#StartAConversation, Mental health

What’s It Like Being A Borderline?

“In some ways, com­ing to terms with my­self and work­ing to­ward re­cov­ery has been like say­ing “I love you” to some­one but keep­ing a loaded gun hid­den in your back pocket, just in case that per­son pisses you off enough.” ~ Kiera Van Gelder

So, those of you who follow me on Twitter may know that I’ve recently had something of a bee in my bonnet about a lot of the information and commentary I’ve been seeing about borderline personality disorder.

In general the stuff that’s written about us is by people who do not have a diagnosis of borderline themselves. The vast majority of it is mean spirited, devoid of empathy, and tends towards portraying us as monsters to be avoided immediately should we disclose ourselves to unsuspecting others.

That’s irritating enough, but worst of all was that I couldn’t recognise any genuine experiences of borderline in there. Not based on the diagnostic criteria, not based on my own experiences, and not based on what I know of my other borderline posse.

In fact a lot of it is one sided stories from people who’ve had negative experiences with someone they’re clearly, and maybe understandably, very resentful towards, but who they’ve diagnosed themselves as being borderline on the basis of something they’ve read. That person frequently hasn’t been diagnosed with either BPD or any other mental illness by any medical professional and the person may not even be mentally ill.

It’s possible that some of those online diagnoses may be correct.

It is also entirely possible for mentally healthy people to simply be complete arseholes.

However, as we’ve seen since Nigel Farage and Donald Trump came onto the political scene, there are a great many people who are very quick to diagnose people they don’t like or approve of as being mentally ill, and in particular as having some sort of personality disorder. And for the most part this seems to based on a glaring misconception of what a personality disorder is.

Personality disorders cause symptoms and difficulties for the patient themselves as much as they do for anyone around them. A person holding views that you might not like, or taking actions that make life difficult for you, however justified your abhorrence might be, does not in and of itself indicate that such a person is necessarily unwell.

Anyway, given this plethora of misconception and misinformation, and my worries about the internalised stigma and additional problems in employment, social, and familial relationships that must create, I want to write my own series on BPD.

I want to write about genuine experiences of myself and other borderlines. And I’d like to write some pieces that aren’t entirely negative – because there are actually a bunch of things about myself that I really like that are attributable to my BPD.

To that end I have devised a questionnaire, that I would like to ask my borderline readers to complete, to give me a starting idea of what to look at and what direction to take this series in.

The link to the questionnaire is HERE.

If you could fill it in, or ask your borderline friends and/or family to fill it in, I would be eternally grateful.

The questionnaire is anonymous. There are twenty four questions, but none of them is mandatory. It is written as a Google form but there is an email copy available if you would prefer to do it that way, just shoot me your address and I will send it to you. If you have any suggestions for other things that I should be looking at above and beyond what I’ve asked please let me know.

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