Asperger’s / autism vs Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Discovering that I’m on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum has brought me through an unexpected scenic journey into the field of “abnormal” psychology and all of its fascinating nooks and crannies, which has been a captivating expedition.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, because I’ve heard time and again about people who’ve been (mis-)diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (or BPD) when the truth is, they’re actually on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.

First, let’s explore exactly what BPD is…

According to Psych Central (a decent psychology-based website not to be confused with the trade magazine “Psychology Today”), Borderline Personality Disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a foundational triad:

  • Extreme or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Unstable relationships
  • Impulsive behavior

One of the main themes of the Borderline Personality is to zigzag back and forth between various areas of life; often, this involves relationships (romantic, platonic, familial, and other), career/work life, residence/living arrangements, and others.

It seems to me that the specific characteristics or manifestations sprout from that basic triad.  Although the stage for its development might be set in childhood and/or adolescence, it typically doesn’t manifest fully until later adolescence or adulthood.

I’d like to take a fleshed-out list of characteristics of BPD and compare it side-by-side with the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, because so many of us get labeled with BPD, when for most of us, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  That’s not to say that some on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum don’t also experience BPD, but the characteristics, while similar in surface appearance, are actually quite different.

My strategy from here will be to discuss several principal Borderline Personality characteristics and compare/contrast them with the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.  I’ll link to several information sources at the bottom of this post.

(I’m issuing a content warning, as the rest of this post makes brief mentions of suicide, addictive substances, self-harm, etc.  No details or imagery are given, although one example of self-harm is mentioned without description.)

Fear of Abandonment – People experiencing BPD are often afraid of being left alone.  They may be terrified that they’ll be abandoned.  For example, even something as “simple” as a partner returning home late from work or going away for a weekend conference trigger intense fear.  This can result in the person experiencing BPD resorting to frantic efforts to keep the other person close.  They may cling, plead, start fights, or even set up a tracking device on the other person’s vehicle or mobile. Unfortunately, this strategy tends to have the opposite effect: it can push other people away.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – This contrasts with the majority of personal accounts of autistic people, in that although we can certainly be prone to loneliness ourselves, most of us report feeling OK with being alone.  Some of us are content, others are relieved, some feel liberated or depressurized, and others feel simply at peace, or at the very least, neutral.  I have yet to hear any of us reporting feeling afraid, although I’m not discounting the idea that there may be some out there.

I’ll take the next two BPD characteristics together, because they’re so closely related.

Unstable Relationships – Relationships, for people experiencing BPD, tend to be more intense and short-lived.  They become infatuated prematurely, believing each new person is the one who will make them whole.  There’s one problem with this: the person experiencing BPD ends up feeling very disappointed, sooner or later (and probably sooner).  There’s often a very black-and-white view of relationships: they’re either perfect or horrible, with very little room in between.  People around them may feel like they have “emotional whiplash” (not my term) from the rapidly-alternating idealization and devaluation/anger/hatred.  They’ll put someone up on a pedestal one day, and then demonize them the next.

Unclear/Unstable Self-Image – It’s been said that people of the BPD type typically have an unstable or unclear sense of self.  This means that sometimes they may feel good about themselves, while other times they despise themselves.  They may or may not have a clear idea of who they are or what you want out life.  As a result, they may frequently change various major facets of their lives: partners, friends, jobs, religious or spiritual paths, values, goals, or even life purpose.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – Based on what I’ve gleaned from the majority of people on the spectrum and the official writings about autism, this could be similar in many cases to what we experience.  Many of us have talked about “bridge-burning”, where we decide we’ve had enough of the current state of our lives and we uproot ourselves, transplanting ourselves somewhere else and starting fresh, having severed ties in ways that surprise others.  However, most of the time, we would much rather maintain our status quo, even sometimes to the point where it may not be healthy or productive for us.  This might be derived from our related desires for routine and stability.  Most of us tend to be pretty rock solid.

I’ll also take these next two BPD characteristics together, because they’re also closely related.

Impulsive Behavior, Self-Destructive Tendencies – People experiencing BPD may seek sensory stimulation especially when you’re upset.  They may make impulsive purchases, even those they can’t afford; they may binge (on any type of bingeing, such as eating, alcohol, sex, drugs, etc).  They may engage in risk-taking behavior such as driving recklessly, shoplifting, sexual intimacy without proper “vetting” or using protection.

Self-Harm – Suicidal behavior and deliberate self-harm are common in people experiencing BPD.   It’s important to note that suicidal behavior also includes contemplation/ideation, and/or making gestures, threats, or attempts.  Self-harm also includes all other attempts to otherwise hurt oneself, including cutting, etc.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – I’ve observed very few of these behaviors, but rarely.  There are those of us who engage in self-medication through substance use/abuse, but that’s not pervasive across the community.  Each of us takes a different approach to being intimate with someone, and the vast majority of us “vet” people in our lives “properly” (according to our standards).  Some of us also engage in self-harm, and although that could be considered a “repetitive movement” (aka a “stim” or self-soothing activity), I haven’t found it to be a common one.  Typically our self-soothing activities are not intentionally harmful to ourselves.

Extreme Emotional Mood Swings – Another common hallmark of BPD is the phenomenon of unstable emotions and moods.  They may alternate between contentment, hostility, excitement, despair, euphoria, and anger.  They can be triggered by “little things” that others usually “brush off”, and they can be incredibly intense, but they’re relatively short-lived; they usually last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – This is one area in which Asperger’s/autism may look identical to BPD, but it’s likely completely different.  We, too, may experience intense emotions that we may not realize or be able to identify, express, or even sometimes control.  However, ours seem to stem more from a potential (varying) combination of sensory overload, faulty executive function (which might be temporary), depleted energy (often through stress, masking/acting, etc), and alexithymia.

