Category Archives: BPD

Please Stop Hating A BPD Diagnosis

I have seen a lot of tweets absolutely rubbishing the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) diagnosis. I’ve seen tweets saying the diagnosis isnt valid or that it is a misdiagnosis of another mental illness. This has upset me a lot as someone with a BPD diagnosis.

As someone with BPD, I recognise that it is not always an appropriate diagnosis. I know that some people are misdiagnosed. I know that it carries a lot of stigma. But it has value.

When your world is in turmoil and you find yourself dipping repeatedly into crisis and your relationships are unstable, when you don’t know who you are or what you really like because you pick up on other people’s mannerisms and likes, it feels awful. You feel like you are made wrong. You feel like you are weak. You hate yourself so much for not being “normal”. You are scared. Now imagine someone tells you there is a reason you feel this way and it’s not your fault. There is some feeling of relief and enlightenment. Maybe your life isn’t over just yet. Maybe your life can be worth living. That’s what it can be like getting a BPD diagnosis. I imagine it feels like that for any mental health diagnosis.

The problem with the BPD diagnosis is not the people with the diagnosis but the stigma that surrounds the name. It’s the interpretation that some people attribute to it that doesn’t help. Whatever you call it, it is the same illness with the same symptoms. It is a valid illness and those who deal with it everyday will still have to deal with it whether you take away that diagnosis or not. What you do though, if you take away the diagnosis, is isolate people who are suffering with these confusing symptoms. You take away the hope that they can get treatment and stop them accessing the peer support available in the BPD community. As with any mental illness, other people who are dealing with the same thing are a lifeline and show more understanding than anyone else. To take away the diagnosis, removes this opportunity for us.

So before you say our diagnosis is invalid or just a misdiagnosis, please take into account those of us who see it as an explanation for what we are pdealing with and as an opportunity to get treatment and support. (I know that there are some people who are misdiagnosed and for them yes it is appropriate to question the diagnosis but I am responding to a general statement about people with BPD just being misdiagnosed.)

A side note

I know some people will say a BPD diagnosis is unhelpful. I have written another post where I discuss why a BPD diagnosis is useful which you can find here.

Picture from Pinterest.

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Angry Again

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

I’m angry. I can feel it pulsating below the surface. I want to explode. I want to hit out and destroy the world around me. I want to hurt everyone. I want to destroy myself.

I hate how anger makes me feel but it seems to take over my head. I push it down and down until I can hold it down no more. I feel it throughout my body. In my chest, my throat, my arms, everywhere.

Normally I turn the anger inwards. I self harm because it feels safer than releasing my anger into the world. It seems too dangerous. I don’t feel I can control it.

I have seen anger since I was small. To me it was always something dangerous because it caused people to hit out. It led to hurt and pain. It scared me. It made me decide I would never show my anger. I didn’t want to be like people around me. I didn’t want to hurt others.

Now I feel anger and the fear it causes as it wells up in me is overwhelming. Sometimes it escapes. Sometimes I don’t care because the anger is all encompassing and I can’t deal with it anymore. Then I lash out. I hate myself for doing that. I hate the person it makes me. I hate feeling out of control.

This are just some of my thoughts from when I was angry. I struggle to find ways to deal with my anger. To share your thoughts around this subject feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Why A BPD Diagnosis Can Be Helpful

Recently I have seen a lot of people rubbishing the BPD diagnosis and saying that it would be better if people were not given the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD or EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder)). I can see why this has been said because of the amount of stigma surrounding the diagnosis but for me I can see value still in the diagnosis of BPD.

Having a diagnosis of BPD is not easy and for me it took a long time to accept it. I was very anti the diagnosis to begin with and so I have seen this from both points of view. I hated it to begin with. I seriously thought the diagnosis was the end of the world. But now I can see some advantages to have the diagnosis written down.

One of the main advantages of having a diagnosis is that it opens doors to treatment and ways to make things easier. There is therapy that can help deal with the specific symptoms of BPD. It helps us to work on the areas where we most struggle.

Another advantage of the diagnosis is that it gives an explanation to our behaviour. It’s not an excuse, but it does help people understand why we may be acting the way we are. This is also useful to ourselves. We may wonder why we are struggling so much in a particular area and having a diagnosis can help us identify why.

Also an advantage of having a BPD diagnosis is that we can reach out to others who are living with the condition. It can make us feel understood and less of an outsider if we have others around us who are going through similar things. We can only find others if we know what we are looking for. Diagnosis gives us that.

