Andrew Lampe

@andrewlampe | contributor
Super Contributor
I write with my heart but also not afraid to use my head. I write in hope with a dream that one day BPD will be more understood than stigmatised with compassion not scorn and fear. The Mighty is one of the best resources out there, the one that I read on the day of my diagnosis which made me think I was going to make it, & the one I share the most. I was diagnosed late aged 37 because of preconceived BPD stigma. I am impassioned to tell my story so that mental health professionals may not make the same mistake they made with me & so I write for them in the hope that they see nuance rather than stigma. Above all, I write for those undiagnosed or overwhelmed like I was for so many years.
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Andrew Lampe

The Stress of Hosting a Party With Borderline Personality Disorder

The party went well. More than 25 people (+ one greyhound) came over 10 hours to see my lovely new apartment with its views back to the city of Melbourne on the one side and to Mount Macedon in the distance on the other. This is the first time I’ve ever lived alone and the party was to housewarm. I wanted to shake off the horror of the past pandemic year.  I had put all my efforts into making my new place look the best I could imagine it to be and reflect my character and style, and to make sure everyone had everything they needed. But when the last guest left shortly after midnight I went to my bedroom, lay down, and self-harmed (in a minor way). The party went well but I could never really enjoy it — I was too far gone. All I could do during the party was focus on the seven people who had abruptly pulled out on the day — some legitimately, others with no explanation. These no shows piled on those who in the weeks leading up did not acknowledge the invitation. The party had become not a warming of a new apartment but an audition of each person invited to see whether they really do value me, and a final judgment on our friendship — to save or condemn. Furthermore, this party had become all or nothing high stakes as to where I will live. If it went well I would build a new life here (I’ve lived my life mostly in Sydney) especially after my first three very difficult years in this city with the loss of a companion, a break-up, two hospitalizations, six lockdowns and being laid off. But I refused to believe it was this city’s fault — this would have happened similarly anywhere these last globally extraordinary years. But as the party approached I began to focus on those who weren’t coming rather than the enthusiastic accepters. Honestly, almost all the parties I’ve ever organized had some degree of this wound and they seem to be getting worse with age, not better. The night before my 40th birthday was particularly dramatic when I had to call a helpline after one of my dearest friends suddenly couldn’t make my party, even though that same friend had flown interstate to be at my 39th birthday. This is a summary of what it is like for many people with Borderline Personality Disorder when they organize a party — not just me! I know this because I confided in one of my party guests, also with BPD, who had immediately picked up on how chaotic my mind was. To everyone else I seemed happy and involved. He said it happens to him when he organizes something — each friendship is being reappraised to see whether it is the real deal and subsequently whether it can survive. It becomes life or death for the friendship. But why? And how to make it stop? I am very aware of this humiliating party fun annihilator, but I can’t seem to stop it, which makes me feel more defective: the party goes well but I’m miserable even if I’m pretending successfully not to be. Why can’t I just roll with the party and enjoy like other securely attached party hosts seem to? The why goes back into childhood wounds; insecure attachments, a lack of object constancy, maladaptive schemas, identity disturbance and above all a primal sense of abandonment and loss. I can remember another housewarming as far back as 1997 when I gave a good friend a hard time because he chose to go to a different party over mine. I have previously written about most of these antecedent origins and have received continual therapy to address and try to manage them, especially their devastating effects. But somehow I still haven’t cracked the party code: the way hosting a party can activate a negative bias towards those who don’t come to your party and not allow you to fully enjoy those who do. The party was last night so I’m simply too raw. I will soon contact my therapist and find a way to lessen the intensity of the post-party crushed feeling. Perhaps the answer is hosting smaller, lower stakes gatherings and also to remember the times I have let people down by not going to their parties, forgotten the date of their weddings (once!), or felt too unwell mentally to attend. Grace needs to be extended both ways. I can forget my failure to have a good time if I can recognize the good time everyone else had. In the end, a party cannot be the final word on the city I live in or the friends I invite.