Long-Term Feeling of Emptiness – People experiencing BPD often mention feeling empty, maybe feeling a hole or a void inside them.  In the worst case scenario, they may feel as if they’re “nothing” or “nobody.”  Since this feeling is uncomfortable, they may attempt to fill the hole with activities like drugs, food, shopping, or sex. But in the end, none of those options feel truly satisfying.  And so the emptiness continues.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – Although many of us report feeling empty at different times, and the natural tendency is, thus, to fill the emptiness, I’ve rarely witnessed many of us talk about the situation in this way.  As mentioned above, most of us tend to feel alone less often, and when we do, I hear more of us attempting to ride out the feeling in healthy, constructive ways, such as pursuing a subject/topic of primary focus/specialty, creating art, writing (journaling, blogging, or writing), listening to music, petting the cat or dog, or maybe coloring in coloring books.

Explosive Anger – People experiencing BPD may struggle with a short temper and intense anger.  Once triggered, they may also have trouble controlling themselves, often becoming completely consumed by rage.  It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed at other people.  They may actually spend a lot of time being angry at themselves.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – This may sound familiar to those of us on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, particularly when considering our meltdowns and shutdowns.  However, it’s important to know that the engines driving these are completely different: for people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, it tends to be another possible profile of sensory overload, stress, depleted energy, and so on, while for those experiencing BPD, their anger is one side of the personality disorder coin, in which emotions are not well-regulated, likely due to fear and insecurity.

I’ll also consider these next two BPD characteristics together, because they’re also closely related.

Suspicions/Loss of Touch with Reality – People experiencing BPD may struggle with suspicious thoughts about others’ motives, or even paranoia.  During stressful times, they may even experience dissociation, which is a loss of touch with reality.

Lack of Trust – This piggybacks on the preceding “Suspicions” phenomenon listed above.  Typically individuals with BPD have difficulty trusting others.  They may not be able to accept that someone is telling them the truth or being genuine.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – People on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum tend to act in a way that is either identical (but for different reasons) or the exact opposite.  We have described ourselves (or various leaders in the field have described us) as either “too trusting”, tending to “overshare” or get “too personal too fast”, or conversely, as having “trust issues”.  On the one hand, we want to believe the best about people; I suspect that this largely comes from a situation where we’re genuine people and we might believe that everyone else is, too, and/or a position of anxiety, in which to ease that anxiety, we may want to believe that everyone has good intentions so that we can feel less threatened and socially awkward.  But those are just the theories I could think of at the moment; I may have others, and there may be still others that I haven’t thought of.

Manipulation – It’s been said that people experiencing BPD can be extremely manipulative.  For example, because they fear being abandoned, they might use manipulation tactics to coerce their partner into staying.  The irony is that despite this behavior, most BPD people actually feel powerless beneath the surface.  They may feel a sense of entitlement, juxtaposed with low self-esteem.

How Asperger’s/Autism Compares – I have not seen the characteristic of manipulation mentioned anywhere in respectable sources, nor have I seen it in people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum who have no other co-occurring conditions.  In fact, the vast majority of us tend toward the opposite: a desire to be straightforward and genuine, generally without hurting people.  In fact, BPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder are said to share several common themes, one of which is manipulative behaviors (and I’ve written before about how Asperger’s/autism and Antisocial Personality Disorder are completely different).

Closing Words…

Given these differences, the alarming rate at which I hear about Asperger’s/autistic people getting diagnosed with BPD is beyond me.  Some of the behavioral manifestations may appear similar on the surface, but the overlap is relatively small, and the underlying drivers behind them are completely different.  This is yet another case of “please talk to us instead of just observing!”, and it’s yet another reason that it’s so incredibly necessary for the gatekeepers in the field to start doing this en masse.

With any luck, someday soon, we won’t have to worry about getting mixed up in the wrong diagnoses (I like the term “classifications”, personally). 🙂

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This is one of my most popular posts!

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(Image Credit: Kirsty Mitchell with Archan Nair)


References / Further Reading:

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77 Comments

  1. “As mentioned above, most of us tend to feel alone less often, and when we do, I hear more of us attempting to ride out the feeling in healthy, constructive ways, such as pursuing a subject/topic of primary focus/specialty, creating art, writing (journaling, blogging, or writing), listening to music, petting the cat or dog, or maybe coloring in coloring books.”

    of course when youre dealing with intense negative emotions, it can drift towards the unhealthy. although if you and i were writing the new dsm (lets start by getting rid of the brand altogether, since its toxic) i would say drifting more often towards positive/constructive (if mildly “obsessive”) activities over say– a drunken/drug-laden orgy is a sign of asd over bpd.

    ive known a few people with bpd. theyre the kind of people that try to kick you out of your home over a disagreement. they can feel for other people, but its constantly extended and withdrawn like a yo-yo.

    i dont want to so something really stupid and self-serving like say “asd good, bpd bad” but ive been “forced” (lets say inclined) in my search for unique people (and search for friendship) to befriend unique individuals, some of whom turned out to be part of a pretty unstable friendship. i mean “unstable” in the sense that it shook my whole life, not just the relationship itself.

    as such, ive come to view anyone exhibiting signs of bipolar or bpd/npd with *caution.* hatred doesnt enter into it– my last girlfriend was (officially diagnosed, self-admitted) bipolar, and had many signs of bpd, but exhibited both a level of remorse and self-awareness that makes me think bipolar is less stable than bpd, but also less pronounced. if we see each other, its just “hi” and thats it– because theres no desire to be rude and i think we both know, that was going to go nowhere.

    its still difficult for me to distinguish bipolar and bpd/npd, but none of them are going to lead to a relationship that is satisfying for me. while bipolar is just as disasterous, people that are bipolar are often very attached to being medicated because they dont want to be the person they are when theyre not. (thus they will likely believe that people on the spectrum should be medicated– which makes for absolutely terrible allies and problematic friendships.)

    people that are borderline on the other hand, dont have a problem– YOURE probably the problem! and again compare this to bipolar where youre the problem now, but only because theyve fixed their problem (rather treated it) and so it has to be you– but they know if they stopped treating it, deep down, everything would probably be their fault.

