Borderline Personality Disorder

What it is

Also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder, (EUPD).  Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that makes it hard for sufferers to know themselves, control their feelings and impulses and relate to others. It’s called ‘borderline’ because in the past, mental illnesses were categorised as ‘psychoses’ or ‘neuroses’ and it didn’t fit into either category.

What it’s not

a myth

chosen by sufferers


How it feels:

a disturbed sense of identity (not knowing who you are or what you feel or what you believe, a sense of emptiness or being separate from yourself)

intense and unstable emotions and mood swings, (e.g. overwhelming anger instead of frustration, despair instead of sadness, panic instead of nervousness)

impulsiveness – (sufferers can overreact to seemingly trivial comments or events, e.g. by breaking off relationships or quitting a job when distressed)

longing for intimacy, but also terror of being abandoned/rejected.  Super-sensitivity to criticism and   easily angered, (like having a brain that’s permanently on ‘high alert’)

sufferers can move between idealising someone and then feeling bitterly let down when they don’t meet expectations, (known as ‘splitting’ – this also applies to the way you see the world and yourself…everything is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, black or white and there’s no in-between)

may feel betrayed, victimised and out of control.  Can be suspicious of others when under pressure

sufferers frequently want to harm themselves, (cutting is most common, but behaviours could include risk-taking like unprotected sex, overspending, speeding)

finds it very difficult to manage such intense emotions, so can retreat into other harmful behaviours or patterns, e.g. eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse.   May also experience psychotic episodes or periods where they lose touch with reality, (especially when feeling overwhelmed)

can be stigmatised as ‘attention-seeking’ or ‘manipulative’. (However, it’s firstly a response to emotional pain and it’s not chosen or caused by the person who has it)

often creative, empathetic, passionate, loyal and kind

three times more common in women than men

often diagnosed in early adulthood – this is done by an experienced mental health professional

can be linked to childhood truama; especially sexual abuse, (but not always)

can be treated with talking therapies


More info here.

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12 thoughts on “Borderline Personality Disorder

  1. Thank you forthis article which sums up BPD to a T. I was diagnosed with BPD when I was in my early thirties , and really helped by dialyctical behaviour therapy. I am glad you say it is not chosen or caused by the person whohas it. Soon after diagnosis I was told by a fellow Christian that it was not a mental illness but sinful behaviour that I should stop…and the fact that I behaved like I did suggested to them I was not a Christian. If I could have stopped feeling emotions so intensely I would have done anything, if I could have found a way to stop cutting to make me feel better I would have. I didn’t want to be how I was and being told it was just sinful behaviour was horrendous. Now after DBT I am a lot better – still have my moments but God has been good in granting me some relief.

  2. Thanks Emma. This is my first time of commenting, although I have followed your blog for a long time. I also have a diagnosis of BPD, and have had an ED for a long time. I’m pondering starting a blog on dealing with BPD as a christian as it seems there is little information out there on the subject, and much of what I have seen implies that BPD is just a sinful pattern that needs repenting of. I am grateful to God for the journey he has brought me on and all he has taught me through BPD. Thanks for a helpful article xx

  3. Thanks for reading and commenting Tracy. I think a blog on BPD as a Christian would be AMAZING.

  4. Thanks Heather. I’m really sorry you’ve had such a painful experience. So glad to hear that DBT has been a help and that you’ve known the Lord sustaining you.

  5. Of course Mark – it’s for ‘eating disorder’ – which I should have spelled out! I’ve revised the post to make it clearer.

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