Borderline Personality Disorder and Perfectionism
Perfectionism isn’t something that is often associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Those of us with this diagnosis of BPD can often be perceived as out of control and chaotic, so what does that have to do with perfectionism? From my experience, there is a relationship between BPD and perfectionism that can impact all areas of our lives. Perfectionism crept into my body image, my personal relationships, and my academic and professional endeavors. It stems from the black-and-white thinking or "splitting" within borderline personality disorder. In the video below, I’ll share a little bit more about how BPD perfectionism has impacted my body image, relationships, and professional life.
Borderline Perfectionism Is Another Type of Black-and-White Thinking
Borderline personality disorder perfectionism stems from a deep feeling of “I feel bad on the inside” so let me show the world just how “good” I am. I still struggle with this kind of splitting; it’s like the less I feel that I matter and am worth on the inside, the more I feel need to make up for it on the outside with excessive achieving, a perfect body, and unrealistic expectations of myself and others. My life was either unraveling completely or it had to be "perfect." I didn’t feel like enough on the inside, especially not emotionally, so I tried to fill myself up by doing, achieving, and adhering to unrealistic standards physically, emotionally, and professionally.
My BPD perfectionism also stems from a lack of self and the need to fill myself up by doing. Interestingly enough, some of the most out-of-control periods of my life were also accompanied by my most intense periods of achievement. I think it was pretty confusing for my family and friends because, on the outside, it appeared like I was doing great. At one period of time, I actually earned my M.A. degree in psychology, interestingly enough. I was doing so much. But on the inside and emotionally, I was really struggling.
Ways that Borderline Personality Disorder Perfectionism Manifested in My Life
It’s not uncommon for those with borderline personality disorder to also suffer from eating disorders and struggles with body image. These are certainly a part of my past. Obsessive and compulsive thinking about my body and my looks stemmed from a constant empty feeling inside. My internal world felt very out of control, but obsessing over weight and physical appearance felt like something within my grasp I could control. In the video below, I will elaborate more on three areas of my life where borderline perfectionism has impacted me.
Easton, W. (2018, September 18). Borderline Personality Disorder and Perfectionism , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, January 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2018/9/borderline-personality-disorder-and-perfectionism
Author: Whitney Easton
I just went through a break up with someone who comes across as undiagnosed and this video helps me put puzzle pieces together. My ex admitted that perfectionism was important and where walls went up (moments that required vulnerability) I had not attributed it to perfectionism. Thank you for this wonderful insight. I hope my former partner find the precipice for change in order to live a life of peace. Our ending was chaotic and hurtful but I will always be her biggest cheerleader for good health from a distance.
You’re amazing Whitney! ❤️ Thank you for sharing your experience!
Thank you so much for your comment Talia and for reading! I could write a whole other thing about perfectionism and writing and pets! I totally relate. I am a mama to two dogs as well and I struggled to even write this post. I'm so happy to hear you found strength in this. Sending warmth, Whitney
Thank you so much for this! I hear you and everything you say. I can see how hard it is. But if it’s consolation, having your struggles put into words like this is literally life saving for me. Sometimes I need to remember it’s okay to be imperfect. I even struggle with being perfect with my pets, to keep them happy because on the inside I’m so unhappy. Thank you for your bravery and speaking openly about this! I’m also a writer and perfectionism creeps into my writing as well. I find it hard to even finish a piece sometimes because of an inner voice constantly criticizing, Watching this video gives me strength and hope. Thank you!!!
Hi Lizanne! Thank you for your note. I'm so happy to hear this resonated with you. I loved that pencil reminder, too. Please do keep reading & sending warmth, Whitney
This is such a key point - “I feel bad on the inside” so let me show the world just how “good” I am.
Thank you for sharing this honest, and real account! It's amazing how comforting a "simple" reminder of something like a pencil having an eraser can be. All of us can benefit from the reminder that we are all meant to try, erase, and try again (and again) - that is what's real!