Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

CFHH Borderline Title

Borderline personality disorder, sometimes called BPD, is a mental health condition that often gets confused with other mental illnesses.

People living with borderline personality disorder may get misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder or dissociative identity disorder, making it challenging to receive proper support and treatment.

What is a borderline personality disorder?

One of the main features of BPD is the intense emotions that people with borderline personality disorder frequently experience.

Such emotions can be profoundly difficult to understand, especially for those living with the disorder and the people around them.

Negative self-image

A person with BPD may experience chronic mood instability patterns, self-image issues, unstable behaviours, and relationship issues.

Many of the behaviours associated with BPD often result in impulsive actions that are usually self-destructive and can lead to regret later on.

Borderline personality disorder affects around 1.4% of adult US citizens.

Living with borderline personality disorder

The intense emotions experienced in people with BPD can lead to specific behaviours that are often unhelpful and may appear irrational or extreme to others.

Mood swings

People with BPD often experience problems in their work-life and relationships and usually exhibit patterns of behaviour that can lead to:

  • Relationship issues
  • Self-destructive behaviours
  • Job loss
  • Marital breakdown or the ending of significant relationships
  • Estrangement from friends and family

Co-occurring disorders

If you or someone you know has gotten diagnosed with BPD, it’s likely that you or they may have co-existing mental health conditions or concurrent disorders.

For example, many people with BPD may have other mental disorders that co-exist with borderline personality disorder, such as:

CFHH Borderline Reflection

Medical advice diagnosis

Since many of the symptoms of BPD can mimic or hide other mental illness symptoms – you must speak to a mental health professional to get proper medical advice and an accurate diagnosis.

Borderline personality disorder BPD and social stigma

Much literature shows that borderline personality disorder is one of the most stigmatised, misunderstood and misdiagnosed mental health conditions, according to Verywell Mind.

The researchers noted that someone with BPD might face significant stigma and false beliefs about their condition.

False beliefs

These false beliefs include:

  • People with BPD are manipulative and attention-seeking
  • People with BPD are difficult to work with
  • People with BPD are a danger to themselves and others
  • Borderline personality disorder is a difficult condition to treat

Statistics

People living with borderline personality disorder get confronted with stigma in many areas, including structural stigma and stigma within the healthcare system.

One study illustrated that over 80% of mental health professionals perceived people with a BPD diagnosis as more challenging to treat than those with other conditions.

Quality of care

Like other mental illnesses, stigma and false perceptions surrounding BPD can be harmful to those with the condition and impact the quality of care a person receives.

Treatment challenges

Researchers noted several challenges that can affect those receiving treatment for BPD. They include:

  • Trouble receiving empathy from treatment providers and the community
  • Poor therapeutic conditions
  • Inaccurate or adverse beliefs about borderline personality disorder and the people living with the condition
  • Rationalising or justifying treatment failures
  • Reduced likelihood of patient and caregiver establishing a positive, working alliance
  • Early termination of treatment
  • Worsened fear of abandonment in patients with BPD

Symptoms of BPD

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and the presence of other conditions.

Moreover, it is possible to experience many BPD symptoms or only a few. Typically, the symptoms of BPD include:

  • Unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Fear of abandonment and attempts to avoid getting abandoned
  • Feeling bored or empty
  • Difficulty trusting others and having recurring thoughts of suicide or engaging in self-harm
  • Feelings of dissociation – disconnecting from others or the self
  • Intense mood swings and episodes of profound depression, anxiety, or irritability that may last hours or days
  • Viewing situations, events, or people in extremes – for example, a person may be all good or all bad
  • Risky behaviours, such as spending sprees, unprotected sex, substance abuse, gambling, reckless driving, or binge eating
  • Uncontrollable and intense anger episodes which often get accompanied by feelings of shame and guilt
CFHH Borderline Sad

How badly can BPD affect your life?

You may find it challenging to describe the thoughts and emotions associated with a borderline personality disorder.

Intense emotions

If you have BPD, you may relate to the rapidly – changing emotions and how such feelings can affect your daily functioning.

Imagine, if you will, the most profound feelings of love, the most adoration you’ve ever felt, shortly followed by gut-busting rage. 

Then, finally, you’ll have some idea of what it’s like living with a borderline personality disorder.

