Let’s talk BPD

I have spent the last hour browsing different Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) articles online while Benidorm plays in the background. It’s rare I learn something new in these, but today I did, not particularly about my illness but about raising awareness of it. Apparently, May is Borderline Personality Awareness month.

I haven’t blogged on here for a while, mainly because I write more when I’m struggling as a way to process what’s going on and recently, for a while now (luckily) things have been pretty stable. When I read it was BPD awareness month I thought about how if I’d know i’d of written something new each day on statuses to explain what BPD really is but seen as I missed the majority of the month I thought I’d take to the blog again.

Here are 31 things about BPD, one for each day of the month. Some are specific to me, some are general facts and some are things I wish people knew.

1 – There are 40 different terms that are used when talking about BPD which all mean BPD, some of these are BPD, emotionally unstable personality disorder, emotional disregulation disorder and complex developmental trauma.

2 – These different terms make it harder for clinicians and patients to understand what is been talked about and diagnosed, BPD is still the most commonly used name despite the official name of the disorder changing to emotionally unstable disorder several years ago

3 – There are 9 diagnostic criteria for BPD, a person who has 5 or more of these can be diagnosed however all the criteria are blanket terms which branch into different issues, meaning a group of people with BPD could sit together and not one of them experience the same symptoms

4- The only symptom all people with BPD share is emotional intensity/instability

5- BPD is normally comorbid with other mental illnesses, the most common of these are depression, anxiety, substance misuse and eating disorders

6- It is common, in times of emotional stress to experience psychosis and disassociation.

7- Disassociation is difficult to describe, the best thing I can compare it with is being in a dream like trance, you’re on auto pilot, you don’t know what’s going on around you and things done feel real, but somehow you can still do things

8- People with BPD can experience flashbacks

9- No one is really sure what causes BPD, it has been suggested that it is a mixture of genetics and traumatic experiences

10- BPD is highly stigmatised, people with BPD are labelled manipulative, attention seeking, not worth the effort and hopeless cases, this stigma has caused funding to be withdrawn from treatment plans

11- the emotional extremes of BPD are not triggered by huge events, one word can trigger severe depression, one tiny change to a day can trigger mania

12- this emotional unpredictability has been classed by professionals as “unbearable” and “too much to handle.”

13- BPD has one of the highest suicide rates of any mental illness. 70% of people diagnosed will attempt suicide, 10% will succeed.

14- For people with BPD suicide and self harming thoughts can become obsessive and intrusive

15- Over 40% of people diagnosed with BPD are initially misdiagnosed with something else first

16- BPD can have some strange symptoms caused by the umbrella diagnostic criteria, these include

17- Oversharing

18- Emotionally shutting off / refusing to have close friendships or relationships

19- Appearing emotionless or cold hearted

20- being tired or physically ill

21- People with BPD diagnosis’s make up at least 20% of patients in inpatient units in the UK

22- People with BPD make up almost 10% of A and E presentations

23- BPD is classed as a sever mental illness which needs long term treatment, group therapy, one to own therapy and crisis management. There are currently 3 places in the Uk which offer this, despite 0.7% of the population having this diagnosis, that’s 448,000 People.

24- BPD and bipolar are often confused as the same thing but they are very different, the key difference relates to how quickly moods and emotions cycle and the thought processes behind these

25- there are no medications specifically to treat BPD

26- Splitting or Black and white thinking is a common and misunderstood symptom of BPD An explanation of what this is can be found here

27- the focus of BPD treatment is not how to get rid of it but how to learn to live with it having less of an impact on day to day life

28- personality disorders are there own category of mental illness, they are not mood disorders, anxiety disorders or psychotic disorders by so share some of the same symptoms

29- People with BPD share some positive traits, it has been proven that generally they are more creative, expressive, compassionate and can pick up on others emotions easier than neurotypicals

30- early 20s are the most common time to be diagnosed

31- Despite the common myth, it is possible for people with BPD to go onto live a normal life with the right treatment and support

If you are worried about you or someone you know having BPD Click here

If you want to learn more about BPD, try this amazing explanation Video

If you or someone you know are in crisis call 116 123

If you or someone you know is an immediate risk to themselves or others dial 999

Of all the things I could have broken.

I broke my personality.

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So today is world mental health day, a specific day in the year where all the bloggers who have had mental health struggles or have them currently come out in full force to write about it. Turns out this year I am one of those bloggers.

I am not critiquing,  in fact I think its important that as many people as feel strong enough talk about there experiences without shame or fear. What disappoints me is that we are in a society that needs a specific day to do this. However, thats not what I was going to write about, thats a whole other rant for a different time.

I didn’t know what I was going to write about for today, I had a few ideas floating around in my brain, but I thought on a a day which aims to raise awareness and combat misunderstanding, I am in a position of being diagnosed with what I believe, is one of the most misunderstood illnesses. I am diagnosed with an illness that a lot of people haven’t really heard off. When I talk about it and give it its name I’m often met by ‘what is that’ or ‘how does that effect you’ or in a few cases ‘I thought that was just a made up thing for films.’

