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13 'Obsessive' Things People With Borderline Personality Disorder Do

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If you have borderline personality disorder (BPD), you might have experience with being called “obsessive.” What loved ones may not realize though, is that for someone with BPD, the core issue is usually not about the object of the obsession — it’s often the result of underlying symptoms of BPD.

Mighty contributor Catherine Renton wrote about how her own “obsessive” tendencies come from her impulsive behavior and unstable relationships. In her piece, “The ‘Obsessive’ Way I Fall in Love as Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder,” she wrote,

I am obsessive in love — falling quickly, deeply and I always put my partner’s needs before my own… Once I become attached to someone, I get drunk on lust as dopamine floods my body. I’ve fallen in love so many times, it’s like an addiction. I crave the affection and touch of another human so much I have overlooked some questionable personality traits just so I don’t end up alone.

Love is not the only place where obsessive behavior can manifest for a person with BPD. We wanted to know how else it can affect people’s lives, so we asked our Mighty BPD community to share something they do that other people see as “obsessive.”

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “If I have a flight with someone or I feel like someone is avoiding me, I obsess over thoughts. I will spend hours just replaying conversations, actions, everything I can possibly remember that has ever happened with that person. I try to figure out where I messed up or what went wrong, usually in hopes of repairing things.” — Megan G.

2. “I become extremely obsessed with TV shows/characters. I start watching lots of episodes, reading all kind of fan fiction and looking at fan art. I read theories — anything that will make me feel closer to that show/person. When it gets really bad, I start taking on personality traits. Nothing ever fills the need I have though and eventually I fall apart.” — Sierra N.

3. “Apologizing — even it it’s not my fault, even if it’s something trivial. I will hear ‘Why are you apologizing?’ several times a day. My co-workers are used to it. Honestly, it’s because growing up, my father was physically and verbally abusive. I learned to apologize early and often. I do it to defuse any possible confrontation because I can’t take being confronted or chastised. And I usually look down while I do it and I hate it but have been unable to break the habit.” — Keith G.

4. “If I think someone is mad or upset (particularly my husband) I obsessively ask what’s wrong. If I sense anything is off, I literally will repeatedly ask what’s wrong and how I can make it better. He winds up getting mad often, saying he wasn’t mad before I asked/accused him of being mad 300 times.” — Jennifer H.

5. “I also obsess over one person in my life which is my partner. It’s like he is my whole entire world, which I know is unhealthy, but I can’t control it! It’s like no one else’s opinions matter. It’s like I can’t get along with anybody else like I do with him. He is my everything and I know that comes off as being needy when it’s just my disorder… and I’m unhealthily jealous of anybody else he gives his time and attention to.” — Tanya M.

6. “If I want to buy something (usually expensive) I will spend days, weeks, sometimes months researching everything about it. I’ll find every review I can, find as many websites that sell it, make spreadsheets to compare prices. I can’t stop thinking about it either.” — Jenna M.

7. “As soon as I feel a tickle of attraction for someone, I start obsessing over every one of my insecurities. I analyze everything, I can’t eat or sleep, I basically become lovesick and can’t function without them, until inevitably I get fed up and start emotionally disassociating and switch between love and hate for a while until one day love just doesn’t switch back on. (One of the reasons I stay single now, it ain’t worth the chaos.)” — Angie R.

8. “I have BPD and OCD. My obsessions always present themselves in the same form: I take a thing I said or did in the past (recent or a long time ago) and keep playing it to myself to try to know where I went wrong. I once spent two whole years obsessing and going over about a 30 minutes event. It broke me.” — Stephany L.

9. “I’m time-obsessed, I have to leave my house within a 10 minute time frame in the morning. I get to work almost an hour before I clock in to ensure I am always on time. I have anxiety attacks if I don’t get to any type of appointment 15 minutes early. I have a bit of a problem with perfectionism, which can sometimes make my job difficult. I have to do certain things in a precise order and I have a compulsion to touch certain items when I walk past them.” — Amy S. 

10. “I obsess over which side of my personality is the ‘real me.’ When I can be two drastically different versions of myself, several times a day it can be exhausting trying to understand the real me. Currently working on a ‘gray area’ with people, rather than keeping score of which side of my black and white personality they are on. I’d like to integrate my laidback self with my quickly angered self and find a medium even though it’s often uncomfortable being mindful, present and conscious to do so.” — Alesha T.

11. “I have phases, like a crafting phase, one time I picked up running in the mornings, obviously bingeing Netflix, reading a bunch of those ‘self help’ books, journaling, baking… they only last for a week maybe two tops but in that time, that’s all I do in my free time.” — Maddie V.

12. “When I am doing a craft project, reading a book or am on a cleaning kick, everything else seems to get neglected and I can only seem to focus on the one thing. When I was working, I was not able to make sure I was eating and sleeping and all I could do was make sure I was at work on time, looking presentable and appearing calm and in control.” — Paula M.

13. “Pretty sure everything I do is obsessive. Everything is all-or-nothing with me.” — Bridget O.

If you’re struggling with being “obsessive,” we want you to know you’re not alone. Take a look at 10 Tips for Handling Impulsive Behavior, which may be helpful in your own recovery.

What’s the best way you’ve found to cope with “obsessions” when you live with BPD? Let us know in the comments.

Originally published: September 14, 2018
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