Kyle Alexander

Why Lying About My Mental Illness Was So Unhealthy

Whether we like it or even realize it, we have a relationship with our own mental health , which very much intertwines with how we view ourselves. It’s a complex relationship that can either be healthy or unhealthily like any other, and there are certain behaviors that drive this in either direction. For me, I wasn’t aware of this relationship and the damage I was causing it for many years. I was diagnosed with depression 20 years ago and, without the proper support from a therapist, I was given my first lot of antidepressants and walked out the door. I had no idea what was happening. I was beyond confused about why I felt so terrible and the thoughts racing through my mind terrified me. Only my closest friends and my family knew but I felt full of shame and confusion because I didn’t even understand what depression was. I started taking time off work, and so began the lies that would go on for the next 15 years. “I have a migraine ; ” “I was sick all night;” “I have stomach bug;” I could go on and on and on. By the time my mental health had worsened into what would later be diagnosed as borderline personality disorder (BPD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) , I had mastered lying and built a wall around me to protect me from anyone thinking less of me for taking time off work for mental health reasons. In my mind, the higher and stronger the wall the better, but it came at an enormous cost. It was exhausting to keep up with the lies and my only savior was that I was very successful at my job. Again, I formed a plan: the better I performed at work, the less likely they would question my sick leave. But as usual, it was completely depleting all of my resources to maintain the façade. 2010 was a turning point in my life and probably one of the hardest years for me. It was the first time I self-harmed, which was explained away by a ridiculous story about a clumsy accident. I was admitted to the psych ward right before Christmas, but thankfully covered that by taking holiday leave. At the start of 2011, I found the psychiatrist I would work with for the next eight years. The lies started to get used in more frequent situations. I felt so ashamed that I would lie to friends about why I couldn’t do things and why I couldn’t go to work functions anymore. It was one thing to call in sick to work with a lie, but lying to my friends left me feeling more anxious and depressed than ever. My leader at work knew about my psychiatrist appointment, but at 11 a.m. every Friday, I had to get up and lie that I was going to a meeting and would be out of the office. I know everyone was wondering what the meeting was that only I went to every week. Sometimes, people would ask and I would cover it over with “oh, it’s just a boring meeting, I won’t be long.” What was once a wall of defense over time turned into a wall of shame. I started to realize that every time I told a lie, I was effectively reinforcing the shame against myself. Once I had my full diagnosis, I went into full-blown research mode. I decided to take control back by learning as much as I could about the conditions that I had. Borderline personality disorder was something I wanted to learn inside and out. I realized at that moment that whilst I thought I was protecting myself by not allowing others to judge me, I was, in fact, judging myself every single time. It was feeding into an unhealthy relationship with my mental health. It can be true that you can have a healthy relationship with your own mental health and still have periods of being unwell. Having a healthy relationship means understanding your own behaviors toward yourself and how and why they happen. It takes work because for me, those unhealthy behaviors were very much ingrained and had been in action for many years. Part of pulling the wall down was sheer exhaustion and part was a newfound sense of dignity and knowledge. Why should I lie about something that isn’t my fault? Why should I lie when there are times when things are just too difficult? I talk all the time about wanting to reduce the stigma of mental health yet I was perpetuating it myself, against myself. If I want change, I have to be the change I want to see in the world, which means I have to be honest. When I started writing my blog, I decided to hold nothing back. I knew some of the content would shock people because they had no idea what was happening. The lesson I learned is that I didn’t give those people a chance to support me by being honest about what was going on. It now feels liberating to be honest about my mental health which I never thought was possible. Instead of fostering an unhealthy relationship, I have a more balanced and healthy relationship with my mental health. Sure, I resent it at times — I am still human — but if I can’t do something because I am not feeling well, then I’m honest about it. I still have a little trouble proactively asking for help, but I am getting there on that front too. But the wall is finally down.

