What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder characterised by extremely unstable emotions, relationships, and behaviour. People with Borderline Personality Disorder can have a severely distorted view of themselves.
They can be convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong with them and feel worthless and incapable of being loved. Usually people who live with BPD struggle with abandonment issues. Because they are terrified of being abandoned, they can falsify in their head the feeling that they are being abandoned. For example, someone who turns up late to someone with BPD's birthday party might be perceived by the person with BPD as them abandoning them which can be responded to by an outburst of anger. Because of the intensity of the reactions, people with BPD can often end up pushing people away and their beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy .
Relationships can be difficult to form and sustain, because the condition can be accompanied by anger, impulsiveness, risky behaviour and frequent mood swings. People with BPD don't have a strong sense of self, and struggle with their identity. People with BPD are more reactive to their environment than normal, and a stimulus which may seem trivial to most people could trigger a very strong emotional reaction. Borderline Personality Disorder is more frequent in women than in men, and symptoms usually begin to arise between the ages of 15 to 25.
Most people who have BPD have a history of complex trauma. Usually people with BPD have a pattern of instability within interpersonal relationships, and struggle with impulsive behaviour, likely beginning in early adulthood.
What are some of the signs?
- Extreme reactions, including rage and panic and severe depression, to minor separations
- Impulsive, reckless behaviour, including spending sprees, reckless driving and substance abuse
- Intense feelings triggered by seemingly innocuous events
- Unstable relationships with other people
- Suicidal or self-harming behaviours
Loved ones with BPD
Having someone in your life who has Borderline Personality Disorder can feel like your relationship is going through an emotional roller coaster. When someone with BPD perceives that they may be abandoned they become reactive and may be angry or defensive. They find it very difficult to put themselves into someone else's shoes and struggle to tell the difference between small issues and catastrophes.
When to seek professional assistance
If you are thinking about harming yourself you need to seek help. If you suspect that you, or someone you know, is suffering from BPD it important to get treatment as soon as possible. A number of therapies can be used to treat the condition, with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy in particular achieving notable success.
Strategies to help manage BPD
- Keep a regular schedule of meals and sleep times and avoid drug or alcohol abuse
- Regular exercise
- Recognise and get treatment for related disorders separately (BPD often occurs with mood disorders, depression and eating disorders)
- Find out more about BPD and talk to a professional about treatment