DIARY: Despised by those once close, made to feel ugly. What have I done? I did the best I could. Was I really to blame, or was it the label someone stuck on me?


Where do you go when you have an illness that doctors 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 absurd and a big injustice that people with borderline personality disorder often have the greatest difficulty getting treatment from mental health professionals. BPD remains one of the most stigmatized conditions and, although effective therapy is available, it is seen as one of the worst of all mental disorders to treat. As a result, many are refused treatment by counselors.

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.”

A network of stereotypes and clinical lore contribute to this stigma,” says Ron B. Aviram, author of Borderline Personality Disorder, Stigma and Treatment Implications. Patients with BPD are seen as “treatment resistant,” “manipulative,” “demanding,” “drama queens,” and “attention-seekers.” Stigma begins when “the perception of a negative attribute becomes associated with global devaluation of the person.”

And, you know reader, this is such an abhorrent way to treat human beings when they’re not even to blame. What is to blame is the traumatic treatment they received at some time in their past. BPD is fundamentally about the unbearable inner pain that results and the disordered response to that pain. As difficult as symptoms may be for family and friends to endure, they are most strongly felt by sufferers themselves.

I want to end with a little story from the experience of a person living with BPD:

A while ago at school, I overheard borderline personality brought up in a conversation between a social worker and some students. I casually lingered to hear the discussion. Within moments, the social worker loudly declared those with BPD are “borderline human” and will “fake pain to manipulate others.” Next, he exclaimed, “I can smell borderlines from a mile away!”

I immediately left the building crying and thoughts spiraled through my head. “Is that what they really think of me? Haven’t they ever thought about what this pain is like through my eyes?