Telling Others About BPD

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) have a long, uphill battle with stigma that can be trying, difficult, and almost impossible at times to deal with. However, while stigma is the longest battle, not many people think about the hardest battle when it comes to BPD: telling others you have it.

Image courtesy of RonnieB from mouguefile
Image courtesy of RonnieB from mouguefile

No way! Isn’t telling someone with BPD simple enough?

To be honest, not really. I’ve been scared whenever I’ve told people I have it. I was scared to start this blog because I’m admitting that I have this “serious mental disorder” that messes up my personality, my brain chemistry, and my general disposition. It can also change how people think of me before even reading what I have to say! However, there is a strategy to combat the fear and stress telling someone can cause.

How do you tell people you have BPD, then?

From my own personal experience, this is what’s helped me take care of stress and telling people I have BPD:

  • Only tell the people that matter you have BPD. This sounds hard to do, but a little thinking and willingness to overcome fear will take care of this. Think about people who are in your life frequently…family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances. Then think about how much impact people from these categories count. Narrowing who you tell about BPD takes off some of the stress if these people are near and dear to you.
  • Think about how telling others you have BPD will affect you. This is a harder part to do because if you’re anything like me, you’ll think of the negatives. If you find yourself in a depressed state thinking about this, make a list of pros and cons about telling someone you have BPD. Even if you come up with one pro and several cons, you’ll have something to fall back on.
  • Confirm with yourself if telling people about your BPD is worthwhile. In most cases, the answer will be “yes, I’m sure” but some people might not be ready to divulge this information. And you know what? It’s okay. Just make sure it’s something you want to do above all else.

Now I know if I should or shouldn’t tell people I have BPD, how do I tell them?

  • Tell these people you’ve chosen in a respectful way. When I say respectful, I mean don’t approach someone when you’re in a crisis and about ready to start yelling at somebody. Plan out what you’re going to say prior to the reveal and you’ll have a smoother transition. Going along with that last remark…
  • …make sure it’s a good time to tell someone about your BPD. This way, you won’t be revealing something so serious at a friend’s wedding or a family member’s funeral. Save it for later if you can.
  • Don’t ever use BPD to excuse misdeeds from the past. This comes off as being accusatory and doesn’t make sense, but hear me out on this. We aren’t perfect creatures and have our bad days, but if you do something you know isn’t right to be doing to begin with, only you have yourself to blame, BPD or not. We all have common sense instilled in us, try to use it!

So…are you ready to tell someone you have BPD?

If you aren’t, that’s okay. Everyone is different from one another and we all have had our struggles. Just make sure it’s something you’re ready to do and you’re not doing it out of a feeling you have to do it. You will thank yourself for it later.

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4 thoughts on “Telling Others About BPD”

  1. Admitting and accepting I have BPD was a uphill struggle, but I am started to find it easier. I felt when I was diagnosed that I had a lot of explaining to do to certain people and felt the diagnosis spoke for itself.

    One of the key responses I had when I told people was the questions about BPD and what it involves. I would suggest a good measure of who you should tell about your BPD is by weighing up whether you’d be prepared to answer their questions honestly. For me, because I was such a positive or negative person, many people asked me how they could I was in a funk, or sought explanations for past attitudes and behaviours. This can bring some highly triggering thoughts to the forefront of your brain, and combine with the stress of BPD generally, announcing a diagnosis to someone can invite a myriad of questions which are difficult to answer.

    I realised through a long process of who I felt it was important to tell – if I felt comfortable with them asking me questions and me being able to give genuine answers, then I was happier telling them. I recognised the difference in the questions between good, loyal friends and those who just hung on for a bit; the concerned would ask questions about how it affected me, and those that were not that bothered would normally ask questions that revolved around them in some way and ignore my needs and thoughts.

    BPD is hard enough as it is; make sure you are stable enough to answer questions and rehash thoughts that you would rather not.

    I love your blog – it’s very insightful and informative.

    1. Thank you so much! Your last sentence made my afternoon, actually.

      I didn’t think about what you wrote when you talk about answering questions. That’s a really, really good point. I’ve done it in my own head – just thinking about all the instances in my life when I exhibited BPD behaviors, how they were triggered, etc. and I know I’ve been triggered just thinking about those things! Forget adding someone else into the mix.

      The couple of people I’ve told I have BPD have kind of brushed it off and been like “ok, cool” or “you can’t have BPD, you’re too nice!” It’s been an irritating struggle, but I’m hoping that with time, I’ll get some more interesting responses.

      I’m really glad that it’s been getting easier for you telling others. I hate it when other people get shot down or have to go through a lot of pain just to get an idea out. It’s a horrible feeling.

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