Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with mental illness: Learning to accept your positive traits with the rest

I’m empathetic, intuitive, resilient and intense.

Living with mental illness: Learning to accept your positive traits with the rest

Mental health blogger Fiona Kennedy looks at the positive traits associated with BPD

I came across an image on Twitter recently, listing the positive traits of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Among them were: passionate, empathetic, creative, artistic, intuitive, resilient, intelligent, witty, spontaneous, intense, devoted… You get the idea.

A few months ago, when I was firmly of the conviction that BPD was an illness, something I’d have for the rest of my life, I would have found this very reassuring. So much of what’s written about BPD paints people with this diagnosis in an extremely negative light, it’s always refreshing to come across something more positive. There would also have been a little niggling feeling of something not sitting right though – that BPD defined every aspect of who I am, good, bad and indifferent, that it was all out of my control.

However, in recent months I’ve been coming to a very different understanding of the term ‘mental illness’ and all that it entails. This is very new to me, and I’m still learning, so forgive me if I’m not making a whole lot of sense. I’m struggling to grasp the extent of it myself. But here’s a thought – what if what we know as mental illness isn’t actually an illness? The symptoms are very, very real, and I’m not denying those for a second. But what if those symptoms point to something more than just a label? What if they point to a reason for the label?

Let me try and explain. I’ve recently started working with a therapist who has some very interesting theories, the most significant of these being that two of the most common mental health difficulties, depression and anxiety, are not in fact illnesses, but emotion(s) tied to events from our past that our brains haven’t processed. Please don’t stop reading!! I was really, really sceptical too. But the more I’m learning about it, and actively experiencing the therapy, the more sense it makes.


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