Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the most commonly misunderstood mental health disorders. It is often misconstrued in the media as being a disorder that makes people “crazy.” Many have the idea that people with BPD are evil or inherently bad, but this is just the picture that modern media paints; BPD is a very misunderstood illness.
BPD is a mental health condition that affects your relationships with yourself and others. It is often characterized by misconstrued thought patterns about yourself and the world around you. Many people with BPD have a hard time managing their behavior and emotions. Self-image issues and patterns of unstable relationships are also common. Many people with BPD have trouble maintaining stable relationships or naturally gravitate towards more toxic partners. Symptoms include having an intense fear of abandonment, rapid and intense mood swings, as well as cycling periods of low and high self-esteem. One moment, someone may feel very good about themselves, but they may have an intense amount of self-hatred in the next.
Little is known about what exactly causes the onset and development of BPD but researchers believe that genetics may play a role. Researchers also believe that BPD is often caused by significant amounts of early childhood trauma. BPD can also contribute to many other self-destructive behaviors. A history of self-harm is quite common with a BPD diagnosis. The diagnosis of BPD can also come with substance use issues. Research suggests that up to 66% of BPD patients also struggle with drug or alcohol addiction.
Eating disorders can also be present in patients with BPD. It is speculated that up to 25% of individuals also have a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is also sometimes present in BPD individuals. It is speculated that up to 28% of BPD individuals also have bulimia nervosa. All these co-occurring disorders go back to the tendency to take risks and act impulsively, which is wildly common in BPD individuals.
Alice* is an individual living with BPD.
“Starting EMDR and other forms of trauma therapy really helped me get a handle on my BPD symptoms,” Alice said. “Once I started to work out the root cause of the disorder, my symptoms lessened. I don’t think I’ll ever be at a point where my behaviors and symptoms are totally eradicated but I have a good handle on them now that I’ve done trauma therapy.”
It is important to remember that BPD is not a horrible diagnosis. While it may be shocking at first to be diagnosed with the disorder, it is possible to recover from BPD. The reason that BPD is so demonized in modern media is because in reality not much is known about the disorder. Many think that individuals with BPD are untrustworthy, unstable and unable to recover. This is not true.
“There is hope for recovery from BPD,” Alice said. “Reach out for help if you need it, or if you think you may have BPD. There is hope.”
*Name has been changed to protect anonymity of the interviewee