I hope I can explain this simply enough for easy translation, but impulsivity is behavior, actions, or ideas for actions without adequate thinking. For example, when I’m very upset, I get impulses to smoke cigarettes. I hate the smell of cigarettes and I hate the outcome of smoking them, but I love lighting things with a lighter (like candles), the taste and the feel of something warm in my hands.
But my immediate thought when I’m angry is “I want to smoke” even though I’ve never smoked in my life and I hate everything about smoking. The feeling, or craving, to do so lacks my rational thought or how I *really* feel about the behavior I want to do.
In those moments, I try to deconstruct the impulse or the craving to what I really want out of it, to the basic feelings. I don’t actually want to smoke, what I want is something in my hands that’s warm that will make me feel something like nicotine would, so usually I’ll get a coffee or a tea because they’re warm and have caffeine(and maybe light a candle to get rid of the lighting impulse haha)
Anonymous asked: does self harm count as impulsive behavior for the bpd diagnosis?
Answer: It depends on which section of the DSM you’re reading. There is the DSM-V official diagnostic criteria, in which self-harm actually does NOT count as impulsive behavior, as it gets its own bullet point in the diagnostic criteria as “recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.”
In the new proposed diagnostic criteria, self-harm is listed as an example of impulsivity.
Because of this, I would consider whether or not your self-harm is actually impulsive. Some self-harm is planned, some isn’t. If you are impulsively self-harming, I would consider it an extension of the borderline impulsivity. However, some people with BPD plan their self-harm, and this is also a valid experience. Whether or not self-harm counts as impulsive behavior depends entirely on the person.
Anonymous asked: regarding impulses when trying to self dx- does that include impulses you dont act on? like intrusive thoughts?
Answer: First of all, yes, having impulses you don’t act on can be a sign of impulsiveness as a symptom. Impulses are unhealthy when:
you act before you know what you’re doing or have thought about the consequences, and/or
you have trouble controlling them, even if you don’t end up acting on them often, and/or
controlling them makes you feel very tired/upset/empty/unreal etc, and/or
controlling them triggers other symptoms.
Secondly, impulses and intrusive thoughts can overlap or blur together, but they are slightly different. An impulse is an urge to act. An intrusive thought is any kind of thought that is unwelcome in your mind (eg it disgusts or upsets you).
“Steal that cup” can be an impulse, if you feel the urge to actually do it. If the idea of stealing the cup and/or the fact that you thought about stealing the cup makes you very upset, it may also be an intrusive thought.
Examples of intrusive thoughts that aren’t (always) impulses:
“What if?” scenarios, catastrophising
Triggers, eg a phobia, upsetting imagery, invalidating statements
Sexual thoughts, eg being unable to stop imagining people naked
Anonymous asked: Do impulsive actions have to be harmful? Sometimes I'll do things on impulse out of angry like delete my blog or hurt myself but sometimes I'll just start brushing my hair because I saw the brush or splash water on my face or smack myself or run or do weird things basically that don't really cause harm
Answer: No. Not all impulsive actions are inherently harmful. In my experience the difference between a normal impulse and an abnormal one is your ability to deny the impulse. So for example if you have the impulse to brush your hair this wouldn’t be inherently a problem. However if you had the impulse to brush your hair and were at the moment running late to an appointment, but were unable to prevent yourself from brushing your hair anyway that would be the sort of thing that raises an issue. I think the key question is more along the lines of “Could I control this impulse if it was necessary for me to do so in order to fulfill my personal goals?” than “Is this an impulse that would be seen by others as a behavior which is a problem?”.
Anonymous asked: Do you think back lashing,starting arguments you regret immediately,eating snacks once every 15 minutes for at least 2-3 hours, being too honest to the point of being insulting,wasting at least an hour on daydreaming, or procrastinating until it's way past midnight because I can't get off Netflix for at least three hours could count as impulsiveness? I'm trying to diagnose my self but the examples they give are drinking and speeding, but I'm under 16 so I've never done either yet.
Answer: First things first, I can’t diagnose you or even say whether I think you can be successfully diagnosed. I’m answering this to discus the particulars of the impulsivity requirement in the diagnostic criteria. I’m not saying whether it’s probable you have BPD because I’m not a professional.
