Borderline Personality Disorder is a highly stigmatised diagnosis.
Not only does it provoke stigma among the general public and in the movies, but some people have also experienced it to some degree from the professionals supporting them.
The stigma more than likely comes from the latter two words – ‘personality disorder’. And let’s be honest, it’s had some interesting treatment in the movies.
Fatal Attraction’s infamous ‘bunny boiler’ portrayed by Glenn Close for starters.
And Single White Female went down a similar path with a puppy-killing, boyfriend-murdering Hedra, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.
So I am challenging this ridiculous stereotype by interviewing three talented people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Jodie Goodacre – dedicated mental health campaigner BPD in Jodie’s words: ‘It’s like being a human yo-yo.’
Jodie is a tireless mental health campaigner, university student, tutor and friend. And she makes a huge difference to others experiencing mental illness.
In October last year, Jodie was invited to visit Buckingham Palace in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry for World Mental Health Day.
She was invited due to her tireless work with Time to Change in challenging mental health stigma.
Put simply, Jodie Goodacre is a passionate and driven advocate for mental health who regularly speaks at schools and events despite the challenges she faces sometimes thanks to the debilitating depressive episodes that she experiences.
odie says: ‘I think people with BPD can often be stereotyped as ‘manipulative’ and ‘non-compassionate’, but if anything, I feel personally that experiencing mental illness has actually developed my personality into a much more thoughtful and compassionate woman.
‘BPD can lead to you feeling intense emotions, which can be debilitating but this can be positive too.
‘When I feel pride or gratitude for someone, I feel it fully.’
She adds: ‘But I’ve been told that I am lazy, on days that I simply cannot get out of bed. ‘I’ve been told that I’m a bad friend for cancelling plans because the weight of depression felt too strong.
‘Each time you receive a stigmatising comment it’s another barrier to reaching out.
‘We need to remove those barriers. We need to educate. We need to end stigma.’
Chris Young – published author and long-distance hiker3
BPD in Chris’ words – ‘Overwhelming emotions like galloping horses, dissociation and suicidal ideation that makes you feel as if you’re trapped in a hostage situation.’
Chris is a published author, public speaker, campaigner, West Bromwich Albion fan and, most importantly, a loving husband to Ella.
His awareness campaign, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, saw him trek around the UK to raise awareness about mental illness and through this journey he met so many people who supported him through accommodation, refreshments and simply just being there for him.
He says: ‘I was devastated when I received the diagnosis of BPD in 2007. ‘I had a degree in psychology from 1989 – and the last thing I remember our clinical psychology lecturer telling us about BPD was that it was the ‘Dustbin Diagnosis’ – what they gave people when they were all out of ideas.
‘I’d also been a social worker for 17 years – and I’d heard all the stigmatising language around the diagnosis – that folk with BPD were manipulative and attention-seeking.’
Chris has written about his experiences of living with BPD in a book called Walk A Mile – Tales Of A Wandering Loon. Reading about his experiences you can see how trauma has impacted his illness and also how complex and devastating it can be. But you also see a funny, warm personality shining through.
His illness doesn’t define him, it just sometimes stops him from doing the things he wants to do. It’s traumatic for him. He says: ‘I don’t think I can say this loudly enough – BPD is sh*t.
‘But if you twisted my arm, I’d concede that there is, perhaps, one BPD superpower. I believe I have a heightened sense of empathy which may come from the heightened feelings BPD inspires.
‘The problem for me is that I used this to try and become whatever I believed others needed me to be. At times I became a chameleon – something that suited no one. ‘Group psychotherapy helped hugely with that but I feel at times I still have to wrestle with that somewhat slippery view of self that I can have.’
Esther Beadle – popular health PR pro, blogger and journalist
BPD in Esther’s words: ‘It’s like being in a really unpredictable bath. One moment it’s a bit tepid, then deep and boiling and then really cold and freezing.’
Esther is a driven and passionate journalist and her voice should be heard. In fact, she says the news environment is well suited to someone whose moods can swing dramatically.
She says: ‘Because I’m an all or nothing person and because of my issues around identity, it means I can really throw myself into work. ‘At times I can become a bit manically absorbed by it. That can really help in a newsroom – to a degree until it becomes all-consuming.
‘Also, my short attention span and quick swinging moods slot in nicely to anything fast-paced. ‘You get used to adapting quickly, and you also get used to shoving difficult feelings to one side. Useful if you’re dealing with something distressing.’