What BPD Actually Is

This article is for informative purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat and condition. Please reach out to a qualified mental health professional if you are struggling.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the most stigmatized disorders out there. With misconceptions that people with the condition are unlovable, untreatable, or are just seeking attention all make it extremely isolating for people living with it. To help better understand BPD and break the stigma, in this article, we’ll be looking at what BPD actually is. 

How is BPD Defined?

BPD is a cluster B personality disorder that is commonly associated with stormy, unstable moods and relationships, an intense fear of abandonment, and poor self image. People with the disorder often struggle with how they view themselves and others (Mayo Clinic 2019).

What BPD is:

  • Treatable – One of the biggest misconceptions with BPD is that it is untreatable and that people with it are incapable of healthy relationships. There are several different ways to treat BPD to help make it more manageable for the person with the condition and resources for people who support someone with it (Mayo Clinic 2019). It is important to know that BPD is a mental health condition that requires treatment. As with related conditions, there are many symptoms that can unintentionally push others away. People with BPD are not bad or broken people, rather they live with a condition that they need help with managing.
  • Fear of Abandonment – People with BPD usually have an intense, fear that the people in their life will leave them. These feelings can be so strong that they go to great lengths to avoid abandonment; they may abruptly cut off relationships they feel are failing, or they may become overly attached to the other person (Mayo Clinic 2019). 
  • Instability in Relationships – Break-ups with someone with BPD can be extremely devastating to them, as it fuels their fear of abandonment (Smith 2021). Their mood instability also plays a factor in how they manage relationships. Someone with BPD may put their partner on a pedestal and treat them with a lot of affection. However, they may also need a lot of reassurance and may try to break off the relationship if they feel that it is falling apart – even if the problem is small. They can experience “splitting” where they can go from adoring a person to hating them in a small amount of time (NAMI 2017).
  • Unstable moods – People with BPD can have rapid and intense mood swings. Because of this, many people with BPD struggle with addiction problems or utilize other unhealthy coping mechanisms. In some cases, they can experience dissociative symptoms to even psychotic symptoms if under extreme amounts of stress (NAMI 2017). 
  • Poor Impulse Control – With BPD, people can have poor impulse control and take part in risky activities (Mayo Clinic 2019). While some of this can be attributed to unhealthy coping mechanisms to handle the negative emotions, other behaviors can be driven by a desire for social acceptance (NAMI 2017). 
  • Problems with Self-Image – People with BPD may struggle with how they view themselves and continually change aspects of their identity (Mayo Clinic 2019). They may switch careers and interests quickly, even if they are radically different from one another. They may find it difficult to pin down who they are, therefore they make efforts to try and fit in.

What BPD is NOT:

  • Attention-Seeking – behaviors tend to be driven by the desire for acceptance as a result of the disorder rather than for enjoyment (SANE 2018).

  • Dangerous – Despite having the ability to become intensely angry, people with BPD do not generally harm others (The Recovery Village 2020).

  • A Female-Only Condition – Approximately 25% of people diagnosed are males (The Recovery Village 2020). 

  • Only Caused By Childhood Trauma – other factors include genetics and neurobiological differences (Johnston 2020)

  • Personality Flaw – The condition causes immense distress to people with it that significantly impairs functioning, making it a disorder (SANE 2018). 

BPD carries a lot of stigma with it that isolates those who have the condition. These people have wants and needs just like everyone else and should be treated the same. It is important to know that with proper treatment and support, people living with BPD can manage their symptoms and find stability.  Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comment section!

References

  • Johnston, E. (2020, January 22). 6 Common Myths About Borderline Personality Disorder. Verywell Mind. www.verywellmind.com/myths-borderline-personality-disorder-425499
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019, July 17). Borderline personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237
  • NAMI. (2017). Borderline personality disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. National Alliance on Mental Health. www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Borderline-Personality-Disorder
  • SANE. (2018, October 17). Five things people get wrong about BPD. SANE Australia. www.sane.org/information-stories/the-sane-blog/mythbusters/five-things-people-get-wrong-about-bpd
  • Smith, M. (2021, June 10). Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). HelpGuide.Org. www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm
  • The Recovery Village. (2020, January 27). BPD Myths. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/borderline-personality-disorder/related/bpd-myths/

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