This is an interview with BPD Talks – a cool gal who shares her experiences and insights into the condition. If you are not familiar with it, BPD is an acronym for “Borderline Personality Disorder”.
Here’s how BPD Talks describes herself:
“Grown-ass woman with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Major Depressive Disorder. Here to raise awareness, support others, and be real about life with BPD.”
Love it. We’ve recently connected and I wanted to learn more about BPD and how it differs from bipolar disorder – specifically Bipolar 2 Disorder.
BPD Talks was psyched to get to help others understand what BPD is better, and I was psyched to get to talk with her. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BPD_talks.
She blogs about BPD here: BPD Talks.
1. Thanks a ton for speaking out and sharing here. I have issues with psychiatric diagnostic categories because it can victimize someone who in many cases has already been victimized – why they are experiencing mental health difficulties in the first place.
And a label leads to stigma. I’ve experienced that in being diagnosed with Manic Depression and living with it for 30 years.
But the other reality is a diagnosis – if accurate – can help someone clarify things they are experiencing and get help to deal with it better. That’s the end goal, to live a full and healthy life.
Can you give us a brief description of what Borderline Personality Disorder is? What does someone who struggle with BPD experience?
The symptoms of BPD include an intense fear of abandonment, tumultuous relationships with others, recurring suicidal episodes, engaging in high risk behaviors, identity disturbance, and extreme mood swings that can change several times a day.
I’d say BPD is like having feelings that are turned way up all the time. Also, it doesn’t take much for things to get overwhelming. I’ve been called overly sensitive a lot, and I guess in a lot of ways people with BPD are more sensitive than other people.
2. Can you share how you got diagnosed?
I started showing signs of borderline personality disorder when I was about 19. At that time my only treatment was being prescribed antidepressants by campus health services where I was going to college.
Once when I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and self-injury I heard a doctor say, when he thought I wasn’t listening, that I showed definite signs of BPD but that it wouldn’t help anything to diagnose me since I wasn’t insured anyway. I was finally diagnosed by a psychiatrist when I was 25. The diagnosis has been confirmed by two more psychiatrists.
3. Do you think your experience was typical? Or is there a lot of variation in how mental health practitioners will identify someone who experiences these symptoms?
It seems somewhat common to be diagnosed with depression first, like I was. From what I understand BPD isn’t a diagnosis that professionals want to make hastily, which I think is good.
The symptoms of BPD are things that everyone can experience to some degree, at a lower intensity and for a shorter amount of time, so a doctor should be sure before making the diagnosis.
4. Do you think BPD is a useful term or could we look at these expressed symptoms in other ways, without a label i.e. define it differently? So as to not lead to stigma.
I think that Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t an accurate name for the disorder and I think it has a lot of negative connotations. People have associated it with the wrong things (manipulation, lack of empathy, etc) for so long that the label itself is stigmatizing.
Some people are using Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, which I think is worse. I’m not sure what a good name for the disorder would be.
Note from Molly: I totally agree with you. Changing the name to that is not going to help anyone. And it should not be necessary. There are many therapists, psychiatrists, etc. who have contributed to the understanding of someone who has these symptoms and seeks help.
It’s a sign of strength – like you display here. The only issue of importance should be learning as much as you can, honoring yourself and your journey and trying to live as full of a life as you possible can.
All things you are clearly doing. I really admire you.
5. How does depression overlap with BPD? How does someone with both a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and BPD differ from someone diagnosed with BPD only?
BPD and depression often overlap. Researchers have found that about 80% of people with BPD have experienced major depressive disorder. It can be hard to tell sometimes which of my symptoms are BPD and which are MDD sometimes.
Some are obvious, like when I don’t want to get out of bed and don’t have interest in anything–that’s MDD. And when I switch from elated to angry to incredibly sad in a couple hours, that’s BPD.
6. Lastly – and most importantly – what would you offer as words of wisdom or hope to someone who is dealing with these issues or who recently was diagnosed with BPD?
I believe there is a lot of hope for those with BPD. Dialectical behavior therapy is becoming more common and accessible. Even people who can’t afford therapy can get workbooks and worksheets online.
There is a lot of support online. I’ve found that the more I learn about myself, the easier things get.
It often fees like it’s never going to get better, but it does. It just takes a lot of work.
I checked out your blog and there are some really nice posts. And what I read does help explain the difference between bipolar disorder and BPD.
In general, bipolar is more episodic (with a very different onset) and the other – BPD – more of a daily stuggle with constantly changing moods. And the moods connected to relations with others.
That’s a really key difference that you describe very well using your personal experience.
Bipolar is more of an ‘out of the blue’ what the heck is happening and why am I feeling like a psycho kind-of thing. Both difficult to deal with, just different things to deal with.
You’ve helped me understand BPD and I hope others as well.
Congrats on your engagement 🙂