If you do not know someone or are not someone diagnosed with BPD then you may have little to no understanding of the particulars of this mental health condition.
You may have heard other people describing someone with BPD and wanted to find out the truth. I’m going to try and debunk some of the most common myths that surround this misunderstood illness for you, right now.
The first myth is one that I have had to personally deal with the most often, and is one of the most frustrating.
MYTH: “Everyone gets emotional at times. What you’re going through is normal. I even feel like you describe sometimes.”
FACT: Borderline Personality Disorder is scientifically linked to observable neurological differences in the brain. A diagnosis requires a qualified professional to assess you to see if you meet at least 5 of the 9 possible criteria. While it is true that mentally healthy people experience mood swings, sadness, anger or unstable self-image – individuals diagnosed with BPD experience these to extremes, in constantly shifting and unstable ways. For example, someone with BPD will not feel embarrassment, they will feel deep humiliation.
BPD is an extremely complex disorder that is much more than simply being angry, or sad. Please see my page on ‘WHAT IS BPD?’ for more in-depth information.
MYTH: “People with BPD are just attention-seekers. They all self-harm.”
FACT: Self injury is only one of 9 possible criteria. 5 of 9 are required for a diagnosis of BPD. While it is true that many people with BPD engage in self-harming behaviours, this is often mistaken as a way to get attention, when it is often used as a way to self-soothe or regulate emotions
‘This mistaken perception coincides with another myth: that people with BPD who attempt suicide do not really want to die. In fact, BPD has the highest occurrence of suicide. Statistics show that 10 percent of people with BPD take their own lives.
If you have a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder who is engaging in self-harm or suicidal behaviours, know that this is not a way for them to get your attention. It’s a way for them to deal with the pain they are experiencing, and they will need appropriate BPD treatment to help them find healthier ways to cope.’
MYTH: “People with personality disorders never get better.”
FACT: A number of studies have shown that while there are no outright cures for personality disorders, many symptoms can be effectively managed through combinations of medications, therapy and hard work.
MYTH: “People with BPD were abused as children.”
FACT: About 75% of people with Personality Disorders were physically, emotionally or sexually abused as children. That leaves a huge number – about 1 in 4 – that were not.
MYTH: “People with BPD are monsters.”
FACT: Individuals with BPD are often dismissed as being manipulative, unstable, destructive, attention-seekers. Ouch. While it is true that it can be difficult to maintain a relationship with someone who has BPD, it is important to remember that they are suffering from symptoms that can make it hard for them to communicate their needs healthily and effectively.
Dr. Marsha Linehan (who developed Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) said:
“It is important for others to recognise that people with Borderline Personality Disorder are genuinely suffering. They are in excruciating pain that is almost always discounted by others and attributed to bad motives.”
With the right treatment, however, those with BPD can be given the skills and tools needed to help manage their emotions and regulate their behaviour.
information from ‘out of the fog’ & ‘borderline personality treatment’