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Thrive | Mental Health

On the Borderline: The Mental Disorder You Haven’t Heard Of

When you hear the term ‘mental illness’, you probably think of some of the well-known conditions like depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. But these conditions are only the tip of the iceberg that is mental health. There are many conditions which fail to make it into the public eye. One such condition is borderline personality disorder (BPD); which affects how you feel about yourself and how you interact with others.

What causes it?

No one knows exactly what causes BPD, but there are many biological and environmental factors which can influence the likelihood that you’ll develop the disorder. Studies show that BPD is more common among those who have experienced severe trauma, like abuse or neglect.

How can I recognise it?

BPD is characterised by intense mood swings, disturbed perceptions (such as hearing voices) and unstable relationships. Those with borderline personality disorder may also experience:

  • Negative thoughts: You may think that you’re a bad person or that you deserve anything bad which happens to you.
  • Impulsive behaviour: You may engage in risky activities like binge drinking, drug-taking and even self-harm.
  • Fear of abandonment: Leading you to do anything possible to stop people leaving you.
  • Black and white thinking: Either somebody is good, or somebody is bad. You don’t see a middle ground

What can I do about it?

If you have been experiencing feelings like these for over a year, you should talk to your GP about them. They may decide to refer you to a specialist who can formally diagnose you. There are things you can do which can help make a difference to how you feel, like:

  • Keeping a mood diary can help you understand what upsets you.
  • Making a self-care box full of your favourite things can make you feel better when you’re struggling to cope.
  • Finding a support group – in person or online. It can be reassuring to know you’re not alone in how you feel.

If you feel like you need support, you can also contact the Samaritans on freephone 116 123.

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