A further advantage of a BPD diagnosis is that it can help us identify our strengths as well as our downfalls. It can make us see the good in ourselves if the positives are explained to us. There are many things that we excel at because of our diagnosis.

These are my ideas for why I’m not necessarily pleased I have the diagnosis but why I think it’s useful. If you have any ideas why you believe your diagnosis, particularly a BPD diagnosis, is useful feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest originally used by The Mighty

The Lesser Known Symptom Of BPD

As some of you may know there is a criteria of 9 symptoms which are considered when diagnosing BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)). To gain a diagnosis of BPD you need to meet at least 5 of the 9 criteria but each criteria can be met to different degrees. This means there are many different combinations of the criteria and therefore everyone who has the diagnosis is unique.

One of the lesser known criteria is hallucinations and psychosis in times of stress. This has been described below as mentioned on the NHS website.

“Brief episodes of strange experiences – such as hearing voices outside your head for minutes at a time. These may often feel like instructions to harm yourself or others. You may or may not be certain whether these are real.” (NHS website)

This lesser known symptom of BPD can be devastating but it is often overlooked by others. Most people focus on the difficulty with relationships and self harm. These of course are very serious symptoms of BPD but so is psychosis.

Often when you tell someone you hear a voice people will assume you have schizophrenia but it can be a part of many different illnesses, BPD being one of them. It means that an already stigmatised diagnosis (BPD) is even more stigmatised. This can be from others with the same diagnosis as well as mental health professionals.

It took a long time for me to tell my mental health team about the voice I hear. I thought that they would write me off as crazy and didnt realise it was part of my BPD diagnosis. I wasn’t informed that it was a part of BPD until years later, as different mental health professionals didn’t inform me that it was.

In fact I came up against stigma from some. They didn’t seem to take my symptoms seriously and dismissed me to begin with because I knew that the voice was in my head. They made out that it wasn’t a big deal even though it was still distressing. It took some time to persuade them to give me treatment. In fact one professional told me that because the psychosis was part of BPD I would never be able to get help with it. This was untrue as my current psychiatrist believes it can be helped by medication and I just haven’t found the right one yet that doesn’t cause me side effects.

Of course not everyone who has a BPD diagnosis experiences psychosis but it is part of the criteria so many who have it will suffer. How many suffer in silence? I want to talk about this lesser known symptom and end the stigma.

Have you had an experience of psychosis because of BPD? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture by me. ©Me And My Mental Health Matters

My BPD Story

I originally wrote this post for the Break The Stigma campaign that is run by Ben who works for my local Mental Health Trust, East London Foundation Trust. You can find the campaign on Facebook or Twitter. For the original post click here.

“Hello, my name is Jo and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.” These are the words that I wish it was easy to say out loud. But it’s not. The reason I don’t feel able to share my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) easily is the huge amount of stigma that the condition carries. This is something I desperately want to change.

When I was diagnosed with BPD, about six years ago, I struggled to deal with my diagnosis. I found out I had this diagnosis by reading it on my copy of the letters sent to my GP. At the time I didn’t know what BPD was and so I worked up the courage to ask my psychiatrist what this diagnosis was and how she had come to this conclusion. She was very good and went through the criteria with me. I was shocked. She then suggested I read a book written by a psychiatrist about the condition. I agreed. This was a mistake.

The book I was given went into detail about why people with BPD were difficult patients and how they were all trying to manipulate those around them. It listed a number of bad things about people with BPD. I was horrified and immediately went into denial. Even though the psychiatrist had shown how I met the criteria, I did not want to believe I had this illness. I was definitely not going to tell many people I had it either. I did not want them to think I was these bad things.

My denial went on for quite a while. I told very few people my diagnosis. Even my parents didn’t know. Then I met and talked to some other people with the same diagnosis and I realised they were none of the bad things I had heard about BPD. These people were lovely, they just struggled with certain things like I did. This led me to being more open about my diagnosis and even telling my parents.

There is still a lot of stigma out there surrounding BPD and personality disorders in general. People still think we are manipulative and all the same but we are people with an illness, just like if we had cancer or diabetes. I’ve experienced stigma even from a psychiatrist who told me I couldn’t be treated. This is untrue. Therapy is the main treatment for BPD and medication can help manage some symptoms.

It is important to challenge the stigma surrounding BPD, and all mental illnesses, so that people can access the help that they need and deserve. At the moment 10% of those diagnosed with BPD will die as a result of suicide. This number is far too high. With help hopefully this can be reduced. Even one life lost is too many, and stigma feeds into these statistics. Reducing stigma will save lives and help those with mental illness to lead a better life.

Having BPD doesn’t make people scary or manipulative. They just have an illness like everyone else.”