Kyle Alexander

Joe Trancini Makes Relatable Videos About Life With BPD

British comedian Joe Tracini has lifted the veil on borderline personality disorder  (BPD) in a way I’ve never seen before. His extremely unique blend of comedy and hard-hitting content left me feeling inspired but also slightly triggered. I related to his story and his various descriptions of BPD far more than I expected. Joe has been on the acting scene in the UK for years, appearing in popular shows like “Hollyoaks” and “The Dengeneers.” Despite being extremely unwell throughout much of these years, Tracini managed to continue to work all while facing an ever-growing addiction to drugs and alcohol. During his recent interview with The Guardian, he reflected on the period of time where he gave up drugs only to become a severe alcoholic. According to The Guardian, “He attempted suicide multiple times, although he counts only one attempt as genuine.” Thankfully he still had the support of his family and close friends and today is eight years clean. During the pandemic, Joe, like many of us, was looking for something to do and a way to use his creativity as an outlet. He initially started making videos just for himself. Joe mentions that he reached a point with his mental health where he was fighting so hard, he simply couldn’t be bothered lying about it anymore, so he uploaded the video to Twitter to see what would happen. Most of the videos are a split-screen of Joe on the left, Joe as BPD on the right. Everything Joe says, BPD counterpunches with something. For example, when Joe is explaining exactly what BPD is, he gets to a well-known symptom, impulsiveness. Before Joe has had a chance to explain anything further, “ BPD Joe” grabs an iPad and says “New York is booked.” I have Borderline Personality Disorder. He lives in my head and it’s difficult to explain the symptoms, so I got him out to show you xx pic.twitter.com/cPmZlR8T96— Joe Tracini (@joetracini) January 26, 2020 The talent of him expertly weaving his comedy throughout describing the symptoms of BPD has made Joe go viral around the world. Here are a few examples of what Joe is trying to get across, all while BPD is interrupting, telling him to kill himself. “I feel empty inside all the time.” “I’m scared people will leave me all the time.” “I’ve self-harmed, a lot, but it hasn’t been for a long time”. “I’m suicidal, which is a mindset, not an event. Because I’m telling you about it so it doesn’t happen.” It is perhaps Joe’s candid discussion around suicidal ideology that is both sad and fascinating. He says by telling someone how you feel, you lessen the likelihood of something happening. So by him telling us, an audience on Twitter, he has to stay and keep fighting. His understanding is that if he holds himself accountable to someone, anyone, then he has a reason to keep moving forward. He is also very clear on the fact that BPD is trying to kill him. He is unapologetic about his mental health and states, “I’m not ashamed of the thoughts my brain makes me have” My Borderline Personality Disorder makes everyday things scary, so when every day is scary, it just gets worse. pic.twitter.com/nPpF5LRCKV— Joe Tracini (@joetracini) February 28, 2020 For someone like myself with BPD, who looks for ways to express myself while also fighting against stigma, this was incredibly refreshing and just wonderful to see someone like Joe unashamed and making people laugh at the same time as educating them. There are absolutely some hard videos to watch that were quite triggering for me. I thought about how different I would look at these videos compared to someone to doesn’t have BPD. I think they would definitely laugh more — which is not to say I didn’t enjoy his humor, but some of the content came a little too close to home. Joe does not shy away from uploading videos when he is struggling and it can be difficult to watch as someone with BPD. Joe Tracini has made a bold and brave decision to take his comedy in a new direction. Rather than campaigning, this is mental health as comedy. To see BPD represented in this medium is refreshing, to say the least, because through comedy Tracini can talk about extremely uncomfortable topics, educating people in the process. “I only ever take one test, I take it every day, and it is me. Somedays I don’t pass, but I always show up” — Joe Tracini

Kyle Alexander

When Depression Lasts For Weeks Without End

The past few weeks have undoubtedly been some of the hardest of my life. I have faced battle after battle and it has been exhausting, to the point where I felt all the progress I have made had been stripped away completely. There is still such an enormous lack of understanding around depression . I felt the darkness encompassing me like I have not felt in such a long time. I was waging a war on two fronts; my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression crashed into one another and my life became unmanageable. I had the all-too-familiar battles of still trying to find a psychiatrist and when I did, it was a complete disaster. I felt desperate; no one understood how bad I was feeling and to be told in an off-handed way that I was “treatment-resistant” by a psychiatrist that I had waited weeks to see was nothing short of devastating. I felt helpless and hopeless, and my mind went to a dark place and stayed there. One of my biggest passions is writing, and I would sit in front of the computer and just stare at a blank screen, not able to put how I was feeling into words — in fact, not able to put anything into words at all. I was totally debilitated. The only hope I had is that I would wake up the next day and feel just a little bit better, but it just wasn’t happening. For such a common mental health condition, there is still so much flippancy in the medical community about how to treat it. I had indicated the thoughts I was having and that I was scared, and my doctor barely flinched at the information. Instead of getting the help I needed by talking to someone, she wrote me a script for a higher dose of antidepressants. I have struggled with my mental health for many years, so falling into this dark hole was a dangerous time for me. I couldn’t see the point in trying anymore if it all led to me crying uncontrollably on my sofa. I felt alone and dejected and couldn’t rid myself of the whole-body feeling of the darkness surrounding me. I knew I needed to keep going, to take one day at a time and I knew I was in this battle alone. I tried to sleep as much as I could to make the days shorter, anything to make it to the next one. I couldn’t shower, I wasn’t eating, but I didn’t care. At the end of the second week, I forced myself into the shower. The water felt like it was washing some of the darkness away. I had achieved something. Like wading through a pool of mud, I kept going, wanting to give in but determined not to. It took a full three weeks of this before one morning I woke up and things didn’t hurt so much. I could breathe again and I didn’t wake up crying. Depression is a sinister illness and to try and explain to people how bad you can actually feel can seem impossible, which in turn makes it very isolating. I have come through the other side but there are lingering effects from experiencing such deep emotional wounds. As difficult as it is, I still think trying to talk to a therapist or loved one is so important. Suffering in silence can be extremely dangerous and debilitating. So I am back in the light and starting to do the few things that I enjoy. Depression is always with me, like a silent partner, but I choose not to give it the energy it craves.

