May 2, 2013

Heather blogs about borderline personality disorderMy name is Heather. I’m a Leo, I am afraid of heights, I am a natural redhead, I take milk but no sugar in my tea. I have borderline personality disorder too. 

I’ve been a mental health campaigner for a couple of years now. There is one subject I haven’t talked about. My borderline personality disorder has been a secret. I am happy to talk about suffering from Bipolar disorder too, but so far, I have been silent about my other diagnosis.

There are many reasons for this. Firstly, borderline personality isn’t very visible, it is missing from many campaigns, there aren’t any celebrities speaking out about it. Many people see the words ‘personality disorder’ and think of criminals. This is sadly untrue, but stigma remains. Secondly, within the mental health world, the disorder is seen as incurable, the sufferer dismissed as not worth engaging with.  Again, this is untrue, recovery is possible. Thirdly, talking about my diagnosis means I would have to talk about taboo issues like suicide attempts, self harm and impulsive behaviour.

I spoke about my diagnosis as part of my Time to Change media training

I completed some media training with Time to Change a couple of  weeks ago, where I took my chance to practice a TV interview with the trainer. I chose to speak about borderline personality disorder. It was really daunting, I had never spoken about it in a room of strangers before, I don’t even talk about very much with people closest to me! As the microphone was held under my nose, I tried to think of everyone I had encountered who shared my diagnosis and felt alone. I remembered that dialectical behavioural therapy, a therapy with measurable successful outcomes that could reach people with borderline personality disorder, was not available in most of the UK. I recalled the stories of those people who were offered no treatment and rejected by their community mental health teams. I have heard of people who self harmed being stitched up without anaesthesia and suicide attempts being ignored. I recalled how empty I felt when I was diagnosed. I felt ashamed of who I was, if my personality was disordered, I must be a terrible person? 

I have borderline personality disorder. I have a trauma background, not everyone who has this diagnosis does, but it can be a common factor. The disorder stems from what is thought to be biochemical vulnerability and experiences of trauma and invalidation. In everyday life, it is a set of behaviours that sufferers used to cope, which start to become destructive. When I feel empty or l don’t know who I am, the pain of that used to drive me to alcohol abuse, self harm, risky sexual behaviour and trying to block out my emotions. I was lucky that my county did offer NHS dialectical behavioural therapy. I learned how to express my emotions and soothe myself so I could stop self harming and start to move on in my life.

Borderline personality disorder isn't a death sentence, it's a stepping stone

I have lived alone in my own flat for two years, which I fund. I am a daughter, sister, granddaughter and niece to a family I am close to. I have a set of loyal and loving friends who I can count on. I have a fantastic boyfriend; our relationship is stable, happy and healthy. I am working on my career, I write every day. I have finished therapy and given up self harm and alcohol abuse. I have had three years without crisis intervention or admission to hospital. Being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder wasn’t a death sentence; it was a stepping stone to having the life I wanted all along.

I am going to keep talking about borderline personality disorder because I believe that it needs to be reclaimed as an illness that marks that someone has suffered, they have tried to cope as best they could and they need help. I know that having intense emotions can also mean having a great sense of empathy, courage, love and kindness, as well as instability. I believe that there is hope; that people can recover if they are given the tools to do so. A study from Mclean Hospital in the US in 2010 showed that ten years after a hospitalisation, 86% of treated patients had a stable and sustained recovery, another study in 2005 showed that sufferers who got treatment saw a large improvement in their ability to work and socialise over the course of six years, 56% were able to succeed in those areas. I know from my own research that care for borderline personality disorder is poor in the UK and that I am in a position to begin to speak out about that.

So: I am Heather and I am not ashamed to say, I have borderline personality disorder.

Herold, Eve; Valora, Jaime (15 April 2010). "Long-Term Study of Borderline Personality Disorder Shows Importance of Measuring Real-World Outcomes". McLean Hospital: Press Release. Retrieved 2013.

Zanarini, M.C.; F.R. Frankenburg, J. Hennen, et al. (February 2005). "Psychosocial functioning of borderline patients and axis II comparison subjects followed prospectively for six years". J Personal Disord 19 (1): 19–29. Retrieved on 2007-09-23.


