A MIRAGE ILLNESS: Borderline Personality disorder; Meaning, signs, treatment

To gain a little insight on the disorder, I’d begin this article with a quote I found that sums up having Borderline Personality Disorder in the best way.

It’s a Mirage illness. You feel like someone with no fingerprints. You constantly move between things, people and passion. Onlookers can be tricked into seeing you as bold or transformative. In reality you have no sense of self. Its like you are snake shedding infinite skin”

Borderline personality disorder, sometimes also referred to as unstable personality disorder is a mental illness which affects your relationship with yourself and others around you. People with this disorder often have rocky relationships both platonic and romantic.

Borderline personality disorder is marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image and behavior. People suffering from this disorder have intense episodes of anger, anxiety, depression and irritability. Imagine a bright light shining in your eyes, that is how people feel their emotions.

9 Important Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD manifests in different ways but for the purpose of diagnosis mental health professionals have divided the symptoms into 9 categories. These symptoms must be long standing and they affect various areas of a person’s life

1) Fear of abandonment: This is one of the biggest parts of having Borderline personality disorder. This may manifest into relationships, even when everything is going well. It can make people do anything to keep people close, which sometimes appears as clingy. It is a pervasive fear that everyone you care about is going to leave. It often stems from a lack of self-esteem, the feeling that you aren’t good enough for a person. To another person this feels like an irrational thought but it is very real for people who are suffering with the disorder

2) Unclear self-image: People with this disorder have an unstable sense of self. On somedays they think they are good while on other days they perceive themselves as completely the opposite, bad good for nothing evil human.

3) Unstable relationships: Relationships are often whirlwind and intense. People with BPD hope that new people can help them feel whole and complete, therefore they have intense feelings pretty early on in a relationship. Most of these relationships however are short lived and add to their already negative self-image.

4) Extreme emotions: People feel emotions very intensely. They are often oscillating between extremes of emotions. They can go from feeling happy to low within a snap of a finger. They often have bursts of anger and appear irritable. It is hard to control and is often exhausting for them and the people around them. The smallest of things that will be brushed of by people can cause them to have an intense reaction to it.

It is important here to note that these emotional reactions aren’t the same as in bipolar disorder.

5) Tendency to self-harm: Suicidal ideation and the tendency to self-harm are common in people with BPD. Cutting oneself is very common.

6) Impulsive, self-destructive behaviours: Being impulsive and participating in things that are often harmful to oneself is quite common in this disorder. These behaviours include unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating drinking too much or overuse of drugs.

Please note that if these behaviours are happening in elevated state of mood and high energy then they maybe a symptom of a mood disorder not a personality disorder.

7) Explosive anger: People with this disorder are often short tempered. It is often difficult to control these fits of anger and they end up yelling, throwing things and being completely consumed by the rage that they feel. The anger may not always be directed outwards, they might spend time being angry at their own selves.

8) Feelings of emptiness: People with the disorder often feel empty, like there is a void inside of them. This thought process is also displayed in their unstable relationships because they are convinced that another person can fill this void. They feel as if they are nothing and very alone.

9) Out of touch with reality: BPD is accompanied by paranoia and suspicious thoughts. They are often suspicious of the intentions of others.

They also may feel foggy and disassociate when under stress. They feel spaced out as if they are out of their own body.


Treatability of borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder cannot be treated using medication. There is no effective medication to treat the disorder itself but, medications can be used to trat any co-morbid disorders. In some cases, hospitalization maybe required, especially for people who are on suicide watch

The most effective form of treatment is therapy. These include:

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): This therapy was designed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. It uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance. It can tach control over emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors and help improve relationships.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy helps people change their core beliefs and inaccurate perception of others. It can reduce suicidal and self-harming behavior.

Schema focused therapy: This can be done individually or in a group. It can help identify the unmet needs that underlie negative life patterns that are severely harmful.

Borderline personality disorder is often confused with bipolar disorder. There also exists a significant lack of awareness regarding the disorder, which makes it seem difficult to get the required help. Add to that the negative connotations attached to the disorder, sprinkling more stigma. People associate shame to the disorder, often telling themselves that they are just oversensitive. Hence forth I called it a mirage illness.

But there is always hope, working on finding the right therapy and treatment really works wonders. Although it takes time and there are many difficult days, it’s all worth it.


What do you think?

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Written by Anmol Sidhu

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