Bisexuality and BPD – Make a Plan and Stick to It

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – impulsivity: acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes (DSM5).

The Problem

                As mentioned in previous blogs, over 2% of the population have some degree of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and roughly a third of those with BPD are also bisexual. There are no stats for the reverse – the number of bisexuals with BPD – but my guess is it would be even higher. We often engage in harmful behaviours to ease distress in the short-term, despite the possible serious negative consequences in the long-term. Of the BPD population 8 to 10% of us eventually commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and 10 times the rate in people diagnosed with Depression, and that does not even include those of us who depart because of drug overdoses. One of the defining traits that is connected with suicide attempts is impulsivity. In this blog we are going to take a look at how this trait of BPD affects us as bisexuals and we are going to focus on developing plans and strategies with due consideration of outcomes. First let’s take a look at the science to see what we are up against.

The Science

                Cackowski and others[1] used self-reporting to study 31 unmedicated women with BPD and 30 healthy matched women controls using measured response inhibition under resting conditions and after experimental stress induction.  Patients with BPD reported higher impulsivity under both conditions. They concluded that there is a significant impact of stress on self-perceived state impulsivity and on response disinhibition in females with BPD.

                So what is happening in the brain? Leyton and others[2] studied 13 medication-free men and women with borderline personality disorder and 11 healthy controls using positron emission tomography (PET Scans) during a survey of go/no-go commission error activities. In both men and women, negative correlations with impulsivity scores were identified in the medial frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate gyrus, temporal gyrus, and striatum. They concluded thatsynthesis capacity in corticostriatal pathways may contribute to the development of impulsive behaviors in persons with borderline personality disorder. In the male subjects, low trapping was also observed in the medial frontal cortex extending into the orbitofrontal cortex, as well as in the corpus striatum. These sites correspond to regions that seem to be involved in  mediating the planning, initiation, and inhibition of goal-directed behaviors, working memory, and emotional affect.

What it Means

                So what does this mean in plain English? Well friends, we have a problem. Not only do we engage in risky behavior, not only do we seem to intentionally neglect to plan ahead, but under stress we seem to forget all the plans that have been planted in our brains by past experiences and the good intentions of therapists. As bisexuals this is often connected to our sexual behavior. We tend to seek encounters to relieve stress and we tend to avoid safe sex to add a risk factor that adds a level of excitement and pleasure. There is a reason for this. It is the way we are wired. Because of our genetic predisposition to be over sensitive, and the environmental factors that have shaped our behavior patterns, we now have a brain that says run like hell from pain, indulge in pleasure, and to hell with the consequences. The brain scans indicate that both men and women have difficulty reacting to sensory information to controlling emotions (corticostriatal pathway). Women seem to rely more on an emotional response whereas men run into further difficulty when we try to organize that information for decision making (frontal cortex extending into the orbitofrontal cortex). We both end up in the same place with seeking emotional relief usually by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure regardless of the consequences (temporal cortex, limbic areas). This seems to be particularly relevant under stress. As bisexuals we actually seek the pleasure and stress that goes with is rather than try to avoid it. So how do we combat our natural reactions, especially under stress?

Here are my five suggestions for bisexual borderliners:

1. First line of attack is to control your stress and anxiety levels. To do that you have to learn to read your body signals and stop the anxieties in their early stages before they blow up and you lose control. After that – game over until next time.

2. The best way to relieve anxiety is to get out of your emotional mind (corticostriatal pathway). The best way to that is to shut down all thought because at this stage thought leads back to emotion. You can do this by deep breathing. By concentrating on your breathing you interrupt the flow of negative energy into your brain. I recommend the thirty second breathing activity (in the past I said eight for anxiety relief, but science now suggests thirty for healing and building new brain patterns). Take a deep breath and then slowly let it all out (I recommend a stop watch rather than counting). When there is no air left, hold that until the 30 seconds are up. Keep doing this until you feel a sense of peace, calmness and control.

3. Once you have achieved this sense of peace, you are now free to confront your emotions. Self-talk your way through the process. I recommend doing this out loud as this will engage more of your brain and bring some organization processes to the emotional center. Tell yourself why you are seeking sex. If it is for pain relief or to alleviate stress, don’t do it. Find a better way to deal with the pain. If it is for pleasure and you have considered the consequences (besides just pleasure) than go ahead and enjoy. Bisexual women are naturally good at this. They are usually more emotionally intelligent than men and allow themselves the freedom to explore their emotions with their sex partners resulting in an emotionally and physically pleasing experience (sorry for the sexism but there is some truth in it). Bisexual men tend to shut down their emotions all together and just focus on the physical pleasure and may miss out on the broader pleasures that come with intimacy.  

4. Now that your emotions are under control, you are ready to tackle the problem that caused the emotional reaction. This is where your orbitofrontal cortex comes in. You can do this in two parts. First see where the event fits into your life story. You may gain insight into what has happened in the past to cause you to react this way. You can then decide what it is you wish to build into your life in the present and future through your sexuality. By looking at the whole picture, the top down approach, you can see where individual decisions fit into the greater good for yourself. You can then bring your sexuality and the emotions connected with it into your bigger life picture thus adding meaning and purpose into your sexuality.

