Borderline Personality Disorder – The Identity Void – The Black Hole of Self

Introduction to This Blog Series

I was 27 years old when I entered into the realization that there was something wrong with me and one of the original diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD. 

I say something wrong with me because I was just not able to manage my life on my own and somehow knew there was something wrong with my mind.

Back then, not a lot was known about this horribly stigmatized disorder because BPD patients were considered impossible to treat or wrongly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. 

Along with BPD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS) were also added to my diagnostic mix.

ADHD was quickly debunked and over the past two decades most professionals leaned towards my having PTSD or a Dissociative Disorder – but something about these disorders never seemed to fit.

Add menopause to the mix and the confusion became even more confusing.


Here are past blogs I’ve written about my struggles with anxiety and what felt like PTSD or DDNOS:

Alcohol Addiction

As well, I have a history of alcohol addiction.

Blogs About My Struggles With Alcohol

Present Day

When I was 52 years old I had a thorough psychological assessment by a seasoned psychiatrist. At long last, I was properly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

This blog series called Owning and Unraveling Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder is my way of processing and understanding these complex personality disorders and how they manifest, interfere with and enhance my life.

And, as it has been said to me from friends who have family members with Borderline Personality Disorder, perhaps I can help dispel misconceptions and stigmas associated with these mental illnesses.

As well, perhaps I can shed some light and more personal information on what living with Histrionic Personality Disorder is like, for those who are also walking this path.

With hope,

Stephanie, 💛

March 17th, 2017 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Dubai Mall - Joyful Stephanie
March 17th, 2017 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Dubai Mall

Shifting Healing Focus Back to BPD

Six months ago I admitted defeat to my alcoholism and walked back into the 12-Step rooms. These past six months my main focus as been managing my alcoholism.

Now, with a new sponsor since my last BPD blog and a new home group – I feel invigorated as I continue to incorporate the 12-Step program into my daily life, while walking my alcoholism recovery at my own pace.

This now allows me breathing space to have room, once again, for managing my BPD and HPD.

My Therapist Sees Patterns

I don’t speak too much about my HPD diagnosis as it has not yet been a focus in therapy whereas BPD is.

I’ve been seeing the same therapist now for over a year, and it has taken this long to “see” more BPD behavioral patterns I manifest.

On February, 2022, I was thoroughly reassessed by a seasoned psychiatrist and finally, properly diagnosed with BPD and HPD.

Therefore, I have only had the past year to start to clearly see how BPD manifests in me.

I hate to overuse the metaphor – but peeling back the BPD layers of the onion is true.

Identity Problems and BPD

From Chapter 7, page 99 of Borderline Personality for Dummies:

Those who suffer from BPD often have the feeling that they’ve lost their identity. Unlike those who’ve lost their financial or online identity, people with BPD have lost something dearer and more fundamental. They lack a sense of who they are and what they believe in. This symptom creates high anxiety, disturbing feelings, and a lack of purpose and direction.

What is Identity

From Chapter 7, pages 100- 102 of Borderline Personality for Dummies:

Identity is a theory or concept that someone creates to synthesize information and knowledge about the self. In other words, your identity is your own personal attempt to capture the core elements that make you who you are.

… an identity can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy identities stand on a foundation of sturdy, varied values. They don’t centre on a single aspect of a person. For example, a healthy identity can encompass multiple sources of self-worth. In contrast, an unhealthy identity has a restricted scope and usually derives worth from only a few elements.

People incorporate just a few or, hopefully, many aspects of their lives in their identities, including the following:

  • Artistic talent
  • Knowledge
  • Wealth
  • Gender
  • Hobbies
  • Accomplishments
  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Status and prestige
  • Religion
  • Values
  • Priorities
  • Physical appearance
  • Health
  • Place of residence
  • Cultural affiliation
  • Age

To form your identity, you likely look at these various aspects of your life and attempt to describe who you are based on which facets you value the most. Personal identity is like a story about your life. For example, someone who values friendship will have a life story or identity, that emphasizes friendships. For healthy identities, these stories have coherence and some degree of continuity, and, thus, your identity can guide your decisions and choices. However, if your identity is scrambled and lacks continuity, it can’t readily guide your life choices.

Terms that many mental health professionals consider similar to identity include self-concept, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-satisfaction, and self-importance. Although a group of psychologists can talk for hours about the nuances that distinguish each term from the other, all the terms capture a similar idea – who you are.

Borderline Identity: Unstable and Fragile

From Chapter 7, pages 104- 105 of Borderline Personality for Dummies:

People with BPD have identities that differ from those of other people. Their identities show less stability and less coherence. In addition, people with BPD often overreact to minor threats to their frail identities.

…people with BPD exhibit huge fluctuations in attitudes, values, and feelings of identity. The difference between the identities of a person without BPD and a person with BPD is a lot like the difference between a well-edited movie of someone’s life and an unorganized box jammed full of photos from that same life.

Lacking a strong, stable sense of their own identities, many people with BPD attempt to adapt whichever identity they believe their current partner or friends want them to have. They believe that doing so can make them very appealing to their potential partners or friends because they may appear like the very personification of their friends’ dreams. However, the inherent instability of their personal identities makes maintaining the facades impossible to do.

My Unorganized Box Jammed With Photos

Almost a year ago, I blogged about the chaos of my life. I listed some of the things I’ve done – not to brag – but to try and get a sense of my story.

I see how I am trying to feel, to find meaning and acceptance of my chaotic life.

Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder – Owning The Chaos – It Has Made My Life Interesting

Masks & Approval Seeking

white masks
Photo by Наталия Котович on

Most of my live has been about wearing masks – adapting to be what I imagine another wants me to be.

I never, NEVER knew I had a choice.

I felt powerless in life.

Like a leaf in the wind waiting for the next westerly gale, the next person to direct my life.

I felt like and still do feel like an empty, hollow shell – seeking approval on the outside to get validation that all is okay in my world.

I do not have a sense of “Stephanie”.

I see stories that are this Joyful Stephanie blog – yet, when I try to connect the two – the stories in this blog – and me – they slide off each other like a fried egg on a teflon skillet.

This teflon/hollow feeling within me is very difficult to explain.

It feels like I have a black hole within that is impossible to fill. Any positive self-talk or sense of self I try to fill it with just disappears.

All my life experiences swirl around me, not within me.

Black Hole in Space
Black Hole in Space – Photo Credit –

The cover of Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies has an empty, cracked and broken eggshell on its cover.

I understand why.

Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies - Cover
Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies – Cover – Photo credit –

I Thrive on External Validation

Wanna see me have a great day – validate me about something!

Well, all depends if I trust you as a validation source.

If you are a person whom I need approval/validation from to feel accepted in some way, I will thrive if you validate me. If you do not validate me, I become filled with self-doubt.

Hopefully, you won’t see this about me – that internally I am managing it enough to not make a fool out of myself.

Ever wonder why I am exhausted at the end of the day?

Because I am managing this and any surges in the infamous BPD strong emotions that might get triggered in a day.

Why Positive Self-Talk/Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Does Not Work

Again, the teflon effect – any reframing of fear-based negative self-talk to positive self-talk slides through me, under me and right off me.

What Will Work?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) addresses this – as this therapy was created by American psychologist Marsha Lineham who has BPD for those with BPD.

DBT – Mindfulness

First step – I pay attention – observe when I seek external validation to fill the black hole of self within me in an attempt to know I am good enough, doing enough, liked, etc..

Just like I observe when I am flooded by the BPD trademark strong emotions.

I handle each of these tricky symptoms mindfully, one small step at a time.

S, 💛

Owning and Unraveling Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder

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