For the month of May, Defying Shadows will be joining the Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing a post daily on a different type of Mental Illness or “Shadow” that people commonly struggle with. Join us in creating awareness and working to end the stigma that goes with these topics! Today we have Nichole Howson sharing on Borderline Personality Disorder. ~ Defying Shadows Team.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness that causes unstable moods, behaviour and relationships. Originally this disorder was named borderline because people with severe BPD have brief psychotic episodes and doctors believed this illness was atypical. While experts now agree that the name is misleading, another more accurate name has not been created at this time.
People with BPD suffer from problems regulating emotions and thoughts, impulsive and dangerous behavior, and unstable relationships. People with BPD have higher rates of co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders as well as struggles with self-harm and suicidal behaviours.
There are many myths related to BPD. Here are a few I would like to address:
Myth #1 : Only woman have BPD.
This Myth is very harmful for two reasons. The first being that it increases the stigma associated with this disorder in women, and can cause women to be less accepting of the diagnosis. The second reason is that it decreases the awareness of BPD in men. This can result in inadequate treatment and continued suffering.
Myth #2: People with BPD do not respond to treatment.
This is false and can be very dangerous for those who believe this. It discourages patients and their families from seeking help! The truth is that with the proper treatments people with BPD can live successful lives, just like everyone else!
Myth #3: Bad Parenting is to blame!
Although parents can be contributors to their offspring’s mental health issues, they are also easily blamed for things that are not their fault at all! While BPD can sometimes be linked to childhood abuse, it is often not the case at all. It used to be that BPD was blamed on bad parenting, but today it is contributed to be a combination of the environmental and genetic factors.
Myth #4: People with BPD are manipulative and only want attention.
This can also be a common misconception related to self-harm and suicidal behavior. Even if these actions were being done to communicate something, the communication is still legit and important. They might want attention, but only because they want someone to see and help! No matter what, these feelings are legitimate and are not done “just for attention.”
What can you do to help a loved one who is diagnosed with BPD?
- Learn all that you can! Research so you fully understand what BPD is and how it affects your loved one.
- Listen to them. Talk to your loved one, but most importantly listen to what they are trying to tell you.
- Do not allow them to isolate themselves. Suggest going out for dinner, coffee or even a movie. Make this a priority in both your life and the patients.
- Live your own life! Your life does not stop because someone you know is struggling. Make sure to carve out time for yourself!
- Join a support group for BPD family members. Meeting with people who also go through these same struggles with help you and in turn, help your loved one.
- Lastly, manage your stress. Getting anxious or upset in response to problem behavior will only increase your loved one’s anger or agitation.
Nichole is a Social Media Marketing Manager and a Non-Profit Movement supporter. She grew up on a farm where she learned what it means to work hard and what is involved in being successful. She is an avid coffee lover who enjoys a good movie or book. She takes great joy in organizing, scheduling, and volunteering. Her passion for volunteerism extends specifically to those who are hurting, whether it is emotionally, physically, or mentally.
Nichole is certified to provide Mental Health First Aid, which means she can provide immediate support and guidance in a safe environment, comfortably have a conversation about mental health related issues and offer professional and other supports. This does NOT make Nichole a psychologist, or a counselor. It simply gives her the tools to direct people to the help they need.