Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) include impulsivity, fear of abandonment, stormy relationships, intense and highly changeable moods, self-harming and suicidal behaviors, distorted self-image, and paranoid thoughts.
These symptoms can make everyday living incredibly difficult, exacerbated by the fact that Borderline Personality Disorder carries stigmas and myths that leave those diagnosed with BPD feeling alone and misunderstood.
Awareness of BPD is growing through increased studies and organizations such as the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA.BPD), but some myths about the disorder still linger. During this month’s National BPD Awareness Month, learn some of the common myths about Borderline Personality Disorder and the truth behind them:
1. People with BPD are intolerable
People with Borderline Personality Disorder are often dismissed as being destructive, unpredictable, manipulative — basically just too hard to be around. While it may be difficult to maintain relationships with people who have BPD, keep in mind that they are suffering from symptoms that may make it hard for them to get their needs across.
“It is important for others to recognize that people with Borderline Personality Disorder are genuinely suffering,” said Dr. Marsha Linehan, the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), in a New York Times article. “They are in excruciating pain that is almost always discounted by others and attributed to bad motives.”
With BPD treatment, however, those with BPD can be given the tools needed to better manage their emotions and regulate their behavior. Family members and loved ones can also participate in support groups and classes that help them learn to better communicate with someone who has BPD.
2. Only women have BPD
While about 70 percent of people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder are women, men are also affected by BPD. Some experts believe that BPD is underdiagnosed in men because women are more likely to seek professional help for their symptoms.
But men may be just as likely to experience the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, even if they may not be as open to talking about it. One prominent male diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder is NFL receiver Brandon Marshall, who announced his diagnosis in June 2011.
“I’ll be the face of BPD,” Marshall told the Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’ll make myself vulnerable if it will help save someone’s life.”
3. People with BPD are just attention seekers
Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder engage in self-harming behaviors, such as cutting. Often, this is mistaken as a way to get attention when, in fact, it is often used as a way to self-soothe and regulate emotions. Many who cut will do so in places that can be easily hidden, on the upper thighs, or on arms where the cuts can be covered with sleeves.
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 behaviors, 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.
4. Borderline Personality Disorder is rare
Borderline Personality Disorder is more prevalent than is commonly known. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), BPD afflicts up to 2 percent of the general population. Borderline Personality Disorder is in fact more common than schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder combined.
5. Borderline Personality Disorder is untreatable
This is perhaps the most dangerous myth, as it destroys hope and motivation to seek treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. Seeking help at a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center is the first step to recovery from BPD’s paralyzing symptoms. A treatment center will offer several options and be able to design a program that fits into your life and works for you.
You can find more facts about Borderline Personality Disorder here.
What other myths about Borderline Personality Disorder have you encountered? Share them in the comments below.