Kyle Alexander

My Morning Experience With Borderline Personality Disorder

Having a serious mental illness accompanied by comorbid conditions means I have to work hard every day to ensure I stay healthy. I’m happy to say that most of the time I am able to manage things reasonably well. However, there are days, sometimes weeks where my illness gets the better of me. Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD), for me, comes with major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It makes facing each day complicated because any one of these can be triggered and impact my day. In my mind, my BPD holds a morning meeting. This meeting will decide the outcome of the day and there is a push and pull between me and my BPD . I see the table we sit around like this; BPD sitting at the head of the table. Depression sitting at the next chair, slumped down in the chair, not making eye contact. Anxiety sitting opposite, moving about on the chair, unable to sit still. PTSD sitting down in the corner, begging not to be called on. Me as healthy me, sitting at the other end of the table, slightly nervous. BPD begins the meeting like all meetings. He gives a shout-out to depression and anxiety for the great work they have done lately. He glares at me. He placates PTSD, telling him he won’t be needed but he knows he his our big gun. Then the meeting goes one of two ways: BPD either decides to send out depression or anxiety for the day, at which point I breathe in deeply with fear. And then, there is the big one: will BPD join the party? If he does, I feel instantly overwhelmed, at the mercy of the decision made as if I had no choice whatsoever. So I brace for another day of struggling and wishing things were different. Sometimes it gets so bad that I feel it’s too much, that I have been through too much and shouldn’t have to feel like this all the time. I know that is my illnesses whispering in my ear, doing the job they were set out to do. Those voices can be loud and can turn into dangerous thoughts. The other alternative is that I feel strong, so when BPD hands down his decision, I simply don’t accept it. I send depression and anxiety back to where they came from and it is me who ends the meeting. I am getting better and better at winning these fights. Instead of sitting idly by and feeling at the mercy of what is going to happen, I use the skills I have learned, sit up straight and reject BPD ‘s plan for the day. This daily battle is exhausting but has to be fought. I have to show up to the meeting every day otherwise I would be at the mercy of BPD ‘s decisions to try and destroy me. I have to sit at the other end of the table and fight for myself. Fight to have a better day.

