Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder – The Illness No-one Talks About

“A crucial element of the real self is its unconditional acceptance of itself.”

EUPD is a Mental Disorder which I can only describe as an umbrella term which encompasses many different traits and characteristics. Really, this is my primary diagnosis, yet it is the one that I have been most reluctant to talk about. This is because it is so misunderstood due to its nature, name and the stigma surrounding it. I could make a general post about EUPD, but I worry I may not be able to fully show what it’s like for others – owing to the fact that the illness manifests itself in different ways for each individual sufferer. So prepare yourselves for a personal post. I’ll try and explain how EUPD is for me, in my own words.

I was 18 when I was diagnosed with EUPD and I wasn’t particularly shocked. Good old google had basically diagnosed me already after each one of my evenings was spent searching for what was wrong with me. However, before that, It took an inpatient admission to the Young Persons Unit in Edinburgh for the professionals to tell me what they thought I had. At that point, I was 17, so I was told I had ’emerging EUPD’ as they do not diagnosis the disorder in adolescents. I would not wish EUPD on anyone. Not even my worst enemy. It is utter hell and it is only recently that it has even been seen as treatable. Previously, it was considered chronic, and professionals would avoid having to deal with patients with the disorder owing to its complexity and a huge lack of knowledge in how to treat it. I’m happy to say that it is now considered a treatable illness, although recovery is not easy. There is no specific pill to treat EUPD. Anti-depressants do little to ease the symptoms, although some anti-psychotics have been found to work at lower doses. There is, however, two types of therapy that are believed to have the most positive outcomes. These are called DBT and MBT and are both types of psychotherapy, but I’ll get on to them later.

I bet I’ve confused you now. You’re probably sat wondering, yes, but what is it? What is this disorder with a scary name which has perplexed psychiatrists for years. Well, I’m going to do my best to tell you.

EUPD stands for Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It used to be called Borderline Personality Disorder and was named as such due to the belief that it it was on the borderline between neurosis and psychosis. However, the name has since been changed and while I don’t particularly like it, it does do better to explain what EUPD is all about.

There are 4 areas in which symptoms can be grouped and I shall go through each four and explain a bit about them and how they are for me, personally.

1. Emotional Instability

For me this means that I experience an intense range of, usually negative, emotions. It is very distressing and very difficult to manage as I tend to feel everything 100x more than everyone else. Marsha Linehan said “People with EUPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” This sums it up perfectly. I am fiercely sensitive and I can experience a whole range of emotions in one day. I find it very difficult to control my emotions and the hardest part is never knowing if how I am feeling is justified for the given situation or whether it would be considered an over-reaction.

2. Disturbed thinking patterns

I experience a lot of upsetting and intrusive thoughts. By this I mean I get a lot of thoughts which make me believe I am a terrible person, friend, sister etc. It is like having an abusive partner in your head constantly telling you every day that you are not good enough and that you are undeserving. I am bombarded with thoughts telling me I am useless, stupid, fat, ugly and a waste of space. It’s incredibly difficult to fight these thoughts and challenge them. I have learnt to recognise them for what they are and accept that they are not true – for the most part. In reality, they are nothing more than the result and fall out of past incidents which have happened but fighting these thoughts is an ongoing battle. People with EUPD often have low self-confidence and little self-worth. We also have an unstable sense of self, meaning we often feel like we don’t know who we are. For me this makes it harder to challenge the negative thoughts and it is even tougher to try and change thought patterns which have been ingrained for many years.

3. Impulsive behaviour

Impulse behaviour is a big part of EUPD. This is mostly to do with self harm and suicide attempts but also impulsiveness in other areas which for me include spending and binge eating/drinking. I’ve struggled with self harm since the age of 14, and it has been a long battle but ultimately it is an addiction which has only gotten worse over the years. I tend to go through periods of time when I’m not self harming but normally these are at times that my Eating Disorder is taking priority. I don’t want to talk too much about suicide attempts as it is upsetting and distressing for my family to read but it is an intrinsic part of the diagnosis and something which has caused my family a lot of pain and anguish. As I said, I would not wish this illness on anyone. With regards to excessive spending,  I tend to spend when I get what is described as ‘chronic feelings of emptiness’. It feels like a void that can only be filled by spending, eating or drinking in excess. Like self harm, I guess, it works for a while but ultimately just causes more problems than it originally solves.

