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May 1st marked the beginning of BPD Awareness Month in the UK, following Autism Awareness month in April. BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder, not to be confused with bipolar disorder, which, although presenting similar symptoms, is different altogether.
As there were some events which occurred over the course of April for Autism Awareness, I had expected that there would be similar attempts to raise awareness for BPD in May and had hoped to see more people become engaged with various topics surrounding the stigma, the treatments, and the confusion that is directly associated with it.
However, the social media activity in the socially engaged web-spaces has been relatively sparse, and it would appear that there were few, if any, events held to promote BPD awareness. Could it be that BPD is so little talked about because of how stigmatized it is, even within the community of individuals affected by mental illness? First, it’s incredibly important to understand what exactly BPD is and how it presents in people who struggle with it.
Some good resources for anyone looking to become more informed on the nature of BPD would be the American-run National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD), who have extensive information on their website, or, for more local knowledge and assistance, the NHS page on BPD, which includes information on exactly what BPD is and how it can affect people, describing it as ‘best understood as a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others.’ The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had additional resources for individuals who have borderline personality disorder, as well as for their friends and family members, which is particularly important because mental health issues don’t just impact those suffering from them, but can also wreak havoc on personal lives and family situations.
According to the NHS, BPD is classed as a Cluster B personality disorder, and symptoms can include:
- overwhelming feelings of distress, anxiety, worthlessness or anger
- difficulty managing such feelings without self-harming – for example, by abusing drugs and alcohol or taking overdoses
- difficulty maintaining stable and close relationships
- sometimes having periods of loss of contact with reality
- in some cases, threats of harm to others
Furthermore, it is possible for a person to experience other mental health issues alongside BPD, including bipolar disorder (which can be considered one of the main reasons why the two are often confused). The best treatments are prolonged counselling and psychotherapy, with reports indicating that for the most part, those are treatments resulting in alleviation of the symptoms.
When it comes to obtaining a diagnosis, the NHS advises scheduling an appointment with your GP as a first step, as well as perusing the information provided on the MIND (http://www.mind.org.uk/) and Emergence (http://www.emergenceplus.org.uk/) webpages, which offer additional resources on BPD, and other mental illnesses.
The Blurt Foundation celebrated Mental Health Awareness last week and offer some excellent resources on their website as well! You might even decide to pamper yourself with one of their one-off boxes, which contain little presents to cheer you up throughout the month.
With exams lurking above everyone’s heads, it can be quite difficult to determine whether you’re struggling from the exhaustion of revision or battling out something chemically. If you’re not sure why you’re feeling some of the symptoms of BPD, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your GP; the only way to get better is to seek help!
More information on BPD can be found on the NHS and the NEABPD websites.