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Hi Heather, thank you for

Hi Heather, thank you for sharing this very sensitive issue. I too suffer with borderline personality disorder and ashamed of my local Community Mental Health Team's lack of understanding, lack of interest and inherent pass the buck attitude. Bravo to you brave lady! I stand here with you and echo your courage. More people need to know of how we really are affected and ignored by so-called medical professionals, personnel whom, in my opinion, if they were on Performance Related Pay would possibly go broke in a flash! [if only there were such justice..].


Hi there, great blog. I also have Borderline and did a blog for Mind recently. I am really pleased you have a stable life and supportive family. I to have a good support network of friends, family as well as professionals but hate asking for help. I don't think I can ever come to terms with my diagnosis, I think it is a very mis-understood illness. Anyway, thanx for the read and keep up the good work.

What a courageous and

What a courageous and well-written post. Best of luck Heather: you're an inspiration.

I also have Borderline

I also have Borderline Personality Disorder and live in the UK. Services for us are very poor and hard to get.

Personality Disorders

I just want to say how brave and courageous you are, Heather! I, too, have a personality disorder - Schizoid Personality Disorder - and although I've always been very open about my diagnosis, like you say.....the minute 'personality disorder' is mentioned, and then linked with Schizoid...well, everyone immediately assumes you're the local 'axe murderer'! But I also feel that the more we, who live daily with these conditions, profess to having them, the more the general public will, hopefully, learn to accept us as people like themselves, and less like a disaster waiting to happen! They will look on us as: "Sheila, who likes crafting, and enjoys a joke & a giggle with her neighbours" - and not: "Sheila, that weird psycho down the road"!...........Twice in the last year I've had to move house - not because I behaved strangely or did anything wrong .....but because I was treated with derision and bullied due to my condition, and was sent to Coventry by some neighbours, who prior to seeing my condition, would come into my home every day to spend time chatting! This sort of stigma only exacerbates these problems, and if people were more accepting, our conditions would seperate us less from our neighbours, and we could enjoy our own lives more. I'm blessed with a small but understanding group of friends, without whom I would struggle much more, and I now have a new home - with few people around - where I can enjoy nature, and crafting, and all the 'good' things life has to offer! So well done, Heather - keep letting people know that, yes, we have our problems, our conditions, but they are no different than Fred Bloggs diabetes, or Jane Smith's heart condition.......these are ALL health conditions that have to be managed, but can be managed well - as can mental health conditions. I am Sheila, and I have Schizoid Personality Disorder - and, even though at times I really struggle, I enjoy life!

Heathers article on BPD

When I was diagnosed with BPD I didn't see a problem with the diagnosis at first. At least with a diagnosis I could work to recovery and I did. I've been well for quite a few years now. But very recently I lost my beautiful children purely because of my diagnosis. They had exceptional care, no one had a problem with my parenting. But I had to have a psychiatric assessment and this psychiatrist said because I had BPD I was a danger to my children. He stated that no one with BPD can make an effective parent. So cut a long story short I lost my children because of my diagnosis

That is horrible! Just

That is horrible! Just because you have BPD does not make you a bad parent.

This is the very reason I am

This is the very reason I am so scared to even approach my gp. I have suffered with depression since my teens but people around me and a friend who is qualified in this area have said to me it is much more complex than just depression with me. I will not mention it to my gp tho as I am a single parent and I would simply not be able to live without my child.

Well done

Heather well done on speaking out I too was diagnosed with Bpd but luckily have been symptom free for 3 years. More people need to speak out about this misunderstood diagnosis

Heathers BPD story

I have BPD Traits Im told not diag.I cant find a good counselor in my area over 20 years i think because i have the ups and downs of stormy relationship problems ansd seeing either all good in people one moment then all bad in them the next,and problems with authority after loosing both adoptive parents to cancer when i was little


That's appalling that DBT isn't very accessible on the NHS considering 1/20 people have a personality disorder in the UK alone! NHS could help a lot more people than they are at the moment. Sadly, it's because mental health has got that stigma attached, and all that does is harm people. And as for suicide attempts going unnoticed and people who cut getting second best care, it's just tragic and annoys me because with interventions it can prevented.


Thank you. This is an excellent article full of truth.

