Your Students' Union

Shedding Light on Borderline Personality Disorder: Navigating the Invisible Struggles

As your Students’ Union Welfare Officer, I feel compelled to address a topic that often isn't visible: our mental health, and in particular, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is crucial to understand that mental health struggles are not always visible, yet they can hugely impact lives.

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Welfare officer Akhil Sha

Trigger warning: this article mentions self harm and suicide, which may be triggering for some individuals.

Borderline personality disorder is more than just mood swings or emotional instability; it is a complex mental illness that affects how people manage their emotions, recognise themselves, and interact with others. Imagine constantly feeling like you are walking on a tightrope of emotions, never quite sure when you might lose your balance.

The signs and symptoms of BPD can be evident in several ways, from intense mood swings and unstable relationships to impulsive behaviours and repeated thoughts of self-harm or suicide. However, these struggles often go unnoticed or misunderstood, leading to stigma and isolation for those affected.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Efforts to avoid reality or abandonment, such as rushing headfirst into relationships - or ending them just as quickly.
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones.
  • A distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self.
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviours, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance misuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. However, if these behaviours happen mostly during times of elevated mood or energy, they may be symptoms of a mood disorder and not borderline personality disorder.
  • Self-harming behaviour, such as cutting.
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or threats.
  • Intense and highly variable moods, with episodes lasting from a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or anger management problems.
  • Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality.

It is essential to recognize the risk factors associated with BPD, which can range from genetic to environmental factors and traumatic experiences. These factors contribute to the development and exacerbation of the disorder, emphasising the importance of early intervention and support.

Associated mental health problems.

Many people with BPD may also suffer from other mental health conditions or behavioural patterns, such as:

BPD can be a serious condition, and some people with the condition self-harm and attempt suicide.

Diagnosing BPD requires an evaluation by a qualified mental health professional, highlighting the necessity of seeking help and breaking the silence surrounding mental health issues. Treatment options, including psychotherapy and medication, can significantly improve individuals' symptoms and quality of life.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) are among the most effective therapeutic approaches for managing BPD symptoms, providing individuals with coping mechanisms and emotional regulation skills. Additionally, family therapy can foster understanding and support within interpersonal relationships, crucial for the recovery process.

Find out more about how BPD is diagnosed

As members of the Coventry University community, we must adopt an environment of empathy, understanding, and support for those struggling with BPD and other mental health challenges. Educating ourselves and others about these invisible struggles is the first step towards creating a more inclusive and compassionate community.

This article is all about awareness and we are not professional practitioners to help you. Find your nearest GP and register for support.

You can also find more services for supporting your Mental Health here.

Together, we can break down the barriers to mental health care and support each other on the journey towards healing and recovery.



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