As you’ve heard before, the stigma attached to BPD is enormous, making the lives of those who live with it very difficult. They feel like the outcasts of Jesus’ time must have felt – like they don’t belong and are not worthy of respect. Drawing from my personal experiences as well as others’ I will try to describe what BPD is and hopefully help understanding grow. As we learn to understand those who differ from ourselves we should find it easier to accept them into our churches, and to offer them a place of safety.

As you go through my writings you will come to see that we who live with BPD need not be feared. Physically harming others is uncommon. Although the inappropriate anger we sometimes display is scary to witness, we are not bad people. What happens is usually triggered by something, causing overwhelming emotion rooted in our past – often from childhood. The anger is not a deliberate response. When it comes, we’re helpless to control it.

Behaviour like angry outbursts is one of the things that gives us a bad reputation. But what people don’t see is that the same individual who behaves in such a scary way at times may not be at all like that on the inside. People with BPD can have the same good qualities – the same good character – others have. They can be loving, generous, kind, compassionate human beings. They are people who want to make a contribution to the world they live in.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a treatment many take advantage of. It’s proven to be effective in many cases. Others have a therapist to help them work through the sources of their emotions. But I believe there is also a role for faith to play in helping us recover. How can members of the church encourage us to trust God, and give us the security and peace we need?

Since I developed the disorder, I have never let go of my faith. In fact, in an effort to find healing, I walked closer to Jesus than ever before. That kept me going. Jesus can help us. Through us he can still heal as he did so many years ago. I pray that we will look to God to show us how we can be Christ’s presence for those who need him today.

BPD can be overcome. We must hold onto this hope.

I’d like to offer myself as an example, although my case is unusual. I developed BPD as a result of trauma around 2015. People who had been friends before this came to fear me and avoided me. It was a difficult time. But I never stopped sending out the weekly devotionals I had been sending out since 2013. Through these mailings, God helped me provide encouragement, comfort and hope to individuals with mental health issues. And as I wrote, I myself received those same blessings.

I continued my life, faithful to God and the work he had given me. All this, in spite of suffering from traumatic memories, in spite of emotional outbursts, in spite of losing friends because they feared me. Does that sound like I should be thought badly of or avoided? I hope this in itself will help you appreciate a little of what this disorder is and isn’t.

I write mostly from what I’ve learned from experience – from living with a diagnosis which only includes features of the illness – not all of them. With God’s help I hope to help you understand BPD as I’ve come to understand it. I hope you’ll learn to be open to accepting those affected. I pray that you’ll be encouraged to care for them and include them among your friends. What we most need is love – the kind of love Jesus would like all of us to have.

This has been part 3, Understanding BPD. Read Part 4 Fear of BPD