Day 28: Do you consider yourself high-functioning or low-functioning?

31 Days of BPD

Some quick definitions first from BPD Central so we know what these terms mean:

Characteristics of lower-functioning,”conventional” BPs:

  1. They cope with pain mostly through self-destructive behaviors such as self-injury and suicidality. The term for this is”acting in.”
  2. They acknowledge they have problems and seek help from the mental health system, often desperately. Some are hospitalized for their own safety.
  3. They have a difficult time with daily functioning and may even be on government disability. This is called low functioning.
  4. If they have overlapping, or co-occurring, disorders, such as an eating disorder or substance abuse, the disorder is severe enough to require professional treatment.
  5. Family members’ greatest challenges include finding appropriate treatment, handling crises (especially suicide attempts), feelings of guilt, and the financial burden of treatment. Parents fear their child won’t be able to live independently.

Higher-functioning, invisible BPs:

  1. They strongly disavow having any problems, even tiny ones. Relationship difficulties, they say, are everyone else’s fault. If family members suggest they may have BPD, they almost always accuse the other person of having it instead.
  2. They refuse to seek help unless someone threatens to end the relationship. If they do go to counseling, they usually don’t intend to work on their own issues. In couple’s therapy, their goal is often to convince the therapist that they are being victimized.
  3. They cope with their pain by raging outward, blaming and accusing family members for real or imagined problems.
  4. They hide their low self-esteem behind a brash, confident pose that masks their inner turmoil. They usually function quite well at work and only display aggressive behavior toward those close to them. Family members say these people bring to mind Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  5. If they also have other mental disorders, they’re ones that also allow for high functioning, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
  6. Family members’ greatest challenges include coping with verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse; trying to convince the BP to get treatment; worrying about the effects of BPD behaviors on their other children; quietly losing their confidence and self-esteem; and trying—and failing—to set limits. By far, the majority of Welcome to Oz (WTO) members have a borderline partner.


Based on these, I think I’m somewhere inbetween (that’s right, I’m sitting on the fence!).

Like someone with low-functioning BPD, I seek help. I know I need help and I’m desperate for it. I often struggle with daily tasks and the people that know me most are always trying to find appropriate treatment for me.

But like someone with high-functioning BPD, I rage outward and blame everyone else around me. I also put on a brave-face and pretend confidence around everyone else to fool them that I’m fine.

Is it possible to me middle-functioning BPD? Apparently I have just have the bad aspects of both – brilliant! But maybe that’s partly due to my Cyclothymia as well.


18 thoughts on “Day 28: Do you consider yourself high-functioning or low-functioning?

  1. stuffthatneedssaying says:

    I hate the stereotype of people with BPD being abusive destroyers of relationships. I am absolutely nothing like that. I find it weird that “high functioning” involves so many negative behaviors. So I guess since I direct things inward and seek help, I’m low functioning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lifeofmiblog says:

    Great post. Very well expressed for even dummies to understand.
    My shrink who is also working with my wife has put me on notice that he thinks she may be a high functioning BPD, I am also expecting him to give me similar news as I am finding that there is much more to my situation. I put myself with you on the fence, I function quite well and can sometimes over function, but I also attack those closest to me, this being the reason I have taken a break from Twitter and have slowed down on posting to my blog. Life can be a real bitch can’t it?


    • bylaurenhayley says:

      It sure can! I think there must be quite a few people on middle ground with it. I hear that high functioning can be the most destructive, but I’m not sure I buy that because I think there are parts of boths types that are incredibly destructive. I hope you don’t mind me asking as this is personal, but is it difficult with you both having mood issues? Or do you kind of cancel each other out. I can’t imagine how I’d cope if my boyfriend bit back when I snapped at him, which I’m sure he would if he had a disorder (and wasn’t so laid back that he’s virtually horizontal!)


      • lifeofmiblog says:

        No problem at all. No such thing as canelling out. I try to resist by refusing to discuss the issue but that just tends to inflame the situation. End redult is rarely good.


      • bylaurenhayley says:

        Yeah I can imagine. That’s good of you to try though – my boyfriend does the same, but again it just infuriates me more! I do appreciate it in the long run and when I’m not in that moment though, because if he retaliated it would go on for much longer!


      • lifeofmiblog says:

        Yes i have tried to explain that to my wife but because she doesnt recognize she has a problem it falls on deaf ears and she thinks I’m just trying to hide something


  3. secretlystarving says:

    This is why i don’t believe in this classification of BPD subtypes, and more so the classification that focuses on the multidimensional spectrum of affective versus dissociative symptomology. According to this theory i’m both incredibly high functioning and low-functioning, which makes NO sense.


      • secretlystarving says:

        You should check out the theory i mentioned then! I would offer to send you literature on it, but the only literature online i’ve come across is only accessible through databasees (like Psychinfo/psycharticles, so if you have those i can tell you which ones). I’ll take a look around and see if i can find them on Google scholar. 🙂 The other theories are a LOT more validated, and also are also valiated in neurobiology as well.


  4. Zoe says:

    This was interesting. I think I have a tiny bit of everything, which is why doctors have always looked at me like I’m an almost completely puzzle with too many missing pieces. If that makes sense 😉


    • bylaurenhayley says:

      Haha yes – the doctor seems to be more confused each time they see me. The last time I went last week actually, they actually tilted back on their chair and went ‘well that’s weird’ – haha yes, thank you, I know!


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