“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