Fall in Love with Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a personality disorder that affects the way your brain perceives your relationships with others, and yourself. Characteristics used to diagnose the disorder, including impulsivity, self-harm and intensity of emotions, but within pop-culture we’re seen as unstable and unable to maintain relationships, romantic or platonic. I received my diagnosis of BPD back in June last year, and although it was daunting to begin with, the way in which it has shaped my writing, and education around mental health, has been really beneficial.
So based on my experience, here are the four myths surrounding BPD that simply aren’t true.
We’re All Psychopaths
The representation of those with BPD in the media, is definitely less than favourable. Let’s look at ‘Fatal Attraction’ for example. Alex Forrest, a BPD sufferer, has an affair with Dan Gallagher, and is portrayed as a stalker, and a psychopath when she boils his rabbit.
I’ve screamed at my boyfriend in the middle of the street, but I’ve never boiled his pet - but we all know the media’s obsession with extremities.
A big part of BPD is the intensity of emotions. We feel things x100. So yes, when we’re sad or angry, we’re going to feel that 100x more than a neurotypical, but think of all the great emotions. We love 100x more, we feel happiness 100x. I love my boyfriend more than anything on this earth - he’s my forever. And yes we argue, but we argue like any other couple - once every couple of months. If we do argue, it’s normally a cover up for me feeling worried or insecure, and I’ve acted out. I sit in a room with people every single week who have my diagnosis - we’re not psychotic, we’re just people who find it hard to control emotions, and its effect on how we manage relationships.
BPD Cannot be Cured
The reality is you sit through individual, and group therapy, for 2 ½ hours a week. “Tell us about the bad things that have happened” - and even when you have nothing to add, they implore you to nit-pick at your week for anything slightly wrong.
I understand that I’m there for a reason,I know I have an issue - I second guess how people react. Someone is quiet? They hate me. My boyfriend hasn’t texted me? He’s going to break up with me (he’s normally just at work)
Fun fact: BPD cannot be cured with medication. Yes, there are medications that are used to alleviate the other mental health issues that accompanies BPD, such as anxiety or depression.
It’s a Choice
Immediately when people hear ‘personality disorder’, they automatically assume that it’s something you’re able to control - a shit personality you decided to pick. The reality is, it’s the same as anxiety and depression, it is caused by poor brain chemistry. An overused analogy; but it truly is the same as a broken leg - there’s something not right with your body. I vividly remember the day I received the diagnosis - I expected it, but it still upset me. It’s like when you’ve told yourself you’ve failed an exam, but in your head, you know you’re just escalating the situation, but then you do actually fail it.
I knew about the stigma surrounding BPD . I knew the stigma surrounding personality disorders. For a significant part of my understanding, I equated being a shit person to having a personality disorder - “she’s a bitch, but what do you expect when she has BPD”. Whenever I searched the disorder on the internet, some of the first results included Hitler, and his infamous BPD - not really the result you’re looking for when you already feel insecure about your diagnosis.
But then I educated myself. I joined online mental health groups, and these affirmed that having BPD doesn’t equate to you being a bad person - those with BPD who are considered bad people, are so because they’re bad people; it’s nothing to do with the illness.
When I found out I had BPD, I was devastated. I thought that would be the end of me and my boyfriend, like it was a death sentence because ‘people with BPD can’t maintain relationships’. The actuality? I was the exact same person as I was before getting the diagnosis, but now I had a name for everything difficult that I had gone through.
“You did stuff that was being irrational, so when it was not something you’re not actively in control of, made it easier to date you” says Laurie (my BF). There were definite difficulties throughout the relationship - BPD is volatile so there were points where I would try and throw myself out of a window one minute, and laughing at my phone the next. So when there’s no diagnosis yet, he saw the behaviours as somewhat deliberate instead of symptoms.
“My biggest mistake was looking at that Reddit Page, BPDLovedOnes” he says, a page meant to help those with BPD that has turned into a bitching page, and a place that perpetuates a lot of the myths surrounding the illness. “Without including those with the illness in the conversation, you’re marginalising a group of people who need help”.
The caveat - the person needs to seek help - they cannot put the responsibility on the significant other because they’re not a professional therapist. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, a show that paved the way for BPD and relationship. When the protagonist, Rebecca, gets diagnosed with BPD, the show focuses on how vital the treatment is. One episode showed Rebecca avoiding therapy because she felt like she no longer needing it, but ended up in a self-inflicted spiral, needing more help than she required before.
So yes, at the start BPD can be incredibly daunting. But now? It’s kind of just there - it’s not prominent in my life, but when things go wrong, or I have a poor mental health day, I know it’s because of that. BPD sufferers are not unloving, needy or bad people - they just feel emotions more . And isn’t it great to know that the person who loves you, feels love for you that’s 100x more than you feel for them?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebekah, although a Business Management student at the University of Glasgow, her love for writing to incite change has resulted in a number of blogs, and a writing internship all the way in LA. Originally for Cornwall, she now lives in Glasgow, with her parents and dog, Scout, and has one year left of university before she goes into the big, bad world.
Keep up with Rebekah here