Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is also referred to as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is a diagnosis that describes a range of destructive impulsive emotional reactions.
The disorder will be different for all sufferers. What has happened is that a highly individual and complicated way of responding to emotions has developed, which the the person with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) will probably have very little insight into.
Symptoms of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)
- Emotional instability, particularly involving negative emotions: rage, sorrow, shame, panic, loneliness
- Disturbed patterns of thinking or perception
- Intense and unstable relationships with others
- Self harming and addictive behaviours
- Developing powerful attachments to people
- volatile emotional spikes; ups and downs
- very flat mood
How did your EUPD develop?
There may be some argument for a genetic component, but it is thought that EUPD develops as a response to early attachment problems and to early trauma. It is not something you were born with, it has developed in response to your early environmental experience.
It can also be developed as part of a response to traumatic events at other times in our lives. Typically these early experiences of trauma or of attachment based problems will have been overlooked at the time.
EUPD may be something that is passed from one generation to another. So a man who has symptoms of EUPD may become a father who creates intolerable emotional experiences in his children’s lives. If we can find a way to diagnose and start working on the condition the consequences will be far reaching.
It is all too easy to live a life trapped within EUPD which results in you failing to be able to thrive and live creatively. It may mean that you won’t marry or have children because you are caught in cyclical pattern of behaviour in which you cut off from people and withdraw rather than being able to let your life develop more constructively.
Can you treat EUPD?
Yes. It is something that can be treated, usually by psychotherapy. It is not clear that medication is helpful. It is possible to develop insights into how your EUPD works and with that knowledge to learn to live with it more constructively. You are still likely to have the same impulsive and reactive response to emotional situations. But you may come to be able to recognise them and adapt and adjust more appropriately. You can learn to live with it proactively and to manage it.
“it was life changing when I got my head around my EUPD. Instead of being someone who was always reacting, often in quite extreme ways to fairly ordinary things, I became able to see what was happening to me. I can’t say enough about the difference it made to me.”anonymous
Do I need medication for EUPD?
Treatment may involve a combination of medication and a talking therapy. If you are experiencing depression and or anxiety then you may want to consider medication to help you with those symptoms. But in the longer term BPD or EUPD is something that can be treated with psychotherapy. It is something you have to learn to live with.
Find a psychotherapist who has experience of working with these conditions
Though Dialectic Behavioural Therapy, a version of cognitive behavioural therapy is often suggested, psychotherapists who have been trained in analytic and psychodynamic models tend to have gone through a longer and deeper training and may have more experience of how complicated the EUPD system is.
A feature of the diagnoses refers to unstable emotions which tend to cause sufferers to become highly reactive. We need to try to find a way of bringing stability into our lives, routines and relationships. This will take some work.
Developing a more stable way of living
Start with small acts of measured self care. Try to introduce a better routine into your daily life. Start with small steps. Becoming able to plan your routines is the start of developing a proactive attitude to yourself and the people around you. It may help to break the cycle of reactive behaviour. It is very difficult to be stable when you are continually having to react to things.
Introducing stability, starting to plan for yourself will help to take the panic out of things and help you bring BPD / EUPD under your control.
The benefit of planning
It may be helpful to prepare a bit before your initial meeting with a psychotherapist.
You might find it helpful to write some notes about what you have been through.
It will be helpful to think of this as a longer term project.
Prepare a brief history of your mental health; some suggestions
- what have you been through?
- what the changes in mood are like?
- what you have found helpful and unhelpful in the psychiatrists and psychotherapists you have met?
- any diagnoses, and what you have made of them?
- what you are looking for in psychotherapy now ?
- what you can afford to pay
- when you are available for a weekly session
Writing some notes, preparing, will help you feel you are addressing this proactively, and not that you are suddenly being thrown into a reactive and stressful state of mind.
It can take time and patience to get to start to see how your EUPD works. We are trying to find a way to open up a closed dysfunctional system which probably started to develop in your early years. To you it feels like normal, but there may be a better version of normal available to you.
Emotionally unstable personality disorder – attachments and fear of abandonment
A diagnosis of EUPD will likely mean that you have particular anxieties around attachments, and will have a particular fear of abandonment. It is the anxiety about abandonment that links BPD or EUPD to our early histories of attachment, to the way we did not feel we were adequately cared for by our parents and carers.
For this reason, BPD or EUPD is considered as being a disorder that relates to your early experiences.
It is not about something that is wrong with you, it is more the case that it reflects something that has happened to you, particularly in terms of your early relationships.
Frequently there will have been experiences of trauma. Often both the attachment issues and the traumatic experiences that were experienced will have been overlooked.
People who have gone through these kind of early relationship problems and experiences are frequently the children of parents who themselves went through something similar and may have the disorder themselves. These conditions are often handed down from one generation to the next.
Often, you will find yourself cutting off from emotional events without realising you have done so. What will have happened is that something will have made you feel threatened, perhaps that you might be abandoned by someone, and this has triggered a reaction in you that shuts down your emotions.
Bereavement and EUPD
For example, faced with bereavement, someone with EUPD may appear to have a very limited emotional reaction. This may not be the case, they may feel very moved by the loss of the person. The approaching death has in fact caused the EUPD sufferer to withdraw.
They may appear cold, detached, stoic. Faced with the loss of the person they have gone inward. They appear normal, if rather detached but inside their emotions build up.
EUPD covers a long term pattern of abnormal behaviour, frequently indicated by unstable relationships to other people.
EUPD, emotions and self harm
The symptoms of EUPD may involve destructive risk taking behaviour, often it will involve self-harming. Addiction based issues are often part of the picture.
If you have EUPD you don’t have a normal way to express your emotions, instead they build up inside you.
Feeling that there is no way to express their emotions the sufferer may turn to self harming activities like cutting, scratching, burning, and generally hurting themselves.
They may take risks, act impulsively in ways that might have dangerous consequences for themselves or others. They find relief in the act of self harm, but of course this is not a healthy long term strategy.
Working with a diagnosis of EUPD
Being given a diagnosis of a personality disorder can be a shock if you weren’t expecting it, but it can be a relief too. You may have long felt that there was something wrong with you that wasn’t being recognised. Now you have the diagnosis you are in a position to care for and look after yourself and others better.
I have twenty years experience of helping people find ways to engage with, and to try to come to terms with emotionally unstable personality disorder EUPD.
Giving yourself the chance to speak in a confidential setting may prove helpful, it may be the beginning of starting to develop insight into this debilitating condition. It may provide you with the chance to find a more constructive and less critical way of living.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my work might help you.