Reprinted from "BPD" issue of Visions Journal, 2011, 7 (1), p. 4
Nearly a decade ago, a colleague of mine suggested we do an issue of Visions on borderline personality disorder. It was a great idea then, but I’m actually glad we waited until now to tackle the subject. The reason will be clear as you read this issue: there are so many more effective treatments now and more people working in this area. There is so much hope now.
When I first heard people talk about the diagnosis in the late 1990s, BPD was like a four-letter word. Treatment was virtually unheard of, and so there was little hope that people could get better. The prejudice from service providers was often as bad as the prejudice in the community. It was perhaps the worst mental health diagnosis you could get because it seemed to be loaded with the label of “warning: difficult person ahead.” And think how reprehensible these attitudes were when the very core of the condition already included intense feelings of worthlessness and self-blame.
I’m so pleased that in the last decade, at least in my view, things have improved a lot for BPD. Effective therapies have flourished, research is increasing, more self-help books are being written, and more people are telling their stories of hope. The BPD name itself is still controversial because it’s a relic of a name that’s disconnected from people’s experience of the condition. But I finally sense less controversy about the diagnosis itself.
You’ll probably note that we weren’t able to get any personal experiences from men for this issue. Do we see BPD in women more often because as a society we associate unstable moods, identity and relationships more with the ‘female personality’? I don’t know. I urge any male readers of Visions with BPD, or their loved ones, to write a letter to the editor and share your story.
About the author
Sarah is Visions Editor and Director of Mental Health Promotion at the Canadian Mental Health Association's BC Division. She also has personal experience with mental illness.