BPD – Why It’s Hard To Talk About

I’m pretty new to the world of blogging, but having written and published a book I am used to bearing my soul for the world to read.  Regardless though, there is a topic I that is hard to talk about.  That is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  My first personal knowledge (aside from the movies) was when BPD was being described to a group of patients by some nurses at a residential psychiatric facility where I was a patient for some months.   They were making light of it and told us that another patient (who was not in the room at the time) had BPD and was a typical example because she was a “real drama queen” and “always out for attention”.  What more could they say to put me off?  It seemed to me that they were just writing my friend off, and that just didn’t seem fair.

Fast forward ten years and I am in my psychiatrist’s office being told that I have BPD.  For years I have been diagnosed as having depression, but there was so much that just didn’t quite fit.  I had stumped a few doctors by my inability to be what they expected.  I had been discharged from the care of a mental health service here because I hadn’t responded to their treatment and they simply didn’t know what to do with me.  Around the same time I had also been discharged from a specialist eating disorders service for the same reason.  They couldn’t understand why I said and did the things I did, and had simply labelled me as defensive, troublesome and refusing to change.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), the ‘bible’ of psychiatric disorders there is a list of nine symptoms seen in BPD, and to be diagnosed it is necessary to have at least five of these.  Briefly they are:

Extreme reactions including panic, depression or rage

A pattern of intense and stormy relationships

Distorted and unstable self-image

Impulsive and often dangerous behaviours

Recurring suicidal or self-harming behaviours

Highly changeable moods

Chronic feelings of emptiness

Problems controlling anger

Stress-related paranoid thoughts or dissociative symptoms

The reason that I find my BPD difficult to talk about is because I fit most of these symptoms in ways that I don’t feel good about.  It’s hard to talk about the things that I am least proud of.  I hate that I react to things in extreme ways.  I hate that my relationships can be stormy and that I am impulsive in many things.  My moods change so easily and sometimes it seems like it is just happening to me, out of my control.  Sometimes the way I react to those around just seems totally unwarranted but at the time, again, it feels like it is out of my control.  The only people I have talked to about these things is the therapists I have had.

Most of these things you might not see in me in a chance meeting.  A lot of it is kept inside myself, you would only see if you spent time with me, and my issues with anger tend to be directed more at myself than anyone else.  Perhaps that’s why it took so long to put a label on me, or more importantly for someone to say they understood why I say and do the things I do.

BPD is really hard to talk about because it doesn’t have a good reputation.  It is well known in the mental health arena that those with BPD are apparently the most difficult to treat, and many health professionals even refuse to treat us for that reason.  The labels of ‘drama queen’ and ‘attention seeker’ are also freely thrown at us, when actually it is so not true.  BPD is a real condition that needs to have its stigma removed even more than other psychiatric illnesses.  I need to be accepted as a real person who hurts.  A real person who wants and needs help.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask.   I am not a drama queen and I don’t think I’m an attention seeker either.  I don’t think my friend was either, but perhaps she acted in certain ways because she was in pain and needed help.

I recently came across this description what BPD is.  I’ve listened to and watched many of the ones available and unfortunately many of them are created by people who see us as the drama queens and beyond help.  It doesn’t help.  So when I listened to this one I felt I needed to share it.  Please watch it.  It’s only a few minutes to gain some understanding about a real issue.  And in return I will try to keep telling you about my battle with BPD.  There is no cure but I am determined to find a way for me to live a good, healthy life in spite of BPD.

There are many different types of vegetarians in the world, and just the same there are many different experiences of BPD.  This one fits me pretty well but it won’t fit everyone.  That’s okay because at the end of the day we are all individuals and we are all different.

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.”
~Author Unknown

Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something,
when you are least expecting it.  I never heard of anyone ever
stumbling on something sitting down.”
~Charles F. Kettering


26 thoughts on “BPD – Why It’s Hard To Talk About

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  3. Simply wonderful! How brave and smart and capable you are! You make me believe that I can get to where you are in being able to keep up with my blog and our attempt to share our experiences with those who want to help us. Thank you for being such a wonderful ambassador for a group of people who so often get overlooked.

    1. Thanks. Wow, that is such a nice thing to be told. And you will get there. I love your blog and look forward to reading more… when you’re ready. As I said in my post today… One Day! 🙂

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  5. Dorothy

    I have bipolar but this sounds an awful lot like me, then again I have no idea what my doctor has written down in his little notes.

  6. It’s very brave of you to come out with your diagnosis–and truly address what it means. It brings comfort to people around you, as you can see from the comments. Things like this really make a different in the blogosphere. Kudos to you.

    1. Thank you. I have just found your comment sitting in spam. It’s beyond me sometimes how they decide what they call spam. Anyway thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. 🙂

      1. Look at that… you were in spam again. LOL. Thank you for saying that about my honesty. It keeps reminding me that it’s worth it. 🙂

  7. Lisa

    I have BPD and a host of other initials and I remember being lost in my own mind too well. I still get lost sometimes, but intensive one on one and group therapy helped me a lot. 🙂 I once had a case worker that said, “you don’t seem like BPD to me and I work with lots of them.” I replied “Of course I don’t. Just don’t try to leave me…. ” 🙂 xoxo

    1. Good answer. They forget that there are many variances in BPD, well in any label. One on one therapy is the one thing that has helped me too. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  8. The quiet ones (bp’s) are always forgotten. That’s what has to change. I identify so much. It’s so easy to feel like a wanna-bp as a quiet / internalized one, like I’m making it all up in my head. Glad to have found your blog. Hope you write lots more.

  9. someonethere

    I never add a reply to these things, but something moved me when i read what you wrote and when i watched the video i cried more than i have in a while. As i was searching the internet on what might be wrong with me i came upon BPD and said that’s me. I dont know if you have posted anything else about it or not, but i would like to say your writing inspires and gives more meaning to more people that you know. I hope you are able to cope with it as i have been trying to myself. Good Luck

    1. Hi. Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments. It’s always nice to get feedback. I’m glad the post was useful too you and hope that maybe you can get some help with it, if BPD is what you have. Psychotherapy has been the most useful thing to me but I know that is expensive. Worth it though for me. Good luck for finding a way to manage it.

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  13. Thanks for the article.I suspect that my wife has BPD as much of the standard formulation fits my thirty year experience with her.Additionally I am a mental health professional.I have no idea where we will eventually end up as it has been so hard and she has always evaded help.

    However it was refreshing to read an article that did not turn all BPDs into monsters as hugely difficult as it has been for me my wife is not a monster and I do not appreciate how the condition is written about by some professionals.

    What on earth were nurses doing talking about another patients diagnosis in front of you?Have they never heard of patient confidentiality?If I did that I would be sacked.

    1. Hi Edward. Thanks so much for your comments. It’s always great to know that readers can relate to what I am writing. Of course your wife isn’t a monster, and you know I actually hate that we use the term ‘monster’ to apply to any human being. It just makes the battle that you both endure more difficult. You maybe interested that I wrote article on BPD and stigma just last week. It is on the blog of A Canvas of the Minds (I am a regular contributor to them). If you are interested, the link is http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/03/27/almost-too-sensitive-for-the-regular-world/

      As for the nurses who shared my friends diagnosis, it is beyond me to know what they thought they were doing. My understanding is that my friend didn’t even know she had BPD herself at that point. I have to admit that it goes some way to suggest to me that with some health professionals BPD is still very much stigmatised and presumably it somehow didn’t matter that they were sharing such personal information. It’s so wrong, and I’m glad to know that you are one mental health professional who respects the difficulty of the struggle but also respects the person themselves. Thank you.

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