Thank You

... For having the courage to speak out about BPD. I too have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I am having DBT at the moment which helps. I have received so much discrimination from people who were ignorant and scared that I had to give up work. Thanks x

Just been diagnosed

Hi Heather, Thank you for taking the courage to speak about your personal experience with BPD! I have just been diagnosed with BPD after struggling with the ill fitting diagnosis bipolar II for 4 and half years. At first I rejected the thought that I could possibly have something that was called a Personality Disorder, it sounds horrendous. I also rejected the thought of having to drop a label only to be honoured with another. However, after reading many websites and speaking to others with BPD it was like I had returned home. I have never felt so safe and sparkling with hope in my life. Now that I have a greater understanding of the things that I do, even the things that I thought were normal that others didnt, I can stop bullying myself and work towards recovery. Having been through a lifetime of depression, suicidal ideation and alcohol abuse I now feel heard! I've told my mum and very close friends but I'm still aware of how the term Borderline Personality Disorder sounds, and I'm not in a place in my life to justify my illness to ease the ignorance in others. So thank you for speaking out, it's made my life a little easier! xx

Thank you Heather

Thanks for being so brave and speaking out for so many unable to. Treatment for bpd is shockingly poor considering it has the highest rate of suicides and attempts/self harm. Bpd needs to be brought out from the shameful shadows of mental health in the UK and tackled in the same way bi polar and PTSD are now accepted. Medical and public Awareness, understanding and acceptance is long overdue. So again thank u and keep up the good work.

Question about validation

I would like to understand more about what you mean about lack of validation from your past in relation to BPD, is that meaning feeling ignored or not important growing up? I think stigma of BDP is very prevalent in mental health services in the UK and it's very important that you show that recovery is possible.


Heather - I cannot express in words how much I admire what you are doing. I strongly believe that you are making a difference for yourself and many others when you can tell it like it is, that you are a Leo *and* you take milk but no sugar in your tea *and* you have borderline personality disorder. People are so much more than their disorder. I hope you inspire others to share their stories wherever they are in their journey. May you never stop telling...

a nervous hello...

hello! urm I'll start with what I feel confident in saying, and that is that Heather, thankyou for your post :) It seems to be provoking a very positive response (which it definitely deserves). It's so great to hear someone speak positively about their mental health difficulties, and to claim it back for the sufferer as a challange that enriches a person when overcome. Secondly, i think i may have BPD. I personally have little time for people who self-diagnose after reading a few things on the internet but please hear me out! The symptoms seem to fit me very well, I've been in and out of hospital with psychotic episodes, overdoses, self harm and an eating disorder. I've been seeing the community mental health team for four years due to the above plus depression and PTSD (I have trauma/abuse in my past). I cope using a combination of 'disordered' eating, self-harm, alcohol, drugs and some more helpful techniques I've managed to start including with help. I looked into BPD as a friend was recently diagnosed and what really seems to fit is the attachment/being really terrified/convinced that everyone is going to stop loving you. I can't hold down friends but I have a very loving boyfriend and family- I am very lucky in that regard. I also read that angry outbursts, extreme moods especially low mood and anxiety are symptoms, which I also have. Anyway I'll stop now! I'm only 18 and I know they say it's 'typical teenage behaviour'. I wondered if you had any advice on what to do? Drs terrify me but reading your post inspired me that you can use a diagnosis positively to find answers. thankyou for your time and once again for your great and inspiring post. xox

Hi Nell. You can find

Hi Nell. You can find information about BPD on the Mind and Rethink Mental Illness websites. Both charities also run brilliant infolines that can offer you practical advice about BPD - contact details here: The best person to speak to initially though might be someone you trust such as a family member, friend or local GP. There are some tips about talking about your experiences with other's here:

Use it to your advantage

I have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (relatively similar to BPD) and I see it as an advantage, especially in my business. A complete lack of compassion and empathy can come in very useful

thank you fot your blog

Firstly thank you everyone for talking so openly about this subject. My partner has recently been diagnosed with a personelty disorder we were just told sorry you have it not alot we can do about it instead of helping they sent social services to our home they wanted to make sure our two children would not be affected by his disorder as you can imagine we were very annoyed at this as it just added to our worries they made out like just beacuse my partner suffers with mental health this would make him a bad person well we showed them we can still live like any normal family all we wanted was more of an understanding an maybe abit of support but they are not clued up on it what so ever the nhs that is we turned to the internet an found this site just reading everyones blogs has helped alot you have all gave us some kind of understanding about personality disorders thank you for being so open an sharing your personal issue's so brave


