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Borderline Personality Disorder

I don't know much about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but Sara was recently diagnosed with the disorder. So, armed with internet access and a book I just bought called Stop Walking on Eggshells, I must set out on a journey of learning. (The book is one that a friend of Sara's recommended to her, so I figure it will be a good starting point.)

Sara's BPD is not on the extreme end of the scale (thankfully!!) but she does have almost all of the nine symptoms in varying degrees. She is fine with me sharing this, by the way. Some people have physical diseases, like cancer, others have mental disorders, like ADD and BPD. Although in spite of our society's progressive attitudes in other areas, there still seems to be quite a stigma attached to mental illness. Sara and I feel that the more openly people share their stories and talk about mental health, the better. As noted in the Eggshells book, we need some celebrities to come forward with their stories, as happened with AIDS and cancer, to bring mental health to the forefront of our collective conscience! Apparently there are still some clinicians who dismiss it as a catch-all instead of a true disorder, although I gather this is changing as more is understood about BPD. Somewhere I read that BPD is now the most researched of all mental illnesses, and that the incidence of BPD is higher than that of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder...and yet we rarely hear of BPD, except in very vague terms or in passing through movies like Girl, Interrupted. (Which movie I highly recommend, by the way, although it doesn't really shed any light on BPD itself. There's an excellent and insightful line near the end: "Crazy isn't about being broken, or swallowing a dark secret. It's you, or me, amplified...")

In terms of speaking out and bringing mental illness out of the shadows, I found a website called Emerging Into Light, which is "a place dedicated to celebrating resilience and recovery. Our place to celebrate victories, share sorrows and honour heroes.":

"Emerging Into Light focuses on inclusion of people who have mental illness as part of our community Rather than focus on the implied negative message, of "anti-stigma", People who have been affected by mental disorders are encouraged to share and celebrate their stories and struggles. The Emerging into Light symbol speaks to the public about recovery and resilience. We are united behind a symbol that says our struggle is important, far from over and needs to be publicly recognized."

I will certainly be reading some of the stories and poems shared on this website, and hope others will as well so we can enhance our understanding of mental illness from the perspective of those living with it every day. Together we can grow into an inclusive and embracing community. We are all children of the light!

For more information on BPD specifically, the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder has this summary on their website:

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious and often life-threatening disorder that is characterized by severe emotional pain and difficulties managing emotions. The problems associated with BPD include impulsivity (including suicidality and self-harm), severe negative emotion such as anger and/or shame, chaotic relationships, an extreme fear of abandonment, and accompanying difficulties maintaining a stable and accepting sense of self. Thus, BPD is characterized by pervasive instability of mood, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and actions, often negatively affecting loved ones, family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity.

There are many other websites with information, including the esteemed Mayo Clinic. The Edmonton region of the Canadian Mental Health Association has a great factsheet here. And the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also has a succinct fact sheet here.

As for how BPD touches my family's life...not that I wish BPD on anyone, but it is a relief for Sara to be finally diagnosed with something specific. Now she can move forward and get the proper treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment for BPD is dialectical behavior therapy, not medication. And my impression of this treatment is that it will be a long, probably at times draining and difficult, journey of psychotherapy. Although her ADD medication and her mood stabilizer do provide some relief to the wild mood swings and other symptoms, and enable her to focus on school work, etc. What makes me angry is that we are told there is only one psychiatric professional in Nova Scotia who specializes in BPD therapy...and he has a two year waiting list!! What is wrong with our health care system? The health care professionals are wonderful, but the system itself sucks! It has taken Sara two years to be properly diagnosed in the first place, and now she might have to wait another two years to even begin treatment?? Hopefully not that long though. Her current psychiatrist is trying to find someone else with experience in dialectic behaviour therapy. (I will no doubt share more about it on my blog as I myself learn what it entails and involves.)

Good thing Sara is such an amazing and strong young woman so she is not defeated by our mess of a mental health medical system. I am so proud of her!! ♥


Comments (13)

A: Thank you for sharing this and for this education. There's a saying that goes something like -it just takes a small ripple to have a big effect. Just by your writing (openly and bravely) about Sara, you and Sara both share your journey. Kudos, prayers and hope to both of you. Emerging Into the Light - says it all. m

I applaud you for sharing this story with us. And I imagine you are very proud of Sara for not minding you sharing her story.
I've never heard of BPD, so I will be studying the links you included.
Hopefully Sara can begin therapy soon, she is very lucky to have an understanding and supportive family.

Blessings to Sara and to your family. The stigma about mental illness is so archaic and really makes me sad. And a two year waiting list is just appalling! Thanks for sharing this (and Sara is lucky to have a mom like you!).

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, many thanks to you and Sara for "emerging into the light" and sharing this journey of learning and recovery with us. She is indeed a very amazing and strong young woman and you are an amazing and strong mom. I'm sure your posts will bring others into the light along with you.

Take care...


Anne, thanks for sharing such an informative post about BPD. I share your distress over how we address mental illness as a society and and agree that we need to focus on a recovery model. I am not familiar with the Mental Health System in Canada. In the US, most nonmedication therapy is provided by psychotherapists not Psychiatrists. I am hoping that Sara can find a Therapist with experience in this area without waiting 2 years for this particular Psychiatrist. My thoughts are with you!

Barb Cabot:

Dear Anne and Sara, Thank you for sharing your personal stories with us. Enlightenment to illnesses of all kinds is so important to bridge understanding, compassion and a move toward more research and services. Wonderful to finally be diagnosed as that is a true step toward coping and recovery. I really appreciate your sharing this and wishing you both an upward journey in wellness. God Bless my prayers are with you both.


Bravo, Anne, to you and Sara for speaking openly about your experiences with this. The stigma around mental illness is so outdated and obstructionist.

It really is a scandal how few resources are put into treatment for mental illness. But hopefully, as the stigmas are removed and more and more people talk about what's needed in this field, the resources will follow.

Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to hearing more.


Thanks so much, my friends. It's very uplifting being surrounded by your supportive and caring thoughts!

I'm sure I'll be posting more about BPD as I learn about it, and about the therapy.

Yes Bravo to both you Anne and Sara for opening up and sharing. You have taken the first step in finally having a diagnosis and you know something. I'm sorry to hear that you may have to wait a long time. I wish you both patience and strength going forward.


Anne, I so admire you in many, many ways... Although we have never met, I am always inspired by your posts. I so appreciate your sharing this information. How lucky Sarah is to have a Mom like you! Of course she is a strong girl!... she is your daughter! :)


Again I am moved by the support of my blog friends. I will share your good wishes and prayers with Sara so she too can be uplifted! ♥

Sorry so late in commenting. I also want to applaud both of you for sharing Sara's story. I am glad a diagnosis has been made but sad it took so long. I hope another doctor can be found so Sara will not have to wait two more years for treatment.


thanks girasoli, even just naming it has helped. But definitely hoping she can get some treatment sooner than later.

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