The Importance of Knowing Your BPD Triggers

BPD Symptoms triggersThey say that ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to knowing what could send you spiraling into a dark place, nothing could be less true.

Being aware of what can set you off – having an understanding of what types of things are the catalysts for the manifestation of symptoms of your Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – can be half the battle.

When I suffered from an eating disorder, I found myself extremely agitated whenever there was a family gathering. It seemed that, just when I was having fun and enjoying the company of people I loved, something would set me off and I would begin to exhibit really unpleasant behavior, say things to push people’s buttons, do anything to make those same people I love not want to be near me.

I wanted them to look somewhere else, go somewhere else, so I didn’t have to worry about the way that I looked or worry about them watching me eat (which, in my mind, equaled their judging what I ate).

At the end of the day, I always felt confused and ashamed. I had been looking forward to getting together with my family! Why had I behaved so poorly?

Recognizing Your BPD Triggers

It took one incident in particular for me to realize what one of my triggers was. It was Sunday brunch with the girls – (my mom and my ultra-thin, health-conscious, aerobics instructor sister-in-law – and I ordered a fat-free blueberry muffin. As I spread some butter on my fat-free muffin, my sister-in-law laughed. “That’s hilarious. You get a fat-free muffin and then you cover it in butter.”


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I got up and walked out on the brunch without a word, leaving my family there, wondering where I’d gone (I went home), and literally did not eat a bite for three days. It occurred to me that being around my sister-in-law, as much as I loved her, was a trigger.

Having this awareness was so helpful. Not being around my sister-in-law was not an option, but knowing that, when I was around her, I needed to be on top of my game, that I needed to be mindful of my reactions and of the truth behind my feelings when I was around her, was a valuable tool in me maintaining myself. At the end of those three days of not eating, I was depressed, weakened, and in an extremely unhealthy state. If only I’d known about this trigger sooner.

One of the benefits of seeking treatment for your Borderline Personality Disorder is discovering your magic buttons. Triggers can be anything. You might be surprised. They could be more obvious, like the trigger of a friend of mine whose BPD symptoms are inflamed when a close friend of hers contacts another close friend without her knowledge. Then again, as in my case, they might be hiding in such apparently innocuous places as brunch with your family.

Knowledge Is Power

The symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder are unpleasant enough, especially when heightened by a trigger-induced episode. If your Borderline Personality Disorder co-occurs with another disorder, such as eating disorder or substance abuse, knowing your triggers could literally save your life.

In a recent post, a blogger with BPD discusses how being alone at the holidays might have been a trigger for him to down an entire month’s worth of Abilify in order to “sleep and forget.”

Considering that Borderline Personality Disorder has the highest occurrence of suicide of any mental disorder, nothing could be more important than knowledge of your triggers. This includes knowing your go-to defense.

The aforementioned blogger knew that, when suffering from symptoms brought on by a possible trigger, his go-to was to either hit himself in the head or take pills. In this case, his sleeping pills were right there in front of him. In my case, my defense was always to tell myself that no one cared and nothing mattered anyway. As a result, I would be cruel to people I loved to push them away so they couldn’t “fake” caring about me.

Another saying, one that I find more accurate than “ignorance is bliss” is “knowledge is power.” Knowledge is a tool, a weapon in the arsenal you’ll need to battle your BPD symptoms and get back to enjoying life. Mindfulness is a tool that you’ll learn in Borderline Personality Disorder treatment. Through group and individual therapy, and therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), you’ll gain a self-awareness that will serve you in ways that right now might seem difficult to imagine.

Seeking treatment at a Borderline Personality Disorder center is an important goal for the New Year. Seeking the tools for self-awareness and mindfulness will bring you closer to the happy everyone talks about when they say “Happy New Year.”

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