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Myths, Truths & Reality:

Borderline Personality Disorder


A woman standing in front of a mirror, looking at the camera but her reflection is looking back at her.
Photo by Maddy Freddie: https://www.pexels.com

CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.


4 Myths about Personality Disorder


As someone who is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), this is an amazing opportunity to review the current information available on Personality Disorder. I aim to provide an authentic and genuine response, in the hope that this article helps someone during this month's Mindless Mag Mental Health Campaign.


To provide you with a reliable source of information, I visited McLean, Harvard Medical School Affiliate's website to address the stigma surrounding BPD. Here are 4 myths, explained by the professionals.


  • BPD, does not occur in people younger that 18 - Neither the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders or previous versions of the manual, prohibit the diagnosis of anyone under the age of 18. Note: The sooner the diagnosis, the better for the patient.

  • BPD, is a rare condition - According to McLean, BPD is actually more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar. It is estimated that roughly 14 million Americans have BPD. That's not a small number!

  • Bad parenting causes BPD - Actually, in most cases, it could be that parents may have aggravated a child's underlying vulnerability.

  • BPD, only affects women - Recent studies have shown, that there is a near equal distribution of diagnosis between men and woman.

So, what is Borderline Personality Disorder?


"Was it a dig? Do they really like me? I'm not good enough, why am I thinking these things? why am I like this? You're pathetic, they're all the same, why do people treat me this way? I hate my life, just stop thinking, just stop thinking, breathe"

BPD is a type of personality disorder that is characterized by intense and unstable interpersonal relationships. Listed below are some frequently noted symptoms from The National Education Alliance.

  • Poorly regulated emotions

  • Self-destruction

  • Impulsivity

  • Poor self-image

  • Abandonment fears

  • Feelings of emptiness

  • Suicidal behaviour

  • Difficulty controlling anger

  • Rapid emotion changes

  • Self-harm

This is not an extensive list and does not provide symptoms of every case. Everyone is different and therefore everyone experiences BPD differently. In many cases, just the diagnosis helps understand behavioural traits and is the first step to managing and coping with the condition.


As suggested in this report, it can often feel like treading on 'eggshells'. One misunderstood comment could result in an emotional outburst from someone with BPD.

 

As someone who is diagnosed with BPD, I'd like to share my thoughts as to how an 'outburst' occurs. The misunderstood comment that is received, begins an overthinking process that sends someone with BPD into their own thoughts. It may have reminded them of trauma or abuse, they may begin thinking that they are worthless or questioning why someone would say that to them or if history is repeating itself.


"Was it a dig? Do they really like me? I'm not good enough, why am I thinking these things? Why am I like this? You're pathetic, they're all the same, why do people treat me this way? I hate my life, just stop thinking, just stop thinking, breathe"


It's quite the spiralling effect. The person who has said the comment will often begin to see the discomfort and ask, "what's the matter". BOOM! Here comes a new spiral, leading to the outburst.


"Are they kidding? they're making fun of me, why are they provoking me? Did they really just say that? Are they angry at me? They should know what's wrong I've told them before, they're belittling me"


Quite often, in personal experience, how the commenter responds to your upset negotiates as to whether the outburst escalates.


The reality of BPD


So, now we have covered the myths and the truths, it is time to look at the reality of living with BPD. Below is a video example shared from YouTube, brought to you by, reporter Cara Mooney, director Isabel Suckling and producer Charlotte Newell who were nominated for The Royal Television Society Awards 2022 for this video.


This video is inclusive of gender identity, don't forget the tissues. (This is a 30-minute video)


There are so many videos out there of people trying to raise awareness for this condition, you just have to look for them and remember you are not alone.


Final Thoughts


When fighting against spiralling thought processes, it's hard to remember, or even want to, look after ourselves. However, when the intrusive emotions and thoughts have calmed down, it is so important to care for yourself.


Here are my final pointers of self-care, for those who may be suffering with BPD.


CW: This is not medical advice, but are techniques I have found to be helpful in my own life.


  • Take time to recover from an episode. The deep emotions that we feel during a triggering can be exhausting. Sleep and healthier sleeping patterns in general do help bring clarity and calm.

  • Talk about it. It can be hard in the moment of intense emotion to talk about how you feel and what may have caused it. But, upon reflection I find it important to talk about what happened. It eases the emotional guilt we put ourselves through afterwards.

  • Self-care. Whether it's post trigger or not, personal care can be very uplifting. Hair washing, body scrubs, face masks and a good old pamper reduces my stress levels and increases a positive self-image.

  • Binaural Beats. This is where I become quite spiritual, but bear with me. Binaural beats are sound frequencies that have been understood to release waves of specific feelings or hormones. Whether you're looking for calm or relaxation to help with sleeping, you can bet there is a beat for that. If anything, the music is very relaxing and does bring a sense of calm to me.

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