BPD, Mental health, Recovery, The Now - Healing

Bad manners and BPD

I read an article on “The Mighty” the other day about how people with BPD are “impolite”. ( https://themighty.com/2019/02/impolite-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/?utm_source=newsletter_bpd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_bpd_2019-02-23). This got me thinking about my own behaviour and how it is often perceived as bad manners.

So for you non-BPD sufferers out there, hopefully, this explains a little why we can seem to be rude, uneducated whatnots.

Now I have been raised to mind my ‘p’s and ‘q’s and not to interrupt the grownups, however when I read this article I realised that my manners are indeed lacking. But like others in the article say, it is not intentional. And now that I know that these negative traits are part of this “thing” in my brain, I have something concrete to improve upon. Although I admit, some of these are going to take time.

Interrupting is apparently a ‘thing’. I know I do this. When someone is talking about something I can identify with or feel reasonably knowledgeable about, I feel positively fit to burst. It is difficult to remain seated, or if I am standing not to twitch and flail my arms trying to a) get the attention of the speaker or b) jump in and take control of the conversation.

Over the years many people have just pursed their lips at me, held up a hand and said, “Let me finish …”

My intent at this time is not to be ill-mannered, I know interrupting is not the done thing but whatever it is that I have to say is speeding and racing around my frantic brain, and if it doesn’t come out immediately, I may forget. Does that matter? Probably not to anyone else, but to me in that moment it takes on immense proportions of importance. Because I am generally quiet, shy and struggling to keep up with and understand the conversation around me if I hook into something, I just get over-excited and whatever I need to say tends to erupt in a garbled and sometimes stammering mess.

Oversharing and undersharing
Oversharing and undersharing. Well yes, I do tend to open up randomly with people I have just met if they are kind to me. I will jump straight into a deep and personal conversation instead of the expected polite, superficial niceties. But I find it very difficult to discuss things with family members. Not that I don’t trust them, it is just that people are too important to me and I get terrified. I think I fear their judgement, punishment and ostracisation if I were to share the truth of the horrible person that is me – well that is how I have been feeling up to now.

Lashing out
Lashing out at others is something I now recognise to be a problem. It’s not deliberate, it is entirely without thought just pure emotion mind feeling hurt or rejected, disrespected or used. I just jump to negative feelings if something isn’t right and I feel hurt or abandoned (or about to be), so yes I lash out.

It is one of the things I least like about myself and have been working extremely hard at controlling since I recognised it as a trait.

Cancelling plans
I cancel plans and flip out all the time, but it is not because I don’t want to join in, it is just that my anxiety gets the better of me. On the rare occasions I can hold on and ride through it, I do have a pleasant time. I build up in my mind that I don’t belong, that I shouldn’t be there, that I am too boring or that I will do something or say something wrong and upset someone. Then I just can’t go. I have been avoiding family get-togethers for years because I am terrified of being singled out and questioned and judged, punished and losing the relationships I have.

Talking about oneself – too much!
Talking exclusively about yourself is another issue for BPD folk, and I can get this way with some people. It is not that I don’t find other people interesting because I find them absolutely fascinating. With me, it tends to be because I am trying to find common ground, or show that I understand what a person is saying. But it tends to come across as though I am a know it all, or that I am indulging in one-upmanship, etc. It really isn’t meant that way, it is just terrible social skills. I have not yet learned the art of conversation. It is silence or blurt.

Being direct
I had thought that being honest and straightforward was a good thing, but from reading this, it apparently isn’t a trait that is highly regarded. This is one of those areas that I just don’t understand. My black and white thinking says that honesty equals goodness. Hmmm. This needs further thought. So I genuinely believe I am being helpful and appropriate.

Boy BPD folk have poor social skills, don’t we?

Ignoring or ghosting people
I don’t ignore or ghost people online or via text, but if I see someone I know out and about I freeze. I don’t know what I am supposed to do so I pretend not to see or hear them. It is generally blindingly obvious they have been noticed, so I end up offending the person. With me, it is a fear that they wouldn’t want to be seen speaking to or associating with me in public, because, well … I am me so who on earth would want to be seen dead talking to me?

Yeah, I really feel that way, and it confuses people when I flip out and ignore them. When I get back to the safety of home, I tend to get teary and upset about the whole thing and send long, apologetic and over the top texts.

I agree with the forgetfulness thing. I have a good memory of most things, but socially I am forgetful and like the person in the article says, I just dissociate a lot especially in group conversation.

Leaving without saying goodbye
Something else that has always freaked me out and causes me problems is how to leave a social situation. As I don’t know how to do this properly, I tend to start fritzing and often do not say goodbye. People think I am insulting, although that is not intended. It is a keen awareness of my lack of social skills and plain and simple fear of doing it wrong and subsequent punishment.

Deleting and re-adding people on social media
I had to have a chuckle at this one. I am so very guilty. Not only do I un-friend and then at a later date, attempt to re-friend people, but I also run parallel social media accounts. People in column A can be friends with me on one, and people in column B can be friends with me on another. I am afraid of people knowing me, or trying to understand me through association. I am so scared of having friends I do what I can to put anti-friend control mechanisms in place so that I don’t get hurt.

Trying to prolong a conversation
This is one I don’t do, in fact, I tend to do the opposite. I will be having a perfectly acceptable telephone conversation then suddenly, something in my head says “Stop! Enough!” and my tone changes and the other person picks up on it, feels bad that they are taking up my time and the conversation ends. I don’t understand why I do this – my entire body will just tense up, my brain will start screaming at the amount of input it is receiving, and that’s the end of the conversation.

Cutting people out
If I cut someone out unexpectedly, it is because they have generally said, posted or done something minor that raises a red flag for me. It can be a simple phrase, but my ‘alert’ function goes on, I decide this person is not being totally honest with me and has become a potential threat. From that point on, I will lose trust in them. I will be polite, but wary and closed. It can be as simple as two conversations whereby someone says they are on “friendly terms” with another, and in the next conversation they are “good friends” with that person. To me those are entirely different things and that minor change signifies that you are untrustworthy.

Being Clingy
Oh dear. Yes, of course, people with BPD are clingy. We worship and adore you and will spend all day staring into your soul if you let us. Your presence and attention gives us life, and when that is withdrawn we merely cease to be, so we hold on far too tight. I only exist in a reality where I am something special to you.

Checking out of conversations
Yep. And again it is not because I don’t want to hear what you are saying, it just takes such a tremendous amount of energy to focus and still the body and the mind and be present. Asking me to sit still and concentrate on a conversation is like asking someone to climb Mt Everest. I cannot maintain the focus and dissociate. Always. Which is really annoying for me too, because mostly, I would like to hear and remember what you are saying.

I think my ex-husband would be the first to agree with this one, lol! Yes, I do nag, but that is because the world in my head is so high-speed and everyone else lives in slow motion, I get hugely frustrated at how long it takes others to attend to something they have promised. I just cannot understand why something hasn’t been done and become quite sure that if I were in charge of whatever it was, then it would have been completed and would, of course, be perfect. Sigh! This is an unpleasant and annoying trait for sure.

Getting defensive
When your closest friend has a tendency to start many conversations with “I’m not criticising you but …” then you know you have a problem with being defensive. Yes, I anticipate criticism and punishment all the time, so I am always primed for that the moment someone opens their mouth. I don’t mean to make you feel on edge, but my instinct is to fight. I put massive pressure on myself to be right, to be perfect and I am only sometimes right and never perfect so yes, I think I have to hold onto trying to be right and fighting for that. I don’t think I know how to validate me otherwise.

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