Fighting the Stigmas of Borderline Personality Disorder
When facing a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis, you may find yourself up against a surprising amount of misunderstanding and misconceptions regarding your condition. People tend to conflate BPD with Bipolar Disorder and may have exaggerated or demonized ideas about what your diagnosis means for the way you’ll interact with them from now on. In truth, while BPD may be a challenge, it can be managed and treated like any other disorder.
The Truth About Borderline Personality Disorder
The terms “borderline” and “bipolar” get thrown around a lot in popular culture, leading some people to self-diagnose based on their understanding of each condition. In truth, BPD and Bipolar Disorder are complex dysfunctions that are difficult to encapsulate in a brief description, and the cursory knowledge a person can casually gain is often not enough to provide a thorough and accurate assessment based on one’s symptoms.
A person with BPD should not be written off as socially maladjusted, psychopathic, evil, or narcissistic. They have a medical disorder that requires medical treatment to see improvement, not a fault in their character. While people may use the term “borderline” to describe any person who shows extreme emotions, the condition is not a flaw in one’s ability to control themself. Their brain needs help, and by getting that help, they can get back to the self they want to be.
The Origins of BPD
Our knowledge of how and why BPD develops is still evolving. The condition is roughly five times more common among people with a first-degree relative who has it. BPD can be induced by trauma - one study of 214 women being treated for the disorder showed that 75% had a history of childhood sexual abuse.
BPD can also develop as learned behavior. It doesn’t take something as extreme as abuse to cause a person to form complex, troubled relationships with their own feelings and identity. Growing up as a child with parents who regularly minimize, invalidate, or dismiss your emotions may lead some people towards the behaviors which surround BPD.
Our Evolving Understanding of BPD
A 2013 study showed that even some mental health professionals hold negative perceptions of BPD patients. People with BPD can be said to be challenging to get along with in-person and “treatment-resistant” in medical circles. As a biosocial disorder, BPD symptoms will present differently in each patient since its roots are in a person’s emotions surrounding the way they relate to others and themselves.
Our current understanding of BPD suggests following an initial assessment for specific symptoms. You may want to reach out to a professional to gather more information if you present with five or more of the following:
- Intense fear of abandonment
- History of unstable relationships that swing from excellent to awful
- Uncertainty in self-perception
- Multiple forms of impulsive behavior, including financial, sexual, or addictive
- Suicidal ideation, self-harm, or intense self-loathing
- Unpredictable mood swings that confuse your loved ones
- Feeling empty, hopeless, or purposeless, like in intense depression
- Intense, sudden anger, including violence or destructive behavior
- Episodes of extreme emotion accompanied by paranoia or dissociation
It can be helpful to connect with someone you trust to verify whether these conditions apply to you. Sometimes the people who have known you for a long time can better identify these symptoms than you can do yourself. If you do find yourself checking off these symptoms, don’t be alarmed - every person’s situation is unique, and this just means you’re ready to get more information. The next step is to get reliable help.
Getting Help That Works
If you’ve been diagnosed with BPD, seek treatment from a trustworthy source. A crucial component of overcoming stigma and getting help is connecting with people equipped to treat you. Look into the best forms of care available in your area, and consider a treatment facility or dedicated medical center to address your needs. You may begin a course of care that combines therapy, prescribed medication, and the formation of a social support system. Testing has shown that treatment can often make a significant difference in your daily life, even in the first year.
Just as important as getting treatment is having personal relationships to hold you up during this trying time. Reach out to the friends and family who will stand by you, and try to open up to them, even when it’s complicated. Breaking the cycles of mental isolation, which lead you to feel alone and hopeless, is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself.
No two people follow the same mental health trajectory, and how you handle your unique struggles is between you and your healthcare provider. Borderline Personality Disorder and other conditions come with enough challenges on their own - you don’t need to suffer under the weight of added shame, doubt, or stigma. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or are merely looking for a more effective strategy, your readiness to take the upper hand over your mental health and rebuild your life by your own design means it’s time to get professional help. At Achieve Medical, we know that achieving stability will lead to positive effects in every aspect of your life, and we work with you towards your big-picture goals for long term wellbeing. From connecting you with effective therapy professionals to forming plans for lasting success in your personal and professional spheres, we provide a comprehensive approach to getting well and staying well. For more information, call (619) 375-3977.