Where do you go when you have an illness that medical professionals and counselors don’t want to deal with – treated like an untouchable in a modern world? Have you ever thought what that would feel like? It’s happening all the time to people with BPD.

In their book Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, John G. Gunderson MD and Perry D. Hoffman PhD, explain:

“Seldom does an illness, medical or psychiatric, carry such intense stigma and deep shame that its name is whispered, or a euphemism coined, and its sufferers despised and even feared. Perhaps leprosy or syphilis or AIDS fits this category.

“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is such an illness. In fact, it has been called “the leprosy of mental illnesses” and the disorder with “surplus stigma.” It may actually be the most misunderstood psychiatric disorder of our age.”

People with BPD are truly – in every way – today’s outcasts. And I think of Jesus and the many stories in the Bible of those he befriended, cared for, healed. Where is Jesus today? Where is the acceptance we need? The love we so very much need? The care?

In the way Jesus was there for the outcasts in his day, Jesus calls us to be his presence for those the world has rejected. He calls us to be there for people suffering from mental illnesses – and especially that most stigmatized of all, BPD. I believe faith can do much to help such people heal. The potential for healing is great.

BPD entered most lives as a result of difficult childhoods, through pain that is always under the surface. I think to myself: Surely, it’s such hearts that Jesus came to heal. What can we as his followers do to help them?

I recently had an article published outlining the evils of stigma attached to BPD. At the bottom I wrote the following:

“I’m glad that I believe in a God who pays no attention to man-made labels. The God I know sees those of us with BPD as people who might have had rough lives, making us overly sensitive. He sees the hurt child that is deep within so many of us. In other words, he sees our true character. He is less concerned about the personality we display on the outside, because he knows this is not always a good reflection of the character we have within. He will always see us the way we truly are.”

I pray that churches will offer sanctuary for those the world has rejected. A place where they can be encouraged and assured of God’s understanding and love.

Marja

 

To go to the second post in this series go to http://marjabergen.com/archives/understanding-bpd-for-the-church