The Trouble With Stigma and Borderline Personality Disorder

The Trouble With Stigma and Borderline Personality Disorder

The trouble about being someone with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is anytime you speak up for yourself, take a stand in regards to your treatment, ask for a change, ask for another opinion, another case worker, another therapist or Dr you are commonly accused as exhibiting “borderline behaviour”.

The stigma for people with BPD is so bad that when you initially step into your (Dr.’s, Therapist’s, Caseworker’s, Nurse Practitioner’s) office, they are waiting for you to “step out of line.” Their “guns are already drawn and they are ready to fire.”

Like it or not the truth is many mental health professionals have a big stigma against people with BPD because of what their co-workers have said. Where did their co-workers get that information? From their co-workers. I am sure that they can indeed tell you some gruesome stories about “these borderlines” but what they are talking about are people who have the diagnosis of BPD and they have it very severe and they also have other mental disorders along with it that the person telling the story did not mention because that part was never mentioned.

Or perhaps they are judging you because of their past patients and what they forget is they are not dealing with a past patient, they are dealing with me, or you. It is as if they sit back and wait for that “borderline behaviour” to pop out. So, if we have any level of intelligence (for some reason those of us with BPD seem to have a higher than average level of intelligence from what I have noticed) and ask them to explain their treatment decisions, etc. they put that in their big bag of “expected borderline behaviour.”

Just recently I received two emails from mental health professionals that were extremely abusive to all BPD patients, and they were sent in the guise that they wanted to understand people with BPD better. I could not believe what I was reading (and a big TRIGGER WARNING ahead): “Borderline patients are always manipulating staff and burn staff out and so many staff have left just due to the borderline behaviours.” This is nothing more than black and white thinking. It is only the borderlines that are burning them out. I have been a social worker for almost 10 years and I can tell you I am burnt to a crisp but it is not due to one single population. If a mental health professional gets burned out, they are burned out on being a mental health professional with any population.

We often find that those of us with BPD cannot express healthy anger because people become afraid it is rage/mania. I can understand their fears especially if they have been with us during these times. But saying all people with BPD are “bad people” or “not open to help” doesn’t help anyway and this stigma needs to be removed at the source of the matter, rather than just trying to educate everyone else about it.

All credit for this post goes to Patty E. Fleener, thank you Patty.

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