BPD is referred to as a personality disorder. Does that mean that those of us who are thus diagnosed have a bad personality? And what is a personality anyway? How does it differ from character?

Character refers to a set of moral and mental qualities and beliefs, that makes a person different from others. A person’s character traits are hidden within…. Personality on the other hand is the outer appearance and behaviour of a person and can change over time.

 It is said that hard times or trauma, especially during childhood, will affect a person’s personality, creating BPD and its over-the-top emotional responses. (I prefer the term emotional dysregulation rather than BPD.) Our deep pain becomes a part of who we are and will under stress affect the ability to control our emotions.

Many of us feel we still have a child within. I certainly do. Maybe that’s why I’m exploring so much about childhood as I’m writing these posts. I’m remembering childhood trauma that may have brought the sensitivity and strong emotional reactions I have as an adult today. And so it is, that with this post, I’m led to a few more memories of childhood.

The following might possibly evoke memories of your own childhood.

I was a “sweet” child – at least my parents treated me like I was. I was the kind of child who would share the cookies and candies she had been given with people who came to visit, not keeping any for herself. The results of having a “good girl” label maybe? Were my character traits being encouraged by doting parents? And how about my sisters? How did they respond to this?

At times I was cruelly treated by one of my sisters. It hurt and I couldn’t help the anger this brought on. But I was aware that my parents were mistreating her because they erroneously considered her a “bad girl”. She suffered greatly. I tried to be good to her, because I understood what made her the way she was. And yet this only served to intensify the contrast our parents saw in us. In their eyes I became an even sweeter girl, while my sister’s “badness” came out looking even worse.

I wonder how this childhood relationship has impacted my life today. Do I respond with anger when I’m badly treated because I had so much of that in the past? One of the most hurtful things for me is when I’m considered bad, though I’ve tried to be the best I could be – often thinking more of others’ welfare than my own. Is that why I’ve had compassion for people who suffer like I do? Is that why I find it so important to respond to injustice – even becoming a mental health activist?

The way I see it, my character was basically generous and caring, but my personality – the difficulty controlling my emotions – was affected by trauma. I wonder if these are some of the factors in my childhood that brought on over-sensitivity and a recent diagnosis of BPD? We’ll never know for sure, but I believe that considering these things can help us understand ourselves. Hopefully we’ll be better able to forgive ourselves for the intense emotions we express today.