People with Borderline Personality Disorder have a reputation for doing bad things: lying, manipulating, cheating, losing our tempers…the list goes on. These qualities are not true for every person with BPD, but the stereotypes do exist for a reason. We sometimes do very bad things.
One of the things people with mental disorders say most often is that “they can’t help” being a certain way or doing a certain thing. I’ve said it a few times too.
To some extent, this is true. We can’t help feeling the way we feel when it’s part of our disorder. If you have a tendency to be sad or angry or anxious, that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with your emotions. What we do with our emotions, however, is within our control.
Treatment is designed to help us work through our emotions in healthy ways. Whether its medication, talk therapy, mindfulness, or something else, treatment helps us avoid making poor decisions while we’re struggling emotionally.
If you do end up doing something bad, here’s the most important thing to remember: your disorder is a reason, not an excuse.
Having Borderline Personality Disorder does not make it acceptable to cheat on your spouse, or yell at your sibling, or fall off the wagon, for example. Those are all actions within your control.
Being unable to control your actions likely means you’re not getting the right treatment, or not enough treatment. If you feel like you can’t control yourself, then more treatment may be in order.
The next time one of your loved ones is hurt by something you’ve said or done, rather than using your disorder to excuse your behaviour, just explain how you were feeling at the time it happened. If this person knows about your diagnosis, they will likely take your disorder into account when deciding whether you deserve forgiveness. They’ll consider your disorder as a reason for your behaviour, but not an excuse for it.
In the end, if they forgive you not, the only person to blame is you. This is not an accusation, but something I say to myself all the time when I feel driven to blame others for my misfortunes.
If you feel like you are not in control, please seek help. Call your doctor or therapist to find out about other, better treatment options that will help you work through your emotions in healthier ways. Our personal relationships are reason enough to make that call, so stop making excuses. See what I did there? 😉