Whilst speaking about some illnesses less than others is obviously going to have a negative impact on people in many ways, one of the main reasons why it’s important to be inclusive of all illnesses in our movements is because of misconceptions.
I’ve dealt with so many misconceptions being thrown at me about several different illnesses in my life, including the more ‘common’ ones like depression and anxiety, however I’ve never dealt with more misunderstandings about an illness than Borderline Personality Disorder. I don’t know what it is, but something about the name, or even admitting you have a personality disorder can trigger something in people that just screams “Be afraid of this person!”
So here are 5 misconceptions about BPD that are commonly known amongst the community, but also the ones that I’ve dealt with the most, and why they are wrong.
1. “You won’t be able to live a normal life.”
Firstly, what the hell is a normal life? Secondly, why not? About 2 years ago I couldn’t go in shopping centres or public in general without my headphones in because I was scared I’d overhear a conversation and think they were talking about me. Now, I can go anywhere without my headphones. This is because I’ve learnt and grown in a way that many people who are mentally ‘stable’ cannot. I have a completely different perspective and outlook on life which makes it easier for me to be able to train my brain into different thinking patterns. The only thing that may stop people with BPD having a ‘normal’ life would be the mood dysregulations, for which there are therapies and medications to handle.
2. People with BPD are manipulative/Abusive.
It’s true that SOME people with BPD might well be abusive or manipulative, but that doesn’t mean all of us are. It’s like anything or anyone could be abusive, the disorder doesn’t mean that you are it. I do admit that personally, I did slip into an era of my life where I was extremely manipulative. I do still manipulate people sometimes, mainly to get my way, but it’s completely involuntary. My impulses are what causes me to do it, however when I’m doing it, I don’t know why I’m doing it, I don’t want to be doing it, I just am. That doesn’t mean that every single person with BPD should be written off because of it – if anything, they need help, not stigma.
3. People with BPD can never have stable or healthy interhuman relationships.
This is just… wrong. I don’t even know where to begin to explain how wrong it is. Right now, I’m probably at the peak of my BPD being its worst as I am trying to figure it out for myself without therapy. I also currently have a long term boyfriend, a group of 3 best friends from all over the world, and I run a campaign where I have 20 friends who I get along with perfectly. I’m not speaking for every single person who has BPD, I know that for some it’s going to be harder than others to sustain a relationship with anyone. For me, I didn’t start to know how to do that until I was given a ‘clear’ set of symptoms which made sense and I could relate to, only then was I able to recognise and amend them during my day to day life.
4. People with BPD can’t take care of themselves/always need a caregiver.
Admittedly, I do need a caregiver, but that’s mainly because right now I am still in the early stages of recovery and if I were to deny a caregivers help then I would essentially be sabotaging myself. That doesn’t mean that I will never be able to live without someone to take care of me, as it’s very unlikely that I will always have someone there. The reason that people with BPD have caregivers is to make sure that all of the different aspects of the illness aren’t affecting your day to day life in a way that will ruin it completely – meaning, if you learn how to control your symptoms yourself to a high standard, why do you need a caregiver?
5. BPD is untreatable.
I’ve known of a few patients who got diagnosed with BPD and immediately thought “I’m never going to get treatment for this”. My view on the treatment methods for BPD are skewed as I’ve had bad experiences with them, however that doesn’t mean that it won’t be easier or less effective for others. There’s DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), there’s Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) which helps to rewire the brain by letting you relate to your therapist in a new way, there’s also many others like MBT and SFT. There’s also medications like antidepressants, and mood regulators.
In conclusion, the way that people outside of the BPD community view BPD is completely wrong – but also sometimes the people who suffer with it themselves are wrong. There isn’t one person with BPD who will act exactly the same to another in any situation because the disorder is so diverse and many people with it, also experience one or several other disorders which affect the way they deal with BPD.
The main point is to remember that what you’re thinking about BPD may not be true, and to check before you speak.