Tag: #NAMI

Borderline, the Chameleon, and Perception

Borderline, the Chameleon, and Perception

Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition which affects approximately 1.6% all the way up to 5.9% of the population (see NAMI). A person with BPD is characterized by  difficulties regulating emotion. This means that people who experience BPD feel emotions intensely and for extended periods of time, and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event.

This difficulty can lead to impulsivity, poor self-image, stormy relationships and intense emotional responses to stressors. Struggling with self-regulation can also result in dangerous behaviors such as self-harm (e.g. cutting). (see NAMI)

BPD is very difficult to treat, let alone live with. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder over 10 years ago (I am now 51), though I know that many of the traits were brewing in the background before I had a terrible turn of life with my mental health in my late 30s, early 40s. I am happy to say that with a lot of hard work and therapy I now am managing my BPD (along with bipolar). For those of you still struggling, know that there is help and there is hope.

For today, I want to write about the Chameleon Effect , BPD and my perception of life at the moment.

Mirroring, or the Chameleon Effect is a challenging aspect of BPD and you may not really be aware it is happening. Your changing colors to adapt to the situation or person may feel natural, but indeed, trying to learn to have your OWN place in YOUR world is so important to positive mental health.  In an excellent article by Sarah Myles, she describes this phenomenon:


One of the biggest and most challenging aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is often ‘The Chameleon Effect’ – or ‘mirroring’. This is the constant, unconscious change in the person’s ‘self’, as they struggle to fit in with their environment, or the people around them. It is, essentially, a fluctuating identity. It is the manifestation of a basic inability or difficulty in establishing a stable sense of self.

The presence of The Chameleon is often one of the main obstacles to effective initial treatment and diagnosis of BPD, as it affects the interaction between patient and doctor, and can mask the disorder itself. It also effects and masks the way in which BPD intersects with other disorders that may have developed in connection with it – creating a complex web of behaviours that can be hard to untangle. The irony is that, without diagnosis and treatment, most are unaware of The Chameleon, and it is only through awareness that The Chameleon can be managed.

Have I lived as a chameleon in my life? You bet you!!!  I remember having a good coworker and friend when I was young that before I knew it I wanted to dress similar to her and like similar things; I had a boy friend that smoked, and lived a life I many not typically want to live, when sure enough I picked up his lifestyle; I had a husband that I began to mirror more and more in my life including feelings about where we lived, things we did, thoughts on people and their outlooks that was somewhat degrading; I have been friends with a man for almost 8 years (previously romantic, now just friends) who absolutely cannot stand this area, and so lo an behold my view of where I live got worse and worse. These are just a few examples of the mirroring that I know have happened with me….my list could go on and on.

Is this anyone’s fault? Of course not!! And someone with BPD doesn’t just mirror negative, or positive, sometimes mirroring can have a positive effect.  What’s going on within us can’t be helped, until we learn to NOTICE! I actually didn’t even understand this symptom fully until the past couple of years. Looking back I saw how my chameleon was ever-present.

Now, I am single woman, my kids are either grown or pretty self-sufficient so I am having more and more time to BE. I went for a drive today with my son (I’m not totally independent yet due to my surgeries so I do need my awesome chauffeur). I was telling my son how much I really do

My son…he is not a fan of pictures!

enjoy where we live. He was a bit confused since he says I have always hated it…but no…I don’t hate it. There is a beauty to where I live, the people I run into are kind, I am so close to the mountains that I hope to be able to walk the trails again. For this moment, my 3 kids live in the same town as I do, and my oldest daughter lives in a larger city less than an hour away that is up and coming, bustling with new life and I would even like to move there at some point.  So yes, I am finding my own perceptions of my life, where I live and what I do – for me.  I know that chameleon is always around and may come for a visit. And like I said, is it a bad visit? Not necessarily as long as we can NOTICE what we are feeling and if wer are content with our likes and dislikes…for the moment.



02                01.JPG


It’s ok, take a peek!!

It’s ok, take a peek!!

Day 8 – hooray I have made it a over a week and I am quite enjoying writing these blogs. When I saw my therapist on Thursday he commented that writing is always a positive activity for me. I don’t always write about cheerful things, but the process of sitting down and getting my thoughts on “paper” is good for me. So for today we are taking a look into my purse. At first I thought it kind a silly challenge questions, but the more I work on this, the more I am enjoying the process.

