Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) or otherwise known and probably more commonly known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

The reason I bring up BPD is that I was recently diagnosed with it. After the best part of 13 years suffering from my Mental Health and looking for answers, I was given another answer.

If you've followed my past posts you will know I had diagnosis's of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and an Overactive Bladder in my early to mid teens, which after finally being diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder in my late teens we realised they were both merely symptoms of the bigger problem that was an Anxiety Disorder. A couple of years later I got a diagnosis of Depression and when the problems continued to arise and couldn't be categorised by the previous diagnosis's we, so to speak, went back to the drawing board with my psychiatrist and that's where I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder just a few weeks ago.

After some time of coming to terms with the new diagnosis and doing some research to better understand it myself, I wanted to take the time to make a new post to help educate not only the people around me but the wider audience that I have grown over the time I have been blogging about Mental Health and continue to help destigmatise such conditions so they can be more commonly spoken about in today's society without such bad connotations.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

"Borderline personality disorder is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behaviour. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships with other people. A person with Borderline personality disorder may experience episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from a few hours to days. Recognizable symptoms typically show up during adolescence (teenage years) or early adulthood, but early symptoms of the illness can occur during childhood."

It is also common for other disorders to co-occur at the same time such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders and Eating Disorders.

The Symptoms

There are 9 symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder and a person must meet at least 5 for a diagnosis to be given. Below you will find a list of the symptoms I found which I felt best explained each one in some detail.

  • Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone. Even something as innocuous as a loved one getting home late from work or going away for the weekend can trigger intense fear. This leads to frantic efforts to keep the other person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, jealously track your loved one’s movements, or even physically block the other person from leaving. Unfortunately, this behaviour tends to have the opposite effect—driving others away.
  • Unstable relationships. People with BPD tend to have relationships that are intense and short-lived. You may fall in love quickly, believing each new person is the one who will make you feel whole, only to be quickly disappointed. Your relationships either seem perfect or horrible, with nothing in between. Your lovers, friends, or family members may feel like they have emotional whiplash from your rapid swings between idealization and devaluation, anger, and hate.
  • Unclear or unstable self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and even sexual identity.
  • Impulsive, self-destructive behaviours. If you have BPD, you may engage in harmful, sensation-seeking behaviours, especially when you’re upset. You may impulsively spend money you can’t afford, binge eat, drive recklessly, shoplift, engage in risky sex, or overdo it with drugs or alcohol. These risky behaviours may help you feel better in the moment, but they hurt you and those around you over the long-term.
  • Self-harm. Suicidal behaviour and deliberate self-harm are common in people with BPD. Suicidal behaviour includes thinking about suicide, making suicidal gestures or threats, or actually carrying out a suicide attempt. Self-harm includes all other attempts to hurt yourself without suicidal intent. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning.
  • Extreme emotional swings. Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, despondent. Little things that other people brush off can send you into an emotional tailspin. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness. People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the hole with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying.
  • Explosive anger. If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the fuse is lit—yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time being angry at yourself.
  • Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality. People with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality—an experience known as dissociation. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.

The Cause

As with most Mental Health disorders, scientists have found no clear cause. Research does suggest though that people suffering traumatic life experiences can develop BPD as with people who have close family members suffering from BPD have a higher chance of developing the disorder. Although the risks are higher it doesn't necessarily mean you will develop BPD and likewise, someone without these risk factors can potentially still develop this disorder in their lifetime.

Treatment

Treatment like most Mental Health disorders consists of Psychotherapy and Medication.  Psychotherapy is the first line of treatment and the most common is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Medication isn't typically used as the primary treatment method as the benefits are unclear but they can be used to treat certain symptoms such as Depression and Mood Swings and also if there are other mental health conditions present which require the use of medication.

As always please speak to a healthcare professional to get the appropriate help. What works for one person may not work for another.

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If you would like to read more please check out the links below;

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/#treating-bpd

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/about-bpd/?o=8668

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml#pub5

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm

Also check out The Mighty, a fantastic mental health community, which I have found very useful, where you can read personal stories on BPD and all sorts of other Mental Health conditions.