BPD is a real illness, it’s not a phase of feeling down or just feeling depressed. It’s a real, suffocating, unbearable illness that you have no control of, due to the chemicals in your brain. Although less heard about, it’s a real an illness just as Schizophrenia, or as real as a physical illness such as Cancer or Diabetes.
I think it’s really important to remember this, especially when dealing with someone with BPD and in particular when they are in the midst of a crisis and can’t function normally. Their brain has taken over, they may feel panicked, extremely anxious, desperately low, unbearably distraught and experiencing distorted thinking, to the point of not knowing what to phsyically do with themselves. This could result in desperate impulsive behaviours such as self harming, alcohol/drug abuse and in the worst case scenario suicide.
I can only compare a crisis to a severe uncontrollable emotions possessing your body that are so intense you feel scared about your own safety. You can feel totally out of control, and can feel terrified, confused, possibly accompanied by physical symptoms such as racing heart or panic. Sufferers of Parkinsons’ Disease can shake, sufferers of Epilepsy may have fits, people with chronic anaemia don’t produce enough blood cells, people with broken legs can’t physically walk and so on. You wouldn’t tell them to ‘just get up and walk/stop shaking/getover it’, or to ‘pull together as it’s all in their imagination, would you…? (hopefully not!)
Yes everyone feels ups and downs, everyone can get depressed, suicidal even, experience rage and so on, in fact all the symptoms of BPD. The point with BPD is that your brain is wired to feel each of these ups and downs in such an intense, extreme manner that the person with BPD can feel possessed and overwhelmed, as the emotions could be tenfold to what a non-BPD sufferer feels. Asides from this, you can feel every symptoms under the sun at any one time, or alternate between all of them in the space of a day, hour, minutes even…so imagine a time when something happened which made you REALLY ANGRY, maybe it was an argument with a partner. The kind of anger that turns into RAGE, possibly even a physical fight because you had adrenalin running through your veins. Now think of a time when you were ecstatic, maybe on your wedding day, maybe you even won the lottery! Now think of a time when you were terrified, maybe you thought someone was in your house and you had to creep down the stairs with a baseball bat to check….think of everyone intense emotion you have ever felt at any point in your life.
Multiply each feeling by who knows, x2, x3, x7…
Now imagine you felt all of those feelings all mixed together all in the space of a day, maybe all in the space of a few hours. Maybe minutes.
Maybe even for no reason.
And hopefully not…but possibly for your whole lifetime.
The following extract clarifies that BPD brains are wired differently:
“Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness and should not be dismissed. Individuals experiencing symptoms should seek immediate professional attention. Research has shown that patients with borderline personality disorder have a genetic predisposition that creates a serotonin imbalance in the brain, and that the brain of a borderline personality patient is structurally and functionally different than normal brains.” taken from here
A video to demonstrate this can be seen here:
Here are some useful tips of what to do or say to someone who is having a crisis
Here are some useful tips of what to not do or say to someone who is having a crisis