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When People Are Embarrassed by Your Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis

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Those of us who have battled mental health issues all of our lives likely have, at some point or another felt as though we were an embarrassment to our family, friends, employers and anyone else we were associated with. Not only do we tend to be harder on ourselves, but sometimes, the characteristics of our illnesses put us in the spotlight, in a not so good way.

Upon meeting you, most people are unaware you battle anything at all, especially if you’re not comfortably open about it — and “it” is borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is an already complex and highly stigmatized disorder. As most of us with BPD who fight this illness daily know, BPD can make us a bit unstable in our identity, impulsive in our behavior and we also tend to have frequent mood swings. Although it is true our real friends will take the time to understand us, sometimes the family and friends of our friends aren’t so understanding. For this reason, sometimes our friends act embarrassed to know us, will distance themselves from us and on top of that, we may feel like embarrassments ourselves.

This has never been easy to deal with for me. Although I understand why someone might not want others to know they are friends with me, it still hurts and makes me feel as though I don’t have the value others without an illness have. When nobody wants to hang out with you because they don’t want to be seen with you, it makes you feel incredibly small and like there is no hope for you. Mind you, those of us who battle BPD and mental illness in general already struggle a great deal on our own. So, imagine how it must feel to be shunned and made to feel small by those who are supposed to be there for us.

Even if I do understand why someone in a higher position wouldn’t want to be seen with me, it doesn’t make it OK. We must stand up to ignorance and learn to educate others so more people will be in the know of what’s going on. On top of feeling like an embarrassment, there is still loads of stigma around BPD, which makes people even more uncomfortable with publicly being our friends. This is especially so when certain movies are highly stigmatizing and pain those with BPD as “malignant borderlines.” Those of us with BPD are not only battling our own minds, but we are also battling misinformation and loads of stigma.

I cannot voice this enough. Nobody wants to feel small and devalued, especially for something they absolutely cannot help. A lot of us are trying our best and are constantly fighting our brains on a daily basis. All we really need is understanding from the general public, but we especially would like to be supported by our friends and family, not shunned.

More image conscious family members who are embarrassed by your mental illness may try to control you and tell you what you can and cannot say in public. Never mind you feel intensely and need an outlet somewhere. This is incredibly damaging and invalidating. Sometimes, you may have not been embarrassed about your diagnosis until other people made disparaging comments about it. There’s also the instance where people will start treating us different because they know we have a mental illness and it just gets to be too much. It is an absolutely awful feeling.

If you are reading this and you are the friend of someone with BPD or any other mental illness, please support that person to the best of your ability. Certainly, your image is important to a degree, but if you are not battling mental illness, you likely can’t even begin to imagine how awful it is to fight your own mind on a regular basis. We don’t need to feel any more ashamed than we might already feel of ourselves.

If you battle mental illness and you have ever been made to feel small, just know you’re human just like anyone else. Your mental illness isn’t your fault and you deserve support and love just as anyone else does. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Mental illness is a frequent occurrence and it is a reminder nobody on this Earth is perfect. You are not perfect… and that is OK.

Getty image by tommaso79

Originally published: August 7, 2021
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