Being Borderline and NVLD: Part A by, Melina

By May 17, 2023 NVLD Bloggers

It’s been speculated that one third or more of people with borderline personality disorder also have a learning disability. Many people with borderline personality disorder struggle with their relationships and suffer from low self esteem which is also common for people with nonverbal learning disorder. This can be due to our poor interpretation of social cues and other impairments we experience.

My name is Melina, and I have both nonverbal learning disorder and borderline personality disorder. I experience many setbacks from my comorbidity, with socializing and interpersonal relationships being the toughest.

Personality disorders are a category of mental health disorders that involve how someone relates to others, including having persistent disruptive patterns of thinking, mood, and behavior. There are ten personality disorders and they’re divided into three clusters. One of the most common personality disorders is borderline personality disorder.
Borderline personality disorder, or bpd, is a cluster b personality disorder that impacts the way you perceive yourself and others and is marked by intense and unstable relationships, frequent mood swings, inappropriate anger, and an unstable sense of self. Many people with this disorder have chronic feelings of emptiness and a fear of real or perceived rejection and abandonment. It’s common for people with bpd to struggle with impulsiveness including risky behaviors such as having unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating, or abusing substances. Borderline personality disorder is rarely diagnosed on its own and has other co-occurring disorders such as adhd, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, ptsd, and other personality disorders. It is also common for people with borderline to experience suicidal ideation or engage in self destructive behaviors.

Different from a personality disorder, a learning disability is a disorder where a person has a deficiency in one or multiple areas of learning; a learning disability does not usually define intelligence or motivation and is different from an intellectual disability. One of the learning disabilities that has yet to be included in the dsm-5 is called nonverbal learning disorder. Nonverbal learning disorder, or nvld, is a not well known learning disability that impairs a specific group of skills including social skills and spatial ability. Many people with this disorder are well spoken and write well which presents them as abled and functional, but in reality, they have a hard understanding of nonverbal communication. Other signs include difficulty understanding sarcasm or emotions in others, poor physical coordination, trouble with organization, naiveness, and hyper-talkativeness. Many symptoms are much more apparent as the person ages over time. Because of these impairments, many people with nvld suffer from low self esteem. Co-occurring disorders of nvld include adhd, autism, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, other learning disabilities, and even personality disorders.

Both bpd and nvld differentiate from one another, but both have overlapping symptoms and characteristics that make them similar to one another.
One of the significant similarities between these disorders are their impairments in relationships and socializing. Both have defects in social situations, but however, for very different reasons.
With borderline personality disorder, people with the disorder’s impairments in relationships and socializing relate more to unstable mood or behavior, while with people with nonverbal learning disorder, their impairments relates more to understanding emotions and interaction. Having a comorbidity of both nonverbal learning disorder and borderline personality disorder makes maintaining relationships and socializing harder than it should be. A good example of this could be is that I’ve dealt with situations with my comorbidity where I thought somebody was mad at me from my misinterpretation of others’ emotions, and because of my inappropriate anger from borderline, I’ve lashed out back at them for no good of a reason and this causes distance between me and the individual.

Another thing that borderline and nonverbal learning disorder have in common is poor academic performance, but for like impairments in relationships and socializing, the reasons for each of these disorders differ. For nonverbal learning disorder, these academic difficulties are specifically from the areas of learning they have from the disability including dysgraphia, poor handwriting, trouble understanding figurative language, struggling to make generalizations, difficulty understanding abstract concepts, and problems solving advanced math equations. What’s different about borderline is that people with the disorder’s poor academic performance relates more to mental health reasons than areas of learning. These mental health reasons can range from mood dysregulation, emotional sensitivity, lacking motivation, poor interpersonal communication with peers, and impulsivity. Academic difficulties in nonverbal learning disorder aren’t usually visible until high school because elementary school is more about retaining basic concepts than advanced ones, so I didn’t really struggle with areas of learning until later on, but ever since I was young,

I’ve always had some disturbance in my academic performance with something relating to my mental health, especially from my lack of motivation and my emotional sensitivity.
Both people with borderline personality disorder and nonverbal learning disorder also have insecure attachment. With borderline, their insecure attachment is usually formed from a traumatic or neglectful childhood. What’s different about people with nonverbal learning disorder is that their insecure attachment is usually caused by their misinterpretation of social cues and poor social skills; because of these defects, people with the disability have low self esteem and usually retreat from social situations. The upbringing of both attachments from each disorder differ but a part of the reason their attachments are both insecure can also be caused by genetic factors. Personally, I have a disorganized attachment where I show characteristics of both anxious and avoidant attachment. My anxiety in attachment I would say is more from my borderline with my intense preoccupation and favoritism with people, and my avoidance I believe is from me avoiding social situations or ghosting others because of my anxiety in social settings from my nvld as well.

Lastly, both nonverbal learning disorder and borderline personality disorder have very similar co-occurring disorders. Both disorders share a common comorbidity of depressive and anxiety disorders and this can be caused by both people with these disorders usually having low self esteem. Both disorders also share another common comorbidity of adhd. Adhd with borderline is related more with impulsiveness while ADHD with NVLD is more related with inattentiveness. With having all of these disorders, including adhd, I believe I have always suffered from anxiety and depression from my nonverbal learning disorder, but as I reached puberty and started experiencing borderline symptoms, I would say my borderline has exacerbated both my anxiety and depression. I also believe having ADHD exacerbated both my borderline and nonverbal learning disorder.


My name is Melina. I am eighteen years old and have been diagnosed with several disorders including nonverbal learning disorder. I have a fascination in psychology and want to study human services to become a clinical social worker.

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