4. Unstable relationships  

I experience very black and white thinking. I have a small number of close friends that I trust but with new people its almost as if I either love them or hate them. There are very few people whom I am able to put in between. This can lead me to have very intense friendships and attachments which cause problems if they turn sour. I find my black and white thinking extends to all areas of my life and I find it very difficult to see grey areas in situations but particularly regarding people. If a friend where to cancel on me, for example, I would automatically jump to thinking they must hate me rather than rationalising the different reasons why they may have cancelled. I also have an intense fear of abandonment which coupled with low self-esteem, causes a lot of issues surrounding relationships as I’m scared people will leave me because my thoughts tell me I am not a good person and undeserving of love and attention.

As you can see EUPD is extremely convoluted and there are a lot of other symptoms which I don’t experience and therefore feel uneasy talking about. The treatment for EUPD is now thought to be either Dialectic Behavioural therapy or Mentalisation Based therapy. I have only ever had MBT in the past so I know next to nothing about DBT – only that it is considered a treatment option. MBT looks at how individuals interpret their social world by examining how other people and/ certain situations influence their behaviour and feelings. It has been incredibly successful in the treatment of EUPD and has certainly helped me in the past. I found it particularly helpful that the focus is on the here and now. I feel like it has given me a lot of insight into how my illness affects me on a day to day basis which is important when trying to control impulsive behaviour and regulate emotions.

Ok, so that’s all for now. Apologies for the long post and congratulations if you managed to get this far! I just felt it was important to explain a bit about an illness that is hardly every talked about and therefore completely unfamiliar to many people. I hope you found this informative and if you have any questions feel free to comment below 🙂

thanks for reading

xx

 

Why I hate the weight loss industry

Hands up who has ever tried or been tempted to try any crazy diet or pill to lose weight? I certainly have.

Studies have shown that 2/3 women have tried to diet in the last year. But have we ever stopped to think why we are so concerned with our weight? We live in society where girls are taught that they must not take up space. We tell people that they ‘look good’ when they lose weight but telling them they ‘look healthy’ has connotations of weight gain. Studies have further shown that girls as young as 8 are dissatisfied with their bodies. When did this happen? When did we allow our 8 year old girls to feel so inadequate because they have thighs that touch? When did we stop teaching them that it is who you are on the inside that is so much more important?

So why do I hate the weight loss industry? Well firstly, because they are constantly pushing messages that we are not good enough because we are not thin enough. So we must take this pill that will make us thinner, or lose 10 pounds in a week with this one secret, or drop a dress size in 3 weeks. Because then we will be happier, more confident and our lives will be more together…right? Wrong. Weight loss does not equal happiness. Rapid weight loss, as promoted by the weight loss industry, does not even equate to good physical health. All it does is promote the destruction of our bodies and the manipulation of our organism in order to fabricate quick weight loss results which are completely unmaintainable in the long term.

Secondly, it takes advantage. January is a month I hate. Why? Not because of the long dark days, cold temperatures and dreary weather but because the weight loss industry takes advantage of the post-Christmas slump. Christmas is such a happy time for most people, and yes it’s indulgent. But who cares? Who cares that you spent a month eating two mince pies for breakfast, accidentally ate your advent calender in one go (we’ve all done it) and drank far too much on Christmas Day. In reality no-one cares because we’re all in the same boat. But I’ll tell you who does care, the weight loss industry. Christmas is barely over and everywhere you turn, in every shop, there is a book or DVD or magazine encouraging you to lose weight. But its not just suggesting you might want to lose weight. It’s telling you you SHOULD want to lose weight. You must because it is vital that those few pounds you put on over Christmas are lost. And as fast as possible.

But does it stop there? Oh no. Fast forwarded to May and we are quite literally bombard with adverts and magazines all telling us how to get ‘that bikini body’. Let me tell you one thing right now. You already have your bikini body. You have a body. Next stick a bikini on it. Now whether you’re a size 2 or 22 strut your stuff because no-one has a right to tell you whether you are ‘beach body ready’ or not. You’re already ready. And damn you look good.

