Katie Reed, a blogger and mom of four from Salt Lake City, spent many years living with “quiet” borderline personality disorder before getting a proper diagnosis. Before that, she was misdiagnosed repeatedly — with bipolar disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and anxiety disorder — none of which ever felt “right.”
Ben learns he is not allowed to take personal calls during business hours at his new job at a strict government agency. His supervisor gives him an emergency number so family members can reach him when absolutely necessary.
The news immediately fills him with dread. Ben’s daughter, Lisa, has borderline personality disorder. She calls him a few times a week, often while he’s at work. A supportive and understanding father, Ben was happy to chat with her at his old office where there were no limitations on phone calls.
Now he has to inform his daughter that their mid-week check ins will need to be less frequent and occur only in the evening. With noticeable reluctance, he provides the emergency number to Lisa.
As with many types of traumatic or mental disorders, certain criteria must be met to receive a diagnosis. Following the structure of these guidelines is meant to allow for an accurate and unbiased determination. However, when it comes to the differentiation between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), the question of whether men and women are diagnosed differently has been raised.
According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 1.6% to 5.9% of adults in the U.S. have BPD. And of those actually diagnosed, 75% were women, despite the fact that men are just as likely to display symptoms. A non-profit organization, PTSD United, found that roughly 8% of Americans have PTSD. Additionally, 1 out of 9 females in the U.S. have PTSD, while the rate for males is about half that. These statistics alone call for us to question whether there is a divide in diagnosis based on gender. Before we can safely address the issue of gender, though, it’s important to look at the symptoms and characteristics that are used to diagnose both Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For a mental health professional to diagnose a patient with BPD, they must display at least 5 of the qualifying symptoms. These include unstable relationships altering between idealization and devaluation, frantic efforts to avoid social abandonment, a distorted self-image that affects emotional stability, impulsive behaviors, suicidal and self-harming behavior, periods of depression, irritability, or anxiety that last between a few hours to a few days, chronic boredom or feelings of emptiness, uncontrollable anger, and dissociative feelings. Most psychological research indicates the causes are genetic, environmental (from the experience of a traumatic event), neurological, or a combination of the three. Continue reading PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder: A Gendered Divide in Diagnosis?
Throughout Mental Health Month, we are focused on ways to empower individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. As part of this celebration, we profiled “Mental Health Warriors,” individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. We caught up with famed NFL wide receiver, mental health advocate, and founder of Project 375, Brandon Marshall.
Talkspace: You have been open about sharing your experience with having Borderline Personality Disorder. Thinking back, at what point did you realize you had an issue?
Brandon Marshall: It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I realized something was off. I had made it to the NFL, but my life had become a living hell. After living in my own hell for six years, I finally sought help and ended up at McLean Hospital in their outpatient program. I spent three months there and that’s where I received the diagnosis of BPD. Once I got the diagnosis, I started doing Dialectal Behavioral Therapy as well as some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It was the most phenomenal experience and it changed my life. Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Brandon Marshall
Am I a good person? It’s a question we all ask ourselves from time to time, but for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, it carries special significance.
As someone living with BPD, I’ve heard all sorts of negative comments about those dealing with the condition: we’re manipulative, angry, selfish, unable to empathize, incapable of maintaining long-term commitments — the list goes on. While it’s true that many people with BPD do exhibit some of these qualities at various times, they don’t describe all of us, at all times.
I’d love to say that I’ve never exhibited any of these qualities, but BPD, like most mental health disorders, exists on a sliding scale of severity. It’s a spectrum, one that changes depending on the amount of pressure being applied.
I’ve never been under as much pressure as I was in 2014. My second marriage fell apart in February (seemingly overnight, but was actually the result of many years of neglect and denial). In the weeks that followed, I enjoyed a tryst that ended horrendously (another story for another time). Then, on a rainy April afternoon, I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child (I’d spent the two years leading up to that moment on a waiting list to get my tubes tied). Continue reading Am I a Good Person? A Borderline Personality Perspective