Hi Heather my boyfriend has just been diagnosed with BPD I need your help in understanding him???? I show him all the love, affection, attention he needs I give loads of compliments to make him feel good, but I just don't get anything back??? He can not show me any emotion is this part if the illness?? It's so hard because I need to know how he feels thanku Emma


I have read your blog, well written. I have just been recently been diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder. Services in Scotland don't exist. I am thankful for the diagnosis after eight years of being pushed from one psychiatrist to another. The stigma is real, my partner is now frightened of me even though he won't say it


HI Heather such an inspiring story.I have recently been diagnosed with BPD.And have recently started DBT but not in a group setting as it is not available here.I struggle daily and find it very hard to trust people and keep friendships as people just don't know how to deal with my moods and you I have a history of trauma in my life.i am hoping that the dbt will help me as im fast running out of any support net works in the line of friends and family.i am so glad that you are feeling better.well done for speaking out heather.


Hi Heather. I suffer in silence, unlike you I am to ashamed to let anyone know what is wrong with me, I work and have raised a family , Everyday can be a living hell and I find myself becoming further and further detached from reality. I don't know how to cope anymore and fight the urge to just end it all, I want to be brave but the shame of mental health is so overpowering that it stops me from speaking out, The ppl around me just think Im strange and a bit unpredictable, I cant blame them cause they don't know. I am constantly threatened with loosing my job because sometimes I just cant face going into work , however I work really hard and desperately want to remain in employment. I feel invisible and that I have no self worth or regard. I know I need help, I actually plucked up the courage to see my GP last week and when I asked him if I would ever feel better, he, actually laughed in my face and told me he did not have a crystal ball and to get a grip on reality. Its a lonely business .

Hi Tracy, the Samaritans are

Hi Tracy, the Samaritans are always there, 24/7, if you ever would like to just talk to somebody. You can call them on 08457 90 90 90 or email Mind and Rethink Mental Illness (the 2 charities that run Time to Change) both also run 2 excellent forums that provide a safe space for people to talk and share experiences and advice. You can find Mind's Elefriends here: and RethinkTalk here:

Dr's Comment

I think that the way your doctor laughed off your concerns is appalling, to put it mildly! Please check out my website:

Tracy - did you get help?

Hi Tracy. Your post really touched me and I am hoping that you got the help you needed. I really hope that the inappropriate actions of your doctor didnt put you off seeking the help you needed. I would love to know how you are getting on.

Lonely Planet

Hello fellow peeps, I habe recently been diagnosed woth BPD and too feel dumped by the health team. I was given the diagnosis and thats it... off you trot on your merry way to work it out on your own with minimal support or people talking up. It seems only people who are close to a BPD sufferer have websites, forums and health groups. I would love for there to be a local group for us "bad people" to get together and work ot out, share experiences and ask each other questions. It's a very lonely thing that no one pays attention to. I have been struggling for a while now and it seems like a very long time since I have been stable and I have recently for the first time found myself unemployed due to the stress and depression. Is it common for people to struggle with work or pressures if they have BPD?

Hi, I have also been

Hi, I have also been diagnosed with BPD after years of being palmed off with being depressed. My current GP is useless, last 2 visits have resulted in me changing GP, with his office door wide open, was virtualy shouting at me 'what do you want from me' The only reason I managed to get refered to my local mental health team was because I happened to see a locum 1 visit. Since being diagnosed, I have had no follow up or support, and have only just received another questionaire I have to fill out before I can get an initial appointment with the psycotherapy dept. I have made several suicide attempts over the past 20 years, and recently lost my younger brother to suicide. Getting a diagnosis for me personaly means I can at last try to understand myself better, my diagnosis from other peoples point of view hasn't been as constructive, as now my mum doesnt seem to want to speak to me, either through not knowing what to say or through shame, and my partner has used it against me since, so difficult times on top of the shock and stigma of BPD. But the way I try to see it, first for there to be disorder there must be some kind of order.. I live in hope of one day being able to sustain a genuine smile. Much love to all

Hi Heather, I love your blog.

