intensified my disorder.  

          Treatment of BPD is difficult, but can be done. Therapy, specifically psychotherapy, is usually the first treatment.  There are several types that can be used as treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and medication are used in an attempt to make the patient aware of what’s going on and get through painful events.  When therapy and medication simply isn’t enough, hospitalization can be used to stabilize. 

          I have had therapy for many years, been on many different kinds of medication, been hospitalized and lived within the walls of two different rehabilitation facilities.  It took a lot of work, bravery, time and money to get to the place I am in now.  Still, I feel there are miles to go before I sleep.

          Living with BPD is difficult but there is hope. If you are struggling with this disorder or know someone who is, please research and offer help to them. One option is to read about the disorder on the we, and there are several books about BPD available to the public. Be supportive, open minded and honest with yourself and with whomever you talk to if you have or feel you might have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline in conjunction with Bipolar Diagnoses

Studies have found BPD pathology in 50% of patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and many patients who have Bipolar Disorder.  Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorder (BP) are frequently confused with each other, in part because of their considerable symptomatic overlap.  When diagnosed with BPD, patients with bipolar disorder may be deprived of potentially effective medicine.  Conversely, some clinicians will not even disclose the BPD diagnosis to patients, or they may diagnose someone with BPD as bipolar.  This leads to the BPD patient being unnecessarily medicated instead of getting the psychosocial treatment they need. 

In my case, I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 and put on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds.  It wasn’t until five years ago that I was diagnosed with BPD and started psychotherapy for that disorder.  Three years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar and put on mood-stabilizing medication. Last year I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and have come to the realization that my different alter identities have separate conditions, which is why it has taken so long to find the right diagnoses for me.  Symptoms of these disorders have been present in me since childhood, but because they are attached to my alters they are not always present, making a diagnosis difficult to pinpoint.