There’s no doubt about it. Being diagnosed with BPD causes distress but more importantly it causes confusion. Why is it called Borderline – Borderline beteween what and what? Is it true that psychiatrists are reluctant to treat BPDs? Is a Borderline a bad person? And the questions go on and on.
1) BPD is a package deal – it rarely stands alone.
Most patients diagnosed with BPD have other co-existing disorders as well. Some of these are Bipolar disorder, Depression, Eating disorders and Substance Abuse, among others. So, often a BPD has to deal with more than just BPD. To make it worse, because of these co-existing disorders, it is possible for BPD to remain undiagnosed while another disorder is treated. This can delay successful treatment and allow an exacerbation of the symptoms of BPD. That’s one of the major reasons we need to know more about Borderline Personality Disorder.
2) BPD is majorly stigmatised – mental illness in India.
In India, mental illness in any form is stigmatized. People consider mental illness to be madness – ‘pagal hai’; ‘psycho hai’; ‘mental hai’. Not only the general population that is aware of BPD, but also clinicians and psychiatric professionals are reluctant at wanting to deal with BPD. It is difficult to diagnose but even more difficult to treat. The BPD has traits that affect everyone around them and often they resist treatment and refuse to accept their diagnosis. They may say or do things that are hurtful to others. So everyone wants to stay well away from a person with BPD. Why is this so? Well, for one, if mental illness exists in someone, the whole family is looked at with suspicion. In addition, there is a lot of pejorative information out there on the internet that makes a person with BPD seem to be the devil himself. In addition to that the causes for BPD are not totally unambiguous and this leads to suspicion and mistrust about why BPD occurs and who’s to ‘blame’.
3) A person with BPD is basically a ‘Bad’ person.
When I got diagnosed, I did an internet search to find out what I was dealing with. I was downright frightened with the information I got. I was terrified of how the world perceived me. BPDs are impulsive people with intense anger and rage. They cannot maintain peaceful relationships. They can get violent for petty reasons. They are promiscuous – have multiple sex partners. Well, all of this surely means I am a ‘Bad’ person! Unfortunately, when people who come to know we have BPD start their internet searches, they get a lot of very negative information that is largely misunderstood. An impulsive person with anger issues need not mean they are ‘bad’. It means they need help; treatment; like a person with any other disorder. We do not choose to have BPD or any other illness and there are many reasons for why a person gets diagnosed with BPD. We need to accept it as a treatable illness and not as a curse.
4) The Causes of BPD
There is no 100% clear reason for why a person is diagnosed with BPD. These causes/reasons are misunderstood by people and what is misunderstood or not clearly understood causes suspicion. BPD can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can also be caused by childhood trauma or circumstantial situations like sexual/other physical and mental abuse. These reasons in themselves sound crazy. So no wonder BPD is misunderstood and stigmatized.
Conclusion: BPD is a mental disorder and needs to be treated. Like any physical disease that gets treated BPD too can be treated through psychotherapy and medication. It is not something to be feared – rather something to be understood.