Lack of control

Broadly, BPD gets defined by a lack of control – which may involve difficulties in emotion regulation, behaviour, and actions and can influence how you react to certain situations, which you may later regret.

You may find that you struggle to contain your emotions and find your feelings difficult to handle, and this can leave you feeling hurt and may affect your self-esteem.

Common phrases that people with BPD frequently say

It may be helpful to get a handle on the kind of phrases that BPD patients often use.

Such phrases may also be helpful for the loved ones and family members trying to support those with a borderline personality disorder.

Common phrases used by people with BPD

  • ”I’ll do anything I can do to avoid getting abandoned.”
  • ”I feel agitated and anxious a lot of the time.”
  • ”I often think about ending my life.”
  • ”I struggle to control my anger.”
  • ”I always feel empty and sad inside.”
  • ”I get involved in risky behaviours that could harm me.”
  • ”I struggle with my self-identity and don’t know who I am.”
  • ”I struggle to maintain healthy relationships.”
  • ” I frequently harm myself.”

How badly can BPD affect other areas of your life?

If you have been diagnosed with BPD, you may find that your condition impacts many areas of your life.

It may be helpful for you to understand how profoundly BPD can impact your life and what you can do to cope.

Black-and-white thinking

Many people with borderline personality disorder engage in all-or-nothing thinking.

Such thinking may make you believe that certain people or situations are good or bad. There is no in-between.

For example, you may think that a work project will turn out great or be a total disaster, or that a friend or family member is fantastic or evil.

Black-and-white thinking denotes no moderate interpretation of what could be happening in any situation; someone with BPD may struggle to discern between either side of the emotional spectrum.

Changing language patterns

Researchers say that those who engage in black-and-white thinking might consider changing how they use specific words.

For example, avoiding words such as ”never”, ”always”, ”pass” or ”fail” could help with all-or-nothing thinking.

Reframing an event or situation through different language patterns such as ”sometimes”, ”maybe”, or simply saying, ”I don’t know enough about that subject to have an opinion” can be helpful.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Research suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for BPD symptoms and can help people to:

  • Adopt a more flexible mindset
  • Learn to resolve issues and problem-solve challenging situations
  • Develop confidence and self-esteem
  • Manage destructive thinking and behavioural patterns

Fear of abandonment

If you have BPD, you may fear getting abandoned by those you care about – this often leads to hypersensitivity and alertness in situations where you feel excluded or left out.

For example, if your friends arrange a night out and forget to invite you, this may trigger feelings of abandonment and hurt.

You might decide to rage at your friends or completely cut ties and find it hard to cope with the complicated feelings that such a situation evokes.

Dialectical behavioural therapy

Experts recommend dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) for people who struggle to regulate their emotions and need support tolerating distress and accepting things they can’t control.

Moreover, DBT is significantly helpful when challenging feelings like fear of abandonment arise, as the skills learned help people regulate their emotions better.

Self-care

Other self-care methods involve looking after your physical health as many people with BPD often suffer from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Scientific research suggests a correlation between BPD and chronic health conditions, although what links such conditions together is not yet known.

Having regular visits with your GP or healthcare provider to manage chronic conditions can be beneficial, and developing an exercise and diet plan that works for you is also helpful.

Treatment options

As well as CBT and DBT, treatment options for a borderline personality disorder may include:

  • Supportive psychotherapy to help improve confidence and self-esteem
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy to help those with BPD improve complex relationships at work or at home
  • Mentalisation-based therapy to help manage destructive thoughts that may affect behaviour
  • Trauma therapy to support those with a history of childhood trauma or adverse life experiences

Getting in touch

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, get in touch with one of our specialists at Centres for Health and Healing, who can help.

Lisa Davies - Program Director of Vaughan Recovery and Kirby Estate

About Lisa Davies

Lisa is the Program Director at Centres for Health and Healing. She lived for most of her life in the Durham region, before moving to Peel five years ago.

Lisa is a Master Hypnotist and is certified in Hypnotherapy (2008), Self-Hypnosis and in 5-phase Advanced Therapeutic Healing. As a Member of National Guild of Hypnotists, she is also specialized in hypnosis training in pediatrics, pain management, neuro-linguistic and stage programming.

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