Megan Glosson

Reframing 7 Myths About Borderline Personality Disorder With the Truth

Mental illness is a highly stigmatized topic in modern society. We often hear phrases like, “it’s all in your head” or “you’re just being a baby,” when we express our symptoms to a less than sympathetic individual, and people frequently confuse symptoms between certain diagnoses or make assumptions based on what they see through television and movies. Unfortunately, some diagnoses seem to weather more misnomers than others, especially borderline personality disorder. The myths about people who live with this condition are often hurtful at best, and they often leave individuals feeling isolated and scared to disclose their diagnosis because they worry what fallacies people will attach to them once they hear that label. But you know what? I think it’s time we break down some of these rumors about borderline personality disorder and stop perpetuating myths that simply aren’t true. So, here are seven myths about borderline personality disorder we need to stop believing, and the realities we can use to reframe these myths. Myth #1: BPD is just “attention-seeking” and “manipulation.” It’s not a real diagnosis. Many people (falsely) equate borderline personality disorder with manipulation. These people claim that everything someone with BPD does is just a “cry for attention.” Some people even go so far as to dismiss what people with borderline personality disorder say or do as “just an act.” Reality: Many of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder cause great distress. People with BPD experience extreme fear of abandonment, mood swings, and rapid changes in self-image. These pendulum swings can cause great distress, and when combined with a propensity toward impulsive behavior, can push individuals toward acting in ways that may not make rational sense. However, these actions aren’t meant as manipulative — they’re a means of self-preservation. In fact, people with borderline personality disorder often feel remorse and extreme shame once they realize what they’ve done or said “in the heat of the moment.” Myth #2: Only women get diagnosed with BPD. If you look up statistics on gender and borderline personality disorder, you will see a disproportionate number of women who receive the diagnosis as compared to men. This belief is further fueled by mainstream media, which typically only shows women with BPD. Reality: Both men and women receive BPD diagnosis. Many experts believe previous research stating a 3:1 ratio of women receiving a BPD diagnosis isn’t actually accurate. In fact, studies have found that the prevalence of this diagnosis between the genders is nearly identical. It’s just a matter of how the symptoms present and the assessments clinicians use to make their diagnosis. Myth #3: People with BPD are incapable of forming lasting relationships. One of the key features of the borderline personality disorder diagnosis is “a pattern of unstable intense relationships.” Because some people with BPD will rapidly shift between idealizing loved ones and distrusting them, many people assume individuals with this diagnosis cannot maintain friends or romantic partners. Reality: Anyone can learn interpersonal skills to help them form lasting relationships. Although relationships are sometimes hard for people with BPD, they are far from impossible to maintain. In fact, many people with BPD enjoy lasting friendships and romantic relationships with the right people. Most of the time, all a person needs to help them build a relationship is time and interpersonal skills to help them connect with others. These skills can help people express their needs and wants in a healthy way, learn to compromise for the sake of the relationship, and stand up for themselves when the time is right. Myth #4: People with BPD are “too dramatic.” People with borderline personality disorder are frequently seen as “dramatic” because of their emotional reactivity. In fact, some people compare their responses to tantrums children throw when they don’t get their way or become upset. Reality: People with borderline personality disorder experience emotions intensely. Marsha Linehan, the creator of dialectical behavior therapy, says that living with BPD is like having “third degree burns over 90 percent of [your] body.” Unfortunately, this means that many people with BPD lack the same type of “emotional skin” that others have, and this causes them to experience frequent discomfort and distress over seemingly small things. However, everyone experiences emotions in their own way. There’s nothing “right” or “wrong” about how people feel. In the case of someone with BPD, emotions often feel all-consuming, and that can be hard to rein in, especially if no one ever taught you how to self-regulate your emotions. Myth #5: All people with BPD are abusive. Some people with borderline personality disorder experience a symptom often called “borderline rage.” For some, this uncontrollable anger comes out in extreme ways and can cause physical damage to property and tear apart even the strongest relationships. Because of this, people often equate a borderline diagnosis to abuse — even in individuals who do not meet the criteria for that symptom. Reality: Anyone can be abusive regardless of a diagnosis. While the recent news of Amber Heard’s dual diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder has reignited this common myth, it still remains exactly that — a myth. Not everyone with borderline personality disorder meets all nine diagnostic criteria, and some people who experience outbursts of anger direct it inward, not outward. The fact is, anyone can be an abusive person, no matter what mental health conditions they do or do not live with. Furthermore, a diagnosis alone doesn’t make someone abusive. Their actions toward others is what makes them abusive, and we need to remember that. Myth #6: People with BPD only make “empty” suicide threats. Because people with borderline personality disorder experience rapid mood cycling and intense emotions, many people see them as “the boy who cried wolf” when they express a desire to die. Sometimes friends and family members go so far as to dismiss a loved one with BPD’s cries for help because they assume it’s “just for show.” Reality: Borderline personality disorder has one of the highest suicide rates among mental health conditions. Studies show that approximately 75 percent of individuals with borderline personality disorder will make at least one suicide attempt during their lifetime, with many of them making multiple attempts throughout their lifetime. What’s more, BPD has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, with up to 10 percent of individuals with BPD dying by suicide. It’s important to take any indication of suicide seriously, regardless of a diagnosis. Everyone deserves help, and people don’t just make “empty threats” when it comes to life. Myth #7: You can’t recover from BPD. Because borderline personality disorder is a, well, a personality disorder, people often claim it cannot be treated. In fact, some people claim individuals who live with BPD can’t “change who they are” or “refuse to get help.” This is further complicated by the fact personality disorders typically cannot be treated with medications, and some people do not see therapy as a valuable treatment method. Reality: Borderline personality disorder is completely treatable. Although these studies rarely get attention, researchers have found that the majority of people with borderline personality disorder do eventually go into remission or recover once they receive an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment. This can take anywhere from two to 10 years, depending on a variety of factors. What’s more, there are multiple proven treatment methods for borderline personality disorder, including dialectical behavior therapy and mentalization-based therapy. Many people with BPD also deal with other mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, that can be treated with medication. When combined with a strong support network and a willingness to undergo treatment, medication, and psychotherapy can work as the perfect teammates for someone with BPD who is trying their best to create a life worth living.

