Understanding Borderline

Understanding Borderline

Feeling Strong Project Director, Brook Marshall, shares their experience of Borderline Personality Disorder in the first of our #NoFilterNeeded daily article series!


CW: Suicide

Unlike mood challenges such as Depression and Anxiety, which are becoming more widely talked about and understood, not many people know or understand Borderline, or personality disorders in general. This is probably because it affects a small percentage of the population compared to other mental health challenges, but also because Borderline carries a certain amount of stigma and shame, even within the mental health community.

Borderline, also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, affects the ability to manage emotions. Put simply, people who live with Borderline: feel things more deeply, experience radical mood changes, face difficulties in maintaining stable relationships and act impulsively or self-destructively. For me, Borderline is very difficult to live with and manage, and it affects almost every area of my life, but most noticeably my relationships. People can often perceive me to be intense or erratic, and to a certain extent that is true, but it’s because there’s normally so much going on under the surface that they don’t see, and I’m working so hard to keep everything under control. I’m not always able to do that, however, even with the best of intentions.

People who face Borderline experience very intense periods of emotion which can change at a moments notice. One minute you can be euphoric and manic, and then later you’re feeling depressed and hopeless. Changing from one mood to another so quickly can be exhausting, and at times I feel like I have emotional whiplash. I used to really struggle in expressing myself and how I felt, because so much of the underlying issues which contribute to Borderline can be repressed or subconscious - you’re left feeling like you have no idea why you struggle more than the people around you which makes you feel isolated and vulnerable. Borderline is often linked to other mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, mania, paranoia and dissociation, as well as substance dependency issues and self harm. On top of that, we are 50 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Over the years I’ve had experience of all of these, but with the help and support of the people around me I’ve come a long way.

It took a long time for me to get the correct diagnosis from the doctors and professionals that I’ve worked with, and eventually got the correct kind of medication which helped me manage my challenges. What really changed my life was getting access to psychological services. When I’m in my sessions, I take a look at the way I think, and why I might think that way by taking into account my life experiences, learning to control my impulses and change the way I view myself and others.

It’s been a really long, and often unstable, recovery journey, but I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made. My relationships have benefitted so much from my deeper understanding of why I feel how I do, and I’m making so much progress in building strong and lasting relationships. What’s been most helpful during my recovery is opening up and talking to people about my condition, and explaining why I do the things I do. I’m lucky to have friends and family who are patient and caring, and I wouldn’t have made the progress I have without their support.

I hope after reading this you have a bit of a better understanding of Borderline, and why the work I do here at Feeling Strong matters to me so much. if you want to get involved with the work we do, you can volunteer, donate, help share our reach on social media, or get in touch if you have anything else in mind!

- Brook Marshall, Project Director