This month, we recognize the power of education and awareness efforts to save lives.
In 2008, May was designated as National Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month by the U.S. House of Representatives. H. Res 1005, spearheaded by Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), passed unanimously when put to a vote, and this year we celebrate the 4th year of ongoing awareness and education efforts by committed researchers and survivors to better serve affected individuals and their loved ones.
Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD as it is commonly called, affects an estimated 18 million Americans. Approximately 10 percent of BPD sufferers will commit suicide before adequate treatment is provided. 33 percent of youth who commit suicide have displayed prior symptoms associated with BPD.
When BPD first begins to rear its head in early adulthood, this brain-based psychiatric illness can have devastating results. Loved ones watch, first with puzzlement and later with fear and hopelessness, as their loved one begins to exhibit the severe emotional instability that characterizes BPD.
As BPD progresses, rageful outbursts, recurrent attempts at self-harm and suicide, extreme fear of abandonment (imagined or real), impulse control issues, and severe relational chaos become the norm rather than the exception. In the wake of the interpersonal devastation BPD causes, loved ones of a BPD-affected individual often feel unable to cope.
The good news is, there are several national organizations that are now actively engaged in year-round initiatives to connect BPD-affected individuals and their loved ones with sources of hope, inspiration, treatment, and ongoing support.
The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) has posted information about the history of National Borderline Personality Month and ideas for how to share information about BPD in your community.
Activist Tammy Green, herself a survivor of BPD, serves as a spokesperson for the NEA-BPD and urges BPD sufferers and their families not to retreat into silence and secrecy, but to reach out, speak out, and connect with others who may be able to offer support and assistance. As Tammy states in her article “BPD 2.0 – The Next Wave”:
Onward my friends. We are in this together. And what a wonderful ride it is, if only we will allow it. There is much to celebrate, and much to do.
For survivors like Tammy, it is all too clear how critical education and awareness-building actions are for sustaining affected individuals and their families through the often deadly progression of the disease. She urges affected individuals and their loved ones to educate themselves about the disease, and then pass what they have learned on to others as well.
This month, in recognition of the powerful impact awareness and education can have in the lives of those who suffer, consider sharing information about BPD in your community. I encourage you to use the NEA-BPD literature, posted on their website, to inform others about how BPD develops and progresses, and current recommended treatment programs that can help.
The NEA-BPD offers a wealth of printable and downloadable posters, graphics, and handouts that you can share both with your online social network and in your local community. Consider accessing the following resources to share information about National BPD Awareness Month this month:
The McLean Hospital BPD Family Guidelines flyer is a comprehensive 11-page lifesaver for families of BPD-affected individuals.
The BPD Fact Sheet gives the latest statistics and initiatives underway to better support BPD-affected individuals and their families.
The BPD Brief offers a comprehensive overview of the origins, symptoms, and current treatment options.
The BPD Awareness Month Flyer is designed to reach out to those who are suffering in secrecy and silence with a message of hope.
Most importantly, if you or someone you love is suffering with BPD, or is displaying symptoms frequently associated with the onset of BPD, do not wait. I encourage you to contact one of the following national organizations for information about BPD support and treatment resources in your area:
National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI): http://www.nami.org/
National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD): http://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com/
And if you live in or near Davidson, North Carolina, visit www.southlakecounseling.com to learn more about our specialized BPD treatment programs. At the Southlake Center, we offer a full course of individual and group Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) options for BPD-affected individuals and their families.