Thirdly, it worries me what all these messages are doing to our younger generation. I’m concerned that in a world where we have an obesity epidemic, we will also see a considerable rise in disordered eating among adolescents. I am saddened to read that children so young are unhappy with their bodies. We should be teaching children how fantastic their bodies are and that fuelling them with healthy food is not just a means of maintaining a healthy weight but a means of maintaining a healthy body. We should be telling them that they are beautiful no matter what and that their weight has no correlation with who they are as a person.

If you are unhappy with your weight, try and figure out why. It could be to do with something much deeper. Do you constantly compare yourself to your friends? Do you change 8 times before you go out because you’re desperately trying to find clothes that make you look thinner. Could it perhaps be that you are unhappy with yourself and you are subconsciously using your body to project that insecurity you feel within? Just remember everyBODY is different.

My main struggle is that my natural body weight is the upper side of healthy. And even though my body weight is still healthy at my set point and my body works best there, I struggle with the relentless talks of diets and detoxes and am jealous of those with a naturally low set point. But we are all wonderfully unique and its about time we accepted that our lives should not be ruled by a number on a scale, or what clothing size we are but by what kind of person we are and how hard we love, how wide we smile and how strongly we care for others.

xx

 

Recovery is not a Straight Road

“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you it is going to be worth it.”

I began this blog with the intention of being honest and of documenting my experience of living with severe Mental Illness in a frank, truthful and transparent way. Recovery from any illness is not a straight road. Far from it in fact. And what would be the usefulness of this blog if I continually painted a rose tinted picture of recovery? Though I have no intention of writing negative and triggering posts, it is inevitable that not every one of my posts will be brimming with positivity. So I apologise in that respect. What I will try and do, and what I am teaching myself to do each day, is to find light when there is darkness in the hope to inspire others to do the same.

So here goes.  I feel stuck. I do not feel positive today. In fact, the crippling nature of Depression is simply making me want to hide under my bed sheets and sleep for 100 years. I do not have the fight in me today. I do not have the mental energy to fight this war in my head. I simply feel like giving up. Because it is not just some days I battle. It is every day. Every day I have to make the choice to get up and fight for my life back. Unfortunately, Depression does not make that easy. It can be very determined.

Depression often feels like you have no control. The fog descends before you have even opened your eyes and bang, you are hit by the most debilitating yet familiar feeling in the world. Having battled Major Depressive Disorder for 8 years, I am used to it. That is why it is familiar. It is almost like my default emotion. If you have never suffered with Depression, (I would beg you to count your lucky stars), I often say it is as if my good days are other peoples bad days. You are stripped of the ability to feel anything remotely good or positive. You are bombarded with negative thoughts in your head which are constant and relentless, and all of which can range from ‘you are useless’ to ‘you deserve to die’. This is the reality of Depression and there is no sugar coating it. Your ability to feel happiness, joy or fun is crushed and you are left with nothing but this dark cloud that you cannot for the life of you shake off.

So yes, I am struggling. Food has not been easy this past week to put it lightly. Anorexia and Depression appear to have become the best of friends and when both are strong I struggle to keep focused on recovery. It seems almost easier to let them take over and allow them to fill my mind with destructive thoughts to which I feel powerless. Anorexia tells me I do not deserve nourishment, Depression tells me this is because I am worthless. Coupled together, it feels like two against one. Which lets be honest here, has never been fair.

But guess what? It’s OK to have bad days. It is normal to struggle and have days where you feel like it is all too much. And I know that. I know that that is what I would tell anyone else in my situation but applying it to myself is hard today. YET I have to remember who is in charge here. I am. Not Depression. Not Anorexia. Not anyone/anything else. Jenny is. I guess the important thing is to try and not wallow in the overwhelming blackness, which is something I am really bad for. I admire those who suffer with depression and manage it really well. The funny thing is I am not self pitying, I just tell myself I can’t a lot. I can’t shower, I can’t get dressed, I can’t eat today. Why? Because it is too hard, It is just too much. But where does that leave me? Answer: in an even worse place than if I had made myself do those things in the first place.

