BPD Voices Project, Living With BPD, Scott's Voice
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“Masking” & Hiding BPD (and Autism!)

 

Disclaimer: some words, phrases and/or paragraphs expressed here may contain offensive language, or speak briefly about childhood abuse – this is in no way meant to cause distress, but to educate and document.

Recently I have thought about the differences and the significance’s between Borderline and autism.

I was told over a year ago to not get tested for Autism, because it can often be “masked” with borderline. Sometimes it can be “hard to tell the difference” with some of the issues that someone may present with.

For example –  Emotionally charged meltdowns, intense relationships, superficial friendships, miscommunication and incorrectly assumed intentions. A lot of people with Asperger’s syndrome could identify with this list. An equal number of those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) could also identify with this list. With individual’s on both sides being misdiagnosed with the other condition, what are the key differences and how can we tell them apart?

Apparently, females can “hide/mask” their autism better than males, according to Autism expert Tony Wood, but I like to think that I have actually become pretty fucking good at masking both my BPD and newly diagnosed “Autism”.

It has taken me many years to master the art of “appearing normal”, or “appearing better than I feel inside”, but I know that I can still (even with all of my years of experience in doing this) eventually need to cave in and admit that I am actually in need of help/assistance, and that I’m just really good at appearing as though I don’t need it, even though I really do.

Autism and BPD are not my only issues, I struggle with a lot, but that’s for another post (maybe) one day, now it is time to talk about how I learned to mask and hide my emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

Emotionally charged meltdowns, intense relationships, superficial friendships, miscommunication and incorrectly assumed intentions. A lot of people with Asperger’s syndrome could identify with this list. An equal number of those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) could also identify with this list. With individual’s on both sides being misdiagnosed with the other condition, what are the key differences and how can we tell them apart?

I want to make it clear before proceeding that this is in no way a “GUIDE” for people to follow in order to “learn” how to do this, it is simply here for reference, for people who are perhaps living with someone who has Autism or BPD and wonders why they seem so well, and yet need so much help often at the same time (it can be confusing!). It is also here in the hope that “clinicians” and “service providers” can somehow maybe see this, and recognise it in someone who they are treating. Often if someone says to me “Is that really how you feel?” I will come clean and tell them NO!

Emotions and Feelings:

In order to mask my emotions, I have tried many different tactics, some of which have worked better than others. I currently use a combination of what I would like to refer to as “learned numbness” and “classic avoidance” techniques.

The first “Learned Numbness” was taught to me by my Mother. She taught me from a very early age that if I cried, or showed emotion in relation to anything, that I would get beaten, abused and scolded for it, and (most importantly) would never get what I asked for or needed when expressing the emotion.

With this came the “classic avoidance tactics” – I learned very early on to avoid conflicts, or situations which would cause me to feel emotions or thoughts (especially of happiness), I steered very clear from anything I thought was going to hurt me, I spoke only when spoken to, because I learned quickly that whatever I had to say did not matter,nor did my feelings.

As sad and hurtful as this sounds/is , it has served me well, protected me, but also made me incredibly isolated, withdrawn and alone.

I was also taught by teachers at school, peer students, and my older brother that “boys don’t show emotion”. I never asked to be a boy,nor did I necessarily ever want to be one. My mother also never wanted two sons, she wanted one of each, and I was the second son born, so.. kind of obvious why she behaved the way she did with me (or at least, that is one of the many conclusions that I have managed to come to).

Whilst being diagnosed with “avoidance personality traits” , many people tend to believe that this is just another “part of the BPD”, which I wholeheartedly disagree with – here is why…

The avoidance began from a learned behavior (numbness), so for me, avoidance was a way of … well, avoiding the numbness, replacing it with what is seen as “normality” or playing it straight.

This has done nothing to serve me well, it has caused more harm than good, but it is a thing which I will most likely always do. People need to be aware that I do it (both the numbness and avoidance behavior), because to better help me, they need to understand me.

I am complex (as many other people who are affected by BPD or Autism are), but I am manageable, if understood.

Writing has helped me an immeasurable amount, but the drawback of that is that it can often also stir up shit that I would much rather not have in my life any more. – So, talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place!

A note to any “service providers”, organizations etc that see this – always question your client’s needs. Always gain confirmation, and never see things for how they “appear”, as more often than not, they are entirely different.

Scott.

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