If you don’t have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) yourself or know someone with a BPD diagnosis, you may have an image in your head of what someone with a mental illness looks like. That image is likely wrong.
The reality is, people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder look just like your sister, your daughter, your brother, your uncle, your spouse, or your friend. And there is no one face of BPD.
In his Personal Effects series, New York-based photographer Lawrence Sumulong attempts to put a face to just some of the many women struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. His images reflect the fact that women of all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds can be diagnosed with BPD.
“I created this series to raise awareness about Borderline Personality Disorder and move beyond simply pathologizing unstable behavior towards a more empathetic, but unromantic approach,” Sumulong said on his website. “These individuals are attempting to return to life, find clarity within themselves, and achieve happiness, which I feel is honest and universal.”
The women photographed in Sumulong’s Personal Effects series all suffer from BPD. They are all in various stages of recovery, but each has admitted at some point to suicidal ideation.
“These are pictures of people who have returned from the brink of self destruction,” Sumulong said. “In the context of this series, to be present for a portrait is a fact of survival and a testament.”
Click here to see the Borderline Personality Disorder portrait series.