Hi Heather, I love your blog. You have put into words how I often feel but can't find the strength to describe it. I have BPD too. It's tiring, confusing, debilitating and the rest. But like you say, it's a stepping stone towards the life you have always wanted. And I totally agree. Thank you for this amazingly brave, well-written and honest post. I really do wish you all the happiness in the world. Big hugs, we can do this! A xx

I Feel All Your Pain

I probably have BPD and I cannot tell you how painful it is. I was always empathic and sensitive as a kid and my mother who had traits of NPD and BPD herself did all she could to foster it. I have accepted the fact she is ill and that my rageaholism is in part copycat behaviour and partly a defence mechanism because she was one hell of an angry woman and the only way I could defend myself was to go one better. Mind you sometimes we are right to be angry if we are lied to, or people think they can act in certain ways (like one woman did actually steal my now ex husband) and they just think they can get away with it. The nature of BPD is punitive. I wouldn't doubt I have some PTSD in amongst it as well as my mother used to lie to my father in order to make him beat me up and my ex husband killed our family cat whilst I was away and threatened to put a knife through me (also tried to strangle me). Scarily enough he is now remarried, to a Russian mail order bride as no one in the UK would have him. I am traumatised by it all and don't know if it is possible for me to have a relationship again as subsequent relationships have all killed me emotionally too. I want to keep my partner in my pocket and carry them around with me and never let them go. I have struggled all my life with rejection from jobs, partners, God knows what and it has been a real effort to try to overcome that. A great number of people don't seem to have feelings to my way of thinking and that bothers me. They see their partners as a functional thing, ie route to getting a better standard of living? I really object to that and can't get past my objection. The upside of BPD is huge creativity!

Just diagnosed

I was just diagnosed with BPD. I am scared and confused and ashamed because of the stigma. I now question everything I have ever said,done or thought and am constantly questioning and filtering all I think, do and say. I am on a list to begin treatment in about a month. Even though I am freaking out, alas knowing what I know now, I am not remotely surprised by the diagnoses and I guess grateful finally(I am 45) that there is help available. I have been high fuctioning so I have squeezed by all of these years with "just" an eating disorder but as I am getting older the thoughts and attempts at suicide have given no option to get help. Thanks for the words that give hope.


Heather, my 27 yr old son may have BPD.. what were your behaviors? And how can I get him to get help?

BPD daughter

Thank you Heather for your encouraging story of recovery. It gives me hope for my daughter's future. I will be revisiting here frequently.

Teenage BPD

Hi! Im 15 and i have BDP too! Recently, i was diagnosed with severe depresion. i thought i was bipolar. Because i do get hypermania episodes and manic depressive episodes. Then my doctor diagnosed with BDP and I went off my medication(fluvoxamine). I start high school next year and im very nervous! This year ive been hospitalised 2 times already for several suicide attempts. Im going to have to start making new friends next year!! Im shaking just thinking about it. I wanna die just so i can avoid another year of hell. Its so hard being like this especially when youre going to school. I dont want to miss anymore school because of major episodes.i already have to spend an extra 1 year in middle school because of hospitalisations and stuff. I hate being a crazy person!

thanx for posting this!

Omg I just wanted to say thank you for posting this blog post... I was recently diagnosed with wthis disorder with traits of ASPD. I am not on medication or in therapy because the psychiatrist who gave me the diagnosis was simply a total bitch and considered me 'reststant to treatment'. Sucks I know... I'm planning on trying to get myself a good therapist but I am not sure what kind of therapy would be best for me....

Interested in sharing your story in a book?

Hi Nell, I am inspired by the testimony that you shared through Time to Change, thank you. As someone who also struggles with BPD, it is encouraging to see other individuals with BPD who have gone to live a full life. At times things can seem bleak for BPD's and there aren't enough positive role models. This is why I am currently writing a book called "Between Black and White - Testimonies from people with BPD who survived and thrive" to provide hope to others with BPD. I would love to have the opportunity to chat with you over Skype for half an hour. And if there is anyone else who has recovered from BPD and is now living a full life, please contact me. I'm looking forwards to hearing back from you. Olivia (from Christchurch, New Zealand).

Hi Heather/all..

