Posted Monday 8 August 2011
Guest post from Daniel about chanelling his experience of BPD through photographyBorderline Personality Disorder – for those who are unaware – is a mental health condition thought to affect approximately 2 per cent of the population. Its primary feature of emotion dysregulation can have drastic effects on the lives of its sufferers and can lead to long-term misery without a diagnosis.
In my case it took almost a decade for me to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a label that I am still ambivalent about accepting. Whilst at times I may identify with the diagnosis criteria, at other times I am ashamed of the characteristics of BPD and the portrayal of the condition within the media.
Between ages fourteen to nineteen I had bounced from various mental health professionals all under the blanket diagnosis of depression. Whilst I exhibited some of the symptoms of depression, I remember feeling confused, alone, and hopeless that someone would never find something that closely described how I felt and explained why I acted the way I did.
At eighteen I discovered my love for photography. I had never been much of an artist and had originally intended to become a writer. Instead I found myself enrolling for a photography degree, unaware of my future but knowing that this is what I wanted to do, all day every day. Whilst many of my coursemates took their photography very seriously from a commercial aspect, I became absorbed in my photography in a different way.
As a quiet and somewhat insular teenager I had always kept my thoughts and feelings to myself, preferring to internalise everything than to let my emotions out. This changed when I picked up my camera.
Taking photographs for me had become my own form of art therapy, although at the time I had no idea just how important this would become. In some ways, photography really did save my life.
Whilst I wouldn’t want to wish BPD upon anybody, I can definitely thank BPD for helping me to create some of the photographs I'm most proud of. The ups and downs of BPD have continuously enabled me to channel the feelings I would normally hide into something else. Photography has also helped me feel that I have been able to achieve something as a result of having a mental disorder.
The importance of art in my life has time and time again changed my outlook on how to deal, manage and cope with BPD. Art has taught me that there are no limits to what you can create from emotion and that, at times, it can be greatly appreciated by not just yourself but others too.
I was diagnosed with BPD at 23. When that label was finally placed on me I knew that I needed to interpret this with and into images. It took three years of dealing with the condition and the beginning of my successful therapy course (DBT) to lead me to creating my type B project (Warning: some images on this website may be triggering for some people), a visual interpretation of the diagnostic criteria for BPD. A series of powerful and striking images that I’m sure many BPD sufferers can identify with.
A selection of Daniel's photos are below; click on the image to view a larger verion.
View all of the photographs in the series and find out more about Daniel's photography project around BPD, type B, and his other work at danielregan.com (Trigger warning: Some images on this website may be triggering for some people.)
Commenting is now closed.