What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? When does this happen in your life? What does it feel like? What are some causes? When does it show up? How does it affect us? What are the results of this? Lets YAC about it!
Defined by the Mayo Clinic:
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.
So.. What Does This Mean?
People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are essentially constantly living in a shifting world - only it's only going on inside their own minds. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, mood changes, anger, fear, emptiness and loneliness. Often alongside another mental illness. It's confusing and can lead to a lack of awareness or risky behaviour causing commitments and relationships to crumble. But- there is treatment.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
Shockingly (not), like many other mental illnesses, there is no direct cause. Although, there are a few links researchers have found. If you have a family member with BPD you are 5x more likely to inherit it. It also appears to have to do with a handful of chemicals in your brain responsible for emotion, impulsivity, and aggression including serotonin which helps to regulate your mood. Environmental factors can also play a role, including past abuse, or childhood traumas.
What Are The Symptoms?
Often in order to diagnose BPD, doctors will categorize symptoms into five main categories: unstable relationships, unstable behaviours, unstable emotions, unstable sense of identity, and awareness problems.
The symptoms include:
- Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety.
- Emptiness associated with loneliness and neediness.
- Paranoid thoughts and dissociative states in which the mind or psyche “shuts off” painful thoughts or feelings.
- Self-image that can change depending on whom the person is with
- Impulsive and harmful behaviours.
- Problematic use of substances, overeating, gambling or other high-risk behaviours.
- Self-harm such as cutting, burning with a cigarette or overdose that can bring relief from intense emotional pain.
- Intense fear of being alone or of being abandoned.
- Impulsive and emotionally volatile behaviours that may lead to the very abandonment and alienation that the person fears.
- Volatile and stormy interpersonal relationships with attitudes to others that can shift from idealization to anger and dislike (a result of black and white thinking that perceives people as all good or all bad).
How Is It Treated?
Borderline Personality Disorder is often treated with psychotherapy and specialized treatment programs such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is specific to BPD as it uses a skills-based idea to manage emotions, distress, and relationships. Schema-Focused Therapy is another specialized program helping you to discover ways to allow you to meet your needs in a healthy and positive way. Thinking before reacting is the main focus of, Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT), which helps to better understand your own thoughts and feelings in the moment in order to provide an alternative perspective. Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem-Solving (STEPPS) is a 20-week treatment plan that involves the people who love and care about you in order to incorporate their support into your treatment plan, often involving other forms of psychotherapy. Another treatment could be Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) or Psychodynamic Psychotherapy which helps you to understand your emotions and intrapersonal challenges as you develop the relationship between you and your therapist. Although there is no medication specifically for BPD, often anti-psychotics or anti-depressants will be prescribed to lessen some symptoms or help cope with the other mental illnesses you may also be facing.
Let's YAC About It!
It's time to break down the barriers and end the stigma surrounding mental health. If you live with mental illness or just want to chat, our comments and inboxes are always open. We strongly believe in the value of sharing our experiences + stories in hopes even one person knows they're not alone. This blog is an introduction to a two-part series, the second part will introduce all sorts of resources and ways to find the help you need. Thank you again for everyone who got to this point- and again, don't be afraid to YAC about it!
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals and are not able to provide licensed medical advice. This is a platform to relay information and share about mental illness.
1. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). (2019). CAMH. Retrieved 3 June 2019, from https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/borderline-personality-disorder
2. Borderline Personality Disorder. (2019). Cmha.bc.ca. Retrieved 3 June 2019, from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/borderline-personality-disorder-2/
3. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). (2018). HelpGuide.org. Retrieved 3 June 2019, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm/
4. Mayo Clinic. (2019). Borderline personality disorder - Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237 [Accessed 3 Jun. 2019].