What is BPD?
Borderline personality disorder, often called BPD, is a personality disorder marked by fear of abandonment and rejection, unstable relationships, mood swings, and impulsive behavior, among many other BPD symptoms.
Psychologist Theodore Millon identified four subtypes of borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a way to further categorize BPD symptoms. Many people with BPD lean into one or two of these subtypes, while it’s rare to be split equally between the traits of all four.
Don’t expect your symptoms to be a perfect fit into one subtype, but see if one or two describe your behavior better than the other subtypes. The more you know about your disorder, the better your treatment can be.
What does self-destructive BPD look like?
Jacob grew up without his father, who divorced his mother and moved away when he was just a baby. In spite of his mother’s persistent depression and other mental health challenges, Jacob went on to make friends, do well academically, and play football for his high school.
Although no one knew it, he grew up hating himself so deeply that he rarely believed anyone could feel any differently about him. He believed, from his deepest core, that he did not deserve to be loved. When he said the wrong thing in class, messed up a play in football practice, or felt like an outlier among his friends, Jacob had a habit of breaking into the liquor cabinet before his mom got home to numb the self-hatred.
"Borderline personality disorder has four subtypes as a way to further categorize BPD symptoms."
His junior year in high school, Jacob started dating Annie. When he was with her, he experienced moments of relief from his extreme self-hatred, intermingled with many more moments of intense fear that she would leave him, because how could she love him like she said she did? He idolized Annie. He felt she was the best part of his entire life.
Spring of senior year, Annie told Jacob she had applied to an out of state university, and had been accepted with a full scholarship. Jacob felt betrayed, as they had planned to both attend the local state university.
Jacob couldn’t bear his emotions; he couldn’t believe he let himself think that Annie loved him, that she ever cared about him, that maybe she would stick around.
He told Annie that she couldn’t leave him. He would kill himself if she did. After Annie went home, he locked himself in his room with alcohol and a weapon and called Annie to tell her goodbye.
It took Jacob’s best friend shimmying up the house to his second story bedroom window to calm him down that night and keep him safe.
Self-destructive borderline personality disorder symptoms
Jacob fell into the self-destructive BPD subtype. Before entering treatment at the Optimum Performance Institute (OPI), he displayed several of the common traits of self-destructive borderline personality disorder:
- Intense feelings of self-loathing (self-hatred)
- Prone to self-harm
- Often depressed
- Feelings of bitterness
- Look for comfort through attention from others
- Suicidal behavior
- Self-injurious behavior
- Substance abuse
- Engage in reckless behaviors out of lack of self-care, not to impress others
- Tend to sabotage their own happiness and wellbeing due to feelings of being undeserving
- Unstable self-image (lack identity)
- Believes no one cares about them, and so they don’t care about themselves
- Unstable emotions
Treatment for self-destructive BPD
The deep-rooted feelings of low self-worth in a person who leans toward the self-destructive subtype make it less likely that they will seek treatment on their own.
But borderline personality disorder is a treatable disease, and even if you have the self-destructive subtype, you are no exception.
Jacob resisted the idea of going to residential treatment for nearly a year after graduating high school. After the night he threatened suicide to Annie, he felt deep shame and self-hatred about the way he had been feeling, and that he had brought others into his dark and twisted world.
Jacob’s mother found a therapist for him to see. He went to sessions, but didn’t find therapy helpful and usually left feeling even worse about himself. Suicide attempts and threats became more common as the year went on.
His mother, understanding the gravity of his situation, convinced Jacob to participate in residential treatment at OPI. As he walked through the doors, he felt a lot of fear and a little hope.
"Whether it’s the extremely painful self-destructive BPD subtype, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or another challenge, we’ll help them manage their struggles, heal from painful experiences, and move forward."
Jacob was also able to process through his father’s abandonment with his individual therapist, helping him to slowly heal that deeply traumatic wound.
Of his therapy groups, Jacob felt he benefited most from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills group and learning cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in his individual sessions. He loved that at OPI, he didn’t feel as much shame for being “the way he was”. He wasn’t alone in these feelings. Instead, he felt supported by other OPI participants and felt more and more hope as he witnessed the progress other borderline patients were making.
As Jacob worked his way through the program, he found joy in working with his career and education counselors, who helped him develop his passion for woodworking and enroll in a trade school for carpentry. He found healthy activities to get his mind off of painful emotions, reducing his need to engage in self-destructive behaviors and helping him to heal from substance abuse.
When Jacob was ready to leave OPI, he had the skills he needed to have healthy interpersonal relationships, a fulfilling career, and a strong sense of self that was more resilient to the punches life would throw at him. And most importantly, he knew he could take these blows and get right back on his feet.
Our mission at OPI is to help young adults face the mental health challenges holding them back in life. Whether it’s the extremely painful self-destructive BPD subtype, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or another challenge, we’ll help them manage their struggles, heal from painful experiences, and move forward.
Let us help with self-destructive borderline
It might seem impossible now, but all four subtypes of BPD are treatable diseases. If you’re struggling with the extreme pain of self-destructive borderline personality disorder, let us help you. Call us today at 866.661.3982 to talk about what you need in your treatment program and determine if we’re a good fit for you. We can’t wait to hear from you.