Borderline Personality Disorder and Mood Swings

Because of the high positive correlation between borderline personality disorder and bisexuality, we are continuing to explore the pathological personality traits as listed in the DSM 5.

Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity  –  Depressivity: Difficulty recovering from such moods (miserable and hopeless).(DSM5)

            Just to be clear, bisexuality is not a pathological trait; it is merely a sexual orientation. We are drawn to male and female sexual partners. However, we often have difficulty dealing with our sexuality, and we often have to deal with also having a borderline personality disorder. Unfortunately the two often go together.

            Law and others[1] measured negative emotions and borderline symptoms in 281 BPD participants over a wide spectrum of experiences. They found that BDP diagnosis was associated with experiencing more negative emotions and  that these moods often continued for three hours or more with some lasting for days. They concluded that negative emotions and several BPD symptoms continued to influence each other.

            An Article by Salters-Pedneault and Gans[2] adds some interesting insights which I will summarize here and add some of my own. While it’s normal to have our moods shifting from feeling good to feeling down, some of us with BPD may experience very extreme mood-shifting for minor reasons. We can go from feeling okay to feeling devastated, desperate, or completely hopeless within a matter of moments. While in our down moods, we may engage in impulsive behaviors such as substance abuse, binge eating, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In the case of us bisexuals, this is usually when we venture out for another sexual encounter. Unfortunately, if we are married or in a partnership, instead of enjoying the experience, we often let it evolve into guilt and another deeper down-mood.

Those of us with BPD can have many mood swings in the course of a single day, whereas most people may experience one or two major emotional shifts in an entire week. Again in the case of us bisexuals with BPD, we tend to manage or delay the mood by letting anxiety build to the point where a sexual encounter with a new sexual partner will allow us to purge these feelings. We then go back to our other life and can manage to stay within our self-imposed boundaries until the anxieties build again resulting in another down mood. We establish a pattern of in again off again that works for us until we crash.

We can go on experiencing emotional ups and downs for years while seeming helpless to stop them. This usually results in an unhealthy relationship with our life-partner. We feel we must depend on them for our survival. This again adds to the feeling of hopelessness when we bow to our urges for sexual encounters. It can become an addictive behavior. The sexual experience then often does not meet our need to have the release and peace of a healthy sexual experience. Instead of experiencing the joys of our sexuality, it can become an avenue for hopelessness and another down mood.

            Very often our mood swing occurs as a reaction to an external trigger involving someone we love. The perceived rejection or abandonment may result in a fight-or-flight response. We may respond with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness or we respond with anger which is usually out-of-proportion to the situation. For those of us with BPD, these mood swings usually result in unstable interpersonal relationships with loved ones and colleagues which just adds to our fears of abandonment and the deepening of the negative moods. For those of us who are also bisexual, we tend to try to preserve our relationship with our life-partner at all costs and direct our anger at ourselves resulting in self-loathing, high-risk behavior, and suicidal thoughts.

            So what can we do about it? As stated over and over again in these blogs, we often focus on our sexuality as the cause of our problems instead on focusing on our borderline personality traits. If we can deal with our BPD symptoms in a constructive manner, we should have no difficulty accepting our orientation and learning to enjoy our sexuality without regrets. Our problem usually stems from a feeling that we have to control our impulses instead of just enjoying them. They cannot be controlled as in suppressing them; however, we can learn to enjoy our sexuality as part of our whole expression of who we are.

Here are my five suggestions for borderliners

1. Do a self-inventory. Is this BPD symptom an impairment or is it merely a trait? If it has already advanced to an impairment, you should seek professional help probably involving medication. If it is still just a trait, you can take some steps to manage it.

2. If you are experiencing these deep mood swings frequently, it is time to get help. At the core of your reaction is that you are probably in a state of generalized anxiety. A serotonin enhancing medication can do wonders. It can allow you to stay calm long enough to resolve a potential misunderstanding.

3. If you are responding with anger, you may benefit from some cognitive based counselling that will help you manage your anger.

4. If you are constantly slipping into feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing, you may need to learn to manage these thoughts and feelings through some form of constructive cognitive counselling that will give you strategies to work your way through the hopeless feelings before they lead to clinical depression.

5. When these moods are still manageable traits, you may need to develop some cognitive strategies to rationalize your feelings before they become behaviors. In the case of conflicts with loved-ones, let the person know you need some time to work things out and then make a promise to come back and resolve the situation rationally. A quiet walk or some time alone working on a project may be all you need. When you are ready, you can approach the loved one and work it out calmly and lovingly.


[1]  Law, Mary Kate;  Fleeson, William; Arnold, Elizabeth Mayfield ;  and Furr, R. Michael r. Using negative emotions to trace the experience of borderline personality pathology: Interconnected relationships revealed in an experience sampling study. HHS Public Access. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547903

[2]  Salters-Pedneault, Kristalyn Medically; and  Gans, Steven. Mood Swings in Borderline Personality Disorder. Verywell Mind. 2020.

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