borderline personality disorder · · mental health · mental illness · stigma

BPD & Stigma

I’ve decided to explore the stigma attached to it here and why this is so damaging and often unfair.
Adding to the long list of symptoms that come with BPD is a deep stigma attached to BPD. Not only by the general population but specifically by mental health professionals. I personally work in the mental health field and the amount of negative comments I have heard from people is sickening. I have heard that:
“BPD can’t be diagnosed properly because they’re (those suspected to have it) all liars and attention seekers.”
“Ugh people with PD’s are so fucking difficult.”
“People with personality disorders are usually the ones who end up as criminals; real psychos.”
“I reckon my old boss had BPD, she was so manipulative all the time.”
These are completely unfair and unfounded accusations. Like people with mental illnesses do not have it hard enough, putting these negative labels on them further increases belief that being around us is impossible. Treating those with BPD badly like people often do only furthers our self-destructive behaviour. If you tell me that I must be an attention seeker and liar because of my diagnosis, I will believe you and I will hate myself even more. That is why it is so vital to spread understanding of mental illness; the stigma is so harmful to those with mental illnesses who are already vulnerable.
There is such a strong negative attitude towards those with BPD and is often because it is so difficult to treat. Do you know what will make it more difficult to treat? Making assumptions about the people who are being treated. This is a crass analogy but if someone assumed that a car worked in a certain way because they had been told this, they would then struggle to fix the car if it in fact did not work in this way. Someone who attempts to treat a person with BPD while believing that they must be manipulating you is completely irresponsible.
If you know someone with BPD then you will know that while they experience negative emotions intensely, they experience positive ones like this too. A person with BPD is not always in a state of anger/depression/anxiety and difficult to be around. They can also be fiercely loving, loyal and friendly. Please refrain from judging someone because you are scared that you will be unable to deal with their feelings. That is horribly selfish. You do not have to experience life like this, the least you can do is understand and show some empathy rather than passing judgment based on what you have read/been told.
People with BPD can be manipulative. This does not mean that everyone who is manipulative has BPD or vice versa. Being manipulative is often the only way that borderlines understand that will help them get something they need. It is unfair to think of manipulation in a wholly bad way. Manipulation does not make someone a horrible person.
Further to this, it is widely believed that everyone with BPD is violent. This is due to the knowledge of anger management being a common difficulty with the diagnosis. True, some people with BPD can have violent tendencies. However, it is much more common for someone with BPD to physically hurt themselves rather than others. Again, the strong belief in this from so many people leaves those diagnosed with BPD being feared. This would be detrimental to anyone’s well-being, more so when that person has a mental health issue.
Now comes the worst thing I have heard about Borderline Personality Disorder is something which I get angry just writing about. There are some psychologists out there who felt it would be beneficial to diagnose Hitler with BPD. Getting a mental illness diagnosed is hard enough but finding out that someone who was so beyond evil is suspected to have the same mental illness makes it terrifying. However, diagnosing historical figures is often highly inaccurate so please remember that. To any professionals, please stop adding to the already existing stigma surrounding this condition.
The important thing to remember is that Borderline Personality Disorder can be treated. We are often led to believe that having a mental illness is something that is awful and long lasting and impossible to overcome. This simply is not the case. There are medication options, therapy options such as DBT and mentalisation and lots of other things out there to help. I wish that access to these services was easier because I know how hard it is to live with this. However, it is possible to live with it and have healthy relationships and function despite what people might have told you. You do not and should not feel ashamed if you have BPD. The stigma is based on ignorance and misunderstanding.

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