What is having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) really like?
I know my own experience and I talk about it a lot, but as we know, BPD is a diverse diagnosis.
Today, I’m starting a series of interviews with people who are diagnosed with BPD, beginning with Hannah.
Firstly, will you introduce yourself?
My name is Hannah, I am 20 years old, almost 21. I am not working right now but I have been accepted for a job as a senior health care assistant. I am diagnosed with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder.
Talk us through your experience with getting your diagnosis. How did you feel about it? Was it difficult to get an official diagnosis? Have you been treated differently by professionals or family/friends since your diagnosis? Does it change how you see yourself?
Getting a diagnosis of BPD proved difficult for me because no one really wanted to diagnose me so young, which made sense but they had been making gestures about a diagnosis since I was 18 as I related to all the symptoms. I was diagnosed this year at the age of 20 with it officially but it has affected me since I was at least 13. I don’t feel I’ve been treated any differently for my diagnosis although they do tend to brush upon my diagnosis if I bring it up in an appointment, apart from that I’m getting the average care I’d expect. I don’t see myself any differently with a diagnosis of BPD, in fact, it makes me feel less alone to know others have the same struggles as me.
Have you undertaken any therapy? If yes, which? And what was helpful/unhelpful about it? Have you learnt any new skills to help you manage your mental health? If you’ve not done any therapy, was that by your choice? Is there a therapy you’d like to try? Why?
I have undertaken CBT in the past in both stress and anger management and also low mood CBT. Although it’s given me some skills, I’m not sure it has been useful to me in any way. I am waiting to start MBT (Mentalization-based therapy).
It has been suggested that medication is not really effective at treating BPD. What is your experience?
I believe medication is beneficial. I’ve tried without medication before for 8 months and it was living hell. I’m now back on medication and a lot more stable than I had been without medication.
How does BPD affect your day-to-day life?
My mood can randomly drop at any time and it can also go up and become euphoric. It is hard to keep up with my moods and I find I don’t really have a middle ground. I also dissociate a lot on a daily basis which is something I find difficult to deal with. It also affects relationships around me as I can appear quite irritable/snappy with people.
What helps you get through the bad times?
I’m still learning what helps me get through the bad times. I know that having company helps me a lot, but sometimes that’s not as easy as it sounds. Normally I need it from certain people otherwise it’s not that beneficial for me. I like to do mindfulness and light candles and have a bubble bath. I also like to practice grounding techniques when I’m feeling anxious or dissociative.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with the same mental illness as you?
I would make sure you reach out for professional help and make sure you have someone you can reach out to when you’re having a bad day. Ignore the stigma behind BPD as it is still very stigmatised. Make sure you have a plan when you feel a crisis is approaching and make sure you fill your room with positive vibes. Remember you aren’t alone and you are so strong – you’ve made it this far so keep going even when tunnel vision takes over.
Do you have experience with BPD? Maybe yourself, or a loved one? Let me know about your experiences in the comments.