I have mental illnesses that are stigmatized in today’s society. Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar type II. I am not afraid to share my diagnosis’ with people because I believe they need awareness. One of the many problems that contribute to the mental health stigma is the lack of understanding or willingness to understand. This applies to all mental illnesses. If we want to take a step in the right direction, there need to be resources that provide society with insight into mental health. Not only to understand mental illness but to understand your mental health to achieve your highest self. Your mental health is just as important as everyone else’s.
What is BPD?
BPD is short for Borderline Personality Disorder. It is characterized by difficulties regulating emotions. It’s a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, a pattern of unstable relationships, a fear of abandonment, frequent mood swings, and inappropriate outbursts. All of which are difficult to manage day-to-day. Even though these symptoms have been identified, it still stands as the most misunderstood disorder in the field.
The causes of Borderline Personality Disorder are tied to environmental factors that may increase the likelihood of BPD. If you have a family member that struggles with BPD or your someone who has had a stressful childhood because of trauma or neglect, you are more likely to develop BPD at some point in your life.
Mental health stigma around BPD lies in the field as well as in society. Mental health professionals may choose to limit or decline those with BPD as patients. Even those who can see a professional, may not be adequately trained to help treat BPD which could hurt their treatment. This includes not feeling heard or understood, even valued. They reinforce misconceptions by labeling BPD patients as treatment-resistant. Because of this, professionals are quick to gloss over them to the next patient in-line. This intensifies BPD symptomology and could lead to more harm in doing so.
BPD vs BD
I struggle with both Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, type II. To clarify, Bipolar I and Bipolar II are not the same. But one thing stands the same, moods cycle high and low over time. Type II’s typically don’t reach the extreme mania that usually happens in type I’s. They reach hypomania which lies underneath full-blown mania. Hypomania is characterized by euphoria – feeling “high”- or irritability. I experience both. But, what dominates the mood cycles are the depressive episodes referred to as manic depression. This is characterized by depressive moods and tendencies.
Common symptoms you see in Bipolar type II’s are…
- Flying suddenly from one idea to the next
- Having exaggerated self-confidence
- Rapid, “pressured” (uninterruptible), and loud speech
- Increased energy, with hyperactivity and a decreased need for sleep
Even with these symptoms and the variation of moods, we can still lead a fairly normal life. I am a full-time student and a part-time mother. No one would know I had both Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar II. It just shows a normal life is possible even with having mental illnesses. Our symptoms don’t define us, nor do our diagnoses. If information like this was provided with first-person accounts, the understanding of mental illness would flourish and there would hopefully be an effort to combat the stigma that exists in our society today. It’s just a matter of time as mental illness rates climb.