    …people are fun. (i guess.) this is all anecdotal, but with all the “vogue” and industry influences involved in these labels and symptoms, i think its good to try to appreciate what science and scientific discipline can go into them– while remaining skeptical that any discussion of such topics (including by professionals) has anything to do with an adequate/up-to-date formal education, or science. in that environment, anecdotes are more useful (but be careful how enthusiastically you promote that idea.)

    the fact that we are sincere to a fault, and lumped in casually with people that are (sometimes, even often) compulsive liars or similar (to a fault for sure) is problematic to say the least. distinguishing ourselves without getting entrenched in a losing battle with people we dont want to smear (but who also find great outlet in online interaction) is vital to the progress of our “species.”

    your twitter is a fine example of how that can go well, or terribly, or both. i know that once again, youve posted something we can both relate to intimately. my interactions online are legend. i used to be a one-man army, fighting every bully that tried to put me in my place (for their own amusement.) thank f*** i outgrew that (mostly.) but even so, i found that the more i put myself through just using text online, the more able i was (it is legitimate training) to interact with people in real life.

    online, no one has visual cues. outside, we have no visual cues. but what you can learn to cope with in text, actually helps you deal without cues with other people. you learn many things in just text– more than people are likely aware they learn– and things you can use outside.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for adding your insight! I really appreciate that v😊❤️

      My experience has been similar, although I’ve only interacted with a small sample size 😉 I’m always really careful if someone appears NT but comes off clingy (this may sound discriminatory, but I tend to give people on the spectrum a little more leeway when it comes to social interaction because I’m intimately familiar with the nuances of socialization for people on the spectrum). But yeah, if they’re NT and they start clinging or idolizing, that’s one of the signs that you might be interacting with someone with Borderline Personality. 😊

      In that case, given that manipulation is a common behavior, which flies in the face of so many of our characteristics, I find it wise to be friendly but to keep at least a slight distance and to try not to take their words literally, because their minds can change pretty fast and that might be tough for us to process and adjust to 😊💖

      Liked by 2 people

      1. i got a book about borderlines called “walking on eggshells,” and it reminded me of a few too many relationships i ended up in. i was drawn to the title.

        i became confident (and im revisiting the idea) that the soulmate/second wife i had was a bpd sufferer. she wasnt asd, but she had loads in common with my close friend/former housemate that was *textbook* bpd (impulse type) and i used to follow her logic about who she liked/disliked with absolute astonishment.

        everyone was either the greatest or the worst person. now dont get me wrong, i fall IN LOVE when i meet a girl i like. i like my friends, and theyre not easy to figure out sometimes. theyre confusing. but theyre not all pure good or evil.

        im happy to say that if and when the love settles down or peters out, it never entirely fades away- relationships and friendships fail, but former friends dont automatically turn into horrible people.

        those are good signs i think. my obvious penchant for women with bpd, not so much. perhaps im looking for aspie women and just need to adjust my radar ❤ but seriously, that. <-

        Liked by 1 person

      2. heres another way to tell asd from bpd– and forgive the crudeness, but i think it will be alright.

        when youre dealing with someone with bpd, theres just no logic– theres only charges and verdicts (questions and conclusions.) theres always some magical, unknown route from “you know what i think” to “i think this.” its purely emotional logic (its not logic at all.)

        a real aspie ((tm), and please disregard) will sound like that on the surface, but theres generally unchanging logic holding the thing together, even if its arrived at emotionally (or with emotion.)

        the way that bpd sufferers judge on a bad day is about pure prejudice– its like talking to a traditional racist, except instead of race its what kind of cereal people eat, or what clothes they wear, or what kind of friends they have (anything and everything.) i will always give aspies more credit in the logic department than that. even if its self-serving (but i think its accurate too) or even if our logic isnt always perfect or easily explained– its simply a different kind of thinking that goes into our strong opinions than bpd opinions. and its a terrible shame i cant explain it better than that right now– but i believe someone probably could.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. i hasten to add that im not saying bpd sufferers are incapable of logical arguments or thought– im not saying anything of the sort– only that when it comes to why they love/hate/hate/love/love/hate/love/hate/hate people (everyone more or less,) there is no logic there. the theme keeps coming up, and i think “prejudice about every single insignificant thing” sums it up.

        people think we are detail oriented, but there are many recurring themes in what we hate. how many aspies do you know that hate their best friend (all of a sudden) because of what kind of car they drive, when they didnt even care about that last week? thats not asd– thats bpd talking!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly 😊. People experiencing Borderline personality flip-flop a lot, although I don’t know enough about it to be able to know if they can help it.

          Here’s my theory… And of course, I’m speaking in generalizations here, so please forgive me; my theory may not hold true for all people with BPD–hell, it may not be true at all. Ok with that said, here goes… 😉

          Since a common hallmark (and indeed trigger) of the Borderline personality is a fear of being abandoned, I’m guessing that many of them experienced a major shakeup in their lives at some point, probably at a young age, when they were most vulnerable. So, it almost seems as though the fight-or-flight response became very ingrained where relationships are concerned. So they may feel the need for attention and attachment, but when the other person responds warmly, the person with BPD’s nervous system kicks in and won’t let them get too close because they’re afraid that if they let their guard down, they’ll get hurt again.

