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3 Songs That Aren’t About BPD – But Could Be

Some say that art can be therapeutic. Music is no exception. Recently, I’ve discovered three songs that are, as far as I know, not about borderline personality disorder (BPD), but do a remarkable job describing it. The songs are Meredith Brooks’s Bitch, Billy Joel’s She’s Always a Woman to Me, and Natalie Merchant’s My Skin.

Bitch

I've discovered three songs that are not about borderline personality disorder (BPD), but do a remarkable job describing it. Take a look at this.This song sums up BPD in a nutshell with the lyrics “I’m your hell,/I’m your dream/I’m nothing in between”. One of the symptoms of BPD is black-or-white thinking, which is best summed up as “I’m not good so I must be bad”, rather than the healthy “I have good and bad qualities.”

Another line is “So take me as I am/ This may mean/ You’ll have to be a stronger man/ Rest assured that/ When I start to make you nervous/ And I’m going to extremes/ Tomorrow I will change/ And today won’t mean a thing.” Translation: “Please accept me even at a great personal cost, and please understand my volatile mood swings.” Two more symptoms of BPD are uncertain identity and rapid cycling idealization and devaluation. In other words, a person with BPD might change between today and tomorrow, and might hold you in high regard one day and despise you the next. It does indeed take a strong–or understanding–person to put up with this.

She’s Always a Woman to Me

Billy Joel’s song about his ex-wife describes loving a person with BPD. “She’s frequently kind and she’s suddenly cruel/She can do as she pleases, she’s nobody’s fool.” This describes the rapid cycling idealization and devaluation common in BPD–we can literally be frequently kind and suddenly cruel to the same person within a short time period.

Another line in the song is “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes/ She can ruin your faith with her casual lies/ And she only reveals what she wants you to see/ She hides like a child, but she’s always a woman to me.” If you don’t relate to this, you’re probably not affected by BPD. Symptoms of BPD include emotional manipulation, casual lying (although it’s not one of the diagnostic criteria, this is a common trait), and fear of being emotionally vulnerable. Emotionally speaking, we’re children. It takes a special kind of person to see us for what we are.

My Skin

This song starts out blunt–“Take a look at my body/ Look at my hands/
There’s so much here/ That I don’t understand.” BPD is one of the few mental illnesses that leaves visible physical scars in the form of self-injury. We don’t always understand why we do it; we just know that it helps us feel better. It helps us give voice to unspeakable pain, it helps us feel something instead of nothing, it gives us courage to override the pain of the current situation and change it.

“I’ve been treated so wrong/ I’ve been treated so long/ As if I’m becoming untouchable.” The cause of BPD is unknown, but many people with BPD are abuse survivors. We desperately want to talk about it, but people shy away from such an uncomfortable discussion. Sadly, we often end up in abusive relationships, perpetuating our symptoms.

“I need/ The darkness/ The sweetness/ The sadness/ The weakness/ I need this/ I need/ A lullaby/ A kiss goodnight/ The angel sweet/ Love of my life/ Oh, I need this.” Life with BPD is difficult–we come to rely on the pain because we don’t know how to live without it. We need the darkness, but we need light as well. We need help but don’t always know how to ask for it.

Music can be excellent for helping people understand BPD. These three songs might be good to mention when you’re describing BPD to non-BPD people.

You can also find Becky Oberg on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin.

8 thoughts on “3 Songs That Aren’t About BPD – But Could Be”

  1. Just thought of another one. “Everyone Else in the World” by Stina Nordenstam. It’s definitely not about BPD, but it’s about the frustration and futility of trying to make someone who is special to you return your affection. This is a feeling anyone who has ever loved someone with a personality disorder knows all too well.

    “Everyone else in the world/Would love me by now… But not you.”

    KInd of obscure, but it’s a great song!

  2. “Song to the Siren” by Tim Buckley. Probably not written specifically about BPD, but it describes a man who is drawn to a woman by her beautiful promises: “Here I am/Waiting to hold you.” As soon as he gets too close, however, she withdraws because when he tries to love her he instead triggers some deep sadness in her (which could be interpreted as her fear of abandonment, if you want to apply it directly to BPD): “O my heart shies from the sorrow.”

    As a non-BPD who has fallen in love with someone who seemed so warm and loving, only to be suddenly discarded and left wondering whether or not she actually felt anything for me at all, the line “Did I dream you dreamed about me?” sums up the bewilderment perfectly.

    At the end of the song he is so depressed that he is contemplating giving up on life, but he still feels compelled to reach out to his “siren” and beg her to return to him. When you fall for someone with BPD, when they have drawn you in with their absolute trust and their idealization of you, it can be very difficult to let them go. Even if they now seem to see you as evil incarnate, you still want them back, because that initial connection was more powerful than anything you have ever felt.

    Long afloat on shipless oceans
    I did all my best to smile
    ‘Til your singing eyes and fingers
    Drew me loving to your isle
    And you sang
    Sail to me
    Sail to me
    Let me enfold you
    Here I am
    Here I am
    Waiting to hold you

    Did I dream you dreamed about me?
    Were you hare when I was fox?
    Now my foolish boat is leaning
    Broken lovelorn on your rocks,
    For you sing, “Touch me not, touch me not, come back tomorrow:
    O my heart, O my heart shies from the sorrow”

    I am puzzled as the newborn child
    I am as troubled as the tide.
    Should I stand amid the breakers?
    Or should I lie with Death my bride?
    Hear me sing, “Swim to me, Swim to me, Let me enfold you:
    Here I am, Here I am, Waiting to hold you”

  3. Alice in Chains “Down in a hole” Written by Jerry Cantrell. Discribes perfectly the constant feeling of emptiness, your down in a hole and the whole world is throwing sand down on you. Feeling so small. Buying into the lie that what you have as character is never going to be enough. Loving so much and then the fear of abandonment sets in and you begin the self destruction before your partner can. Paranoia. I’d like to fly. But my wings have been so denied. You want to be normal, consistent, content, but can’t. Constantly kicking youself in the teeth by making the ones you love most you top suspects in your sick extreme witch hunts. Losing control. Your impulsiveness when your low does nothing but further damage you. You chain smoke, drink, screw, cut, or shoot up.

    Satan is alive and well my friends. You best find your faith in Christ and discover your worst fears before he does. All he has to do is whisper the lies and when you listen you will do all the damage for him and not even realize how F***ed you are. There is always hope.

  4. Thanks so much for the post, I’ve found that the song Love, Don’t Leave by avalanche city can relate to our fear of abandonment and stuff

  5. Concrete Blonde’s 1990 album “Bloodletting” is pretty much packed to the brim with BPD imagery and references, although a lot of people just write it off as “goth”. “I Don’t Need A Hero”, “Caroline”, and most especially “The Beast”… eventually the album became so triggering I had to get rid of it.

  6. Listen to Misunderstood by Dream Catcher for another example of a song that describes BPD. Thanks for posting those three songs…always good to hear words that describe a tiny bit of BPD.

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