Friday, 10 January 2014

12 Days of Mental Health : Day 10 - Borderline Personality Disorder

So you haven't had 12 consecutive days of mental health, and I'm mega sorry about that. Unfortunately, I've been experiencing some difficulties with my own mental health and found it difficult to focus, especially as I try and put a lot of research into each post. Hopefully you'll still enjoy the last couple of posts, especially as you've waited so patiently! :-)

Today's piece has a little different approach. Mel is a lovely lady who I am so happy could be a part of my blog. Whilst she has not had an official diagnosis of a personality disorder, she has in the past had concerns over her emotional regulation and wanted to share her experiences through the wonderful work of poetry. 

So here we go - Borderline Personality Disorder.

Please note this post may be triggering for some, and it is vital to look after yourself first.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), previously named emotionally unstable personality disorder, is normally diagnosed in adulthood, with symptoms having been present for, in some people, years previous. 

Individuals with BPD tend to have difficulties making and maintaining close relationships, and may fear abandonment. Self-image also tends to be an issue for those with BPD, and it is not uncommon for them to feel good about themselves one moment and incredibly bad about themselves the next. You can read more about the symptoms of BPD further down. 

The "formal" criteria, the DSM IV considers BPD as "A person who suffers from borderline personality disorder has labile interpersonal relationships characterised by instability.” Other diagnosis' such as OCD, depression, Bipolar, eating disorders and anxiety disorders can often co-exist alongside BPD.

According to the NHS Choices website, BPD tends to be more common in women than in men. The causes for BPD vary - some suggest it is genetic whilst others believe it is environmental factors, including childhood experiences and trauma. 

There have also been more recent studies which tend to suggest that some people with BPD may have less severe symptoms as time goes on, and the majority of people live reasonably "normal" lives where they are able to function day-to-day without too much interference from symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of BPD?

Personality disorders can vary from mild to severe, and so individuals with BPD may experience only some of these symptoms, for example. In the first instance, always speak to a GP or other healthcare professional first.
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Poor self-image
  • A "series" of unstable and intense relationships
  • A fear of abandonement
  • An overwhelming feeling of emptiness and worthlessness
  • Difficulty in regulating emotions (you may have intensive periods of anger or sadness, for example)
  • Self-harming and suicidal thoughts
  • Disassociation (feeling numb or not "real")
  • Experience delusions or hallucinations 
Remember, if you or someone you know is at risk of harm, always call 999 in a medical emergency or 101 if it's not an emergency but you still need medical advice fast. 

What treatments are available? 

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be given a CPA (care programme approach) with your community mental health team. This will involve you being appointed a  care-coordinator, that together with the rest of your CMHT will provide you with a care plan along with ongoing assessments and reviews, along with a plan in place for if you should ever experience a crisis.

Many people with BPD find that some form of psychotherapy is extremely useful in terms of treatment, along with more alternative and/or complimentary therapies such as art therapy, group work, or reflexology.

Medication may also be suggested to help you manage with particularly difficult thoughts and feelings.

Mel's Poem


If you could bottle up my emotions,
Surely they would have “toxic” written on the label?
"Please leave sealed, secured, unopened
To prevent the spread of something fatal”

For these emotions running through my system,
They are what make a pin prick feel like a stab wound
And persuade my mind to flirt with irrationality behind the back of wisdom,
So that to my ears, life’s melody is an incompatible tune

The emotions play tricks, they tease and they unfairly promise,
That his compliments represent a proposal
And they offer me no warmth or solace
When rejection comes from hearts so noble 

The emotions make me believe that candlelight is arson
So that I jump in headfirst
And with my suspicions duly triggered and sharpened
I am prepped with paranoia to think the worst.

They sometimes settle, but when so easily triggered
The emotions seem to survive on uncertainty
Cluttering, eroding, burning a body littered
Ready to declare the next heartbreak emergency

When the tear fights to halt its journey
The one called “self-pity” steps in and convinces…
…it to keep running into the wilderness of feelings drab and dirty
And darkness descends like the arrival of a thousand winters

But then the manic ones flow in with a manner sudden
Just like something unpredictable
And with inhibitions lost, free, unbuttoned
My face becomes a happy sunbeam, almost literal

This is the ritual, the rigmarole 
The everyday of internal chaos, confused and boisterous 
Sweet thoughts to clear them out, and turn them void and null

For I fear that these emotions are simply poisonous

Further Information

NHS Choices: Borderline personality disorder
Mind: Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
BPD World
BPD Central: For those living with or caring for someone with BPD

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