“But you’re cancer-free! You’re okay. Aren’t you happy about that?” I was so surprised by her reaction I could hardly think or speak. Then I realized that she hadn’t even registered the positive news. She had been waiting for something negative and that was all she could hear or see.
“I hate you both!” she screamed and ran down the hall. I dashed after her, calling her name, but she jumped into an elevator and ran off.
Later that evening she called me to apologize and thank me for going with her. The good news had finally sunk in. Her reactions are indicative of how severely she suffers from borderline personality disorder and how difficult it is for her to process information and have healthy interpersonal relationships.
People with borderline personality disorder have incredible challenges when dealing with others and themselves because they have inflexible negative behavior patterns, an unstable self-image, uncontrollable emotions, and impulsivity. Their condition is due to a combination of genes, a childhood environment of abuse, turbulence and/or neglect, and erratic biochemistry.
You may be encountering a person with borderline personality disorder if you confront this type of behavior:
1) You are idealized sometimes as the greatest person alive, while at other times you are seen as the worst person. People with BPD often have skewed views of people, whether they be acquaintances or people that are an everyday part of their lives.
2) The person’s sense of self is distorted. The person doesn’t truly understand who he or she really is, so he or she tries on different behaviors. It is not uncommon for them to be distant, authoritative, friendly or hostile with the same person in the same day.
3) The person frantically tries to avoid what she considers abandonment. The person may act overly needy when their support system is removed, even temporarily, such as when a close friend goes on vacation.