Explains personality disorders, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
Our personality is the collection of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that makes each of us the individuals we are.
We don't always think, feel and behave in exactly the same way – it depends on the situation we are in, the people with us and many other interconnecting factors.
However, if you experience significant difficulties in how you relate to yourself and others and have problems coping day to day, you may receive a diagnosis of personality disorder.
"Everyone is shouting at me, 'why do you find things so difficult? Why can't you just be normal?' and I try and explain that I'm on a tightrope way in the air, and they all have their feet on the ground, but they all just laugh."
You might be given a diagnosis of personality disorder if all of these apply:
"[It] doesn't mean that there is something wrong with my personality... it means that I think, feel and behave differently from most people."
"The important thing to remember is that we're not broken, we just think differently and experience the world in a different way... there's no shame in doing whatever we need to do to cope with our emotions in a safe and supportive way."
You can only be diagnosed with a personality disorder by a mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating mental health problems, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist – not by your GP.
If you speak to your GP about your mental health and they think you might have a personality disorder, they can refer you to your local community mental health team (CMHT) who will be able to assess you.
"Initially I took this diagnosis of BPD as an insult, a criticism of my whole being, but then I began to understand that it is just a diagnosis, an explanation of why I feel as I do. Just as in a medical situation the pain in my stomach being diagnosed as appendicitis means that I am ill, there is a reason for the pain and I can get treatment."
This information was published in January 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
References and bibliography available on request.
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