Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness that has been estimated to affect as much as 5.9% of the population. BPD can hinder an individual’s attempt to function at even the most basic levels, while also negatively impacting friends and family members of the person suffering from it. Despite its prevalence, BPD has historically been marginalized and misunderstood, used even among clinicians as a catch-all diagnosis for patients who are considered “difficult” and resistant to treatment.

One of the core features of BPD is an impaired ability to regulate emotions.2 Consequently, the emotional life of someone with BPD is frequently volatile, with even minor events leading to a disproportionate, usually very negative response. This could manifest as rage in response to a perceived insult from a close friend or as a bout of intense despair, marked by a global sense of hopelessness and profound sadness after a small setback. Though these emotional states rarely last more than several hours, the frequency of these changes can have a very destabilizing effect on the individual. 

In addition to this emotional component, BPD is typified by disruptions in close interpersonal relationships. A person with BPD will tend to idealize their closest relationships only to lash out when they sense rejection. This hypersensitivity is largely derived from an intense fear of being deserted by friends and caregivers.2 Unfortunately, attempts to prevent this dreaded abandonment can often have the opposite effect, pushing those close to the borderline individual farther away, which then feeds into the self concept of “badness” that many people with BPD harbor. They often believe that there is something inherently negative or unworthy about them, though this perception is itself unstable and mood dependent.2,

  In order to cope with these painful and turbulent emotions, those with BPD may resort to seemingly extreme measures. Self-injury—most commonly cutting, but also burning, hitting, and skin picking—is considered a hallmark of this disorder, as are many other impulsive, self-destructive acts such as eating disordered behaviors, promiscuity, and substance abuse. A history of suicide attempts is very common in those with BPD, and an estimated 8-10% of borderline patients will succeed in taking their own lives.

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The Brandon Marshall Foundation, Inc. (“BMF”) is a Florida nonprofit corporation operating through a fiscal sponsorship with Edward Charles Foundation, Inc. (Federal Tax ID: 2645043), a California not-for-profit public benefit corporation with federal tax-exempt status from the IRS under Section 501©(3). Contributions to BMF are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

My team Project Borderline is walking with 2013 NAMIWalk Chicago on Sep 21, 2013 3:00 PM.

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