What IS Borderline Personality?


What are we doing here?

We're educating ourselves and our community about stigmatized Mental Health traits and symptoms, specifically (but not limited to) Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder (EDD).

Why have I chosen to talk about BPD?

Because although our whole world is talking about Mental Illness, and ending stigma against it -- Borderline goes misunderstood, misdiagnosed, or completely ignored by the Health Care System and community altogether.

Nearly every person I speak to about this topic has the same question, and I think it is time we speak out and advocate for those who are unheard, and unseen.

What IS Borderline Personality Disorder?

BPD is one of ten Personality Disorders in the DSM-5, and it is marked by a consistent pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, and impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in vast areas of your life.

The DSM-5, states that to meet the Diagnostic Criteria of BPD, you must display life disturbances in five (or more) of the following areas:

1.) Fear of Abandonment;

Makes frantic efforts to avoid real or precieved abandonment.

Reality - Significant other suddenly doesn't answer, and they're late coming home, they just forgot a charger. No biggy, right?

BPD Thought: Something TERRIBLE has happened --and they are never coming home-- and you must prepare for the worst-- and you are about to panic yourself into a heart attack. No biggy, right?

This happens due to the emotional buttons caused by childhood abandonment.

2.) A Pattern of Unstable, or Intense Interpersonal Relationships

When emotional buttons are triggered in BPD patients they experience a phenomenon called Splitting ( I will save that for another time). Splitting causes the patient to think in a paradoxical, black or white way, and their usual thoughts, feelings/emotions are replaced with what seems like the complete opposite from their own. This can be confusing for partners that are unaware of a Borderline Diagnosis/traits because with black and white thinking, comes love/hate/push/pull.

Often times this leads to hurt/confusion and instability. There are many ways to overcome splitting, and I will cover that in another post, but I will say that it is so important to be with a person that is open to understanding and doing research with you.

3.) Unclear/Shifting Self-Image

Love hate relationships with yourself are common. You aren't entirely sure about your haircut, or your shirt looked a little weird this morning. Normal right?

People with BPD often go through periods of loving themselves, and then completely hating every single thing. Many BPD patients suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphia. It is super important to stay on top of a healthy food and sleep schedule with Borderline. I can cover that more in another post.

4.) Impulsivity

In at least two areas that could lead to Self-Harm

- Substance Abuse

- Reckless Driving

- Binge Eating

- Spending Sprees

- Risky Sex

5.) Recurrent Suicidal Behavior, Gestures, Threats

Borderline feels like you are trapped in a burning building. In this burning building there is a window, and when you look out the window, everyone is telling you not to jump. You are faced with the option; get burned alive, or jump.

Most BPD patients don't want to die, they want their pain to stop.

6.) Mood Swings

Intense emotional episodes, irritability, anxiety usually lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. These can feel sudden and almost unprovoked.

7.) Chronic Feelings of Emptiness.

This feels like your heart, lungs, and everything in between as been gutted out, and you're left with this feeling of emptiness and hollow breaths. Finding hope, and positivity in these periods is often difficult.

8.) Inappropriate/Intense Anger

BPD Rage is a complex topic, so I will cover it more in another post. Anger is a very intense emotion, right? Now imagine the anger, with no automatic emotional regulation or control. When a Borderline feels anger, it feels like fire, slowly making it's way up to your throat until you explode like a fire breathing dragon. I promise I have better analogies.

9.) Stress-related Paranoia/ Dissociative Symptoms

Stress causing our brains to think on over-drive. With BPD, stress causes the Amygdala (covered in a previous post) to kick into fight or flight, and have high reactivity/ suspicious feelings towards situations involving the intentions of yourself or others.

Now that we've covered WHAT BPD is, we can talk a little bit about WHY BPD happens, and HOW we can learn to manage Symptoms/Traits of Borderline.

Borderline Personality Disorder is said to have a population prevalence as high as 5.9%, predominantly in females (75%)

BPD is five times more common in first-degree relatives however, BPD is often triggered by early childhood trauma, such as neglect by parents, being exposed to long-term distress as a child, or early emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. When a child is abused before the age of full brain development, their brain can no longer comprehend the good and bad side of their abuser, so they don't. Ever again, until treated of course. They form this black and white world, where nothing good and bad can coexist under stress.

To learn more about the incredibly interesting differences between a BPD Brain and Non-BPD Brain, keep posted with my blog, and like/share to spread awareness/end stigma in our community!

Love, Paige Emilee,

your Mental Health guru.

I am not a licensed professional, the advice and information I have is strictly my own experience and research. If you feel you are experiencing symptoms/traits of BPD, please consult your family physician to get a referral for an official diagnosis. If you are in immediate crisis please call 911 or nearest your support system.****


American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5 2013

Marsha M. Linehan Dialectal Behavior Therapy Skills Training Handouts And Worksheets, 2nd Edition: DBT 2014

Photo from; The Mighty.com

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