Happy Sunday from beautiful Sacramento! It’s about 65 degrees and sunny out today. On my way home from the gym earlier, I rolled down my windows and blasted Montgomery Gentry. I just enjoyed the moment. Yesterday, Tyler and I went and hiked around the Camp Spaulding area, up the 80 about 30 miles from Truckee. I ended the work week feeling mentally exhausted, so a day trip was the perfect way to recharge.
The name of this blog is “Splitting My Time”. Black and white thinking, also called splitting or devaluation/idealization, is one of the 9 symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. While there’s a million ways to experience BPD (256 to be exact), for me, splitting is a huge. Splitting is basically the inability to synthesize and rectify opposing points of view, and thus, everything is either all good, or all bad- there’s no in-between. I split on myself, other people, my relationships with other people, events, and just about anything you can think of.
Let me give you an example. Below is a text from on of my good friends. I was feeling a little isolated at the end of this work weeks, so I wanted to see if she was available to grab a drink. She said she would text me after she finished what she was working on, but it was taking quite a while. I asked her if I should just go home, and she said yes, but then clarify that she meant yes to drinks.
A text like this for me is a roller coaster. When she originally said yes, I thought she didn’t want to hang out with, and because she didn’t want to spend time with me, she must hate me. I must be too needy, too attached, need too much attention, etc. These were the thought whizzing around my brain for the 30 seconds before she clarified “yes to drinks”. After receiving clarification, I realized that my friend loves me and she enjoys spending time with me. This is what it’s like to split. My opinion of our relationship went from the worst to the best in a matter of 45 seconds.
Let’s talk about people. Splitting on people often results in intense idealization or devaluation. People with BPD often have “favorite people” because those that we idealize can do no wrong. I will overlook transgressions or red flags when I idealize someone because I can’t fathom that an individual can be anything less than perfect. I devalue people. In my eyes, they can’t do anything right. I’m honestly the most judgy person I know. The worst part of splitting on others is when they go from being one of my favorite people, to a person I intensely devalue. I think it leaves those around me feeling perplexed. In my mind it makes perfect sense, but on the outside, it looks like I just woke up one day and decided I hate someone. Sometimes splitting is temporary, and sometimes it’s permanent. There are people that I don’t really talk to anymore because way back when, I split on them.
Sometimes when I split, I think of an individual as two different people. In one person, there’s all the positive traits that I like about them. In the other person, all of the hateful traits. My mind doesn’t understand that all of these positive and negative traits are a part of the same individual. This is why when I talk about people, the tone I strike is always different. For example, I can talk about how wonderful my mother is because she works with handicapped kids and at times worked three jobs to support us. On the other hand, I talk about my mother who chased me into the bathroom with a shoe. A person doesn’t even need to be present for me to split on them.
As I’ve alluded to, there is a really ugly side of splitting. Splitting can mean telling someone I love that I hate them. It can mean being super-critical of everyone around me. I don’t want you to leave this article thinking that people with BPD are mean or toxic, but it’s not rainbows and butterflies either. The reality is that without treatment, splitting can be detrimental for those around us. I’ll probably live with splitting for the rest of my life, but here are some things I do to get a handle on it.
- Temporarily isolate: When I feel myself starting to split at home, I try to be by myself. I wait for the episode to end and regain some level-headedness.
- Watch videos: I’m a huge fan of vines and short videos. If I can space out with videos for 30 minutes or so, I’m able to sort of “re-start”.
- Write things down: People can’t be all good or all bad when I write down their characteristics. Looking at characteristics on paper helps me reconcile everything.
- Save important conversations: While I’m splitting is not a good time to have a serious conversation- unless you’re looking for hyper-critical feedback. I try to wait out any kind of splitting episode I’m having before I have any important conversations.
I have to remind myself to be patient. Splitting is something that I experience literally every single day. Way back when, my brain learned to split so it could protect me from the world. To get a handle on my splitting is like trying to re-wire my brain- it won’t happen overnight. Nevertheless, I try every day to do better.
Below is a video about BPD that talks a lot about splitting. Check it out!