Honestly, this is one of the problems with the diagnostic criteria in my opinion, Because what you’ve described ARE impulsive behaviours. But, in the eyes of mental health professionals, the only impulsive behaviours that count are risky impulsive behaviours, such as drinking excessively, speeding, having risky/unprotected sex, impulsive over-spending, etc. These sorts of things either put your life at risk, put your health at risk, or put your financial stability at risk. And that’s what the diagnostic criteria is talking about, do you engage in impulsive behaviour that has a high degree of risk?
So when mental health professionals who would be diagnosing you are presented with the kinds of impulsive behaviours you exhibit, they will likely be dismissed as “lowkey” impulsive behaviours (though lashing out at people could be attributed to an aggressive display of anger, which is a different criteria, and being too honest and hurting people might be a result of splitting, which is yet another different criteria).
Of course, you don’t need to meet their idea of what constitutes an adequately risky impulsive behaviour because you could still meet other aspects of the diagnostic criteria and get your diagnosis that way, without needing to meet the impulsivity one.
And of course, if you are successful at getting a diagnosis, all these impulsive behaviours that you list here are things that are really common for borderline people to engage in. We do all sorts of impulsive things whether or not they put our lives or health or safety or financial stability at risk. That’s part of having poor impulse control, is that it affects a huge amount of our lives. So your experiences are absolutely valid even if they don’t lead to a diagnosis because mental health professionals will consider them too “lowkey.”
I only just realized you say you’re trying to diagnose yourself, so in this case you would have to look at the impulsivity criteria from the perspective of whether or not you engage in impulsive behaviours that are risky and put your health or life or safety or financial stability (or those of others) at risk. That’s really what the criteria means. But remember that you don’t have to meet every single criteria to qualify for the official diagnosis, so you can still end up being able to successfully self-diagnose if you meet enough of the other criteria.
And once that’s over with, you can attribute the behaviours you have listed here to poor impulse control, and that will be something you’ll have to work on getting some control over because that’s all part of recovery.
We in the borderline community attribute a lot more things to our BPD than just what is written in the official diagnostic criteria. If you look at the BPD Checklist in our FAQ, you’ll see at the very bottom there are a list of common experiences and feelings that are not required for diagnosis but are things that borderline individuals experience frequently. Our understanding of what it means to be borderline can sometimes differ from psychiatry’s definition of what it means to be borderline, because we’re the ones living through it and sharing our common experiences.
I hope that clarifies what that particular part of the diagnostic criteria was getting at.
TL;DR: The experiences you list would likely not meet the “impulsivity” requirement because there is no element of risk to your life, health or safety (or that of other people). However, the experiences you listed are still impulsive behaviours that borderline people do engage in because of our poor impulse control and are absolutely valid. Ultimately you can still qualify for a BPD diagnosis without the impulse criteria and still say that, in your experience with BPD, you have poor impulse control. Also a number of the behaviours you gave as examples could be attributed to other symptoms, rather than solely to impulsivity.
EDIT: You guys are right, I totally forgot to include impulsive eating/binge eating in the list of ““““legitimate”““““ risky impulses. I always forget about that one because it doesn’t apply to be, but yeah, it’s ABSOLUTELY valid and is often given as an example along with reckless driving or drinking to excess.
Another commenter brought up that if you have experienced one of these risky impulsive behaviours in the past but no longer engage in it or can stop yourself from doing it, then it doesn’t count towards diagnosis anymore. The key thing that defines these risky impulsive behaviours is that you literally cannot prevent yourself from doing it (for various reasons).
Can Disordered Eating Count As Self-Harm or Impulsive Behavior?
Anonymous asked: If I starve myself is it considered as impulsive behavior? I starve myself bc I forget to eat and sometimes I just don't want to and I don't even care what it does to my body.
Answer: Yes, it can be!
This is a big problem for me. I’m sensitive to a lot of food because of my disabilities. Finding and making food that I can eat is tiring and annoying. The low tolerance for distress and self-destructive tendencies caused by my BPD has often influenced me to give up without feeding myself. I’m now diagnosed with ARFID, an eating disorder (ED).
EDs are very common for people with BPD. We find it difficult not to give into our impulses, even harmful ones, and then we find it even harder not to give in to the same impulse again. Over time, we become less and less able to control ourselves or even perceive a problem with what we’re doing, as our brains settle into a pattern of rewarding us for addictive or risky behaviour.
In summary: Not eating can be an impulsive behaviour associated with BPD. It can be a form of self harm. We are at a high risk of developing eating disorders. We may also forget to eat because of other symptoms.