Nicky's story

A young woman, Nicky, stands in a garden, smiling at the camera.

Personality disorders continue to be highly stigmatised in society. Here, Nicky shares her experience of emotionally unstable personality disorder and how it affects her, to help combat the stigma.

Trigger warning: This story includes details which some readers may find upsetting.

One in 100 people have EUPD/BPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder/borderline personality disorder). With this diagnosis, one in 10 people die directly because of it.

If it was a physical illness that killed 1 in 10 people, we would we be investing huge amounts of time, money and resources to solve it, but instead people with EUPD are told they are attention seeking, time wasters and that if they wanted to take their own lives, they would have. 

I am one of the one in 100 people who have EUPD and I would say I fit all of the nine criteria (you only need fit five for a diagnosis) there is for EUPD.

Many people do not know how to handle people with EUPD – we can’t just snap out of crisis. What might make you sad makes us devastated to the point it physically hurts. When you are happy, we are ecstatic but yet this all changes within a second.

One minute you’re on top of the world, the next you feel like the world is no longer worth living for.

I can’t tell you how awful this rapid mood change is. Often there is no obvious trigger that we can think of when you ask why we are suddenly sad. Yet we feel so sad we want to hurt ourselves. People with EUPD are hugely empathetic people who just want to be treated humanely. 

In having EUPD, you have symptoms of every major psychiatric disorder yet it can’t be fixed by pills. We can only learn to manage and this takes a lot of time. So when we are upset, don’t get frustrated. We are in the process of learning and it’s not an overnight fix. We have to learn to control our impulses, urges and mood swings but this is far from easy and I am nowhere near there yet.

EUPD is most often caused by trauma. Because of the trauma we have experienced, parts of our brain have not developed correctly so this means that we cannot process emotions properly so be patient.  Please don’t let this scare you from being empathetic and caring of someone with EUPD. This is just a symptom of our illness not that’s something inherently wrong with us. 

When I am stressed, I start losing touch with reality and become paranoid to the point that I think I have to sacrifice myself. I dissociate when I’m upset. However, what I haven’t talked about yet is the feeling of numbness when you feel nothing and you’re just desperate to feel something you resort to pain. The immediate guilt, the lifelong scar and then, when it fades, the urge to do it again. 

So I come back to the beginning – why do we not put more into treating EUPD? Stigma. Stigma amongst professionals is particularly prevalent, much more than other diagnoses – but we are human, we deserve respectful treatment and we have a past, most usually a difficult one.

Please keep that in mind when dealing with someone with EUPD as all we want, in most cases, is someone to care.