Borderline Personality Disorder and Bisexuality 3

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)(This is the third in the series on the relationship between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder.)

 

As we have seen in the studies quoted in past blogs, there is a definite connection between Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bisexuality. The first symptom listed on the DSM4 is Fear of Abandonment.

With bisexuals and other members of LGBQT community, this fear usually originates in childhood abuse or neglect. In the object (relations) constancy theory, the child develops a psychological representation of the parent that satisfies the need for contact when separated. With neglectful parents the child may not be able to develop relations constancy and therefore may suffer from separation anxiety that could eventually lead to fear of abandonment. The DSM5 defines this fear as “Separation Insecurity”. It includes “fears of rejection by – and separation from – significant others, associated with fears of excessive dependency and complete loss of autonomy”. There are two significant aspects to this symptom, namely fear of rejection and dependency.

Some degree of abandonment fear can be normal, but when fear of abandonment is severe and frequent, it can lead to a whole host of problems. A person who has experienced abandonment may be more likely to have long-term mental health issues. They may have mood swings or be unable to control their emotions. Self-esteem can also be affected making it harder to feel worthy or to be intimate. These fears could make a person prone to anxiety, depression, co-dependency or other issues.

Abandonment fear usually affects a person’s ability to form, lasting relationships. They may feel “other” or disconnected from those around them. They may have difficulty trusting others, and in extreme cases, may exhibit some form of paranoia. Adults who are afraid of being abandoned may over work to keep their partner from leaving or, in the case of bisexuals, we may go to extremes to hold onto the relationship often abandoning our own physical and emotional needs. People with the fear of abandonment may tend to display compulsive behavior and thought patterns that sabotage their relationships. Any slight may be interpreted that their partner no longer loves them. From the partner’s point of view, the sudden personality shift seems to come from nowhere. She may be confused as to why her partner is suddenly acting clingy and demanding, smothering her with attention, or pulling away altogether.

If the fear is mild and well-controlled, one may be able to control it simply by becoming educated about their tendencies and learning new behavior strategies. For most people, though, the fear of abandonment is connected to deep seated issues. Therapy may be needed to build the self-confidence needed to truly change destructive thought and behavior patterns.

My five suggestions for bisexuals:

  1. We get in touch with our higher self and practice self-love and self-care and make sure our own wants and needs are met.
  2. It is important to talk about our fears. we need to have at least one significant other who is bisexual and who understands the issues we face.
  3. We may wish to be a part of a support group that deals with abandonment issues.
  4. We can become passionate about our own lives. We systematically build self-confidence and believe that we are strong enough to cope with whatever life throws our way.
  5. If we cannot control our fears we can seek therapy. We can search for therapists who use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)  which is designed specifically to help those with BPD. Therapy sessions provide skills and practice focusing on stress management, emotion regulation, and interpersonal skills.

Bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder

ASHIRT & TIE [small] (final)s I was searching for something intelligent to write about, I revisited the research section on bisexuality. After reading yet another study on whether or not we exist, I asked myself why I was still looking at this stuff.  We know we exist, so where do we go from here? The answer, of course, is that we should be looking at the issues we face, so that we can somehow finally get past our sexual identity crisis and learn how to enjoy the lives we have been given.

Twenty years ago, I was having a mental meltdown, largely because of my bisexual orientation. I loved my wife and was very much attracted to her; we had a great sex life. But I also had developed an obsession and compulsion for engaging in gay sex. During one counselling session, my therapist conducted a survey in the DSM4 on Borderline Personality Disorder (the 5 had not yet come out). First of all, let me explain. Borderline Personality Disorder is not “borderline”; it is a dysfunction involving significant impairment of self-identity, the ability to relate to others, and difficulty with impulse control. When sexual identity issues are involved, self-loathing, feelings of emptiness and worthlessness, and unhealthy impulses are usually centered on our sexuality.  She looked up and said, “Amazing, you have all the symptoms except sexual identity issues.” She stared at me for a few seconds and said, “Oh my god, don’t tell me you are gay too.”  Well, I can now say I no longer have sexual identity issues. I know and understand my sexual orientation. I am not gay. I am bisexual.

Looking back, I think it is important to address the issue or borderline personality disorder.  In an analogue study[1], 141 psychologists evaluated a hypothetical client with problems that resembled borderline symptoms but were also consistent with a sexual identity crisis. In this study, client descriptions varied by sexual orientation and gender. Results revealed that male clients with bisexual attractions were more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Therapists were more confident and willing to work with female bisexual clients and gave them a better prognosis. In other words, the clinical community believes that we bisexual males have severe issues in dealing with our bisexuality resulting in Borderline Personality Disorder. This means that our belief system makes it difficult to make changes through traditional therapy, and difficult to function in our society. Women on the other hand seem to be able to assimilate their bisexual desires into normal life patterns with or without therapy.

If we have indeed overcome our identity issues and we know and understand that we are bisexual, than what comes next? I think the answer may lie is taking a closer look at the borderline personality symptoms. In my case, I may still have a Borderline Personality Disorder, but I now understand it and have learned to live with it. Somewhat like in the movie, The Beautiful Mind, I now know when my disorder is throwing false information at me, and I can simply reject it and function with the truth: I know who I am; I love and care for myself, and I appreciate my mind and body with their bisexual desires. But that was a long and painful journey. The next few blogs will be devoted to the steps we can take to overcome our borderline personality symptoms.

My five suggestions for bisexuals:

  1. We accept the fact that we are psychologically and biologically bisexual. If we are sexually attracted to both males and females, then we are bisexual.
  2. We get comfortable with it. We keep telling ourselves its okay to be bisexual.
  3. We recognize our negative feelings, enter into a state of mindfulness, and allow our higher self to soothe our mind until we begin to see the amazing qualities we possess because of our bisexuality. It is truly a gift.
  4. We deal with negative thoughts. We don’t suppress them, we convert them to positive thoughts. We can do this by simply taking a negative statement and turning it into a positive. For example “I cannot control my sex drive” becomes “I can control my sex drive”.
  5. We look for ways to appreciate our bisexual body and brain. We keep an ever growing list of things we are thankful for. When we have doubts, we simply check out list and recite all the things we like about ourselves.

[1] Eubanks-Carter, Catherine and Goldfried, Marvin  R. . The impact of client sexual orientation and gender on clinical judgments and diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology. March, 2006