People are often scared of things they don’t know. In terms of mental illness, it can mean associating that fear with the person themselves, especially if it is a heavily judged or misunderstood disorder.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is the most heavily stigmatized disorder I have come across. Which is unfortunate, because I also happen to have it, and I promise that you don’t need be scared of it. BPD is a personality disorder which is defined by instability in behaviors, moods, self-image and ability to function. This can lead to dangerous actions and unstable relationships, alongside episodes of severe anxiety, depression, dissociation or anger which may last minutes or days and can be very fast-cycling. Sadly this is why the suicide and self-destructive statistics for BPD are so high. This doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence though, it’s just a slightly different way of life.
Don’t back away from or be scared of borderline personality disorder. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Because we are already scared. Can you imagine the fear of not being able to feel secure in your own brain, ever? The terror brought by not knowing when you might be in immense pain at your own hand or feel something that’s not real is constant and can feel devastating. We are scared enough for both of us, trust me.
2. Because people with BPD have incredibly empathetic minds. People who have been through pain tend to be good at helping others deal with and accept their pain. It can come in handy! What doesn’t kill you might not make you stronger and it can definitely make you more experienced.
3. Because everyone is the world has problems; if you happen to be close enough to us to know about our BPD then you know (in part) the problem we face. You know what makes us hurt, what makes us vulnerable. Knowing the problem is half the battle. Don’t back off at this point just because we aren’t “perfect.”
4. Recovery is possible. We will never erase the parts of our brain that are a tad extraordinary. However, with therapy, medication, a lot of courage and some life tweaks, we can be in recovery. Don’t presume that everyone with BPD is in crisis because I can promise from personal experience that is possible to go through BPD hell and come out the other side. Even if some of us are trying to survive each day with BPD crisis or relapse — some are also quietly living with it and functioning very highly. It’s a spectrum.
5. We. Are. Human. Yeah, BPD sounds scary, but don’t let that make you forget the human. It might have some very severe risks for us, but for you, just remember we are the same as any other friend! My favorite color is pink, I love Marzipan and glitter makes my world go round. Oh, and I have BPD. It doesn’t mean I am BPD.
People might not realize they’re participating, but the mental health stigma attached to things like BPD makes us feel judged and excluded. It often makes me feel ashamed of myself and that’s something that should never happen. I didn’t choose this disorder — all I did was choose to fight it. The thing which will help the most is if you can stay a constant thing in our seemingly ever-changing lives. My mind might feel all over the place, but the amount of difference a friend can make just by staying a good friend is so huge. Don’t look for the hard parts, we will be fighting against them. Just look for the silver linings. Don’t be scared of borderline personality disorder, there’s really no need to be.
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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure