Borderline Personality Disorder. I am sure you have heard the name before but what does it mean, exactly? And what are the symptoms? In a few moments you will read all about it, but first I want to discuss something else. There is a stigmatized picture of this personality disorder, meaning that when most people hear about this disorder, they start to have pictures in their heads from movies that display Borderline Personality Disorder the wrong way. At least, the most part. Borderline Personality Disorder comes in a various of forms, so please, do not stigmatize this disorder or any other illness. I just wanted to make that clear here, now you can read on and learn.
What you will learn:
- What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
- What is the origin of BPD?
- What are the symptoms?
- I think I might have BPD, what do I do?
- I think a loved one has the disorder, what do I do?
So, let’s dive right in.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
PBD is a personality disorder, meaning a person has trouble having a steady lifestyle & a clear vision of themselves. These challenges are accompanied by ongoing patterns of varying moods, self-image and behavior. Someone diagnosed from BPD often has trouble having long-term relationships and suffers from intense episodes of anxiety, anger or depression.
10% of the people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder die from suicide but it is possible to live a happy life.
The origin of BPD
Although the mental illness has not yet been researched very well, they have found three main factors that can cause BPD, namely:
- Genetic factors, such as a close family member who has the same illness. This person might pass it, genetically, on.
- Brain factors: people diagnosed with the disorder have structural and functional changes in the areas that manage the impulses and emotional regulation, although it is not clear, say researchers, if these changes cause BPD or are caused by it.
- Environmental and social factors: people who have been abused, had to face traumatic events or who have seen hostile relationships are more likely to suffer from BPD.
What are the symptoms?
There is a wide range of symptoms connected to Borderline Personality Disorder and not every person diagnosed will have every symptom.
A person with BPD has:
- a disturbed sense of identity and a distorted self-image (the way someone views him/herself is distorted)
- Trouble maintaining healthy & long-term relationships: the person has trouble trusting another people and can avoid any occasion that can cause abandonment
- extreme emotional reactions; inappropriate reactions and often the person has severe mood swings that last for a few hours or days.
- impulse behaviors: doing something that could be dangerous or totally out of the blue (this also includes having unsafe sex or substance abuse)
- feelings of hostility towards every relationship the person has
- feelings of isolation, emptiness and/or boredom
- signs of anxiety or depression
- unstable career goals and the person has no motivation/plans for his/her future
- self-destructive behaviors: this can contain self-harm, developing an eating disorder or substance abuse and in the most dangerous case, suicide.
People diagnosed with BPD are more likely to complete treatment through psychotherapy. Talking about the disorder and their lifestyle and learning how to deal with certain issues is an important part of therapy. Sometimes medication is added to treatment but this is not always the case. In general, talking with a therapist and learning more about the disorder (and more obviously) is the best therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder.
I think I might have it, what do I do?
If you could recognize yourself heavily in the symptoms listed above, you may have a personality disorder and that disorder can, likely, be BPD. If you think you have this Personality Disorder, you need to talk to a therapist as soon as possible. Visit your doctor and ask for help or call a hospital nearby. They know what to do and who you could get in touch with. This might be terrifying, which is totally understandable, and if it is, do not be afraid to talk to someone you trust and someone who could help you talk to a therapist or go to appointments with you. Seeking help is crucial as you deserve to life a happy life but probably aren’t living one, right now. Living with BPD or any other mental illness is very, very hard but with the right help you can live a happy and healthy life.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.
I think a loved one has it, what do I do?
Obviously, you want them to live the best possible life. And it might be pretty clear someone around you is not happy and you think they are suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. The ideal situation would obviously be: you talk to them, they agree with you thinking they have BPD and they seek help immediately. But it is not that easy. As much as you want to help them, you have to accept that if they do not want to be helped, you cannot force them. People with PBD are not likely to agree and, just as most people, do not like being accused of having a mental illness. One of the most important things to have is patience. Sit down with them when you are both calm and in a comfortable situation and talk to them. Important: do not accuse them of having BPD, but talk in the I-form. For example: ‘I feel sad when I see you angry’. Don’t accuse them of behaving a certain (wrong) way and don’t make them feel threatened. Let them know you will accompany them to appointments, help them at home. You can’t push them into therapy. All you can do is to keep talking to them, letting them know you support and love them, and hope that they will seek help, themselves.
Writing about mental illnesses, I always find it a little hard. I am never sure whether to write it for people who want to know more about the disorder or people who think they might have it. That is why I try to involve every single piece of information, watchful not to make it monotonous. Besides, if you or someone else is diagnosed with a mental illness, it is helpful to know a lot about what you are suffering from. What I hope to do with this article is inform but also make mental illnesses more discussable. It is a topic that people do not like to talk about because of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. “Psychos” or “weirdos” are thoughts that may cross one’s mind but I, with many others, want to change that stigma. Because mental illnesses are just as serious and potentially life threatening as physical illnesses. So please open up about your feelings and talk about what is actually happening in the world, instead of avoiding the ‘hard’ topics.
I hope to have informed you enough, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below or to contact me.