5. You can then go on to making a plan and putting gates and strategies in place for when these kinds of situation occur in the future. Men are good at this; it’s the emotions that they cannot handle. Both men and women bisexuals with BPD need to build new thinking and behavior patterns. If your plan does not seem to be working, and if you seem to be sabotaging your own goals and happiness, you may need to seek professional help. Whatever strategies you put in place don’t give up on them. It took me sixty years to develop my self-defeating thought and behavior patterns and it took me two years of constant vigilance to change them. Just keep believing in yourself, learn to say you are sorry (including to yourself), learn from the experience, reset your goals and strategies if needed, and remember that you can do this. You are a beautiful and powerful spirit being. Your sexuality is there to bring pleasure, intimacy, and love into your life. Keep the goal in mind and work towards that goal one step at a time.  


[1] Cackowski, S.; Reitz, A.; Ende, G.; Kleindienst, N.; Bohus, M.; Schmahl, C.; and Krause-Utz, A.. Impact of stress on different components of impulsivity in borderline personality disorder. Cambridge University Press.  March, 2014.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/abs/impact-of-stress-on-different-components-of-impulsivity-in-borderline-personality-disorder/E8AF2E2CB9606F30E1F3AA9EF7F12679

[2] Leyton, Marco; Okazawa, Hidehiko; Diksic, Mirko; Paris, Joel; Rosa, Pedro; Mzengeza, Simon N.; Blier, Pierre; Benkelfat, Chawki.  Brain Regional α-[11C]Methyl-L-Tryptophan Trapping in Impulsive Subjects With Borderline Personality Disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry. Vol 158, Issue 5, 2001

Published Online:1 May 2001 https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.158.5.775

 

Two Sides of Heaven – Two Sides of Hell

Lets Leave the science of bisexuality behind for awhile and share the true life story behind my struggles with sexuality. For the next few months, I want to tell my story. This is the first chapter in the biographical novel that I am presently putting together. Comments welcome.

Chapter  1 – Setting the Stage

Growing up on the Canadian Prairies in the 50’s and 60’s, I was aware that society expected people to conform to the rules of normalcy and religion. There was religion in my life but not much normalcy. I was the ninth child but had no father as a role model. My mother was too worn out to take an interest in my life; my eight siblings were all much older than me, so I basically brought myself up.

Counting mon, we were a family of ten living in a two-bedroom six-hundred-square-foot shack. It was a small house with ten cold bodies and ten cold minds, feeding off the heat of the friction of ten fragile egos and ten angry souls. My oldest brother left to work as a teacher in a small Saskatchewan village. That left eight of us still at home. The twins, who worked and helped support the family, had one of the bedrooms. My three brothers who were now teenagers had to share the hide-a-bed in the living room. I shared a bedroom with only one bed with my mother and my two sisters. It was a small bed sleeping between a cold mother and two hot teenaged girls who snuggled for warmth in a cold barren room in a cold barren house. It was a small space for a young child caught between the sheets with those who care and nurture, a lost, cold child who will forever seek to share the same comforting warmth of four like souls in a bed.

Around the age of five my two twin brothers shamed me into moving into the other bedroom with them. I still remember the feeling; it felt so unnatural.  Some of my earliest memories were about being aroused by the sight of my twin brothers’ adult male penises as they dressed for work. It was like I was all alone watching by older brothers live. My young life was like living in a desert. The struggles of desert life lay hidden to those who only view it from a distance. It was dry and lifeless, with all its passion stored under rocks and sand, emotion hidden like serpents in pockets along the trails into the wilderness ready to slither out and strike. My life suffocated under the motion of the wind that dried out the last drops of courage in a blast of hot air aimed to destroy and kill. Naked, burning, isolated, insulated, my life waited for the right moment, to dare to spread my limbs in the hot sun, to make the sap flow up to the surface, so that my own life could begin. There was no self-love. No self-identity of being a boy. No self-identity period.

Living with so many hot-blooded teenagers, I had a sense of sexuality from a very early age. I had an absolute fear of taking my clothes off in the presence of other boys in the change rooms at gym or the swimming pool. I felt like I was a girl trapped in a boys change room trying to hide my sexuality.  I also had an unnatural response to being hugged or touched by older males. It was like I was experiencing a latent sexual response that made be recoil in fear and disgust.

When I look back at my life, I cannot separate the past from the present. All that I am in this moment is seen through the pain of the past. I was young when I took responsibility for raising myself.  I was finger printed when I was five. My next oldest brother, Ivan, six years older than me, that would make him eleven at the time, got together with another guy (I forget his name) the same age who lived down the block from us and they stole a bunch of batteries from a salvage yard. My brother’s friend also had a brother my age, Robert Sinclair, who had become my closest friend. The two mastermind criminals got Robert and me to load up the batteries in our wagons and go sell them back to the same salvage yard. The haul would be seventy-five cents a battery, for a total of three dollars, a fortune at that time. That would provide the funds for thirty movies at ten cents a shot or sixty ice-cream cones from the corner store at five cents a pop.  Needless to say, that plan could only end in disaster. The salvage yard called the police and I wound up in the police station. They carried out a very skilled interrogation by which I spilled the beans and confessed in tears to what had transpired. In order to scare the hell out of me, they took my fingerprints and then called Victor, one of my twin brothers, to come and pick me up. Ivan disappeared for three days before daring to come home.

I was drunk when I was seven. I remember that night as though it was yesterday. There was a party at my house with the young guys and couples letting off some steam. Mom had vacated the premises, and unable to sleep, I was left to navigate the party as best I could. Beer was flowing liberally and I saw my chance. I got a glass from the cupboard and went from brother to brother for a sample. I was soon feeling like I owned the night. I remember jumping on the bed and feeling the bounce like I was floating in air and then coming down again only to rise one more time. My oldest brother, Rene, noticed what was happening and realized I needed some fresh air. He got me on my trusty steed and I pedaled around the community in the night pushing my bike as fast as it would go up and down the streets feeling the rush of the air slipping past my face.