          So it seems to become a case of yin-yang push-pull.

          “I want you so bad.” (True.)
          “You’re an arse; go away.” (Meaning, get them–push them away–before they get you, as in, reject you.). (That way, they don’t feel so powerless, which I think is another underlying force at work here. If they are the ones doing the pushing away and calling the shots, then they might feel like they’ve retained their power, or at least, feel less power-LESS.)

          The fight-or-flight response is really powerful and it can become incredibly strong incredibly quickly. And there is no logic to the fight-or-flight response; it’s pure primal fear and survival instinct. Self-preservation is all that matters. Because they must have been in fear for their security–or yes, even their lives–before.

          The lack of logic in the phenomenon may also explain the abundance of emotion, the penchant for drama, the need for attention, and the seeming disregard for other people; their nervous system isn’t concerned about that – it’s only about survival.

          Because of the previous abandonment experience, they may also feel very empty inside, because to be abandoned or abused is to be rejected. Whoever abandoned them or abused them didn’t think they were anything special, anything worth caring for, especially involving wellbeing. So the Borderline personality person needs to have a partner or friends (although this shows itself more in romantic relationships) surrounding them. They might feel the need to convince themselves that they’re attractive, worthy of love and attention, and wanted. But then the nervous system kicks in again, won’t let them get too close, and here we go again.

          Also, the general feeling is that having a significant other will make them feel complete or whole, filling/satisfying that empty void. Except that it doesn’t. No one else can make anyone whole; we either feel whole on our own, or we don’t. That’s not to say that having a partner doesn’t enhance our lives; of course it usually does. But if someone felt empty before connecting with a partner, the relationship won’t fix that. And so the person with BPD ends up feeling alone anyway, and maybe that’s when they begin to demonize their partner; subconsciously, they might be PO’ed that their partner wasn’t “enough” to take away their emptiness; the partner, in their eyes, “fell flat”, isn’t sufficient enough, doesn’t care enough, “must hate me” and so on.

          But those are just my theories. 😊❤️

          Liked by 1 person

  2. also of note: people that are bipolar seem to respond dramatically to medication, and people that are asd (or bpd or npd) i think less so. they might be able to treat some symptoms of bpd/npd but they act surprised (lets just keep increasing the dose until they develop seizures) when it doesnt work…

    so if youve got a person on medication who turns into a LEGIT crazy person when they skip a dose or two, thats probably bipolar. if they took medicine for a year or two and were still an a**hole, and now theyve been off it for years and are still an a**hole, thats probably bpd/npd. this is admittedly *not* science– this is only review, after surviving many friendships with “fellow” weirdos. the more i learn, the more i feel i know.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awesome point! 👏🏼👏🏼. Yep, that’s my experience too 😊 Bipolar usually responds great to medication, whereas Borderline does not ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Coming from a complete outsider point of view (all of this is so new to me), I suspect that self-harm is more common in Aspie kids than we realize (distinguishing this from self-injurious behaviour, which may be more repetitive in nature, but I’m referring to self-harm as intentionally hurting oneself to cope with overwhelming feelings). Rates of self-harm among teens in general has skyrocketed in the past few years. Among Aspie kids, I suspect that being and / or feeling misunderstood, and not feeling able to articulate why they feel the way they do, may be very frustrating. In the research I’ve been doing, I’ve been reading that Aspie teens actually have fairly high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal feelings, especially if they haven’t been formally diagnosed. It’s got to be very difficult to feel like you never really “fit” or to feel as though everyone “gets it” but you. Couple that with hormonal changes, relationship expectations and school and parental pressure, Aspie kids have a *lot* to deal with.

    I’ve read that rates of suicidal ideation can be as high as 50% among Asperger’s kids. I don’t know yet whether or not I trust the sources (and for some sources I can’t access the scientific articles), but there seems to be agreement among the sources I’m reading that feelings of depression, anxiety, and suicidal feelings are very high.

    Many Aspie kids probably do just find healthy ways to cope, but I’m not sure that’s always the case, unfortunately, and so I think that in that respect, the comparison to bpd may be closer than we’d like to think. I’m certainly no expert, but I do feel that as teen suicide rates continue to climb, Aspie kids are probably not immune. 😦

    Liked by 4 people

    1. you may be right, and you are right about suicidal ideation and suicide, but im not at all certain that other forms of actual self-injury is more pronounced with asd.

      cutting, for example– is it statistically higher in kids with asd than any other group? im not talking about accidental injury either, i mean deliberate. the worst thing that could happen would be for people to start getting harassed/misgrouped/misdiagnosed because of someone assuming that aspies are more likely to self-harm.

      on the other hand, the higher rate of suicide is actual– it would still be awful for people to assume that because youre autistic and stressed, youre somehow at-risk. i prefer caution when it comes to establishing co-morbidity. like we dont have enough baggage and misunderstandings as-is…

      “what is autism? autism is a trait in 1-2% of the population where people on the spectrum seem to have EVERY POSSIBLE and CONCEIVABLE THING wrong with them– sort of like hypochondria, except its not imagined or psychosomatic.” <- fake news! 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No, I don’t think cutting is statistically higher for ASD … my point was only that I don’t think it’s significantly lower or nonexistent, either. I also think that there may be danger in under-recognizing this type of behaviour, simply for the very fact that using “cutting” as a diagnostic symptom can lead to a lot of misdiagnosis if we assume that ASD kids rarely cut. This blog post has been fantastic for me, and has opened up a whole new avenue of possibility. When we go for my daughter’s assessment, I will have a lot of questions, for sure!!

