Have you ever had a friend whose mood would change drastically every little while? One week they are over joyful, energetic, happy, hyper and just spreading good vibes all around. Another week they are depressed, sulking over matters you cannot seem to get and just feeling very down. Have you asked yourself why the drastic change in their mood and behaviour?
Well, you might have been in contact with someone who has a personality disorder. But what are personality disorders, how are they recognizable and what do they look like? Let’s explore!
Let’s start simple, personality defines us, we each have our unique characteristics that make us who we are, but what exactly are those traits and why do we call them our personality?
Let’s think of personality as a big box that contains all the ways we deal with our day to day life, it is a compilation of the ways we act, we present ourselves and react to life in general.
What does this box of personality include? And keep in mind, each personality is unique to its own person, there are no two people that are exactly alike, and that’s the beauty of it!
You can look at it as a bundle of different notions all compiled together in a box that defines us, and this box has an open lid because personality is not rigid, in fact, it’s dynamic.
As you read about personality disorders below, keep in mind that you should strictly avoid diagnosing yourself! Personality disorders are very serious psychiatric disorders and are diagnosed by mental health professionals.
That being said, you can always consult a professional regarding anything you are worried about, for now, enjoy learning!
Personality is flexible! This means our personality changes as we grow and learn from new experiences, we develop new traits along the way, we can change the way we react to things and even our thought processes changes.
There is a wide range of personality disorders, each characterized by different disruptions in the self and behavior. Personality disorders have common traits but they can also differ on a multitude of levels.
There are 10 recognized personality disorders, however, for now we will focus on some more than others.
Let’s look more in depth into some of the different personality disorders:
Let’s take a small break from the different types and look into the last two personality disorders, they have quite a lot of common points.
Below is a table that portrays the distinction between those two disorders to put everything more into perspective
Less likely to seek treatment
More likely to seek treatment
Does not feel odd in the condition and can be satisfied
Feel different and are usually depressed or anxious regarding their social life and want to get better
Does not portray odd appearances or behaviors
Are distinguishable usually due to their odd appearances and behaviors
Does not experience cognitive disturbances
Can experience cognitive disturbances such as hallucinations
Does not desire having close friends or people
Has the interest in having close friends and connections but has difficulties in achieving them
The serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was diagnosed with both Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.
After looking at personality disorders from a very diagnostic point of view, it can be tricky to imagine how those manifestations look in real life, so let’s have a little insight on a real story told from patients that live with those disorders.
Below find some brave people who shared their struggles to bring more awareness to the topic!
For the sake of privacy, the names in the example given will be a MADE-UP NAME.
This is the story of a 26-year-old girl in the USA, let’s call her Sam. She lives with her father due to her condition as she cannot live by herself and in her society this is something absurd as the norm is for young adults to leave their houses around the age of 18 and start the independent life.
Sam has suffered from BPD and was diagnosed with it seven years ago, even though the diagnosis helped answer all her questions on why she was feeling as though she was different from everyone around her, she felt alienated and wanted an answer to all her questions.
Despite all the difficulties and challenges that Sam has experienced and is currently still experiencing, society has not been easy on her, a lot of people do not believe in her diagnosis including her parents. She lost so many friends along the way due to the symptoms of her disorder especially her emotions and how she could not control them.
And you might think that her father who she is living with might be of support, yet this is not the case, they are barely on speaking terms and she sometimes loses her control interacting with him.
When Sam describes her emotions she asks you to think of the most intense emotion of sadness or happiness you have ever had and then imagine having that every single day of your life. Sam also explains that her definition of intense emotions is those explained earlier but multiplied by 10. Even though she tries to gain control of her emotions she still feels as though she is failing at it.
Sam is still losing friends to her case especially when she loses control over what she is saying and hurts others deeply but unintentionally, she feels as though no one should have to deal with that.
The stigma around mental health is real, and it is something that Sam is deeply struggling with, she longs for a sense of understanding and acceptance and when she tries to mend relationships or solve problems, her past actions haunt her and are used against her.
And so my message to you is
Be aware and spread awareness; try your best to let go of prejudice towards others when you feel like they are acting in different and odd says, you never know when you might encounter a Sam in your life, and it is your compassion, kindness and empathy that gives people like her a sense of hope.
Sam does not want to let go of the notion that there are good people in the world, and it is only up to you to start being a positive advocate for change in your community.
Let us divert a little from the bulk of personality disorders and look into how they can be associated with eating disorders. How does the relationship work and how are they correlated?
Comorbidity is a medical term that explains the presence of two or more chronic illnesses together, in simple words, it is being diagnosed with two diseases at the same time. Sometimes they come together and are related and many factors can lead to the presence of more than one illness together.
For instance, do you know someone who is above 70 that has both diabetes and heart disease?
This is the closest example to comorbidity and it happens most commonly with people of old age who start developing health problems.
It is important to note that those diseases can interact with one another but not always.
So let’s delve deeper into comorbidity in personality and eating disorders:
Researchers have found that personality disorders are found to be comorbid with two main eating disorders:
It is found more commonly in youthful age groups than older ones to have personality disorders and eating disorders together, this is mainly due to reasons related to perfection, constriction and impulsivity.
The main personality disorders that have been found to be comorbid with eating disorders are:
As you have just seen, comorbidity does not always mean there in an interaction between the two diagnoses, however, when it comes to this case, there is an interaction.
Let’s look at perfectionism; it can come here in the sense that one adheres to the beauty standards and wants to look “perfect” as in the unrealistic standards set by society where one a perfect body is thin or curvy with a flat stomach, patients here would constrict themselves from eating specific meals or types of foods or can adopt different ways in order to lose weight eventually developing eating disorders.
Other factors that can be traits within a personality disorder that can lead to the development of eating disorders are presented below:
Unorganized eating patterns, binge eating, or purging
Binging food or losing appetite
Finding pleasure through new experiences with food which can lead to a loss of control
The inability to regulate negative emotions
Some patients diagnosed with personality disorders who are on medication can face eating disorder problems due to side effects of medications which can sometimes increase one’s weight or in other cases suppress appetite.
A lot of personality disorders include manifestations that create disturbances in interpersonal interactions and this can create conflict in the way people with personality disorders perceive friends and in the way their friends perceive them.
So, to look more into the dynamic of those friendships, researchers looked into 3 different factors.
|Friends||People with Personality Disorders|
Being effortlessly persuaded by others
The desire to please others
Have you ever wondered what happens after someone gets the diagnosis? Do they get admitted to a hospital? A psych ward? Therapy? How do they manage?
When it comes to personality disorders and how serious they are, there are two main approaches that help:
As unfortunate as it is, there is no way around it, the mental health stigma is real and people who suffer from mental illnesses do not have it easy whether that be from their symptoms acting up or from society as a whole.
The treatment for personality disorders is mainly focused on psychosocial therapy and psychiatry (medications), however, those are not the only notions that help people with personality disorders, you, as a member of the society play a huge role.
Let’s look into ways you can help,
If someone you know shared with you their diagnosis of a personality disorder here are some tips on how you can help them and be of support:
Personality disorders are not easy cases to deal with or be around, so as hard as it may look from an outsider’s point of view, it is harder to be in the situation trying to deal with it especially given the society’s lack of acceptance and prejudice.
So I will leave you with one last message; be kind, compassionate and always remember:
We rise by lifting others.