Mood Swings - Unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which cannot be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.
Stuck on the rollercoaster
Mood swings are among the most disconcerting of all the characteristics of a person who suffers from a Personality Disorder, because they defy the reasoning or logic of the person who is trying to “figure them out”.
Mood swings are rarely an accurate reflection of reality. They are typically based on the feelings of the Personality-Disordered individual - not the facts. However, Nons sometimes fall into the trap of trying to interpret the moods of a Personality-Disordered loved one based on actual events.
Positive mood swings are as much a feature of personality disorders as negative mood swings.
Positive mood swings are welcome, however they can be just as destructive as negative mood swings. This is because positive mood swings often appeal to a Non’s sense of justice or clemency - as in: “if this person is being so nice to me then they can’t be the evil person I thought they were.” This can be just as counter-productive as over-reacting to a negative mood swing.
It is important to remember that if a person with a Personality Disorder has acted abusively in the past, then a sudden change to acts of kindness offers no bonafide explanation or reconciliation for past abuses - and provides little security against future abuses.
In many cases, a person who suffers from a Personality Disorder will occasionally be troubled by their own behavior, however, they then attempt to rationalize or draw attention away from their behavior by focusing on the shortcomings of others, continuing abusive dynamics.
The range of moods displayed by a person who suffers from a Personality Disorder can be dramatic - from suicidal tendencies to sublime bliss.
What it Looks Like
- A successful businessman acts like everything is wonderful on Monday and attempts suicide on Tuesday.
- A woman decides to stop nurturing her children one week but the next week enrolls them in a development program.
- A bright young girl drops out of college and blames it on her parents' nonchalant disposition. The next semester she makes straight "A's".
- A colleague cycles between an approachable and unapproachable demeanor.
- A mother oscillates between bedridden depression and domesticated perfectionism.
What it feels like
The tendency for Nons is to feel pressured to compromise their boundaries when they are suddenly met with a flood of good vibes from their Personality-Disordered loved one. However, it’s important to remember that boundaries are not vindictive - boundaries are worth preserving in stormy weather and fair - just as a seawall provides security whether the waves are gentle or threatening.
It's also easy to assume other people are just like us, as we have a tendency to analyze our own feelings and reactions to explain the reactions and motives of others. We often look at their behavior and ask ourselves, "What circumstances or feelings would it take for me to act like that?”
However, some people react just like us - and many don’t. People with Personality Disorders represent one end of a spectrum of human behavior. They often react radically to their feelings, without taking time to think through the logic of their situation, their actions and the consequences of their actions. This can sometimes leave Nons wondering, "What on Earth did I do to deserve this/provoke that/make them act this way?"
The answer is often: "Nothing."
Learning to Cope
It's important to remember that you are never responsible for another person's behavior - if a person you care about is behaving in a way you don't like, that is simply their choice. In most cases, it has nothing to do with you or what you have done.
If another person claims "I did ---- because you did -----”, or, "I said ---- because you said -----” then they are making up excuses for their own behavior.
What NOT to do
When you are faced with a positive mood swing:
- Don’t throw away your boundaries.
- Don’t assume this lovely person is the real person or the true person. It is a part of them - and the whole person is the average of both the positive and the negative that you have experienced.
- Don’t forget about the negative experiences - they are as much a part of the reality as the positive.
- Don’t assume that this positive mood swing will last forever.
When you are faced with a negative mood swing:
- Don’t blame yourself or take responsibility for the way the other person feels.
- Don’t retaliate with bad behavior of your own.
- Don’t assume that this nasty person you are confronted with is the real person or the true person. It is a part of them - but the whole person is the average of both the positive and the negative that you have experienced.
- Don’t forget about the positive experiences - they are as much a part of the reality as the positive.
What TO do
- Maintain your boundaries.
- Keep yourself and your children away from any physical, verbal, emotional or sexual violence or abuse.