Megan Glosson

How to Help When Someone You Love Has Borderline Personality Disorder

When someone you love lives with a mental illness like borderline personality disorder, it’s only natural that you’d want to help them and support them as best as you possibly can. Unless you also live with BPD, though, it’s hard to know how you can best support them without hurting their feelings or making the situation worse. So, here are some suggested dos and don’ts when someone you love lives with borderline personality disorder. Don’t: Make assumptions about their diagnosis. Between online forums and mainstream media, there are lots of false narratives about BPD that people can use to quickly make assumptions about their loved one’s diagnosis. However, a lot of these fallacies don’t have any factual basis, and more importantly, BPD can manifest in different ways for each person. Do: Make an effort to learn about their illness. Borderline personality disorder is a highly stigmatized, often misunderstood mental health condition. However, you can change the narrative around the disorder and connect with your loved one in a more meaningful way by learning about BPD. There are several great books about BPD written by people with lived experience and by experts, not to mention there are lots of great online resources (like The Mighty). Don’t: Call them “crazy.” When we don’t understand a person’s feelings or actions, it’s easy to place labels like “weird,” “crazy,” or “abnormal” on the person we don’t understand. However, calling someone you love crazy just because their perspective doesn’t align with yours isn’t supportive or helpful. This invalidation is hurtful, and it can ultimately make a person with BPD feel even worse about themselves and their diagnosis. Do: Validate their feelings. Psychologist Marsha Linehan once said, “People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” In other words, what may feel like a minor sting to you can feel extremely painful to your loved one with BPD. Although you may not always understand how they feel, you can listen to them explain their emotions to you and validate their feelings. Validation is a simple, yet powerful tool that helps people with BPD feel seen and heard. By simply showing someone you care, you may encourage them to open up more and continue working towards recovery. Don’t: Walk out on them if they’re genuinely trying their best. Fear of abandonment is a common symptom people with borderline personality disorder experience. Unfortunately, this fear of abandonment can drive a lot of other maladaptive behaviors and grows even more intense each time someone “walks out” when times get tough. In many cases, the person is simply trying their best and doesn’t always realize the full extent of their actions, especially if they’re still in denial about their diagnosis or in the early stages of recovery. Do: Set healthy boundaries if needed. As I mentioned, walking out on someone who is trying their best is incredibly defeating. However, your emotional health matters just as much as theirs. So, don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries with your loved one as needed. Some examples of healthy boundaries include setting limits on phone conversations, making reasonable requests regarding behavior, and refusing to do something that goes against your morals. Sometimes, boundaries can be clearly communicated in a calm, matter-of-fact way, such as, “I will be silencing my phone at 10 pm every night. If you call after that, I will respond in the morning.” Other times, you may simply create boundaries for yourself like, “I will not get in the car and go to their house every time they seem upset. I will offer a list of suggested coping skills instead.” Boundaries can be tough at first, but they are also important for both you and your loved one. Just remember: boundaries aren’t a weapon or threat you can use against someone (i.e. “I’m setting a boundary until you get your feelings in check.”). They’re just a measure you can put in place and uphold to take care of your own needs. Don’t: Ignore mentions of suicide or self-harm. If you spend any time on the internet, you have probably seen all of the posts in online forums about how people with BPD are “attention-seeking” and “fake” their distress. However, that’s not really true at all. In fact, approximately 80 percent of people with BPD make at least one suicide attempt during their lifetime, and close to 10 percent die by suicide. For this reason, all mentions of suicide or self-harm should be taken seriously, even if that means you contact a hotline or your local crisis support center. Do: Encourage them to get help. Although you should always take mentions of self-harm seriously, you are probably not an expert trained in crisis stabilization — and that’s OK. The best thing you can do for your loved one when they are in crisis is offer support and help them contact the appropriate resources to get professional help. Many times, people who live with BPD have already created a crisis safety plan with their therapist, and you can reference that as needed. If they don’t have a safety plan already in place, encourage them to create one when they are no longer in crisis so it’s available for the future. Don’t: Blame everything on their diagnosis. Phrases like, “Quit being so borderline!” and “Your BPD is showing!” feel so common in modern society. However, these phrases can be quite damaging because they tie everything about a person back to their diagnosis. This can make people who live with BPD feel like they aren’t a person, but rather just a disorder. I have had several friends and loved ones connect my behaviors to my diagnosis over the years. While I sometimes understood their point, I don’t think they ever realized the way their words affected me and inhibited my progress. But once I recognized the connection between their words and my self-esteem, I was able to (with the help of my therapist) reframe these negative views and see the difference between my behaviors and my worth as a person. Do: Hold them accountable for their actions. As I mentioned, connecting a diagnosis to everything a person does can be damaging. However, accountability is an important part of the recovery process for BPD because it provides awareness. Oftentimes, a person’s maladaptive behaviors occur automatically, so pointing them out and holding someone accountable to the changes they’ve committed to can help them in early recovery. For example, splitting can be a maladaptive behavior that the brain jumps to automatically as a means of protection and a “fight or flight” response. It’s not a helpful way to cope, though, and should be replaced. If your loved one splits on you, you can point out the behavior, then encourage them to use skills they’ve learned in therapy to work through it. You can even say something like, “I’d love to talk to you about what you’re feeling right now, but I need you to remain calm while we talk. Is that something you can commit to?” Most of all, love them unconditionally. Most people with borderline personality disorder just want someone to care about them the same way they care about everyone they love. By following these suggested dos and don’ts and taking the time to learn more about ways you can make your loved one feel supported, you’ll go a long way towards helping them feel loved just the way they are.