I set my own hours of coming and going when I was eight. I grew into a powerful young man that no one fought with, fearing the cold, latent anger percolating just below the surface. I lived in an impoverished community with single or incapable parents trying to raise large families. One family, the Roblins, had seven boys being raised by an alcoholic father. Two others boys were being raised by tired grandparents because their daughters could not raise them by themselves.  We terrorized the community. But somewhere around the age of eleven I found competitive sport, hockey and baseball, largely because of the guidance of my brother, Vic, who was trying to be the father I never had. He worked in a Sporting Goods store and kept me supplied with sporting equipment. He attended all my games and I set out to make him proud of his baby brother. I made new friends. We golfed together and kept score on how life was progressing. As we moved into our teen years, my old friends got arrested one after another for crimes, ranging from car theft to rape, and eventually armed robbery and murder. It could have been me if I had ever let the smoldering emotions out of the bag.

At the same time I found pleasure in academics and read extensively and wrote my first novel at the age of twelve. I was academically gifted scoring perfect 100% scores in both English and Mathematics on the provincial exams in Saskatchewan during my grade eight year, in preparation for moving on to high school for grade nine. I had an unquenchable desire for perfection. I was a talented athlete in every sport I attempted. I was pretty, sought after as a trophy by the girls. I was the most popular boy in my school not only with the girls but also with those who lived on the outside. I would not allow bullying in my school yard. If I saw someone being picked on I would jump in and defend the one who needed a helping hand. But I did not stop there. I made sure they were included in the workings of the group. When I think about my motivation now, I am sure that it was based on my own feelings of being isolated and alone. By saving them I was saving myself.

As I entered my teen years, I rebelled against the sculpturing of my older siblings. I rejected the masculine brutality, the drive to push myself, my thoughts, and my desires into the fight fought by alpha males. I rejected the anger and coldness aimed at my sisters and mother. I rejected the feminism that manipulated in the guise of weakness. I became a reconciler, a mediator, a seeker of peace, a lover of justice, a poet who watched from the outside, and in the process rejected and ignored the poet on the inside.

As I reached puberty, I realized I was different but didn’t quite know how. I know the day it started. At the age of fifteen, I had the impulse to try on women’s clothes and experienced an erotic arousal. It just happened one day. I was visiting my brother, Ivan, and his wife in Edmonton during the summer holidays after my Grade 9 year. While they were away at work, I decided to try on his wife’s panties and panty hose. It was like another side of me had said to my masculine self to “butt out for a while and let the other me take over”. It was like a dissociative experience but I was totally aware of who I was and what I was doing. As I felt the silk panties slip sensuously over my penis, I had an immediate erection. As I buried my throbbing body into my pillow. I had my first conscious ejaculation. Oh I had ejaculations before, but they had occurred during wet dreams. This was different. It was a masculine moment clad in a feminine identity. That was my first experience in bisexuality. 

I had no one to talk to who could help me understand what was happening to me. As I struggled to figure myself out, the stage was set for a life based on guilt, anger, and shame. It was all so confusing. It was like Loki had played a cruel joke on me and put my female mind into my male body. But that was not the funny part, the real joke was that I was completely comfortable as a male and at the same time completely comfortable as a female. I was bi-gender. It was just a matter of time before my bi-gender would turn to bisexuality.            

                Back in North Battleford in the fall, I went to the all boy’s Catholic college and again excelled in all subjects. Catholic boys went to the college and Catholic girls went to the convent. The wisdom of the priests and nuns determined that it was safer this way. It did not do much for my social life but it sure made a difference academically. I made no attempts to have any relationships with girls in the other high schools but I did not have any desire for sexual contact with boys either. I was able to disguise the feminine side of my identity and not worry about dealing with dating.

                Around this time, I discovered an erotic novel, Last Exit to Brooklyn, that stoked my fantasy life with frequent journeys into masturbation and release. It was like my gay sexual desires were now a part of a fantasy world that was just that, a fantasy world. I looked at the gay world through my limited knowledge of what I thought it meant to be gay. It was just these weird people in the big cities that dressed up as women and went to special bars to solicit sex from men. I did not see my own experience as being any part of that. I was content to live sexually in my fantasy world and devote all my conscious energies to sports and academic excellence.

                It was during that year that I decided to join the priesthood which delighted my mother. She told me I was the seventh son and the seventh son was special; that’s why God had selected me for the priesthood. I informed the priests at the college of my decision and they begin to monitor my school progress. Father Gokarts, the regional recruitment priest, visited me often during those years. Because of my academic excellence, he informed me that I would spend one year at the novitiate in Ottawa and then it would be on to Rome to finish my education. My future was laid out for me. I could relax, forget about my sexuality, and just go with the flow. When I play the game of imagining what life might have been like, I wonder if I would have perhaps lived a life of peace, contentment, and purpose instead of the one that resulted in so much pain. However, looking back, I now realize that this was my attempt to escape the turmoil of my suppressed sexuality. Here I would be close to god and god would protect me from myself and forgive me for my perceived perversion and sin. But it didn’t work out that way. My teenaged sexuality was suppressed and bound to force its way out regardless of what I did to stop it. In desperation I took the six inch metal crucifix that hung above my bed, attached a chain, and wore it around my neck to fend off the evil spirits of my bisexual fantasy life that I seemed powerless to control. Meanwhile I kept the confessional busy.

