BPD, Stigma, and How It All Comes Together

I decided to write another post for today because I’ve been curious about something to do with my Borderline Personality stuff:

Stigma.

Delicious, steaming stigma, waiting for you to drink it all up over and over and over again.

Stigma? What’s this stigma you’re talking about?

Apple’s Dictionary app defines stigma as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” Stigma follows mental disorders closely because they’re not in the norm, they make people act weird without intentionally trying to be weird, and let’s face it – people can be real jerks when they want to be.

What does stigma have to do with BPD?

Stigma has a lot to do with BPD because after looking online at sources for BPD, it’s the most stigmatized mental disorder. Both the general populace and therapists stigmatize BPD patients like crazy. 

I already knew that. 

Oh. 

But even therapists stigmatize that much with it?

They do, and it sucks. It really, really sucks. 

Therapists primarily stigmatize it because of the black & white view that borderlines have when it comes to relationships. Therapists are wary of when a patient with borderline is going to leave his/her treatment with them, so they find people with BPD difficult to put up with. Other reasons that come up for therapists’ frustrations are the lack of having effective therapy skills to handle people with BPD, getting tested (and frustrated) with borderlines testing their limits to see if he/she can trust the therapist, and misdiagnosis. People with BPD usually have another mental disorder, such as bipolar disorder or depression that therapists decide to hone in on and treat instead. My therapist has a master’s degree in psychology and she refuses to put the BPD label on me because I don’t “act like people who have it.” She focuses on my PTSD and MDD instead.

Why does so much stigma exist against borderlines?

Again, people can be real jerks. And uneducated. The most common stereotype (from what I’ve seen) is that people with BPD are violent. People with BPD aren’t violent and are, in fact, scared and mean no harm against people. It doesn’t help that mixed media has projected this onto people. It also doesn’t help that BPD has only been classified as a mental disorder, so with only 33 years of research (BPD was classified and given a name finally right around 1980) I guess you can say that the disorder is still relatively new to the scene. 

What do I do about it, then?

Honestly, that’s up to you. You can always develop coping skills to combat negative things people might say. Build a positive support network and try to find a therapist that won’t give you muck about having the disorder. Educate those that you can about BPD because the more information that gets spread, the better. You can also do what I did and create a blog about it! The possibilities are endless. 

You are in charge of your own life. You are better than any stigma that gets put against you. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. 

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5 thoughts on “BPD, Stigma, and How It All Comes Together”

  1. This is a great post. When I had BPD in the past, there was a huge amount of stigma that I read about (I was diagnosed with it 10 years ago, but interestingly my therapists from recent years are like yours and would never label me with it, partly because I no longer had most of the symptoms). It is incredible how easily people believe lies about BPD and do not do any of their own research to really understand what the disorder is, what its causes are, and how borderlines really can recover. I love your last line, “Your are better than any stigma… Never let anyone tell you otherwise.” Right on!
    Please take a minute to check out my blog when you get a chance. We agree on a lot of things.

    1. Thank you so much!
      I find what therapists like ours do frustrating because for me, it recreates a bad dynamic that was present throughout my childhood – feeling like something was “wrong” but getting different definitions on what exactly was wrong. In a way it also hinders my recovery because I invalidate myself in the end and just want to cut myself.

      Something I didn’t touch on in my post (which I probably should have) is that I think people go along with stereotypes because they don’t want to challenge the media that’s presented to them. They take it at face value and leave it because taking the time to research and develop an understanding requires mental effort and changing what’s comfortable for most people. It’s kind of like watching a commercial for those Swiffer mop things and thinking they’re the best things ever because the commercial told you they were.

      I’ll go ahead and do that! I’m happy to see a like-minded person. 🙂

      1. Yes I agree with your thoughts about people often going along with stereotypes and not making the effort to figure out if they are really valid. There are some interesting books about this – two of them are, The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, by Chabris, and the classic Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases by Tversky and Kahnemann. In both books, there are many interesting experiments which make it clear how people distort the external world by not thinking and reasoning clearly and logically.

        With borderline personality disorder, it is now obvious from many sources, both professional reports of treatment and layperson reports of their own progress, that people with BPD do recover to become non-borderline and live good lives. Not all do, of course, but it is possible and does happen given the right environmental support. Nevertheless, many foolish people continue to keep their eyes closed and believe that borderlines are bad or untreatable. Just don’t pay attention to them 🙂

      2. I’ll have to read those two books. I don’t know where they are right now, but there are two books called Trust Us, We’re Experts and Toxic Sludge is Good for You (penned by both Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber) that follow in that vein. I’ve misplaced them though, so time to go to the bookstore. 😀

        I’ll do my best not to! This is definitely a new adventure for me, so I haven’t really gotten much stigma yet. Hopefully it stays that way.

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