What You Don't Know When I Tell You I Have Borderline Personality Disorder


“I have borderline personality disorder (BPD).”

When I say this, most (not all) people fall into one of two categories.

Category A, (the easier to deal with), have never heard of BPD.

It is complicated to explain. (What even is a personality disorder?) Yet, I’d rather have a blank page and be able to form an idea in that person’s mind than them be in the second category.

Category B believes I am manipulative, promiscuous and attention-seeking.

There are nine symptoms of BPD (according to the DSM). You have to have five to be diagnosed. This means there are huge variations in what one person with BPD has compared to another person with BPD. Even within those nine symptoms, there are more variations. Here’s an example: Impulsive behavior can be spending too much money, driving too fast, gambling, drinking too much or promiscuity, amongst other things.

See what I’m getting at? Let’s say it’s an even spread of people that have each symptom. So five out of nine people who have BPD are impulsive. Well, then let’s say each of those people is only impulsive in one way of the ways I’ve mentioned above. So of the five people who have BPD and are impulsive, only one out of six of those are promiscuous. So of each person that has BPD, potentially only five out of 54, are promiscuous. That is around 9 percent.

Now, this is incredibly simplified and uses a lot of assumptions. However, it seems unfair to tar all people with BPD with the same, promiscuous, brush. I wonder what percentage of the general population are promiscuous? I do not know. I doubt there is an answer, as promiscuity is such a subjective thing, but it’s not zero.

For me, BPD manifests itself as insecurities in my friendships, fear of abandonment, vast mood swings, a bad temper, not having a strong sense of who I am, a constant feeling of loneliness, impulsive spending, self-harm and suicidal ideation. These symptoms can then bring on depression and anxiety for me.

I tick eight out of the nine symptoms at some points. However, it is perfectly possible for two people both to be correctly diagnosed with BPD, and only share a single symptom. One person with BPD may have never self-harmed in their life, while another may not have mood swings.

The point is, you don’t know. Just as much as two people may react to the flu differently, two people with BPD cannot be put neatly into one box.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Borderline Personality Disorder

silhouette of a woman

To My Family: My Mental Illness Is Not Your Fault

To my family, No, I am not ill because of you. I have borderline personality disorder (BPD). I deal with addiction. I struggle a lot. Please believe me when I say — this isn’t about you. I face addiction because I abused drugs and got hooked. Not because you were a bad parent. I have [...]
blurred picture of people walking through the city

When People Find Your Symptoms 'Scary'

This is something I talk about with many of my friends; there’s something different about living with symptoms and illnesses others perceive as “scary.” I show symptoms of both borderline personality disorder (BPD) and depersonalization-derealization disorder (DPDR disorder), which means I have unstable emotions, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms and severe episodes of both depersonalization and derealization [...]
Person breathing out storm cloud; person under cloud with umbrella

When Living With Borderline Personality Disorder Is Exhausting

Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) is exhausting. It’s like living on an emotional roller coaster 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You just don’t know how you will wake up or what triggers you’ll have to face during the day — these can be anything from words to sights to thoughts. Emotions fly into your [...]
Woman smiling in front of camera in closeup

When I Posted a Selfie After a Bad Morning With Borderline Personality Disorder

On the Monday this picture was taken, I received several compliments at work. When I uploaded this photo as my new profile picture on Facebook the next evening, more than a hundred people liked it, many leaving comments about how beautiful I looked. Yet, I felt like the picture was a façade and a fraud, [...]