May is Borderline personality disorder (BPD) Awareness Month.
Despite being a common condition, BPD is often stigmatised with a number of myths and misconceptions that surround it.
The condition causes a person to to suffer from unstable moods as well as impulsive behaviours. It can have a significant effect on a suffers day-to-day life, the Mirror reports.
BDP is made no easier by the stigma that sufferers experience, with misconceptions that they can be manipulative or violent.
Here are symptoms as well as common misconceptions, highlighted by Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic and Mario Anghinolfi, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapist, Therapethical Community Interest Company.
What are the most common BPD symptoms?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause a wide range of symptoms, which can be grouped into four areas. The symptoms according to the NHS are:
emotional instability causing intense negative emotions like rage, sorrow, shame or panic
disturbed patterns of thinking or perception including upsetting thoughts like feeling you’re a terrible person
impulsive behaviour like urges to self-harm, binge drinking, drug misuse, going on a spending or gambling spree, or having unprotected sex with strangers
intense but unstable relationships with others due to fear of abandonment
People tend to misunderstand your tendency to have severe mood swings and your “go away/please don’t go” mindset when it comes to your relationships with others.
Myths and misconceptions about BPD
Here are the most common myths and misconceptions about borderline personality disorder(BPD).
People with BPD are manipulative
People with BPD often have trouble regulating their emotions, thoughts and impulses. This means that their actions can be quite self-destructive as they tend to have quite unstable relationships with people.
Their intense displays of emotions can make people on the receiving end feel like the behaviour is manipulative and that they try to get a particular outcome with their behaviour. But they are not being intentionally manipulative.
Dr Elena Touroni explains: “It’s important to note that people with BPD have a lot of difficulty regulating their emotions. This is usually because they grew up in a very invalidating environment and so these intense displays of emotion are not about manipulating people but rather a reflection of their own difficulties managing their emotions.”
People with BPD are attention-seeking
When faced with the end of a relationship or other triggers that leave them with a sense of vulnerability, people with BPD may be prone to making dramatic displays.
People might become frantic due to real or imagined abandonment and engaged in self-destructive behaviours, which can be perceived as attention-seeking.
However, Dr Elena Touroni explains that when triggered a person with BPD is going through distress and despair., and whatever they are going through feels unmanageable for them.
She said: “It’s a normal human need to want someone to be attentive to us, especially when we are in a lot of distress. For someone who experienced a lot of childhood neglect and emotional deprivation, this need can be even greater.”
People with BPD are violent or dangerous
Psychotherapist Mario Anghinolfi dispels the belief that people with BPD are violent. Most people with borderline personality disorder don’t engage in violence or destruction of property.
When triggered, some of them act out in physically abusive ways either towards themselves or others, because of their inability to regulate their intense emotions and impulses appropriately in certain situations.
People with BPD can’t hold down jobs because of their instability
Some people with BPD may struggle to maintain employment in specific environments, such as if they feel they aren’t supported at work.
However, many people are able to find jobs that suit them while also allowing them time for self-care and social support outside work hours as well as professional treatment for their symptoms when needed
People with BPD are not at risk of suicide
Due to the misconception that people with BPD are attention-seeking, there is another belief that when they’ve self-harmed, overdosed or put themselves at risk in any way, they’ve done so to seek attention.
It’s important to remember that those that self-harm have a much higher likelihood of committing suicide and this carries a high risk for people with BPD.
People with BPD cannot be treated
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for BPD and it’s true there is no “cure” for the condition. However it is completely treatable.
BPD can be treated with different types of psychotherapy like Schema Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mentalisation Based Treatment and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), all of which focus on helping people learn how to manage their symptoms.
Combination of medications can also be used as part of a medical plan if someone needs extra support to manage their moods or behaviours.
Having BPD means you’re “crazy”
Those with BPD have many different symptoms but one common thing is that they can be challenging to live with, and their mood swings often lead to people calling them “crazy.”
Mario Anghinolfi explains: “Their behaviour isn’t due to mental illness or disease—it comes from how they think about themselves and others around them.”
BPD is not a mental health condition
As Borderline Personality Disorder has the word “personality” in it, there is a common misconception that BPD isn’t a mental health condition.
While, BPD is an emotional dysregulation disorder, it is still a very real mental health condition, which can cause people a lot of distress and needs to be treated with an evidence-based treatment.
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here .