                One day during one of his visits, I got up the nerve to tell Father Gokarts about my sexual problems. He immediately assumed that I was experimenting with masturbation and assured me that this was not a game-changing problem and that all boys eventually will struggle to come to grips with their sexuality. I accepted what he said lock, stock and barrel but did not tell him about the nature of my sexual fantasies. During these years I experienced deep levels of guilt and shame and suppressed any confusion and pain related to my same-sex fantasies. It never occurred to me that I could be gay. I simply was male. A popular male. I was asexual in all outward aspects of my high school life. I was a man’s man in a boy’s world.

                Between academics and sports I blissfully made my way through high school. We had a terrific sports program at the college, but sports were a weird thing for me. I was highly skilled but I lacked the aggression needed to take it to the next level. I dropped out of junior hockey in my grade twelve year and concentrated on other less aggressive sports.  I represented the district, skipping my high school boys curling team to the provincial finals, and won the Northwest Saskatchewan Junior Golf Championship.     

                As I moved into my grade 12 year, I focused on my studies, sports, and my hopes of becoming a priest and withdrew from genuine relationships. I created a fantasy world with imaginary lovers. Sexual impulses became fantasies of women without souls. This led to fantasies of men without faces. As time went by, all feminine images disappeared, and I was left with the loveless eroticism of faceless men. My self-concept was based on the faceless person I had created. I had no self-esteem, just the unattainable drive to be perfect so that I could feel worthy enough to be loved. I detached myself from the confusion and pain. I had no self-identity; so I continued to stand by and watch myself live. As I grew into a man I lost my way. I wanted to please them all. I wanted to submit, to just let go of my responsibilities and struggles and be taken care of by a man, by the father I never had, or by a woman, the mother who was never there.  My sexuality became just a tool to be used to please, a means to make others love me. My life became a life of pain without tears.

                 Looking back at my childhood now as a mature adult, I think I now understand what was happening to the confused child in me that was becoming a confused young man. I was conceived by a single mother with nine children. After her husband had left her to raise the family by herself, she was lonely and needed comfort and someone to want her so she had an affair. She got pregnant and went through the anxieties of having to nurture another child, her eleventh birth having lost two girls in childhood.  I was born unwanted. I was the evidence of her sorrow and sin.  Following the fearful death of my infant sister, who had been born a few years before me and died a few months before I was born, with no resources, skills, or energy left to give me the essentials of life, my mother raised me loving, but never daring to feel or show love. So I grew up feeling unloved.

                 I was guided by two half-sisters and six half-brothers determined to make me into the man I could not be. Rejecting their scorn, betraying my mentors, I took responsibility for raising myself, growing into a man with no identity, neither male nor female.  I fluctuated in the void. Caring and loving, thinking and absorbing, longing for completion into something, someone, that I could respect and accept, I found only my own failures, and broken relationships, and inadequacies, and unachievable goals. In my fantasies I found masculinity in the arms of soft young women; I found femininity in the strong arms of faceless men, but they could complete me only in the ecstasy of the climax. When the details were consummated, and the lights turned on, I was alone again in my own darkness, incomplete and broken. I had no identity, except the one I had created for himself, forged fearfully in the fires of hell. I had nothing real to face the world in the moment of truth.

Borderline Personality Disorder – Fear of Dependency

              In this article we will continue to explore the relationship between borderline personality disorder and bisexuality. As mentioned in a previous article, about one third of patients with BPD are bisexual. We do not have the data on the reverse of that; we do no know how many of us bisexuals also have BPD, but I guess it would be much higher. Today we will look at fears of dependency and loss of autonomy.

Trait Eight – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – Separation insecurity: Fears of excessive dependency and complete loss of autonomy. (DSM5)

            In my search of the literature, I found one article that indirectly dealt with fear of dependency and loss of autonomy by alluding to it as part a subtype associated with dependent personality disorder[1]. According to this article, discouraged borderline is marked by noticeable clinginess and a passive follower type of mentality. While on the outside this person might just seem indecisive or weak-willed; they normally experience internal turmoil about their lack of leadership and bitterness toward those whom they feel are controlling them. This type of borderline disorder in a person often leads to self-harm in the form of self-mutilation or even suicide.

            This diagnosis is seen more in women than in men, perhaps due to possible disturbed estrogen levels or part of systematic sexism. However, some research suggests that this tendency affects men and women equally, but women are more likely to seek treatment or to be officially diagnosed as BPD.        

            Descriptors of discouraged borderline includes excessive dependence upon others. They are often compliant and easily swayed by others, even when it goes against their own desires. They have low self-esteem, feel continuously insecurity, and appear to be vulnerable. They may feel hopeless, helpless, powerless, and depressed. There may be a reliance on fantasy or substance abuse as a means to escape.

            The cause is thought to involve many different life factors. These include PTSD, childhood trauma or neglect, a smaller hippocampus or amygdala, genetic predispositions involving genes DRD4 and DAT and chromosome 9, neurobiological factors like estrogen levels, family and social stability levels, and negative social experiences as a child. People with the disorder often have other illnesses including major depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, or antisocial personality disorder. People suffering from this BPD trait make up a large chunk of suicides on an annual basis. So if you or someone you know is at risk for suicide because of this trait, it is important that you get help as soon as possible.

