To receive the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder you need 5 out of the following 9 symptoms for a prolonged period of time:
- Fear of abandonment
- Unstable relationships
- Unstable self image
- Impulsive self destructive behaviours
- Self Harm
- Extreme emotional mood swings
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Explosive anger
- Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality
This means there are 256 different combinations of criteria to be successfully given this diagnosis. With so many variations it is understandable that this condition can present itself in many different ways differing between person to person. Although this is true you will still be able to fit yourself into the two separate categories of BPD or Quiet BPD.
This is the “classical” version of Borderline Personality Disorder and is the one that is most commonly used when portrayed in the media. If you have this type of BPD your behaviours will be focused outward. It is often misconceived that those who suffer with BPD are violent, obsessive, manipulative and controlling. In my professional experience however these behaviours have rarely been pre-meditated acts and are more commonly used as an instant reaction to emotional suffering. In this type of BPD your loved ones will be fully aware of challenging behaviours that you present.
Quiet BPD has exactly the same symptoms as ‘Classical’ BPD, yet the behaviours are instead directed inwards. If you suffer with this, you will have exactly the same emotions, self harm episodes and suicidal thoughts. The key difference being these emotions and behaviors will be covert and hidden from those around you. When low mood strikes you might prefer to physically remove yourself or emotionally push your loved ones away. You might regularly find yourself after these behaviours having to make up excuses to explain them. If you suffer with Quiet BPD you might not believe that you actually do have it. The reason for this is the behaviours in quiet BPD are often seen as being more socially acceptable which does not match the typical BPD stereotype.
BPD can be likened to someone suffering a third degree burn, the area becoming highly sensitive to the slightest fluctuations around it. In my experience, Clients with BPD have proven to be deeply loving, caring, creative and intelligent.
BPD is one of the most stigmatized and difficult mental health condition to diagnose. This is largely due to its negative representation in the media. This can make people who are suffering fearful in speaking out or sharing their experiences. Conditions such as Bipolar Disorder have in recent years come to the forefront of the publics attention with celebrities breaking the silence and sharing their personal experiences of it. This public campaign has significantly reduced the stigma surrounding it. By us, continuing to write and talk about BPD, we too, might see in the not too distant future, BPD becoming much more widely recognized and accurately represented. With a movement to educate to mass public, those who are trapped by this condition will be supported to safely find their voices which I believe is absolutely crucial in finding recovery.