So heres what Im going to do, I’m going to tell you about the signs and symptoms of having Emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder (BPD) the ones straight from a text book, then I’ll tell you what they actually feel like, well what they feel like for me. Personality disorders are a spectrum, so it feels and looks different for every person.

A quick google of BPD brings up this diagnostic criteria on the NHS website

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Emotional Instability. 

Lets just focus on that label shall we, how off-putting does that sound. ‘Hi I’m Naomi and I’m officially unstable.’ That been said, I am unstable, my mood changes rapidly based on seemingly insignificant events. The smallest comment can boost my mood or cut it down. The littlest event can send me into panic. The tiniest compliment can spark hypermania. I have worked to contain my mood changes so people who haven’t known me through my ‘severely broken brain’ stage  may not register them and I can have decent relationships and day to day experiences. That being said, I can register them. I know that my mood cycles haven’t changed that much, and, to be honest there isn’t a ‘cure’ for BPD so I am aware that they will for the rest of my life. That is a hard pill to swallow, it’s also fucking exhausting. On days I’m finding it harder to contain my mood changes, these are the things you might notice.

  • Going from talkative and funny and over exaggerated to silent in seconds.
  • Being unable to concentrate.
  • Finding it difficult to string a sentence together.
  • Being unable to follow a conversation.
  • Being forgetful.
  • Coming across as ditsy, or dumb.
  • Smoking a lot more.
  • Appearing lazy or frequently saying ‘I can’t be fucked’

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Disturbed Patterns of thinking or perception.

This phrase covers a lot of different elements of BPD. It covers paranoia, intrusive thoughts, negative thinking and psychosis. Here are some of the common BPD thoughts I have.

  • What is the point… in anything?
  • Everyone hates me.
  • The world would be better if I wasn’t in it.
  • I made a mistake, I fuck up everything.
  • People always leave, no one thinks Im worth staying around for.

This section of diagnostic criteria also covers the bizarre aspects of having BPD. It is a comment trait for those with BPD to experience elements of psychosis when there emotions are to intense. Lets have a look at some of the Gems I’ve come out with while in that state shall we. Feel free to laugh, I do.

  • ‘Am I the devil?’
  • ‘If I really put my mind to it and pray hard, I think I could stop ISIS’
  • ‘That earthquake that happened was obviously my fault because I said something horrible.’
  • ‘I can’t answer my door, theres a man with a chainsaw on the other side.’

Disassociation is also a common trait of BPD, and probably the thing that I still struggle with most, but I also don’t know how to explain it. Its basically like your brain goes to auto pilot. I can still finish tasks I can still function, but I’m not thinking. I don’t know whats real. Everything feels like that stage when your falling asleep, when your not quite asleep and your still registering part of what is going on, but your on the edge.

Impulsive Behaviour.

Impulsive behavior is simple really. Its all fun and games until you come round and have to suffer the consequences. It can be anything, shopping, gambling, sexual behaviors, drinking, self harm, suicide, the list goes on. For me impulsive behavior comes in two elements. The first is all about what will make me happy, or what will make me feel better in the moment without taking into account the consequences. Like I feel shit so I’m going to go spent all my pay check in one go. Or Im bored and its taking me into a and place so I’m going to drink until I’m passed out.

Then theres another element, perhaps a more difficult element. Which is intrusive impulsions. In English that means that I have thoughts about self harm and suicide that come out of no where. I can be perfectly happy and have a really good day, then suddenly my brain is like ‘why don’t you stop the car and jump off that bridge’ or I can be feeling sorry for myself but dealing with it and my brain says things like ‘hey, self harm, that was fun.’

Intense but unstable relationships with others.

This is an interesting one for me. I tend to not notice a relationship is unhealthy till its to late and I’ve already done some damage. A big part of BPD is fear of abandonment. Sometimes that makes me act in obsessive and dramatic ways. I also rely on certain people. I, luckily haven’t had friendships break down because of this, but that is not due to my behavior its due to the strength and compassion of the friends around me.

But, it means that my brain works over time.

Don’t answer one of my texts? Its because you aren’t really my friend. Cancel our plans? Its because you hate me. Don’t talk to me for a day? Its because you don’t really care.

Or thats what my brain tells me anyway.

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The problem with BPD.

There are so many problems with the way BPD is viewed and treated. I have had my share of shit experiences in official capacities and in my interaction with people. BPD is seen as an incurable illness, there are no meds that will stop it and therapy has limited responses. It also has one of the highest suicide rates of all mental illnesses. 2-3% of the population have BPD. 10% of these people will die by suicide and 80% of people with BPD  will attempt suicide. There are failings in our mental health systems, and most of these come down to funding, why fund treatment for a disorder with no cure? Well, I can say recovery is possible, when its done in the right way. It takes time, and effort and its exhausting and its slow. But things can gradually get better, and relapses become just relapses.

So lets talk about it, because shame is never going to lead to recovery.

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