Sometimes you cannot sit in the dark and just hope the light will go on. Chances are it will not. So today I got up and I got dressed and considering how low I have felt today I am considering this an achievement, however small. Despite this I still feel mentally drained, but I am still determined to make it through. I once promised myself I would not give up. No matter how hard it got. So I’ll sleep tonight simply praying that tomorrow will be a little brighter and determined to fight that little bit harder.

xx

p.s 1 in 10 of us will suffer with depression at some point in our lives. As I have explained, It is not a case of just ‘being sad’, it is a serious and recognised illness for which there is medication and therapy. Please if you are suffering. Seek help. Do not be embarrassed. You deserve to get better, do not suffer in silence .<3

But you look normal?

“There is so much more to Eating Disorders than just weight.”

Let us just get one thing straight. Eating Disorders are not solely about weight. Weight loss can be a SYMPTOM albeit a dangerous one. It is a Mental Illness with physical side effects. Body Dysmorphia Disorder often coincides with Eating Disorders and it is for this reason that suffers will continually see themselves as fat when this is often far from the truth. There are MANY Eating Disorders. Most people have only heard of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa but there is also Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia purging subtype, A – typical Anorexia and Binge Eating Disorder (BED) to name but a few. There is also a common misconception that sufferers must look emaciated or underweight to be suffering. This is not the case. You can have an Eating Disorder at ANY weight. And believe me, the struggle does not end when weight restoration is achieved. This misconception often prevents people from seeking help sooner. They may feel they are not ‘sick enough’ or are afraid that they will not be believed.


Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental illnesses. 20% of sufferers will die prematurely and only 30% will fully recover. This is why they are so serious. I believe it is important to raise awareness, to show people the severity of these diseases and to encourage people to seek help. Eating Disorders are not about vanity or the result of a diet gone wrong. They are serious psychiatric conditions that cause immense pain and anguish and require intensive long term treatment.

Thanks for reading.

xx

Who am I?

“Sometimes we’ll find it. The balance between who we wish to be and who we need to be. But for now, we simply have to be satisfied with who we are.”

I have often asked myself ‘who am I?”. Who am I without this illness that dictates every part of my life – from the calories I eat, to the clothes I wear, to the things I do and the things I choose not to do. My likes and dislikes, even some friendships…EVERYTHING is ruled by my illnesses. I wonder how I will ever be free when this is all I have known for the past 8 years. How do I get better when I do not know what better is? “No Jenny – you cannot eat this, do that, wear those. You do not deserve to look nice. You are too fat and too ugly.” This is essentially your life while consumed by an Eating Disorder.

I worry people think this is a disease driven by vanity or a sick desire for attention. I assure you it is not. I almost wish it were the case that I could ‘blame’ my Eating Disorder on stick thin fashion models, a world obsessed with dieting and a society in which the media portrays thin as being in. It would be easy, in that case, to establish a cause and maybe even then to find a cure. But for me it has never just been about being thin. It has been about control and perfectionism. It has been about fighting hard against adulthood and wanting to make myself so small I didn’t take up space. I hated my body yes, but I hated myself 100x more.

I am still trying to recover after my most recent relapse. I have bad days, good days and some horrifically awful days.  Yes I had to eat. But I also had to understand that I am never going to recover if I cannot accept myself – and within that I have to allow myself to love my body. And not its aesthetic appearance necessarily, but I have to find it in me to love what it does. My body fights to keep me going every single day and even after all the sh*t I have put it through, I am still here – living and breathing. Hating your body is easy. It is loving your body enough to nourish and not punish it that is hard.

Yet, honestly, the hardest thing I have learnt is to try and separate myself from the Eating Disorder. I have to constantly ask myself questions. What does JENNY want to do? What does JENNY want for dinner? JENNY would prefer to take the lift over the stairs because, lets be honest, who has time for stairs. And those extra calories burnt are so not worth it. It takes time and it takes practice. I hope one day I can live freely, and not constantly feel like at every corner my Eating Disorder is waiting to trip me up. I want to answer questions without hesitating as I frantically fight with two sides of my brain. But I guess it is about promising myself that I will get up each and every time I fall and to try and never fall in the same way twice.

I am learning every day how to be kinder to my body. I am learning every day how to fight back against negative thoughts. But most importantly, every day I’m learning who I am and every day I get a little bit of ‘Jenny’ back.

xx