            Psychotherapy is the primary method used for managing and treating discouragement BPD. Depression and anxiety are among the two most common conditions that can be treated with medicine while the patient is treated for general BPD with psychotherapy. Antipsychotics might be used to reduce anger or suicidal tendencies as well as impulsivity, psychotic paranoid symptoms, anxiety, and depression. It is important to understand that these medications cannot treat BPD, but that the treatment of concurring conditions can help clear the way for a more successful treatment of BPD through psychotherapy.

            So how does this apply to those of us who are also bisexuals? I do not see it as a direct correlation; however, we can make some interesting comparisons. We usually do not fear losing our autonomy in our heterosexual relationship; in fact, we want to wallow in it. We often depend on them for our sense of security and sanity. In fact, we are afraid of losing it. On the other hand, when it comes to our same-sex relationships, we mostly avoid dependency at all cost. We do not want to become dependent and do not want anyone to become dependent on us. We prefer casual. We mainly want to relate just for the physical pleasures we can get. In other words we seek dependency with our life partner and avoid dependency with same sex friends. What we do fear is dependency of the fix and we fight it because we fear it will ruin our lives.

MY Suggestions

1. Come to terms with your sexuality. It is what it is so you may as well relax and enjoy it. You can realize that your impulses are natural urges of your body and your mind. You are not sick because of your bisexuality. You do not need therapy for your sexual impulses but you may need therapy for your BPD.

2. Be honest with yourself and deal with your fears. Discover the worst case scenario and come to terms with it.

3. If your love relationship with our life-partner is essential to your sense of well-being, try to develop the will and power to do without your same sex experiences (this may be near impossible to some of us).

4. If you wish to continue with a secret life, accept it as it is and go on with our secret life,  but you need to be able to do this without anxiety or fear. You have to be willing to accept and live with the consequences.

5. Most of us cannot live with the stress that comes from feeling that we are being dishonest with our life-partner. If that is the case, we have to be honest with them and tell them about our bisexual desires and needs. Once again, we have to be willing to accept the consequences. If our fears and shame are causing us anxiety and pain, we have to be willing to give up our life-partner in order to live lives free of shame, regret and chronic anxiety. If we continue living with these stresses, they will eventually kill us.


[1] Discouraged Borderline Personality Disorder, Optimum Performance Institute. https://www.optimumperformanceinstitute.com/

Wives of Bisexual Men – Part 2

The following is an except from the book my dear wife has written called When Life Has Other Plans. In it she describes her feelings when I told her I was bisexual:

 

Lawrence and I emailed regularly and he lamented about his situation. We also occasionally talked on the phone when he was out of the house. Because the reception was so poor where he lived, it was more stressful than helpful. The decision to start a new life was his. I had decided I was going to be fine one way or another. No more screaming at the Universe in my hallway…

Then Lawrence announced he would come back for the month of September and live with his daughter while we would clarify things. I was delighted because his efforts told me that he was getting serious about moving forward. After I had picked him up from the airport, we went for a walk along a beautiful beach. In this romantic ambiance he announced that he had a gift for me and pulled a little white box out of his pocket. I started to panic because I wasn’t yet ready for the big question. To my relief I found a beautiful little necklace with a shiny blue glass heart. “The colour reminded me of your eyes!”, he told me. I was touched.

On our walks I found out more about bisexuality which is the most secretive of gender issues. Bisexuals often live a normal life on the outside to satisfy their need to fit into society, yet have to hide their same-sex tendencies. When Lawrence’s guilt feelings created a deep depression and he confessed to his wife on the suggestion of his therapist, she immediately divorced him. It broke up his ‘perfect’ family life and, at the time, cost him the love of his children.

His life was in shambles, and after trying to continue working in his career, he gave up his teaching job and went to Costa Rica for a few years to find inner peace. This stay was the beginning of his ‘pruning’ stage, of letting go of the past and making room for new experiences to show up.

It seems that many of us have to go through some drastic shakeups first (from chaos to order), so we can reach a higher level of consciousness. When I was able to see the parallels between his and my life, my heart really understood. I, too, had had to break up my family to become free to follow my path.

 

For more information about how my wife handled the situation I recommend you read her book:

 

 

You can check out her website at

Home

 

Bisexuality and Separation Insecurity

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals.

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – separation insecurity: fears of rejection by – and/or separation from – significant others

We have already looked at fear of abandonment as a pathological impairment. In other words, the fear of being abandoned impairs our ability to function normally in society or may lead to mental disorders. When we look at this as a trait, we are still functioning but we have a tendency to consider abandonment or rejection in our decision making; that is, we have a neurological pathway or mind state or belief that we automatically pass through as part of our decision making. So let’s take a closer look at this as a trait.

Zanarini (2009)[1] obtained data from 77 female subjects with acute BPD, 15 with remitted BPD, and 75 healthy controls. They were assessed using the Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire, the short version of the Borderline Symptom List, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Zanarina discovered that all the BPD patients, including those in recession, had higher scores on rejection sensitivity, which correlated with lower self-esteem. Childhood maltreatment did not appear to be a factor. She concluded that rejection sensitivity is an important component in BPD, even for remitted BPD patients, and that the level of self-esteem appears to be a relevant factor in the relationship between rejection sensitivity and BPD symptom severity.