The Problem With Saying Something Silly Is Giving You PTSD

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on social media lately. Sure, it’s harmless in intention as these things often are, but it is nonetheless damaging to people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And, since it’s relevant, I feel the need to clarify: I’m talking about the reality of PTSD here, a debilitating disorder caused by traumatic events, diagnosable by certain criteria. I’m not talking about vague discomfort at a memory or situation. I’ve seen it too often on social media and in real life — people saying things are giving them PTSD just because they don’t like them. After a quick scroll on Twitter, I could find people referencing “glitter PTSD,” “eyebrows giving me PTSD,” and “long denim skirts give PTSD” because they didn’t like the fashion trend. Let me make this abundantly clear: I am in no way calling individuals out to be harassed or contacted in any way, as I know they are likely speaking without a full understanding of the nuance of their words. However, their examples offer a prime opportunity for growth. PTSD is not feeling a little uncomfortable. PTSD isn’t caused by a memory or reminder of a vaguely unhappy time, a bad episode of a TV show, a fashion trend we’d rather forget, or any other example I’ve come across that has made me roll my eyes in exasperation. We’ve shared before what PTSD really looks like, but I’ll rehash it here. PTSD is debilitating and life-impacting. It’s often caused by a traumatic moment (or multiple compounded traumatic moments) and can cause physical changes to the biological structure of the brain. It’s flashbacks that feel like re-experiencing the traumatic event over and over again. Imagine, if you will, something truly horrible happening to you; something completely life-altering, harrowing, terrifying. Now, imagine the simplest moment that forces your mind to recall that event in vivid, excruciating detail. It might not even be visual or carry with it the smell and the sound of the event, as somatic flashbacks cause physical reactions in the body without the presence of actual memories. This is what we mean by being “triggered,” yet another term that is often used without a full understanding of its meaning, and which is often damaging to those living with PTSD. Because if a person you know is living with PTSD and does not realize it, misuse of the word leads them down an altogether different path. It tells them, “PTSD isn’t real,” or, “It’s not a big deal, you’re just overreacting,” and may lead to that person not seeking the help that they deserve. Every time we describe something vaguely uncomfortable as “giving you PTSD,” we actually harm someone struggling in silence, whose voice we are actively silencing with our facetiousness. By using these words without the seriousness they deserve, we strip people of the safe space these words provide. These words need to be taken seriously so that, if a person does open up about their experiences, they can feel safe in the knowledge that they will be understood and cared for. That’s why we cannot allow these words to lose their power. They cannot continue to become a part of our common vernacular in a way that minimizes the damage they represent. We have already allowed depression to become synonymous with sadness in a way that means people, like me, do not understand what they are going through until it’s already hollowed us out. And then there’s obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a debilitating disorder that has, instead, become synonymous with cleanliness, perfection, or vague discomfort at patterns that are slightly “incorrect” or displeasing to the eye. These misconceptions fail to grasp the real horror felt by those actually living with OCD. As we try to move into an age of enlightenment free from stigma and misunderstanding, let’s make sure we educate others on the truth behind their words. Even if they aren’t meant with malice, they still cause harm, still threaten to cause people to hide their truth, and even one person struggling in silence because PTSD is treated as a joke is one person too many.

