I have been researching this disorder for many years and as a sufferer, I have compiled first hand experiences of the way in which it affects my life and others.
I have also now finished my memoir about BPD and depression and my experiences from inside my mind.
RESEARCH OF THE CONDITION BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)
A ‘personality’ is the ongoing thought patterns, feelings and behaviour that make us who we are. A personality can change with age or outside influence, but also by personal choice and therapy. A personality disorder is diagnosed when various areas of a persons personality is causing them or others issues in everyday life.
The diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a controversial one, throughout the medical sphere of specialists. Around 50% of psychiatrists do not believe it exists, even though statistics show that it affects around 2% of the population, and the suicide rate for its victims are 10% of sufferers. Therefore, there are limited resources and services on offer to sufferers. Many with this illness receive treatment in Psychiatric Hospitals (20% of hospitalisations are treating people with BPD) and they account for 10% of outpatients. It is one of the lesser known mental disorders in the UK, compared to America, but people are now becoming more aware of its importance and symptoms. 75% of those diagnosed are women. There are a large range of symptoms, and everyone has a different experience of it, but my view is that although it may have a name, it is the symptoms that need to be worked upon, not the name, as there is not a ‘cure all’ answer.
The general guide is that the person may have suffered some sort of abuse or neglect when young and forms an ‘emotional disfunctionality’ within their personality. (75% of people diagnosed with BPD have experienced some sort of physical or sexual abuse)
The ‘borderline’ has been referred to as being on the borderline of psychosis and neurosis. The sufferer has a pattern of unstable personal relationships, a changeable self image (it may change dependent upon others – if they are loved by someone they like, then they like themselves, but if they then don’t like that person, then they don’t like themselves) and impulsive behaviours in detrimental areas such as sexual action, driving, eating, spending and substance abuse. Other symptoms are a chronic feeling of emptiness, and a strong fear of abandonment by others, and the person may resort to any length to stop abandonment occurring.
Black and white thinking also occurs, where the person swings between idolising and devaluing people in their relationships. This is also known as splitting. In their eyes, someone is either very good or very bad and the shift of idea can change daily – a person is good one day and bad the next. The ‘grey’ areas in between are not seen by the sufferer as they are unable to see that there is good and bad in everyone and have a balanced view of others.
Suicidal threats, gestures or attempts are also a symptom of a sufferer and there can be self harm involved. Their mood can swing rapidly also, with anxiety, anger and depression easily brought on by the smallest adverse event. To them, the event will appear very important and very distressing. If their stress levels reach a high, paranoid thoughts or dissociative symptoms (running on automatic or feeling ‘unreal’ and removed from reality) can occur. At the very worst, the person may experience psychosis (their thoughts, feelings and experiences are not shared with others). Anger can be a problem too, with out of control anger experienced by them and to those around them. This is easily triggered if the person is critisized, but can occur at many other times.
If the overlap of the two symptoms, personal identity issues and fear of abandonment, occur, then the person may well find themselves clinging to damaging relationships that they cannot get out of.
The symptoms can be very brutal, with rapidly changing mood swings that can range from intense anger and in extreme cases, violence, to heightened excitability or depression. The symptoms can be similar to Bipolar (new name for Manic Depressive) in some ways, but, unlike Bipolar these mood swings can last only minutes, hours or at the most a couple of days usually. This is a big strain on the person and those around them, as the inability to control these mood swings means that it is often a shock to all when a seeming normal mood can change so rapidly and blow out of control.
Unfortunately, people with Borderline Personality Disorder, can have high rates of other mental health issues, such as anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and depression.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition of the personality which is thought to be on the borderline of psychosis and neurosis. There are nine characteristic symptoms in total – one must have five of these symptoms to be diagnosed with BPD:
(1) Regular pattern of unstable personal relationships – often due partly to black and white thinking; also known as splitting can occur where people are very good or very bad and no in-between.
(2) Variable self image
(3) Impulsive behaviours: sex, driving, eating, spending, substance abuse and risk taking
(4) Chronic feeling of emptiness
(5) Overwhelming fear of abandonment.
(6) On reaching high stress levels, paranoid thoughts or dissociative symptoms (running on automatic or feeling ‘unreal’ and removed from reality) can occur. At the very worst, the person may experience psychosis (their thoughts, feelings and experiences are not shared with others)
(7) Suicidal threats, gestures or attempts and/or self-harming.
(8) Mood swings; anxiety, anger and depression. The symptoms can be very brutal, with rapidly changing from intense anger and in extreme cases, violence, to heightened excitability or depression. The symptoms can be similar to Bipolar but, unlike Bipolar these mood swings can last only minutes, hours or at the most a couple of days usually. Black and white; also known as splitting can occur . People are good or very bad and no in-between
(9) Intense anger — easily triggered resulting in shouting, breaking things and physical fights
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