So what does this mean in plain English? First, we must realize that this study equates “real or imagined abandonment” with “rejection sensitivity”.  In other words, we are hypersensitive to any indication of possible rejection from significant others. Secondly, we can conclude that these fears are related to our low self-esteem. Thirdly, stepping outside the boundaries of this study, we can conjecture that these negative thinking patterns are possibly connected to some genetic predisposition coupled with early childhood social-emotional experiences, rather than physical maltreatment. We can further conjecture, based on past studies of the human brain (Michl and others, 2014)[2], that these feelings are possibly related to mechanisms of shame located in the anterior cingulate cortex and the parahippocampal gyrus both found in the temporal lobes. Again, with further conjecture, we see that the temporal lobes are responsible for the processing of language and the emotions attached to the delivery of words.

Sorry, that was not plain English, was it? Let’s try again. In other words we are wired to be sensitive to signs of rejection. We particularly look for body language and verbal tones to see how things are going. If our partners show any sign of disapproval we immediately experience levels of anxiety. It is important to us that significant others continuously demonstrate approval. We aim to please. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the levels of latent shame and anxiety. At this point, it is still a trait but if we do not deal with this trait it can become an impairment and lead to a warped relationship. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We create a situation where our worst fears become a reality. We may behave is a way that will result in being  abandoned so that we can bring closure and an end our anxieties.

Now let’s apply this to our bisexuality. As bisexuals, especially us male bisexuals, there is an obvious problem here. We hide our gay and lesbian tendencies because we fear rejection and separation from those who are important in our lives. This begins with a low self-esteem; we are basically insecure. We need the affirmation of others to provide us with a sense of security. This begins with our parents. If they show any sign of disapproval for gay or lesbian activities, we then have to hide our same-sex impulses. That means we seek what appears to be “normal” friendships with same-sex friends, and pursue heterosexual relationships to hide our gay and lesbian tendencies. We usually end up married in what appears to be a ‘normal” heterosexual relationship. Because we are bisexual, there are no problems having sexual relationships with our spouses and we end up as mothers or fathers and a complicated life style. We cannot risk being rejected by those we love so we continue to hide our tendencies. If we cannot control our same-sex desires, we are a tragedy just waiting to happen.

The obvious solution is to get rid of the anxieties related to our sexual desires and our need for security.

My Suggestion for Bisexuals

  1. Be honest with yourself and your loved ones. Dishonesty is a major source of anxiety. Living with constant anxiety and negative energy from your emotions will literally kill you.
  2. Do an inventory of your impulses. Do your same sex desires come from an unhealthy need or are they based on honest and healthy expression of your heart and body?
  3. Above all stop living with constant fear and anxiety. Get rid of the need to please others. In order to live a healthy life, you have to learn that you are the most important person in your life. You are the only one you really have to please. You may have to make some difficult decisions about your sexuality. Whatever you decide, make sure it is for you and not to please others.
  4. Remember you are bisexual. You can go either way. If your joy truly comes from your family situation, make a deal with yourself. Recognize that you have both desires. Give yourself permission to have both desires and make a conscious decision to choose your heterosexual situation.
  5. If your same sex desires are so powerful that you do not want to live without them you will have to make a deal with your life-partner. If they cannot live with your bisexuality you have to be prepared to separate.

[1] Zanarini, Mary C. Reasons for Change in Borderline Personality Disorder (and Other Axis II Disorders). HHS Author Manuscripts. Psychiatry Clinic North Am. 2008

[2] Michl, Petra; Meindl, Thomas; Meister, Franziska; Born, Christine; Engel, Rolf, R; Reiser, Maximilian; and Henning-Fast, Kristine. Neurobiological underpinnings of shame and guilt: a pilot fMRI study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2014,

 

Fears of Falling Apart

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals.

DSM5 – Trait Seven – Fears of falling apart or losing control

What We Know

I haven’t been able to find any research data on this trait so I am just going to wing it using the case study of one – myself. Losing control can mean many things to people with BPD. The obvious one for those of us who have anger issues is, of course, losing control of our anger and hurting someone. To others, it may be going over the edge of sanity and never coming back.  Mine is much simpler than that. It was fear of losing control of my life.

In order to survive in this world, I had to cross all the ‘t’s and dot all the ‘i’s. As a child, I had no father and my mother was emotionally absent. That meant I had to nurture and take care of myself. I was a perfectionist, not so others would admire and love me, but so that I could have a plan and work to the plan. I was taking care of myself. During childhood, I compartmentalized myself. In my sports activities the goal was to be better than everyone else. Same applied to academics. Same applied to love. Whatever I did I had to master it, to control it.

The fear behind it was not specifically losing control, it was falling apart. Because I did not have a firm foundation of being loved and therefore loving myself, I was always on shaky ground. That meant conforming to not only the expectations of others but also to the god I had created.  There was no room for error. I not only could not commit adultery but I could not even think about committing adultery. I could not just get a 90% on a paper; it had to be 100 %. If I could not live up to my own impossible expectations then that meant I had failed, and failure meant I was no longer in control. Not being in control meant my world would fall apart.

And what does falling apart exactly MEAN. It meant never being able to complete those circuits in my brain. Never feeling the serotonin soothing after the dopamine rush. It meant never being able to experience the feeling of my accomplishments, activities, and relationships going through the pleasure center of my brain. No endorphins, no healing from that pain that was deep inside my soul. Falling apart meant giving up. It meant that suicide was always there as a possibility. It was the ultimate solution if I could not eventually break through to the other side.

