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.
Lyons, D. (2018, September 18). Borderline Personality Disorder and Perfectionism , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2018/9/borderline-personality-disorder-and-perfectionism
Author: Daniel Lyons
Hi, I’m Michelle,I’m living with BPD adhd and have had anorexia and disordered eating to numb my feelings my niece and nephew have autism,it’s awful the ignorance people have about these disorders, it’s not a choice and it’s time people get educated and stop stigmatizing and shaming people who’s brains and coping skills and hypersensitivity are different from them..having mental illness or disabilities is crippling for those of us who white knuckle it everyday just to get up and function..I try to explain BPD explosions or lack of emotional regulation as similar to an autism meltdown, I don’t punish or condemn my niece for her behaviour or actions because she can’t control it, I try to not do anything that I know will set her off and make it worse for her, I used love patience and getting educated about her disorder and know she doesn’t want to hurt or upset anyone and apologizes and has awful guilt after a meltdown and sometimes calls herself a monster. I feel the same way about my disorders,it’s hard for us and being shamed or experiencing social noninclusion because your brain doesn’t work properly is stigmatizing and makes us all feel worse about ourselves than we already do. I have 3 disorders that want to make me crazy or not love myself every day and I feel like I’m running a marathon race every single day and it’s draining.My partner’s sisters have punished me with non inclusive behaviour and made me feel because I have mental health problems or disorders it’s my fault and punish my social inclusion because of this.. and yet their family members suffer from mental health issues addiction emeshment and behaviour disorders,for some reason mine is different from others..instead of being unkind ignorant and apethetc,quit being self righteous and grandiose,we are all broken in some way,the lack of love support and ignorance and self absorption is part of the reason our world is a hot mess. I didn’t understand autism but I learned and I loved my niece and nephew enough to learn how to help them through and try not to make things worse for them, I get more unconditional love and respect from my niece and nephew with autism and they are beautiful souls and could truly teach the world and adults how to build people up not tear them down and we all deserve love and happiness no matter what,yes I’m a perfect hot mess unicorn with a stick of dynamite up my butt,but I’m also a beautiful soul who has endured a tough crooked path and it’s draining for me but shaming me and punishing me and isolating me because I’m a beautiful hot mess is not ok. I didn’t cause these disorders nor did I want them but I was handed this path and will never victimize anyone ever with any disability or disorder or judge anyone different than me..DSM 5 disorders,mental illness,etc are so misunderstood,let’s all talk and learn from each other and remove the stigma of this.Blessings to you all who are affected including friends and family,it’s so hard for everyone but us who have it dont purposely want to hurt anyone or cause them pain or upset,most of us are extremely sensitive and feel awful for ourselves and hurting the people we love..God bless you WHITNEY!! I get it totally,going through Covid time and job loss and more isolation has been detrimental to me but the treatment by others not understanding how crisis or change can profoundly affect mental health has been cruel and I’m no longer accepting being villafied or bullied or condemned for my dysfunctional circus with all my squirrels,my squirrels and I are taking baby steps again to find the courage and self confidence to get back into life and keep fighting for some love and stability for ourselves,no haters allowed at my circus,only broken compassionate beautiful souls who deserve love and a life like everyone else.. I send blessings and encouragement to you all and be kind loving and positive and patient with everyone in life and change the hate and stigma and shame in this world,love Michelle
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.
I'm not the original author of the post but I am the current blogger for the More than Borderline blog.
I'm glad to hear that this video resonated with you and your previous relationship. I'm also glad that you harbor supportive feelings towards your ex and that you have taken some positive lessons from the relationship.
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!