Thank you for the very detailed letter. I responded to each symptom that you have described. It’s also important to mention that I am not able to offer you an “official” diagnosis. It’s always best to be evaluated in person to receive the most accurate diagnosis. If you’re a regular reader of my column you may know that I typically give this advice to most people who want a diagnosis.
- Anxiety: It’s not healthy or normal to constantly feel anxious. You’re preoccupied with the past and find it difficult to control the anxiety. This is something that could be treated with counseling. Counseling could teach you how to stop focusing on things that you can’t control and to “let go” of the past. There are many skills that you could learn to control anxiety.
- Obsession: The manner in which you interact with friends is unhealthy. You become fixated on one particular individual and have a major emotional reaction at the thought of losing them. The hallmarks of borderline personality disorder are unstable relationships and the fear (real or imagined) of being abandoned by those around you. The relationship dynamic you have described is characteristic of individuals with borderline personality disorder.
- Jealousy: It is a sign of insecurity. It’s not a symptom of borderline personality disorder per se, but many individuals with the disorder do tend to experience jealousy.
- Low self-esteem: Regarding low self-esteem, you say that you are not doing well on essays and exams. You dread the essays and exams therefore, you don’t study and panic when you have to take them. That may be related to not being prepared or perhaps not knowing how to prepare for exams. The low self-esteem may have resulted because of low scores on tests and exams. Low self-esteem or a persistently unstable self-image or sense of self is a characteristic of borderline personality disorder. It is not clear whether your low self-esteem is tied to failing school work or if you have an overall unfavorable self-image. It may also be both.
- Rages and easily irritable: That is another characteristic of borderline personality disorder. It’s very common for individuals with the disorder to feel intensely angry. Many individuals with the disorder also feel that they have little or no control over their anger.
- Overanalyzing: That may be related to anger and irritability. It’s common for individuals with borderline personality disorder to display sarcasm or bitterness towards others. You may feel bitter toward “good people.” You may be jealous of people who are perceived as good and your way of changing this is to “prove” that they are not good by pointing out negative things about them. As you said, what you’re doing is manipulating the situation to present these “good individuals” in a bad light. Relatedly, you talked about feeling like God and liking this feeling. That feeling is related to power. Perhaps you feel powerless and pointing out negative things about “good” people is your way of gaining power.
You also reported believing the worst about people. Perhaps you do this because others have treated you badly in the past. If your experience with caretakers or parents (people who were supposed to protect you) has been negative and they have treated you unkindly then it makes sense that you’d come to expect this type of behavior from other people. The act of putting people down, feeling powerless, and trying to gain power by targeting “good” people all seem interrelated. Because other people have possibly had the power to do negative and harmful things to you, you find it pleasurable and desirable to inflict pain on others. It may be a way to get back at people for harming you and it makes you feel powerful.
- Moodiness and impulsivity: Those are common symptoms among individuals with borderline personality disorder.
- Hates change: Being resistant to change is another sign of the disorder. It’s not unusual for individuals with the disorder to experience rigidity in their thinking and behavior.
- Never feels happy: That may be related to moodiness/irritability and perhaps depression. Mood instability is another feature of borderline personality disorder.
I’ve gone through all the symptoms that you have described. You do meet many of the criteria for borderline personality disorder. As mentioned above, I cannot give you an official diagnosis over the Internet. It would be helpful to be evaluated by a mental health clinician. You may also want to educate yourself about the disorder. One book that I have found particularly helpful is titled I Hate You Don’t Leave Me. I believe it is one of the best books written about borderline personality disorder. If you do a search on Amazon.com you’ll likely find that you can buy a used copy of the book very cheaply. You might also be able to locate a copy at the library.
If you decide to see clinician about gaining a diagnosis, then you should also consider treatment. The issues that you have written about are assuredly negatively impacting your life. Borderline personality disorder is treatable, but that it is not something that can be cured overnight. It is treatable with the help of a seasoned and competent clinician who is specifically trained to help individuals with this disorder. I hope that you will consider treatment because it could significantly improve your life. Thank you for your questions and I wish you the best of luck.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on November 7, 2009.