So how did this affect my bisexuality? Well that’s a long sad story.  Because of my feeling that the person I had created needed to survive, that meant I could not risk exposing my sexuality to the people in my life. That meant I had to keep it all secret. If anyone found out, then my whole world would fall apart, the world that I had built as a straight successful human being. That meant that I had to hide in a heterosexual world with a heterosexual wife and heterosexual children. This life was the only life I knew. I felt it was the closest I would ever get to that place of contentment and safety. I had determined in my mind that if this secret would ever come out, that would be the end of life as I knew it, that I would end the miserable life once and for all.

The good news is that when my life did crash, I did not have the courage to kill myself. That meant my old life was dead but I was still alive and free to build a new one, the one I have now. Yes, there is a good life just waiting to be discovered after this old life comes to an end. When we become conscious healthy human beings, sexuality is just there for pleasure. Coming out or being thrown out is not the end of the world. It is the beginning of truly being alive. It is the end of the fears of falling apart.

 

Stay tuned to the next blog for lessons I have learned and my suggestions to cope with this pathological trait.

Why Do Things Always Go Wrong – Part 2

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals. 

Last week we looked at the pathological personality traits in negative affectivity related to  anxiousness, specifically  worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities. it was a pretty bleak picture but it does not have to end there. Today we will look how to beat this thing.

  1. First, we have to deal with the anxiousness.  We seem to be doomed to have a never ending procession of anxiety disorders because we cannot stop thinking about all the negative things that have happened to us in the past, and worrying about what might happen in the future. . So how do we fix that? Quite simple, we stop focusing on all the negative thoughts from the past. When they occur we stop the cycle in our mind and say, “No, I am better than that. That is in the past. There is no past. There is only my thoughts about the past and I will control my thoughts. I will refocus on the present and find something positive to view today.”
  2. We often view our bisexual experiences as failure to control our impulses.  We have to come to the point where we accept our bisexuality. This was not a failure and let’s not even consider it as an impulse. It is a decision we made to seek and enjoy sex. Period. No judgement necessary. We simply give our bodies permission to enjoy something beautiful and let it enrich our minds and souls. This is who we are. This is a gift from the universe to be enjoyed. It is a precious opportunity to have physical and emotional contact with another human being.
  3. However, even though casual same-sex sex has its place, let’s not stop there. Let’s find gay or bisexual people that we can relate to on a human level, as fellow human beings. Let’s enjoy the whole person and take our focus off their sexual organs.
  4. We tend to try to suppress our desires because we either do not want to face them or the consequences, or we are afraid we will be exposed leaving us to deal with shame and guilt. If that’s the case, it’s time to face the reality of our situation. We can not keep suppressing our natural wants and desires. That may mean seeking an agreement with our life-partner about our needs for same-sex relationships within the partnership or we may have to face the fact that we have perhaps changed and our needs are now different. We may have to consider leaving the partnership.
  5. The third alternative is to go on expressing and enjoying our sexual needs but keeping them separate form out partners. The truth is not always the best solution; often it just leads to really hurting someone else. However, we can’t let “the  secret” destroy us. We have to come to terms with when and how we enjoy this part of our lives, give ourselves a conscious permission to have these experiences,  and still meet the wants and needs of our partners for love and companionship. Again, the guilt and the shame are all in our minds. We can control our minds. We simply tell our mind that we will not feel shame or guilt. We reject it.

Why Do Things Always Go Wrong

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals. 

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – b. Anxiousness: Worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities;

Jacob and others[1] investigated the emotional responses of 26 female BPD patients, 15 patients with major depressive disorder, and 28 controls, immediately  after listening to stories involving various moods and then again after a delay of three to six minutes. Sadness was stronger with both BPD and depression patients; however, BPD patients showed stronger reaction to anger, joy, anxiety and shame. They concluded that extreme negative affectivity may be a defining property of BPD.

Baer and others[2] , in a review of the literature, looked at maladaptive cognitive processes in BPD patients. They concluded that BPD patients tend to focus on negative stimuli, have disproportionate negative memories, and tend to focus on negative beliefs about themselves, other people, and the world in general. They suppress negative thoughts and tend to run them over and over again in their minds.

The idea of thought suppression bears further investigation. Rosenthal and others[3] examined the histories of 127 patients and determined that  emotional negativity was a stronger prediction of BPD than Childhood sexual abuse and that thought suppression was a major factor in emotional liability.

So what does this mean in plain English? Well, simply put, we seem to be doomed to have a never ending procession of anxiety disorders because we cannot stop thinking about all the negative things that have happened to us in the past. We often view our bisexual experiences as failure to control our impulses.  We tend to try to suppress them because we either do not want to face them or the consequences, or we are afraid we will be exposed leaving us to deal with shame and guilt. So we hold these so call “failures”  in our minds longer thus giving our brain an opportunity to lock them into our long term memory. Therefore, our brain gets overloaded with all these negative memories and feelings that it hooks up to other memories thus creating  these huge negative mind states or beliefs. These beliefs  in turn create and control our thinking patterns and behavior patterns. This creates a locked-in negative predisposition. Our prefrontal cortex expects bad things to happen because of our same sex impulses.  We somehow create or attract these fears into the present situation. We enjoy the sex for the moment knowing it will be followed by feelings of shame and guilt. This forms a kind of compulsion where we seek the pleasure and then experiencing the pain.

Hey- it’s not hopeless. I will have some suggestions for you next week. So hang in there.