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Very true, about the self-injurious behaviors 👏🏼👏🏼. From what I’ve seen/heard, it often comes about as a “stim gone bad”, in which the activity is like any other stim except that it’s directed at ourselves–often so as not to involve anyone else, or perhaps it’s less visible and thus, less prone to drawing attention or criticism from others 😊

      Of course, that’s probably not the only underlying theme; there are probably other phenomena at work in many of us, phenomena that are completely different ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I often thought I had BPD or bipolar. I asked psychiatrists if I had either and they said no. They said I have traits that would suggest it, but other traits I have didn’t fit. They could not work out what was ‘wrong’ with me.

    I suspect my BPD/bipolar traits were linked to my masking, and the effort it took. I took serious attempts at suicide at least ten times from 16yo til just 3 years ago. I engaged in self harm practices, I attempted to numb my pain with various vices etc.

    Since cleaning up my life, 15 yrs ago, and dealing with the childhood stuff, I am left with ALL my autistic traits, that are very much like 3 yo me. There is no other explanation for my quirks, as they certainly do not fit BPD/bipolar.

    In my case, there was a LOT of overlap between my masking, pained self and my autistic self. I can see why I thought myself BPD and my psychs followed the assessment up. It never fit right, but it kind of explained a few of my behaviours. If I were BPD, I’d still be the same. The only constants are the quirks I’ve always had.

    I am guessing that the cases of autistics being BPD-like are those who have lived abusive childhoods, where being one’s self is not conducive to survival. It is just a guess. My boys are not terribly much BPD, but they are more like the Aspie cases Laina refers to as being like the ones she knows of. The ONLY difference is my boys have had a marvellous childhood.

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  5. I grew up abused and therefore developed some BPD-like traits. My dad drove truck so was rarely home. I grew to fear his leaving because, when he did, that meant my brother and I were at my mom’s mercy. I developed a lot of trust issues as half the time she would say loving things, promise kindness, only to smack me around and yell all over again. I did a lot of masking the older I got just trying to get through life unscathed and finding a way to please. And, of course, when my first husband actually did abandon me, the trust issues and fear went wild, as did suicidal thoughts. I really think so much is dependent on life circumstances. My colossal amount of baggage actually clouded therapists’ view of me, I think. That is why autism was difficult to pinpoint for so long.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh wow, luv 💐 Thank you so much for sharing this with me/us. I’m humbled to read your story. I admire your strength, have I told you that? 💖

      Yep, it’s perfectly understandable–almost expected–that one’s personality will change when faced with incredibly difficult circumstances such as those. (My heart is just aching for you and your brother 😓😓💞.). Our nervous systems adapt to stressful situations. Fear, even outright terror, often alters one’s personality. The various dysfunctional aspects of the environment we’re raised in doesn’t just end with the dissipation of the incident; each incident writes on the pages of who we are.

      But obviously that’s not the end of the story, as you have become a beautiful person and you’ve also broken the abusive cycle and raised your children equally beautifully 😘❤️

      So, not all is hopeless, that’s for sure. It “just” takes (usually a lot) of extra effort, and bravo to you! 👏🏼👏🏼. Now (if you’re like me), what’s left is working through the residual effects of the trauma, so that *you* can lead a happier life and enjoy a positive wellbeing. Which, from what I see, you’re doing an excellent job 💜

      (I sent a request to your blog, btw! I would love to follow if you’d like me to; if it’s more private than that, I certainly understand–no hard feelings at all 😊)

      Sending you hugs as much as you can use them! 💜💙

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you! It’s taken a lot of determination to rebuild!Yes, the residuals are a big part of what I deal with. I set the blog to private at this point because I am not sure what I am doing with it now. It was helping for a bit, but, lately, has become something else to keep up with. I didn’t want to delete it altogether, though, as I may revisit it down the road. So appreciate the encouragement and support, though. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  6. very interesting post, i thought a lot to find an answer (not for me)
    I have some questions about:
    Can a asperger person be a bipolar too as a comorbility or is it not possible?
    A very strong Black and White mind is only bipolar way?
    Can a bipolar person make believe to people that he is asperger?
    Can really a bipolar believe to be asperger and hide himself under asperger?
    thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi friend! Thank you for your great questions! 😊 As far as I know, I believe that someone can be both Aspie/autistic and bipolar at the same time. It’s not very common, but it’s possible 😊

      Asperger’s/autism isn’t considered a mental disorder or mental illness anymore, but bipolar is. 💙

      A bipolar person could theoretically self-diagnose as Asperger’s, although this isn’t likely to be accurate. It’s possible, but usually not right. So they could hide under it but wouldn’t be as likely for it to have been diagnosed 😊

      Usually, if someone goes for a psychiatric evaluation, the healthcare professional is more likely to notice bipolar disorder 🌺

      Does that help? 😊💖

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. It helped. I think i’ve met a bipolar-asperger person. But he tried to hide to be bipolar and used his autism as excuse. I saw in him so many personality that i can’t say who he really is. But i’ve always believed that his autism is good creative part of him, saving his life. His black and white mind is destroying all bridges with friends. He said he has nobody, i told him i wanted to stay with him, he totally rejected me with violent words. I don’t think autistic person do like that. I can’t believe it. Bipolar is stronger than autism in him. And for me he was like a son, can you believe me?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, I think it is in the US, too. I disagree with that classification, as I don’t perceive it as a mental illness; I think the MI term gets thrown around way too easily 😊. It’s disordered or dysregulated attention, but it’s not like the person can’t separate reality from fantasy or anything 💞💞

          Like

    1. Thank you for these wonderful questions! Often, Asperger’s/autistic people are said to be black and white thinkers. I’ve seen this manifest a few times, in a few different ways. But my experience has been that people on the spectrum are rarely any more or less black and white than anybody else 😊

      The term bipolar disorder sounds like it might refer to black and white thinking, but actually it refers to the phenomenon of feeling extremely high/happy or extremely low/depressed. People who experience bipolar disorder are capable of being both very naturally high and also very down/sad. 💞