To find out more information on Borderline Personality Disorder click here or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Fear Of Abandonment

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), is diagnosed by seeing if a person matches at least give of nine different criteria. One of these nine criteria is fear of abandonment. This means you worry about people leaving you. This fear can be real or imagined. This is one of the criteria I identify with and have found very difficult of late to cope with. Therefore I thought I would write about how it effects me personally. Of course everyone is different and others will experience it differently.

When have I felt fear of abandonment?

I have felt fear of abandonment in a few different situations and for different reasons. The first event I am going to mention was a perceived abandonment. I was meeting a group of friends and became convinced they weren’t going to show up. I had no evidence for this at all but my mind became convinced this would be the case. It was totally unfounded and of course they showed up as planned.

The second event was when I found out my therapy was being halved from a year to six months. This led to me feeling fearful that I was being abandoned by the therapists involved in my care. This also happened when my care coordinator talked about reducing the support I received. I suddenly felt terrified I was being abandoned.

How do I feel about, and react, to fear of abandonment?

When I feel the fear of abandonment, the terror that takes over me can be all encompassing. It is like a blanket of fear and can make me feel sick with anxiety. I start to become very defensive and try my best to protect myself from the perceived threat of someone leaving, real or not. This can start in my brain where I begin to tell myself I’m not important and it doesn’t matter if they leave me. I then start to detach from the person as much as possible. I might withdraw or stop talking to them as regularly. I make myself much less reliant on them. I do all I can to make the abandonment feel less painful, even though in the long run it hurts me more.

How should I deal with the fear of abandonment?

With fear of abandonment it can be the little gestures that make us feel we are going to be left. To deal with this there is the skill of non-judgementalness. This where we try bit to judge a person’s actions but look at all the possibilities of why they may be acting that way. It is a hard skill to engage but an important one.

When the abandonment is more real, in that a person is actually leaving, it is more difficult to deal with. Here it can be a case of using skills to ensure our safety and not getting to crisis point.

How can you help with fear of abandonment?

There are a couple of ways to help us not fear abandonment and they include not breaking promises to us as well as reassuring us. These things can make all the difference. Sometimes we just need to hear that you’re still there and care about us.

If you have any tips on dealing with fear of abandonment feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

Tough To Hear

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that content may be triggering.

The phrase “I think you’re doing well” can actually be one of the most difficult phrases to hear. Especially when in your head everything feels like it is falling apart. It can be meant as a well meaning phrase to buoy you up and compliment you but it can in actual fact make things seem tougher.

This week someone said this phrase to me because on the surface things are going well. I am attending therapy, volunteering my time and keeping up with my blog. All positives. Yet underneath it all I feel I am falling apart. Where am I really at? Yes, I am attending therapy, but each week is followed by a melt down to a friend and me feeling the need to punish myself. Yes, I’m offering my time, but I’m aware I am saying yes to a lot when actually I feel low and need to say no. And while I am keeping up with my blog, I am finding it hard to keep creating content, which makes me feel useless. On top of all this the voice is telling me to die and I am self harming and hair pulling. Not such a happy picture. 

I realise I sound negative, and I promise I am trying to be positive, but it is really difficult to do when so much seems against you. It is hard to put on a smile every day and make people think you are doing ok. It takes a supreme amount of energy to carry on with every day tasks. Being positive is hard.

Then someone says the phrase “you are doing well” and it brings up a lot of different thoughts and emotions. Yes, some are good, like “I’m glad I’m showing I can cope” or “maybe I’m doing better than I think”. But there are many negatives.

One thing you may think is “if everyone thinks I am doing well am I going to let them down?” You feel that because things aren’t going well under the exterior view that if any cracks start to show you will be a let down. Of course this isn’t true but you feel the pressure to appear ok. This can make all that you are feeling with seem more difficult as you’re masking your true emotions, scared to show the ‘real’ you. 

Another way this phrase can be invalidating is that you it makes you feel that you must be ok as that is what others think of you. You feel like maybe your problems aren’t as big as you feel they are and that you’re making a fuss over nothing. This is not true. What you feel is valid. If you’re struggling still that is ok and it is ok to express this to other people. 

So while I understand that people are trying to be helpful by saying I am doing well, when I am struggling still it is actually one of the worst things for me to hear as it invalidates me. If you know someone is struggling please don’t add pressure by using this phrase. Please just accept they are struggling and validate their feelings by saying “I understand why you feel this way and it’s ok to feel like you do.”

 Are there any phrases you wish people wouldn’t say to you when you’re struggling? Feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.