In need of some advice if anyone can help... I have just found out my father has been diagnosed with a personality disorder (never heard of it till today). I feel abit relieved that he has been diagnosed with this in a way, as I have always felt rejected by him, he could never seem to show me he loved me & has had real anger/dink problems all my life and I could never conect with him. Due to all this we dont have a good father daughter relationship... I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what would be the best way to help my father or support networks avaliable?? Also if anyones else has gone through this if they could let me know if its possible to have a proper relationship with him one day?? Or do I need to change in order to fit him and his needs?? would be ever so greatfull if anyone could shine a little light on any of this as completely in the dark at the moment thank you ❤ xxx


Hi Laura, I'm really sorry to hear that you are having a tough time after your father's diagnosis. We have a number of support links here: Take care, Crystal at Time to Change

Hi Heather,

Hi Heather, I, like you, suffer from BPD. I've had it since I was little, I think; doctors initially thought it was possibly Asperger's, because socially, I barely ever had one close friend for years and I was pretty much a loner. I was finally officially diagnosed with depression in 2010 and BPD in 2013. Unfortunately, with a diagnosis doesn't bring everything fixing itself. Depression is the biggest symptom of my BPD. It presents itself in many, many ways: isolation, verbal abrasion (defensive "word vomit"), suicidal thoughts, crying spells, lots of sleep, extremely low self-esteem and self-worth (this started as far back as second grade, due to a LOT of bullying), feelings of loneliness, emptiness, worthlessness, self-hatred, self-loathing (again, victim); and the world more often than not seems black and white, not grey. I'm also extremely obsessive, but NOT compulsive. If I'm dealing with a problem, I won't mentally be able to stop obsessing about it until I find the solution, or someone helps me find it. I've been that way since I was little, too. I've also engaged in risky, impulsive behaviors that took months of close friends and family both talking with me constantly, trying to convince me to stop being so naive and see clearly what I was doing, for me to come out of my own head, and fully realize, and stop. This went on for about 4 or 5 years. I haven't done anything like it since. However, a diagnosis of any of the bipolars has been ruled out, because I've never been manic. I sound like I swallowed a textbook, but this is my reality and has been for a long time. What makes it even harder is my dad and my paternal grandparents don't believe in depression, maybe not even mental illness, period. They just think I'm "severely disappointed" in my life and that I just need to not be so hard on myself and cheer up (which is, in and of itself, the tiniest of a valid point, but totally irrelevant.) Fortunately, my mom and my stepdad have been hugely supportive and have helped me enormously over the past several years, in more ways than I can even think of, even if it's just with a hug or the right words. I am not finished with therapy and am on meds, but I have only been hospitalized once, over a weekend in 2013 and haven't been back since. And I don't plan on going back, hopefully ever. Here's to keeping it that way. Cheers.

Getting better

Hello, This is a lovely post to read and as someone who was diagnosed two years ago, I just want to say to everyone to keep going. I still have setbacks and bumps in road but on the whole I am a completely different person. It's very difficult, but totally worth it and it gets easier and easier. Good luck to all off you, your beautiful. You just can't see it xxx

My BPD story

I am BPD and I am ashamed. I'm ashamed to admit I'm ashamed. Others think I "should" be ashamed. I was bullied in school and sixth form and called an "attention seeking psycho". I left education and took out my rage on the people who love and support me. My mood swings are extremely painful. I'm either fired up with rage or catatonic with sadness. Thankfully, I don't have a partner or children- they'd only suffer putting up with me :( I'm only 21 and my life is pretty much over. I'm about to lose my job because I get angry at all the abusive customers. If they scream and swear at me, I scream and swear back- I can't control it! I've been hospitalised with self-harm now 3 times. I requested DBT and have been rejected for ANY help because "your case is not severe enough" Seriously?! What kind of message does that say to a BPD sufferer? "Okay, guess I'll have to do something reckless and life-threatening to get the help" By that point it could be too late for someone. The MH services are a joke! It's no wonder so many people lose their lives to a mental illness. This disorder is going to kill me. It technically already has. I'm a shell of the person I was. I blame the bullies from sixth form. I blame my local MH service- I hope they never have to experience what I'm experiencing. I just want help so badly. Please. Sorry to bring such negativity to the comments- I'm just in agony with this disorder. Heather, I'm glad you're not ashamed and recovering. I wish I had your strength xx

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