Why do I feel crazy? What’s a “personality disorder”?

Crazy is such an insulting and non descriptive term, but it is one we use when we’re not very clear why we feel a certain way, or that others sometimes use when they are upset with our behavior.

In Mental Health, we have some conditions that of this year finally became recognized as important and pervasive that previously were considered secondary conditions.  However, anyone who’s ever lived with personality disorder characteristics knows how devastating, painful, and difficult they can be to live with.

The most well known personality disorder is called “Borderline Personality Disorder”. For a multitude of reasons such as  when a child’s emotional needs are very strong, or they’re very sensitive, or they are raised in a home with a lot of chaos or unpredictability or abuse, the child’s  need to feel safe and be able to trust that their needs will be met are absent.  For whatever reason, when the baby/child doesn’t feel home is a safe and nurturing place and they get negative feedback when they’re needing something, the result is the absence of  trust.    This creates a mental condition where they often feel afraid and anxious of being hurt, it becomes hard to relax because they never know when the next physical or emotional blow will occur.  They then become even more over-sensitive to the feedback they get in the world, become more insecure, and question their ability to be loved. The world where they should feel safe does not feel safe, and they become constantly afraid and unsure of how they should act, and they feel worthless and unlovable.  When bad things happen to them, they feel it’s their fault and it proves they’re unworthy of love and care.   When they’re feeling really badly, the people they should be able to turn to for help – their caregivers- aren’t helpful.

Medications can make it easier to cope with this living with this disorder, but generally the solution is to work with someone (therapist) who can help you correct the negative and erratic thinking cycle you’re not even aware of.  You are so used to feeling bad, you have no idea how as an adult, now you’re the one keeping you feeling this bad.  The amount of emotional pain is worsened by their thoughts that they’re unlovable and unvaluable and will never feel better.  The emotional pain of living with this disorder is devastating.  These people end up doing a lot of things to numb their bad feelings, and often think about and even do try to kill themselves because the level of discomfort is so high, and eventually without treatment they often sadly succeed.   It’s hard to get help when you’re younger and have no idea that’s what’s going on is something you can train to get better.  The training is about learning to self calm and avoid reacting verbally or emotionally when you are upset.  In therapy, we refer to this as knowing your triggers and learning how to control your reactions and not act on your impulsive self destructive thoughts.   The relationship with the therapist becomes the first relationship where you can safely tell the truth about your pain.

Mental health treatment is also very expensive.  It’s both hard to afford therapy and hard to find the right therapist you will feel comfortable enough with to tell your truth and get help.  Doing a lot of your own homework will shorten the time and monies you will spend trying to fix this problem.  Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT is one of the specific therapy approaches designed to specifically help those with this disorder self train and take care of themselves. DBT self help programs are available at community mental health centers, and online there’s a number of resources, and even Aps for your smart devices to help you with learning them.  Cognitive Behavior therapy approaches are also helpful and most therapists will be using these skills with you in your therapy, but you can also learn and practice more by reading about both and using workbooks incorporating both.  Dr David Burns has a series of books called “Feeling Good” which also have workbooks to help you see what you’re doing wrong in your thought processes and learn how to correct it.   Going to the EDX site and taking the free course “The Science of Happiness” will teach you a lot of what behaviors help and hinder mental health.  Searching and beginning the course on Mindfulness by finding “MBSR free” will change your life.  But the majority of us need structure to fulfill a goal, and when you’re in emotional pain, you need to seek out mental health professionals to help guide you and motivate you to keep working on those tasks.

Avoid behaviors and relationships that further worsen your opinion of yourself.  You have to at least toy with the idea of help being available and yourself being worthy of help.  Most of the most successful people in the world have had to work on themselves emotionally in some way to be able to do the things they can do now.  Some people are lucky enough to not to need to have to do this work, but since half of us do, consider when you look around you that half of the people you consider to have successful lives likely had to work hard to create that for themselves.  The ones that have worked the hardest appreciate the success the most when they find it.  You can be one of them.

Why do I feel crazy? What’s a “personality disorder”?

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