LGBTQIA+ Mighty Writers You Should Be Reading During (and After) Pride

Pride Month 2022 is marching on, so the editorial team at The Mighty wanted to take a moment to feature some of our most active contributors in the LGBTQIA+ community — that is, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual communities respectively. LGBTQIA+ rights are important to us at The Mighty, particularly with the way they intersect with health care. The statistics speak for themselves: people who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual are twice as likely to experience a mental health condition, rising to nearly four times as likely for people who identify as transgender. Even with suicide being the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24, LGBTQIA+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide. With anti-LGBTQIA+ legislative bills sweeping the United States in record numbers, our need to protect LGBTQIA+ youth and celebrate the community is stronger than ever. So, while Pride Month is the perfect opportunity to honor just a few of our wonderful writers, I invite you to have a look at those featured below and share their words beyond this month alone. And, while I’ve chosen to share articles about their experience as LGBTQIA+ people, they write about so much more, so make sure to check out more of their work. Without further ado: 1. Ameera Ladak (They/Them) Ameera Ladak is a gender nonconforming person who writes about ADHD , depression , anxiety , and functional neurological disorder/conversion disorder . They’ve also written about their identity as Muslim and the complexity of emotion that comes with living authentically as gender nonconforming. Great reads: Why I’m Struggling to Feel Good About My Gender Identity The Peaks, Valleys and Trauma of Finally Living Authentically as Gender Nonconforming This Character from ‘Feel Good’ is Messy, Traumatized, and the Representation I Needed   2. Conor Bezane (He/Him) Conor Bezane writes about his experience as a gay man with bipolar disorder and his journey with addiction recovery. He is also the author of the memoir “The Bipolar Addict: Drinks, Drugs, Delirium & Why Sober Is the New Cool,” available on Amazon. Great reads: 4 Tips for Navigating Pride When in Addiction Recovery The Only Thing Bringing Me Joy Right Now Is ‘Heartstopper’ — Netflix’s New Gay Teen Drama What It’s Like to Be ‘Other’   3. Megan Glosson (She/Her) Megan Glosson is most well-known for her writing on borderline personality disorder (BPD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but she is also extremely prolific in articles on migraine, parenting, and eating disorders. Great reads: It Took Over 20 Years, but I’m Finally Becoming Myself Again What My Family Is Doing to Support My Non-Binary Child How Will the #MeToo Movement Be Affected by the Amber Heard Case?   4. Teona Studemire (They/Them) Teona Studemire is a streamer, published writer, content creator, and communications major. They specialize in writing different topics surrounding disability, sex education and positivity, neurodivergency, mental health, and their intersections with Blackness. They have also written for Metro.co.uk, ProjectLETS, and Juniper Unlimited. Great reads: Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Will Leave More Sexual Abuse Survivors Like Me in the Dark Trauma Made Living Alone Feel Like a Prison, but Now It Feels like Freedom 34 Tweets That Prove Disability Has No Age Requirement   5. Araya Baker (He/Him) Araya Baker is a counselor educator, suicidologist, and policy analyst who promotes disability, education, and health equity, across borders, faiths, generations, identities & movements. He has also written for New York Times, Teen Vogue, and Psychology Today. Great reads: Your Directory of Therapists Who Identify as Disabled, LGBTQIA+, People of Color or Religious Minorities 6 Ways the Church Can Take Accountability for Their Part in the High LGBTQIA+ Suicide Rate 20 Affirmations and Readings For Folks Raised in Anti-LGBTQIA+ Church Families   6. Brian Fu (He/Him) Brian Fu recently graduated with a BS in Neuroscience from American University in Washington D.C. and was driven by his passion for mental illness research during his undergraduate studies. Now pursuing to become an ordained pastor, he writes about bipolar disorder, tardive dyskinesia, and suicide. Great reads: The Challenges I Face When Dating as a Gay Man With a Disability The Suppressed Trauma of Being Told I Was Going to Hell for Being Gay Netflix Documentary ‘Pray Away’ Exposes the Truth of Religious Trauma in the LGBTQIA+ Community   7. Andrew Lampe (He/Him) Andrew Lampe writes about his experience as a gay man living with borderline personality disorder, suicidal ideation, and mental health stigma as a whole. Great reads: How ‘Radical Acceptance’ Builds a Bridge Between the Gulfs of Who I Am Finding the ‘Antidote’ to My Unstable Sense of Self As a Gay, Christian ‘Borderline’ Looking Back at the One of the Most Stigmatizing Depictions of Mental Illness   8. Dani Birzer (He/They) Dani Birzer is a nonbinary lesbian living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), migraine, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. They are also a journalist with a passion for covering health care, mental health, and disability news alongside writing about their conditions. Great reads: Learning How to Recover After Leaving a Homophobic Household When I Realized I Can’t Be ‘Normal’ as a Queer Disabled Person What ‘Encanto’ Teaches Us About Disability, Family, and Acceptance   9. Kris McElroy (He/Him) Kris McElroy is a biracial Black transgender man with multiple disabilities including autism, chronic illness, complex PTSD, and depression. He writes primarily about the intersection of his identities as a father, a disabled person, and as a Black transgender man living with trauma. Great reads: Black History Month: Reflections on Black Trauma and My Biracial Trans Identity Why This Pride ‘Blue’s Clues’ Commercial Made Me Cry I Stand With You Elliot Page   These featured writers comprise just a few of the wonderful LGBTQIA+ writers in our community and as I wrote before, their writing consists of so much more than what I’ve shared. To find more queer writing on The Mighty, be sure to check out our LGBTQIA+ section, and our LGBTQIA+ mental health support group here.