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We Need to Talk About the Danger of Depression in Borderline Personality Disorder

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known emotional unstable personality disorder (EUPD), is one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses. BPD is already complicated due to the effect it has on one’s personality. One struggles with their identity because they often feel empty, or their emotions are so intense and change so frequently that their goals, choices and self-image are constantly changing, too.

Oftentimes, those fighting BPD experience intense emotional changes within as little as a two-hour period. So, depression in BPD can strike at any given moment and it can last from anywhere between an hour to several days. Those with BPD will tell you they can be feeling happy and even euphoric for an hour, but within the next hour, they might feel a sudden, intense disdain for life, and often think about suicide during their “crash” periods.

Sometimes, those with BPD have more unnoticeable triggers that makes it difficult for us to be able to tell why they are suddenly feeling severely depressed. This makes depression in BPD dangerous because anything can set it off, making people living with BPD harder for others to want to deal with, in my experience. Often, people feel like they’re walking on eggshells around someone with BPD, and so some living with the disorder begin to hide the true depths of their self-harm and suffering as a means to not appear difficult. Therefore, the person living with BPD will not get the help they truly need and will be self-harming or turning to drugs or alcohol to quietly deal instead.

Because BPD is sometimes mistaken for other mental health issues such as bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it makes it harder to tackle the root cause of the depression. Also, some people don’t want to be diagnosed with BPD, thanks to the stigma society has placed upon the disorder.

This brings me to my final reason why BPD depression is so dangerous. This is the worst case scenario but it is the unfortunate reality. Since those living with BPD have emotions that can change within as little as a two-hour period, it can be very hard to detect when they might attempt suicide. In the first hour, the person with BPD may be excited about life and seemingly enjoying themselves. Yet, the next hour, you might find out they have attempted suicide or ended their lives. Many people don’t understand impulsive suicide attempts, but I believe this is a really important subject to hone in on. There is also a lesson in this: just because someone seems to have a perfect life and they are happy and smiling, this does not mean they are OK. This is by far the most dangerous trait of BPD depression and why it’s important to paint an accurate picture of the disorder and the type of depression that comes with it.

I realize that society has a very long way to go as far as successfully describing mental illnesses. That’s why I’m doing what I can to help educate people about my disorder. As long as I’m alive, I want to spread awareness and accurate descriptions about it so that society will become more aware of the reality of this horrible disorder.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Originally published: October 1, 2019
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