As a professional in the mental health field who also has borderline personality disorder (BPD), I am frequently faced with the stigma surrounding the disorder, and I’ve seen firsthand how it affects those with BPD, their access to treatment and their self-image.
Borderline personality disorder is one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses, and this has a lot to do with the lack of education mental health professionals receive on the disorder. For example, when I was getting my master’s degree, we only learned about borderline personality disorder for one week out of my entire education, and it was taught alongside several other personality disorders. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder myself that I began to dive deep into researching the disorder so that I could understand it, and myself, further.
But what many people don’t realize is that oftentimes, the actions of those with BPD stem from the pain that comes from feeling such strong emotions. I am often haunted by my past actions because I fear that they were perceived as me being manipulative when in actuality, I was in such a painful emotional state that I didn’t have the ability to think rationally through my actions.
One of the hallmarks of borderline personality disorder is a fear of abandonment, and this, personally, has been a trigger for me for many years. Oftentimes when individuals with BPD feel as though we are being abandoned, we will go to great lengths to try and ensure that we don’t end up feeling alone. These actions are often perceived by others as us being manipulative, but our actions are really a desperate attempt to escape feelings that are so strong that they become physically and mentally torturous.