(For more information on this topic go to – In Search of the Lost Self- How to Survive and Thrive with Borderline Personality Disorder, by Lawrence J. W. Cooper, now available on Amazon)

 

[1] Jacob, Gretta A.; Hellstern, Kathrin; Ower, Nicole; Pillmann, Mona; Scheel, Corinna N.; Rüsch, Nicolas*; Lieb, Klaus. Emotional Reactions to Standardized Stimuli in Women With Borderline Personality Disorder: Stronger Negative Affect, But No Differences in Reactivity. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: 2009.

[2] ,Ruth A.; Peters, Jessica R.; Eisenlohr, Tory A.;Geiger, Paul J.; and Sauer, Shannon E.. Emotion-related cognitive processes in borderline personality disorder: A review of the empirical literature. Clinical Psychology Review: 2012.

[3] Rosenthal, Zachary M.; Cheavens, Jennifer S.; Lejuez, Carl J.; and Lynch, Thomas B..    Thought suppression mediates the relationship between negative affect and borderline personality disorder symptoms. : 2005, Pages 1173-1185

 

 

 

Living with our Emotions

Due to the high correlation between bisexuality and borderline personality disorder we will be focusing on the pathological personality traits listed in the DSM5 and how they affect our state of well-being as bisexuals.

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity

Emotional liability: Emotions that are easily aroused, intense, and/or out of proportion to events and circumstances.

One of the traits of Borderline Personality Disorder is emotional sensitivity. This super sensitivity is thought to have biological origins and to be present from early life.  It consists of a heightened emotional reaction to environmental stimuli, including emotions of others.

Along these lines, Carlson, Egeland, and Sroufe[1] conducted a longitudinal study of 162 individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. They discovered that negative emotionality influenced by emotional sensitivity in early childhood and adolescence predicted later BPD symptoms. This included self-injurious behavior, dissociative symptoms, drug use, and violence in our intimate relationships. They also discovered that we people with BPD did not receive appropriate (and oft time even harmful) treatment.  They also found correlations with negative temperament and attachment disorganization. In other words, it appears we people with BPD are wired with a brain that is very sensitive to sensations from the environment, therefore, a genetic predisposition for BPD, we tend to be influenced more than others by our environmental experiences, and tend to have unstable relationships.

This leads us to a study by Greenough and others[2] on the role of the environment. They concluded that studies in neurology consistently confirm that there is a neural basis of experience-dependent learning. During childhood, as super sensitive children, we are very vulnerable to what’s happening around us. We are very aware of all negative stimulus surrounding us and we create thousands of synaptic connections each day in response to these events, thus storing the information in our expanding neural mind states as thinking and behavior patterns. In other words, this is a critical” or “sensitive period.” These mind states then become our thinking and behavior patterns that will guide us for the rest of our lives. These experiences form our implicit memories and thought patterns.

So what does this mean for us bisexuals? First of all, we bisexuals tend to be super sensitive with strong emotional feelings about what is happening around us. That’s why we are often poets, artists and dancers.  In this way we are like most people with BPD,  with one exception.  These feelings are also connected to our feelings about our sexuality. We super sensitive boys seem to experience a different comfort level with our sexuality and bisexuality than do our female counterparts. Somewhere between age two and three we all establish our gender roles.  For example, boys or girls tend to identify themselves as boys or girls as separate from those of the opposite gender.  However, there are exceptions. If dad wanted to have a son, he may treat his daughter like a boy and encourage her to act like a boy.   In our society, it’s okay to be a tom boy but not a sissy or a fairy.  Boys in a female dominated relationship are often confused. They know they are a boy and should act like a boy but want to be subconsciously like the female members of the family. As we advance into our teenage years, these gender issues become sexual issues. As young men we feel attractions to women like all the other boys, but as with our gender confusion, we also feel attraction to men, usually older men. Girls are comfortable with this. Bisexual women, in general, have no difficulty shifting from male to female attraction and back again. They seem to be comfortable with their sexuality. We men are not. This leads to emotional difficulties as we try to adjust to our sexuality. We cannot seem to do both. It is one or the other and we shift back and forth often with feeling of guilt and shame.

However, the good news is that the human brain also has a great deal of plasticity. We can refire and rewire our brain patterns, our thought patterns, and our behavior patterns. The old patterns are loaded with a lot of negative energy from the amygdala that is buried in our subconscious mind. However, we do not have to continue to live by these beliefs.  We can simply rewire them. We can do this by taking the buried feelings attached to the present incident and rewiring those feelings through the nucleus acumen’s and the other areas of the frontal cortex what we know as the pleasure center of the brain. We can access these through positive patterns like appreciation and gratitude. If we learn to appreciate and be thankful for our bisexual nature, we will begin to see all the wonderful possibilities of living a bisexual life.

 

 

[1]  Carlson, EA; Egeland, B.; and Sroufe LA. A prospective investigation of the development of borderline personality symptoms. Dev Psychopathology, 2009.

[2]  Greenough, WT; Black, JE; and Wallace CS.  Experience and brain development. Child Dev. 1987

 

 

Please Don’t Look at Me that Way

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5. 

 

Trait 1: Pathological personality traits in: negative affectivity –

Anxiousness: Intense feelings of nervousness, tenseness, or panic, often in reaction to interpersonal stresses;   

The key here is that we are wired this way. Rather than rewiring and refiring and rewiring as a cognitive process, which seems to be a dead end issue for us, we should look more towards just taking in the information and accepting it, thereby blocking or not allowing the information to proceed on to the amygdala and the activation of the sympathetic system. To Read More:

Please Don’t Look at Me that Way