When HSP meets BPD

It’s been a few months. Not that I haven’t had enough to write about,  I just haven’t had the energy to do it. Life was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster these last few months.

I recently stumbled onto an article about kids with HSP (highly sensitive personality) and it was like they were talking about my 7-year-old. It was more than obvious that she had most of the personality traits they described: she’s very shy, a real perfectionist, doesn’t like crowds or loud noises, needs a long time to calm down after a busy day with lots of triggers, is extremely empathic and sensitive and always wants the best for everyone.

I could go on but it’s obvious that my girl has, what they like to call, this “talent“.

Not sure about it being a talent though. IMG_8237

Yes, HSP’s are very conscious of others, will always listen and try to help others and will do anything to make someone feel better. But while doing that, they forget about themselves. And that’s not a great trait to have when it concerns yourself. Believe me, I know.

The discovery did make it a lot easier for me to know how to deal with her, sometimes extreme, emotions. After a fun and busy day out, she can get really moody and it looks like she’s not happy with all the fun she’s had. I used to get angry and tell her not to be so ungrateful. Obviously that didn’t really help the situation. She also scares so easily and it gets worse every year. We recently went to Disneyland where her fear took on crazy poportions and she even started hyperventilating at one point, before the ride had even started. We will never force her to do anything against her will, but  I don’t want her fear to control her life. Before, I would’ve told her not to exaggerate and just do it. But, knowing what we know now, we’ve started to handle it differently. If she’s had a busy day, she needs time to unwind afterwards. And so we give her some quiet time so she can gather her thoughts.

Same for her fears. We talk to her, listen to why she’s scared and tell her it’s OK to be scared sometimes. We do make sure she knows it’s not OK to let it run her life, and that she has to try and face some of her fears. That doesn’t mean she has to go into every scary rollercoaster, but it does mean she has to overcome smaller things, like making new friends in a place where she doesn’t know anyone (which she’s actually pretty good at nowadays) or try to go to sleep without being scared of ghosts or thieves in her room.

The talking has helped so much. She’s only 7, but she can express her feelings almost like an adult.

She’ll come up with expressions like “having a rose in your heart” (which means, finding your talent) or how nature being totally balanced is her idea of happiness.

She’s very intelligent that way. And people who feel that we spoil her by treating her outbursts calmly instead of yelling at her or punishing her, have obviously never been in contact with highly sensitive people. In time, she will try and take advantage, she’s only human after all. But I strongly believe we know her well enough to see through that. As her parents, I believe we know what’s best for our daughter.

Reading about HSP, meant I started doubting my own BPD diagnosis. It all seemed so familiar. Maybe they’d gotten it wrong 16 years ago. Maybe I didn’t have BPD at all. Maybe all these years, I’d just been suffering from “simple” depressions and HSP. When I asked my therapist, he agreed that I definitely have HSP (he was surprised I hadn’t realised it before ) but assured me the borderline diagnosis wasn’t wrong. I don’t actually suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, rather from Borderline Personality Traits. Suddenly everything fell into place. Why I never actually fully identified with the BPD diagnosis. I always told people I had the light version.

Now everything in my life makes so much more sense.

b94266ee7ec8531da0b4bbaf9dc40859--introvert-infjThe way I reacted as a child, always insecure, always scared of everything. Why I never had a lot of friends and always had the need for everyone to like me. How I did everything for people because I wanted them to be my friend and was heartbroken because they would just use me, but then I’d do it again and again. HSP wasn’t known back then, so people just called me shy, or overly emotional, or even an attention grabber. I never learnt how to deal with my fears, which means that, even today, I haven’t overcome some of them. I’ve worked really hard at it, but some things I just can’t seem to manage. Like my phone phobia. Calling strangers, even people I know, on the phone is a challenge for me. I love the invention of text messaging, which means no actual contact, which also means I can choose when and what to reply. Facetime and Skype are something I can do without. Asking a question to a stranger also gives me the shivers. I can’t explain why, it just does. Confrontation just gives me nightmares.

Does that make me an introvert? Maybe, but I’m not sure. Because I can also be a social butterfly. It just depends on my emotional state of mind. So when I don’t call or visit, please don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s me.

And about that emotional state, I haven’t said the last of it. But that’s for next time, because this stream of consiousness has been long enough already. ?


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