Yes I have always used a purse. Even when I was in college with a backpack I would have a small purse stuffed inside. Having mobility issues over the past few years has changed my purse style. I love having a pretty bag slung over my shoulder  (and also necessary when carrying my kids when they were little.) Due to having to use a cane it makes the whole sling over look harder. Who would have thought?! Something that I can hold on to the straps and not worry about them sliding all over is a necessity.  I also don’t spend a lot of money on my handbag. Thrift stores have some great finds or I check out Target or Walmart or sometimes Burlington Coat Factory if I feel like splurging. I also use one bag at a time. I know some women change out purses to go with their outfits but I just stick with the one.

purse again

Here is my current purse. I have not had it for too long so I still really like it.  It has lots of nice pockets and not too big as to lose everything in the bottom. I tend to keep my purse fairly tidy, so really what I am showing you is about what I found when I started (except a few gum wrappers!) The green ribbon on the front is to support mental illness. I went to a state NAMI conference and they gave us these pins. It really does mean a lot to me.

When I cam to figuring out how to show you the contents of my purse I really had fun with this. I thought of doing a small video, but decided this was more in my comfort zone.

purse pic

I’ll give you a little tour of what’s here and why:

  1. My eyeglasses case and reading glasses. My son laughs because I have so many dollar store glasses around the house, but in my purse I have just the one pair. Usually.
  2. This is my holder for my business cards. In this day and age of the internet and email and social media, we don’t hand out cards too often, but I have a few and this little container is so pretty. I think I got it on Amazon.
  3. These are the two kinds of pills I usually keep with me. Ibuprofen I have on hand for aches and pains and the prescription is for lorazepam. I feel so good that I rarely have to take the lorazepam anymore. During my really hard years of my mental illnesses I had sooooo much anxiety that having these anti-anxiety meds were very important. I still keep them in my purse because every now and again I find myself in a situation where my anxiety level starts to skyrocket and I know that it is aok to have this medication handy.
  4. Ahhhh my favorite gum!!!! Wrigley’s 5 gum in peppermint is the best gum ever!!! Well at least in my opinion. It lasts longer than any other gum and the flavor is awesome!
  5. Just a couple of pens, nothing special. But why is it when I really need a pen I can’t find one in my purse?!
  6. This is my little elephant. I am surprised I have never named him because he has sure been a lifesaver. I think I bought him about 10 years ago and he is a great little critter to hold onto when I am stressed and having anxiety. I can pull him out in a meeting or classroom or any time I am anxious and I can smush him all around in my hands going rather unnoticed.  I really should name him. Any thoughts?
  7. I like to have a little hand cream in my purse. This Neutrogena is good if you have parched hands. It is a little to thick for my liking but the size is perfect. I’ll have to find something new when this one runs out.
  8. My wallet – I LOVE my wallet!! I bought it at the same time as my purse (at Walmart). It has all of the perfect slots and pockets needed for all my cards and bills. It’s funny how incredibly particular I am about my wallet.
  9. Keys – work, house, car, mailbox. They are easy to find with that blue and white key ring and its pretty as well.
  10. These are a selection of lipsticks and a mascara that I have in my purse right now:
    1. Arbonne Orchid
    2. Avon ‘Totally Twig’
    3. Maybelline Super Stay matte ink ‘Dreamer’
    4. Ulta Auto Lip Liner ‘Spice’
    5. Avon ‘Toasted Rose’
    6. Revlon ‘HD Desert’
    7. Avon True Color Wide Awake Mascara
    8. The little round container is an olive oil lip balm from Davis Farmers Market   Davis is where I grew up so I always have a special fondness when I use this creamy balm.
  11. Coins – yes not that exciting except when you have A LOT of them! I never put my coins in the coin section of my wallet. I let them drop to the bottom of my purse. When I clean things out I add those coins to a jar and watch the money grow.
  12. My sunglasses. I can’t go without them but just as with my readers and my purse and wallet, I don’t spend a lot of money on my sunglasses. I swear when I have spent a little more than normal, I lose them! Ugh!! So I stay with the cheapies.

Well there you have it – the contents of my purse. Like I said I really did enjoy this exercise and I hope you enjoyed taking a peek and maybe getting some ideas for your purse organization.