As a person who suffers with Borderline Personality Disorder, I needed to write a series on it. I couldn’t not get it out there. With 75% of BPD sufferers self harming, and around 10% committing suicide – that’s 50 times more than the general population – it’s a condition that needs to be talked about as much as possible. My aim is to write a series exploring the condition, starting with the basics…
Borderline Personality Disorder (sometimes referred to as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) is, as the name suggests, one of nine ‘recognised’ personality disorders. Yet, despite the name, it does not mean anything is wrong with your personality. It just means that you have five of the following nine factors that impact on your life:
- Fear of abandonment (real or imagined).
- Feelings of emptiness and loneliness.
- Difficulty with sense of self and/or self-image.
- Difficulty making and/or maintaining relationships.
- Extremely intense emotions that can change quickly.
- Severe impulses that are difficult to manage and may result in ‘reckless’ behaviour.
- Repeated suicidal behaviours and/or self-harm.
- Problems controlling anger.
- Stress-related paranoia, psychosis and/or depersonalisation.
Causes of BPD are as varied as human nature itself. Some reports suggest it may be genetic, with others suggesting childhood and/or environment in general. So, just like many other mental illnesses, it can come from pretty much anywhere and doesn’t discriminate. That being said, it is more likely to be diagnosed in women – only 25% of those with BPD are male.
From personal experience, those with BPD commonly have other mental illnesses, including (but not limited to) depression, generalised anxiety disorder, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder… The list is endless. Some people have a mix, some people just have BPD – just like other mental illnesses.
There isn’t a cure for BPD, however there are a range of treatments and medications available to help. These include talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and Therapeutic Communities (amongst others), and medications, including antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics. All of these treatments are best discussed based on your personal needs with a trained medical professional. Until then, self care is definitely the best thing to practice (we all know how long NHS waiting lists are – yawn). The good news is around 85% of those diagnosed with BPD are in ‘remission’ after a ten year period.
There are many misconceptions and stigma around BPD though (which I’ll follow up in a future post). The main thing is that most people with BPD are caring, empathetic, passionate and overall, extremely individual – after all you need five of the particularly broad factors above to be diagnosed.