      Does that make it more clear? 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i dont think aspies really are black and white thinkers. this is going to sound like a semantic argument, which is actually a metaphor: consider that a computer can show 16 million colors. how? 256 intensities of red, green (yeah, green) and blue. you can throw in an alpha channel for 32-bit color, but dont worry about it, it wont change any of the physical capabilities of your screen output.

        anyway, 16 million colors– 3 octets (sets of 8 bits) for 3 primary colors. thats 24 on/off (zero/one) switches. how do you figure out how many combinations 24 switches can be on/off in? its 2 raised to the 24th power, or 2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2 = 16777216.

        thats about as many shades and hues as a person is physically capable of perceiving– its just arrived at “the long way.”

        and i think that kind of sums up the difference between true black and white thinking, and what aspies do. the reason people think we are black and white thinkers, is that we always talk like we are (except when we dont.) <- nts dont think we are as funny as we think we are, either.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it is more that ppl w ASD like clear definitions and precision, but can be binary in thinking, too. As in a light is on or off, but processing emotions esp if not explained, can be difficult and worse to recognise them in others and then how to respond appropriately to self or others.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much for writing this. I read a lot about psychology to try and understand people, and I often see things in other diagnosises that could mirror my experiences. Borderline is one I often wonder about. What you’ve written is pretty spot on, though self harm is an area I’d like to see explored more. I self harm, and my son does too, though the reasons are always overstimulation and frustration.
    Anyway, thank you again. This sort of post makes me feel more at ease with who I am and keeps me from wondering if maybe my Autism diagnosis is wrong, and maybe I am borderline,or have some other mental Illness I’m not handling properly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, dear friend ❤️. Thank you also for sharing your story 💖. I’m so sorry that’s happening to you, and it’s my pleasure to have been able to help in some way 😊. I’d like to help more if I can; I’ll certainly do my very best!

      I really should look more into self-harm, because Borderline Personality doesn’t have the monopoly on that; apparently it does apply to many of us on the spectrum as well 😊

      My theory is that it’s a “stim gone to the dark side”, but I could be (very) wrong, so I’ll research it well first before writing 😊. From what you describe, though, it sounds like it could be something along those lines ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Have you investigated that sub-branch of ASD which is pervasive demand avoidance, when anxiety, ADHD, sensory issues and high functioning Autism
      Meet?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Generally I had heard, read and had explained to mee by Various mental health workers that it was ADHD – in women, especially with childhood trauma that ended up misdiagnosed as BPD, and sometimes also women with ASD and especially women with both ADHD and ASD and therein expansive emotions (dysregulaton) volatility, erratic behaviiours and, from anxiety, the desire to control (also sometimes seen as manipulation) and fear of abandonment.
    Women w ADHD/ASD very often have a bad time as
    Kids/young people and are traumatised by not knowing the socially acceptable/appropriate plus (if ADHD) their acting without thinking (which would explain the illogical nature of thought) esp if you factor in the overload common to both ADHD and ASD.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great article. Informative and a bit shocking. I agree in that there is not that much common ground. I feel that the confusion probably stems primarily from the sketchy understanding many have of one or both conditions. Sometimes BPD seems to be treated as a catch all basket, it seems in case of doubt, throw them in that pile!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mine was actually the other way around, I was misdiagnosed with ASD in CAMHS, but during my second psychiatric hospital admission in 2016, I was diagnosed with BPD. The psychologists I saw while in hospital said they knew right away after our first meeting that I was borderline. So it can really go either way.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Stumbled upon this after a rather lengthy research spree after my therapist suggested that I might be BPD, even though I told her I think I might be Autistic. I think your breakdown of the two really helped me solidify the difference between the two on a more in-depth level, rather than just the surface guidelines a lot of professionals go by. Thank you for writing this up! It definitely helped in my search of BPD vs ASD.

    Now I just have to gain up the courage to continue to try and better explain what I am experiencing and that I don’t think it is BPD.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m so happy that the post helped you 😊💕. I think you’re totally on to something! Wishing you the best of luck with your therapist! Beside you all the way 👍🏼💪🏼💖🌟💖

      Like

  12. Wow, thank you for writing this! This post really hits home with me because while I do experience the intensity found in BPD, I am not sure that my reactions always stem from fear of abandonment/rejection. A lot of times, my emotional outbursts are because I am emotionally overwhelmed/ over stimulated. When there are a lot of external stimuli, I tend to get panicked and anxious, if I can’t verbalize this correctly, I end up lashing out or just completely removing myself.

    Something you said rings true to me… that those with BPD can’t stand being alone. This is something that has always perplexed me. Because while I feel lonely at times, for the most part I really enjoy being alone when I can do my own thing without interruption. As an extrovert, I like being around stimulating, intelligent people, but I require a certain amount of alone time to recharge.

    I really struggle with social norms and reading social cues. I do not pick up on sarcasm well and have been told (a lot recently) that people cannot differentiate between when I am being genuine/sincere and when I am joking. This was shocking to me, as it is quite clear that typically everything I say is genuine. I don’t really know how to be sarcastic very well. It seems to me that these qualities are more spectrum-esque than Borderline?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I’m really happy that you enjoyed this post 😊😊. Given what you say here, I would suspect that yes, it sounds to me much more like an Asperger’s-esque neurotype, certainly much more that than Borderline 🌺💞

      Like

  13. I was diagnosed with Borderline a couple of years ago after doing a personality disorder test. Had to do one at the same facility when I was 18 (I am 25 now) and didn’t get a proper answer when I asked about the result. So I directly asked if it was BPD and got „It kind of goes in that direction, yes.“ … Kind of? Direction? I just wanted a straight answer. A couple of years ago I met most of the criteria and the psychologist also said she thought I had BPD from my behaviour. The thing that confuses me most is that when I was asked if I was looking for an intense relationship, I think I said yes. Platonic, not romantic, but still. I soon found out I did not want a intense relationship of any kind.. when I made a very clingy and emotionally needy friend. It was hell for me. Seriously, it made me so angry and I just wanted to run away. Smothering doesn’t even describe it.
    I suppose I just wanted someone to really get me, I felt unlikable and hated myself.. and self-hatred and depression come with symptoms similar to BPD.

