Having been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder in 1994, I am familiar with the criteria set forth in the DSM-IV manual for this mental disorder. I cannot deny that I have had periods of manic episodes or depression, outbursts of anger or grief and/or outrage and disgust with those whom I love the most, including myself. But in the years of searching for my own self, I have found many things that help me in my current life to refrain from some of these episodes. Unfortunately, I have had to live each one in order to come full circle with just who I am and the effects my choices have for my journey.
Gifted Borderline people understand the importance of solitude – the importance of “holding back” and staying inward as a mechanism for self-preservation. They do this as a defensive mechanism to ward off what they consider to be demons bound in a body without answers. They often live in their head to avoid the emotions that can propel them into the unknown darkness of hyper-vigilant or destructive cycles. Yet, hard as they try, the brain becomes agitated and frenzied with the details of life and not fitting in. The bi-polar episodes can revert from calm to depressed or agitated in a matter of minutes.
Highly Sensitive People (HSP) are capable of taking in five to ten times more information than many others in their peer group. HSP nominees usually make great detectives, analysts and investigators as their thirst for knowledge, wisdom and “why” questions push them deeper into the realms of understanding. Often in search of themselves, they are able to comprehend that all things fit together, but fail to understand how. Their traits can be observed by some as an introverted person who is unwilling to develop social skills outside of a few safe locations. Because of their sensitivity to many things and their ability to take in more detail than other people, HSP people often feel left-out or alone. And for the most part, they are alone. Their world is one that demands seclusion, yet their subconscious desires outward progression and “fitting in”. Like the bi-polar or borderline personality, the HSP personality suggests the need for strong self-defense boundaries as they too search for their own soul in life.
As I have studied to overcome or control my borderline personality disorder, I would suggest that my diagnosis may fall into either of these two categories. My jobs have stemmed from military communications expert, to research analyst, to program manager of multi-million dollar programs, to self-trained alternative therapy practices to life as a highly sensitive person. Each boss I have worked for loved me because my skills and determination showed my ability to do the work of more than one person and do it well. Still there was a fear that lived within, a fear that never knew how far I could push before I would break; in anger, in tears, in shouting, in fighting those I loved and cared for the most.
Early in life I learned of my anger towards those who told me I could not do things-those same ones who never instructed but just expected me to know. Those same ones who pushed for perfection and those who tried to love me; those who did love me in the best way they knew how but whom I would never let close because I feared I would hurt them again-those who loved me when I did not love myself.
Whether you are borderline, bi-polar or highly sensitive it is important to understand that the traits you hide are those which suit your best qualities. Learning to understand that you are not like everyone else is what is most important. Some people can go from work to school, to another party and then home without skipping a beat. HSP, bi-polar and borderline personality people do not share that freedom. As part of their boundary system, they require time for rejuvenation, analysis and regeneration of the details of each event that occurs in their lives. They have to understand how each event contributes to their journey, how it fits with the big scheme of things and they seek to understand the meaning that some of those details has for their life at a more sub-conscious level. They also have to come into contact with the reasons of why their emotions get pushed to an extreme and how these emotions fit into the anger held within (often it is anger with self rather than anger with others).
Bi-polar, borderline personality disorder and HSP people are quickly over-simulated with many environments. Too many stressful or short time constraint processes, can add to their demise. Often though, these are the people who love the deepest and struggle the hardest so as to not hurt others by saying no. They often choose to hurt themselves by participating in many extraneous activities rather than divulge they desire or need to stay home and relax. They find it difficult to express communication as they fear saying no will place them in an outcast position. In essence, they lack communication for love because they fear hurt.
But the truth of it is we need to find the ability to communicate our own desires if we are to learn to live. It is imperative that we look at our ability to take in information from multiple senses as a positive rather than negative quality of life. And those who choose to be our friends or our parents or loved ones have to understand that we mean them no personal harm when we simply express our need for solitude. We must learn that we do not have to feel guilty for taking care of our own needs prior to taking on the burdens and lifestyles of others.
The brain and nervous system of the HSP, bi-polar or borderline personality always works at an accelerated level. Our nervous systems are quickly over-stimulated due to our ability to take in so many responses from our environment. For these reasons, we must learn to use food as our friend and learn that the right foods and supplements are vital to our health and lifestyle. Though I grew up on a farm eating vegetables and meat, the anger held within allowed me to diminish the use of these vital nutrients faster than I could take them in. My own medical history has shown that I am often deficient in minerals such as GABA, serotonin, tryptophan and B-Vitamins, those directly associated with brain and nervous system stability. And some of the prescribed medications that I have taken worked to deplete these nutrients at the cellular level, disallowing the absorption of the nutrients I needed most.
Either of these situations can lead to a lonely life, one driven by intellect and knowledge until we ourselves discover that our purpose is one of gratitude and grace rather than demons and silent emotions. In my own journey I had to learn the important role that foods, vitamins and supplements played in my diagnosis. Sugar would often send me into profuse rounds of depression and mania. Exercise was my way of holding on and holding in, sort of a therapy in itself that became too obsessive for my body to handle; it kept my muscles in a rigid, defensive state rather than allowing me to simply be fit, flexible or stable with “who” I am. I had to become aware of my addictions to each substance, each habit and each internal struggle in order to grasp the final details of my emotions. Only then could I learn to stand on my own two feet.
So what is it that we highly sensitive people can learn to live with? We need to understand the facts: that we need more quiet than noise, more good food than bad and the understanding from ourselves and those who love us that solitude is not always wrong. Until we learn to set our boundaries at levels that are conducive to our health and emotional stability, we will forever be in search of the demons within.
Susan is a Holistic Health Counselor who uses life's experience, as well as knowledge of Chinese, Indian and American healing modalities to help others overcome their hurts and ailments. She provides individual counseling at local and distance levels, and offers seminars and lectures for groups and corporations. You may contact via her website at healinggifts4u.com or find her at Healing Gifts, LLC, North Augusta, South Carolina.