Borderline personality disorder

Explains borderline personality disorder (BPD), including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

A disordered personality?

Debbie talks about her experience of borderline personality disorder.

Posted on 30/07/2014

Borderline Personality Disorder: receiving a diagnosis

Lucy blogs for us about her experience of receiving a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Posted on 12/09/2014

Having a BPD diagnosis - my reality

Rebecca's account of being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Posted on 21/11/2014

What's it like to live with BPD?

Your experience of living with BPD will be unique to you, but this page describes some common experiences that you might recognise:

There are positive sides too; I believe that I experience pleasant emotions more strongly than others, and my friends value my sincerity.

Difficult feelings and behaviour towards yourself

How you might think or feel: How you might behave as a result:
  • lonely
  • overwhelmed by the strength of your emotions and how quickly they change
  • that there is something inherently wrong with you, and that it’s your fault if bad things happen to you because you deserve them
  • that you don't know what you want from life, or what you like or dislike
  • that you’re a bad person, or not a real person at all
  • like you are a child in an adult world
  • frequently changing jobs, hobbies, goals, ambitions or studies
  • self-harming or attempting suicide
  • significantly overspending or binge eating, to the point where it is harmful to you
  • quitting just before achieving something, or avoiding activities where you think you might fail or be disappointed
  • keeping very busy so you're never alone
My experience is that I have to keep my emotions inside, because I get told I am overreacting [...] So I end up feeling like I'm trapped inside my body screaming while no one can hear me.

Difficult feelings and behaviour towards others

How you might think or feel: How you might behave as a result:
  • that friends or partners will leave you forever if they are angry or upset with you
  • like no one understands you, or you’re not like other people and will never be able to understand them
  • that some people are completely perfect and could never do bad things or hurt you, whereas others are completely terrible and could never do anything good or kind, and there's no middle ground (this is sometimes called splitting, or black-or-white thinking)
  • like the world is a scary and dangerous place, and you want to run away and hide
  • lashing out when you’re angry with people
  • struggling to trust people
  • wanting to be close to people but worrying they will leave or start to believe you're a bad person, and so avoiding people
  • ending relationships with friends or partners because you think they might leave you

See our page on self-care for BPD for some ideas on how to cope with difficult feelings.

[BPD] feels like there is something missing from inside me and no one understands when I try to explain how I feel.

Alcohol and substance misuse

If you have BPD you might be more likely than most people to misuse drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with the difficult emotions you experience. You can find out more information and what support may be available in our pages about the mental health effects of street drugs. You can also access confidential advice about drugs and alcohol on the FRANK website.

Other mental health problems

Co-morbidity (having more than one diagnosis at the same time) with BPD is common, but it can sometimes make BPD difficult to diagnose. For example, if you experience BPD, you might be more likely than most people to have other mental health problems as well, such as anxiety, depression and eating problems.

Getting several different diagnoses can be a good thing if it leads you to find the treatment and support that suits you best. However, if you're finding it hard to find the right treatment, you might sometimes feel that not all the diagnoses you've been given are helpful to you. (See our page on misdiagnosis for more information.)

[It] took a long time to get my BPD/EUPD diagnosis because of co-morbid disorders, but I'm at a happy place now in life thanks to a variety of factors.

Experiences of facing stigma

Because BPD is a complex diagnosis that not everyone understands well, you might find some people have a negative image of it, or hold misconceptions of you. This can be very upsetting and overwhelming, especially if someone who feels this way is a friend, colleague, family member or a health care professional.

But it's important to remember that you aren't alone, and you don't have to put up with people treating you badly. Here are some options for you to think about:

  • Show people this information to help them understand more about what your diagnosis really means.
  • Get more involved in your treatment. Our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem provide guidance on having your say in your treatment, making your voice heard, and steps you can take if you're not happy with your care.
  • Know your rights. Our pages on legal rights provide more information.
  • Take action with Mind. See our campaigning page for details of the different ways you can get involved with helping us challenge stigma.
The stigma of being violent and dangerous is the worst for me. [I am a] caring and empathetic soul who would do anything for the people [I] love.

This information was published in May 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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