    Anyway, I got my ASD diagnosis last year at a special clinic, after a different pychologist kept talking about how she wasn’t just sure, she KNEW I was autistic. At that point I was sick of my problems and how every psychologist told me something else. Before the BPD it was avoidant personality disorder, severe emotional developmental disorder with sibling rivalry, one even said I had PTSD because of the abuse I had to endure as a child and teen. This one also said it was definitely not BPD as people with BPD are more aggressive and.. extrovert, or something.

    Seriously, I just don’t know anymore, is it ASD and the other diagnoses were wrong? Or do I have something that mimics ASD? 😦 I don’t trust my own perception anymore. And I don’t remember all that much about my childhood, beside the abuse, the ostracizing by classmates, the bullying and never even getting why. Still don’t. Even when kids were cruel to me I found myself letting them use me because I just didn’t see a reason for anyone to be that nasty.

    I can’t get another opinion as there’s little autism specialist in my area, I went a long way to that clinic to take the test already. Psychologist hardly know shit (sorry) about autism and will say stuff „You’re not autistic because your eye contact is normal.“

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! 😊. I feel you, I really do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of this happening to people! 💞. Ugh. It really gets confusing, especially when (you’re so right about what you said!):

      1) Clinicians often don’t know shit (yep, cussing is fine on here 😁), and they often don’t have a clue what they’re looking at,

      2) The diagnostic criteria are incomplete in and of themselves,

      3) Everything from the criteria to evaluations and questionnaires, etc, was all developed via observations (of behavior) and not by directly asking us what we’re actually experiencing,

      4) There are so many labels, and they have a lot of overlap

      A straight answer would definitely be helpful! 💖

      From what I’ve experienced myself and learned from the autistic community, I’ve reached the conclusion that if Asperger’s/autism is anywhere in your picture, that’s probably the primary neurodivergent condition going on. Other stuff like BPD and bipolar are definitely possible, too, but (and again, this is just my experience, and I’m not a specialist in this area) they appear to be somewhat “secondary” to the Asperger’s/autism. Or they might not be present at all, but maybe a clinician is more familiar with, say, BPD (or ADHD or OCD, etc), and thus they’re more likely to think that that’s what you have, because that’s what enters their mind first 💙

      In the menu of this blog, I’ve got some resources for getting evaluated (some professionals are in different countries but will do the evaluation by Skype, which I’ve found to be very legit, if the professional him/herself is good) 👍🏼. Also, I’ve got quite a few posts in the archives about diagnosis and whatnot, in case they help 💜. Some of the posts have links to various online questionnaires, which I’ve also found to be quite accurate in the vast majority of cases 💓. Near the end of last summer, I wrote a post in which I took the readers through my own self-diagnosis process and then my own differential diagnosis process, with screenshots of my results and in most cases, links to the tests I took. It’s only one example, but some people found it to be a good starting point. Although, I’m not sure where you are on your journey and what you’ve already done so far 💝. Yeah, you can be on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum even with good eye contact 👍🏼💜

      Like

      1. Just wrote one of the professionals you mentioned, thank you so much. 🙂 I recognize that list she made about female autists and a lot of the things are definitely true. Just to name some examples:

        „May find herself in social situations or relationships that she is unhappy with, but not know how to remove herself from them“
        Ooooh yes. Some people think I want to be their friend when I’m just treating them like a normal human being. Like, respectful. That’s all there is to it, it doesn’t mean I’m interested at all.. and for some reason this always happens with people I find especially annoying or boring. Or just unpleasant, like, an antisocial troublemaker, the complete opposite of me. Never liked them but just didn’t know how to make them stop talking to me. We had fights that I thought settled it, but.. just recently she told me „We’re best friends!“ … Huh?

        „May say “yes” to social events, then later make up an excuse as to why she cannot attend, often staying home in solitude (reading a book or engages in her special interest)“
        I think people stopped contacting me because of this. Sometimes I think I can do it, then realize having to be around people every day for hours (apprenticeship, school) is more than enough. I can’t „power up“ (like a battery) with people around. And if it’s people I see at work/school anyway, why would I meet them in my freetime as well? Sounds like an overkill to me.

        „Social Naivity, may believe anything told to them by others (gossip, stories, jokes and teasing), difficulty interpreting the intentions of others, Misinterprets other peoples intention, often jumping to conclusions about others“
        Not helped by the fact I tend to get too personal too quickly. I don’t like smalltalk anyway, if I talk about things important to me the other person will get to know me much faster and.. maybe like me? It’s bonding to me.. And earlier this year this sort of thinking got me into trouble. Tried to approach a very silent yet intelligent classmate, somehow thinking that as an introvert he HAS to be a good person. It soon turned out he was not as he seemed at all. He used the information I gave him about me to manipulate and ridicule me, yet not always in a direct way. For example I once didn’t get why something I said upset him and told him to please be direct. His response:“I’m not used to spoon-feed people.“ On another occasion I told him about a person I dislike, how she felt attacked by me in the past when I didn’t even attack her and we were just having a factual discussion, how she then told me I made her cry etc. etc. and how horrible that made me feel. That someone would think I’d just attack them out of nowhere, I’d never do that. I’m direct, all I did was disagree… about something we discussed in class, so it wasn’t even personal. And that male classmate told me it was my fault. It was my fault for not being senitive enough, my fault that she never believed me when I apologized and started hating me. And snap at me for no reason every now and then. The funny thing is, the guy himself is sooo freaking insensitive and un-empathetic, it makes me look like a saint. And he doesn’t see it. I want him to understand, but no matter what I do or say, he won’t change his mind or understand. He is narcissistic.

