I got asked to write a blog post about borderline personality disorder and as someone who doesn’t have a first hand experience with it, I thought it would be better to approach a friend who suffers with it on a daily basis.
My name is Ed, I’m 25 and I live with a mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder; but just because I have this disorder, does not mean that I’m crazy, it just means that I’m wired a little differently. I don’t just live with borderline personality disorder, but depression and anxiety too and I won’t sugarcoat it, it’s a difficult road to walk, but one that I’m learning to live with every day. I hope that with this post, I can educate others about BPD (borderline personality disorder) and maybe show others with BPD that they’re not alone.
You’re probably wondering what Borderline Personality Disorder is, so here is the diagnostic criteria:
1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). This does not include suicidal or self-harming behaviour.
5. recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviour.
6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood – intense feelings that can last from a few hours to a few days.
7. chronic feelings of emptiness.
8. inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.
9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideas or severe dissociative symptoms.
In order to be diagnosed with BPD you have to have at least five of the criteria which have lasted for a long time and/or have a big impact on your daily life, and as you can tell by the symptoms, it can greatly affect your life and especially effect your relationships with people. There’s a term used called ‘I hate you, don’t leave me’ when it comes to the relationship side of BPD, where you push away people and then get so scared of being abandoned and of losing that person that you will do anything to bring them back; it’s conflicting because one moment you don’t want them anywhere near you but then the thought of losing them is like a knife in your chest, it’s so scary so you do anything to stop them leaving, you do anything so they stay; and that goes for any type of relationships in your life, whether it be friendships, romantic relationships or family.
I first heard the term borderline when I was sixteen and stumbled across a book called ‘Girl Interrupted’ which I’m sure a lot of you have read, seen the movie or heard of. At the time I was searching for something I could relate too, something I could anchor myself too because everything felt of out of control, at that stage in my life I was fast approaching a mental breakdown that I had no idea would hit me. When I found the book and read it I related a lot more than I ever thought I could but pushed it aside, it scared me that I related to someone with an illness that I had just found out about, so I swept it under the rug and pretended like everything was okay, when in reality I was spiralling.
A short time after that I was first referred to mental health services through an emergency psychiatric evaluation, my college attendance had been slipping so the staff had me fill out a questionnaire and on it there were questions about mental health, so I finally decided to be honest about what had been going on. Earlier that morning I had to see the college nurse for self harm, it was one of the first times I had let myself be vulnerable in front of someone so when it came to doing the questionnaire, I knew I had to be honest because what was going on wasn’t going away, it was just getting worse.
From what I remember the questions revolved around hearing voices and being suicidal, general mental health questions about moods etc, so I was honest, and a few days later I was taken out of college and to the hospital for my evaluation and it was honestly one of the scariest things I have ever had to do; but with the college nurse and one of my best friends by my side, it made the process a little easier, without them I’m pretty sure I would have walked out of the hospital and if that had happened, who knows where I would be now.
From there I was referred to the early intervention team and it wasn’t until years later, when I was 22, at my first outpatients appointment, that I received a diagnosis; it was frustrating at the time that I had to wait so long to get diagnosed but I now understand that they don’t diagnose anyone under the age of 18 with BPD. Recently I have struggled a lot with my illness, more so than any other period, to the point where I have had two hospitalisations within a month. I’ve been struggling with feeling out of control, suicidal, feeling empty and being impulsive the most, but I’m working on learning to live with my illness and sometimes I just need a little extra support. I won’t lie, writing this post has been triggering but if I can help at least one person with my story, then it’s worth it.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding BPD and the people who have it, we get labelled ‘monsters’ and the stigma goes as far as healthcare professionals, some doctors will refuse to treat people with Borderline. Personally I have been turned away from a therapy referral because the service didn’t treat people with BPD, and I hope that one day this stigma comes to end because people with Borderline Personality Disorder are not monsters, we are people and we deserve help.
Although there is a lot of stigma surrounding BPD the good news is, is that you can recover from BPD, with the right treatment and therapy you can recover and get better, so to anyone with BPD please don’t loose hope because there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you are not alone.
I have been nominated for an award!!!
I have recently been nominated for the positive role model within the LGBT+ Community, which is awarded by the national diversity awards here in the UK. If you would like to vote for me, check out the link here.