Borderline Personality Disorder Myths

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I was first made aware of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) 11 years ago.  It gets a bad rap in the media, community and the health profession.  I want to help dispel a few myths that I have encountered.

  1. People with BPD have split personalities.  No, multiple personality disorder is a completely different psychiatric diagnosis.  People with BPD often experience mood instability which can give people the impression that they have different personalities.
  2. People with BPD are manipulative attention seekers.  Some of the behaviour exhibited by those with BPD can come across as attention seeking, but that is because they need attention.  Borderline often develops after childhood trauma (although genetic links are also being explored) and it becomes ingrained that they only way to receive the help they need is to act out.
  3. People with BPD are a lost cause. I have encountered this from the health profession.  BPD are often put in the too hard basket, that they are treatment resistant and if ignored they will go away.
  4. People with BPD are bunny boilers and you should avoid a relationship with them.  One of the symptoms of BPD is unstable interpersonal relationships.  Often their fear of being left overrides their rational thinking and they subconsciously push the person away.  With the right support and the right partner a person with BPD can be a part of a loving relationship.  I have seen plenty of sane people turn into ‘psycho girlfriends’ so really a diagnosis means nothing.
  5. People with BPD are selfish. No mental illness is selfish.  Borderline is no different.  Without treatment, and insight the worst features of Borderline come to the fore.  This is why it is so important that more specialised treatment is available.  It’s hard when you reach out for help and get knocked back, told that you are too hard to treat.

I have reached out for help in the past only to be met with fear and resentment.  I was told I was taking up space that someone who was ‘really sick’ could use.  This is not something that is only experienced by people with Borderline of course, but it is still something that needs to be addressed.  People with Borderline are not all monsters.  There are those of us out there who are working hard to be able to function in the everyday world.  I don’t want to discount the experiences of those who have dealt with someone who is Borderline, but I simply ask that you get to know the person behind the diagnosis before you pass judgement.

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.

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13 thoughts on “Borderline Personality Disorder Myths

  1. Lizzy - Muddle-Headed Mamma

    You have done a brilliant job here of dispelling myths surrounding BPD, Tegan. It makes me so angry to read that people in the health profession made you feel like a lost cause and that someone could say something as cruel as “you are taking up space”. In the past, I have also had a very negative experience with a mental health practitioner who acted completely unprofessionally. I felt abolsutely gutted that someone whose job it is to help people could have been so nasty and insensitive. Please know that you are not alone in that. xxx

  2. Janet @ Middle Aged Mama

    One of my clients is a large psychology firm here in Brisbane specialising in the treatment of people with bipolar and borderline. I think the whole mental health field has taken great strides in the past 30 odd years; BPD wasn’t even a diagnosis when I was young (although in later years we realised my mother had it). I definitely don’t see BPD as a “hopeless” condition – with the help of medication and therapies like DBT, there is no reason why a person with BPD can’t lead a happy and successful life with great relationships.

  3. Josefa @always Josefa

    There is so much to be gained from this post. As an entire society we need to better educate ourselves about mental illness and gain and better grasp and understanding of what it like, how to help and how to be compassionate and not judgmental. I love this line so much ” but I simply ask that you get to know the person behind the diagnosis before you pass judgement.” If this were true for many thing sin our world – our world would be a better place for it.

  4. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    If only people would find out all the facts, before giving their opinions and assessing others. As always, you’ve done a lot to help others understand Tegan.
    PS, I received my wonderful prize yesterday, thank you so much hun!!!

  5. Pingback: Borderline Personality Disorder Myths – Musings of the Misguided | MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!

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