        „May not be able to tolerate sounds, sights, smells, textures, movement that she dislikes“
        Even as an infant, as my mother noticed. Especially noises, loud noises.

        „Looks younger than her years“

        Those are just some though, most of the entire list fit. If it is true, I guess autism might be more subtle or just different?

        It’s also hard to believe because I’m 25 years old and that’s how old I was when I got my diagnosis. Why did it take so long? How? I’ve done so many therapies, I’ve been in mental clinics.. That’s 25 years I thought I was troubled but normal still.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh cool! I’m so glad it helped 😁👍🏼. I’m with you, girl. I just found out about 18 months ago, at age 38.5. Everybody missed me. Yeah 25 years is definitely a long time. It’s so hard to go through life thinking we’re troubled, and so vindicating (but then sometimes resentment-inducing) to find out we were perfectly ok, just different, but not wrong, all along 💚💙

          Like

          1. Quick question before I reply later, I’m on my phone atm.: Do people tell you to slow down sometimes and telling you you should stop trying to do multiple things at once? It happens at work and I don’t even notice until someone tells me. I suck at doing more than one thing at a time, but sometimes there’s a huge chaos in my head and I don’t know where to begin.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hi! 😊. They tell me to slow down, yeah, although it doesn’t have much to do with multitasking lol 😉. I know I can’t multitask–at all 😂. I can totally, 100%, relate to the “chaos in my head” concept, though! I’m definitely no stranger to that, and the same goes for not knowing where to begin 💚💙

              Like

  14. Whoa! Thank you for this. I was diagnosed with BPD earlier this year, but now I’m doubting it. I started doing research on ASD a few months back after hearing that ASD is often misdiagnosed as BPD in females. I realise that the BPD traits I have are the ones that are observed (at least superficially) in people on the spectrum—not more BPD-ish traits like proneness to self-harm or fear of being alone (in fact I prefer being alone when possible!). I also have ASD-related traits that aren’t typical of BPD, such as very specific interests and inability to read social cues. Your post helped clarify some of my doubts. Thank you! 💕

    Now I’m quite convinced that I don’t have BPD, but I’m not sure if it’s ASD or whatnot—but I’m most likely not neurotypical, haha. I would like a second opinion or an assessment but since I live in a third world country where mental health awareness is practically nonexistent, I’m not sure how I’m going to go about doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi!! Thank you so much for sharing your story 💙. I know what you mean; you’re not alone 💞. Sometimes the only option available is to research as best you can, take the online assessments for Asperger’s/autism, and if they come back pretty consistently positive/congruent with AS, then you can simply rest knowing you’re on the spectrum 😊. I wholeheartedly embrace those who self-identify as AS, especially since I’m aware of the unfortunate truth about AS diagnosis in many locales, and that the lack of awareness/knowledge and resources often leaves a lot to be desired 💓

      I’m so happy that the post has brought you some clarity! I think you’re onto something; go with your intuition 😘💖🌟

      Like

    1. You’re very welcome! 😊. If you’re interested, check out Tania Marshall’s lists of Asperger’s/autism traits in young girls (preschool and early primary/elementary school) and women (university age on up). I found them very enlightening! If you have questions or need anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me 💗💗

      Like

  15. You are special. You describe my first girlfriend and she had Borderline. I am a swedish boy with same problematic as you have. Please contact me or comment my posts in any language you want and I should give you respons when I have time for it.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Im new on WordPress and I want have your help and tips to make my blog successful. I don’t want earn moneys… Only have at least ONE reader who leaves one comment to one of my posts. 😑 PS… If I was sending a friendship on Facebook, would you accept it? 😐 I have nobody to interact with.

            And you are the first/only female I found who has “highly function autism”. Which mean more knowledge/experience for me and probarly for you also. 😃

            You are kind so why not? 🐦

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “Im new on WordPress and I want have your help and tips to make my blog successful.”

              Oh wow!! 😊. Welcome to WordPress, my dear friend! That’s too cool 🌺

              Of course, I would love to help you! I’m actually planning a blog post about some of the lessons I’ve learned about blogging, with (genuine, non-sleazy) tips on how to help people grow their blogs 💙💙. I’m not sure if I’ll post it here or on my “other” blog? Maybe both 😁

              “If I was sending a friendship on Facebook, would you accept it?”

              Of course! Just message me through my “The Silent Wave Blog” Page on Facebook, let me know who you are on WordPress, and I’ll be very happy to send you a request ❣❣

              Twitter is also a wonderful place to meet autistic people 💚. I’ve met a lot of really cool people on there; same with WordPress, and Facebook has a few groups for Asperger’s/autistic people–some are open to all genders, where others are open to females only ❤️❤️

              I’d love to connect with you personally on Facebook, too! 💓💓

              Like

                1. Oh wow 😘. I wish I knew Swedish! I’ll follow your blog anyway though! I like to learn languages, and I may learn some Swedish at some point; if I do I’ll have a good blog (yours) to read! 😁😁❤️

                  Like

                  1. In worse scenario you must use translate on the Internet. And you can ask me when you have difficult to understand the translation. So in other words use one translation site and then write to me and I should determined if its correct. I help you with swedish and hopefully you got whole the picture of my hosts. Första kärleken blir First Love. Fuck system is my very first tape. The song is also in swedish.

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