Why Shades of Grey?

Black and White All Stars

Black and White All Stars (Photo credit: thetrapezium)

…and no, there will not be 50 of them.  😉

People with borderline personality disorder often struggle with black-and-white thinking.  It’s as if we don’t see the shades of grey.  This can create problems if, for example, we are faced with a challenge and only see two (extreme) options.

The DSM IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV Text Revision published by the American Psychiatric Association) is used in the United States to classify mental disorders.  It characterizes borderline personality disorder as:

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

All nine diagnostic criteria are listed in the DSM IV-TR, but I would like to highlight the second one:

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

Finding My Shades of Grey is about my quest to find the balance.  I often struggle, like criteria two  describes, with characterizing everyone around me (including myself) as either all good or all bad.  This creates all sorts of problems for myself and my loved ones.

When I was a teenager I would often view my mom in this light.  One moment she would be my hero, the next, my persecutor.  Our relationship was distant and strained for many years.  Some days she would say something that would strike me as a judgement and suddenly I was a disappointment and a failure.  She was evil and mean, someone that couldn’t be trusted.  Another day I might notice how selfless she was and how hard she worked.  How could I have been so blind?

Today my relationship with my mom is much more comfortable, though it is far from perfect.  I am learning to question my thoughts when they seem overly emotional and not act on them right away.  Sometimes I struggle but constantly strive to find the grey.



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