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Borderline between what and what?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and also Borderline Personality Awareness Month so I feel it's only fitting to finally get this blog post out.

This is a pretty long one so strap in.

As always a **TRIGGER WARNING** as content will touch on topics such a self-harm, suicide, rape, and a look in to mental illness, so readers discretion is advised.

From a young age I didn't really understand life. I felt a constant wave of extreme emotions and had no idea how to deal with them, this then led to self-harming, heavily drinking and risky behaviour, which at the time I assumed was a phase that I'd grow out of.

I don't remember how old I was when I first saw Girl, Interrupted (James Mangold 1999), but something drew me to it, aside from my huge love for Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder and Brittany Murphy. Something clicked when I saw that film. It wasn't a case of admiration for the celebrities I looked up to, it was something else. Something about Susanna Kaysen's story which rang true with me. I brushed it off as "Oh, I'm just trying to be quirky, dark and mysterious", but when I look back now, I know that wasn't the case at all.

Getting a diagnosis, for anything, can be extremely daunting and turn your world upside down, or it can be reassuring and a relief. After fighting my way to finally get an appointment with CMHT I found this relief when receiving a new diagnosis for my mental health. When I was younger I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety and given the option of medication but not therapeutic support. I sat with that diagnosis for years but still felt there was something more. After I was raped I was diagnosed with PTSD and slowly began understanding the symptoms of this. Throughout the years though it still felt like there was something more. A few friends had said I was presenting traits of Bipolar Disorder and I had a few professionals say I had traits of Borderline Personality Disorder. I shrugged it all off knowing how much these two disorders can overlap with PTSD.

I nearly didn't go to my CMHT assessment. I had come out of my crisis point and was feeling okay - not my euphoric on top of the world high, but okay. Like I could handle things. In the end I did go, and I am really glad I did. The CMHN listened to me, like REALLY listened to me. I have never felt so heard in my life. She asked about everything to get the best history she could. She looked me in the eyes and reassured me, validated that the rape was one of the worst things I could have experienced and reminded me that what I feel, and what I have always felt is something which has a name. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) - or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)

I've known a lot about BPD for many years as Psychology is a huge passion of mine and I spend a lot of time reading about mental health conditions. Despite my prior knowledge though it wasn't until my CMHN showed me a diagram about BPD that I truly believed that it was something I had. Everything then fit in to place and made perfect sense. I felt such a sense of relief that I started to cry with happiness.

About Borderline Personality Disorder

(All information from Rethink Mental Illness)

BPD is a type of ‘personality disorder’. It is an illness that makes you struggle with your emotions and this can affect your relationships with other people. Around 1 in 100 people have BPD. It seems to affect men and women equally, but women are more likely to have this diagnosis. This may be because men are less likely to ask for help. Everyone will experience BPD differently. If you have BPD, you may have problems with:

  • feeling isolated or abandoned by others,

  • self-harming or suicidal thoughts,

  • coping with stress,

  • getting on with other people,

  • strong emotions that you find hard to cope with,

  • misusing alcohol and prescription drugs,

  • illegal drugs and substances,

  • understanding other people’s points of view,

  • staying in work,

  • having a long-term relationship, or

  • being able to maintain a home.

It is called ‘borderline’ because doctors used to think it was on the border between two different disorders: neurosis and psychosis. Doctors no longer like to use these terms to describe mental illness. It is sometimes called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD). Some people feel that this describes the illness better.

Diagnosis

You may be diagnosed with BPD if you have at least five of the symptoms below.

  • Extreme reactions to feeling abandoned.

  • Unstable relationships with others.

  • Confused feelings about who you are.

  • Being impulsive in ways that could be damaging. For example, spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating

  • Regular self-harming, suicidal threats or behaviour.

  • Long lasting feelings of emptiness or being abandoned.

  • Difficulty controlling your anger. For example, losing your temper or getting into fights.

  • Intense, highly changeable moods.

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