"What is wrong with you?!"
People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) hear this sort of thing all the time. Because the people close to them – friends, partners, co-workers, parents, and other loved ones – don’t understand that BPD is a real, serious, diagnosable mental disorder with a biological component.
Often, they don’t understand it themselves.
People with BPD struggle to quiet their minds and understand their feelings. To control their actions and relate to those around them without causing pain. They feel worthless, empty, angry, and alone. To deal with their own pain, they often resort to self-harm, reckless behavior, or even suicide attempts.
They desperately want to feel more normal, to fit in better, and feel like they have some control in their lives. But they don’t know how.
Seeing the Light
Because there is no cure for BPD, people who are successfully coping with their illness refer to themselves as “in recovery.” And the first steps toward recovery are admitting there’s a problem and understanding what it is.
While only a trained mental health professional can properly diagnose BPD, certain key indicators can help determine if you or a loved one may have it. These include:
- Intense fear of abandonment, real or imaginary.
- Having intense relationships with lots of conflict; seeing the other person as “all-good" or “all bad."
- Feeling unsure about one’s identity; a lack of “personhood" or non-existence. Feeling empty, like one has a blackness inside that can never be filled.
- Engaging in impulsive “pain management" behaviors, such as going on spending sprees, having promiscuous sex, driving recklessly, abusing drugs or alcohol, binge eating, breaking the law, threatening suicide or making attempts, and engaging in self-harm.
- Emotional instability: frequent and fast mood changes; uncontrolled, intense anger and rage; intense sadness and irritability.
- Paranoia in very stressful situations; episodes of numbness or “zoning out" or “dissociation" (feeling numb or "zoned out").
Does this sound like you or someone you love?
Maybe that's good. Because now you know where to start.
Together, we got this.
In addition, certain factors related to personality development can increase the risk of developing BPD. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include:
Hereditary predisposition. You may be at a higher risk if a close relative – your mother, father, brother, or sister – has the same or a similar disorder.
Stressful childhood. Many people with the disorder report being sexually or physically abused or neglected during childhood. Some people have lost or were separated from a parent or close caregiver when they were young or had parents or caregivers with substance misuse or other mental health issues. Others have been exposed to hostile conflict and unstable family relationships.
- Personality. Personality traits that include impulsiveness and aggression may play a role in the development of BPD.