Have you heard of borderpolar? 5 things you need to know
Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC
You may have heard the term borderpolar on social media or in conversation. While borderpolar is a term, not a diagnosis, it does encapsulate something curious that clinicians have been seeing for years in therapy and that many people live with day to day. The term borderpolar comes from the combination of two comorbid diagnoses. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar Disorders have become popular due to the ease of description.
These diagnoses are entirely different categories, with BPD being a Cluster B personality disorder that impacts an individual's sense of self, relational attachments, and emotional stability. Bipolar disorders are a complete category of three distinct diagnoses, Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar can be seen in family systems, impacts mood, impulsivity, and sleep, and is characterized by shifts from depressed to manic states.
5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BORDERPOLAR
Getting It Right. It takes time to get a correct diagnosis for both BPD and Bipolar disorder. Often, symptoms of BPD can make it difficult to identify other co-morbid diagnoses, and the average time to get an accurate bipolar disorder diagnosis is 7 years. Because people who struggle with bipolar symptoms often seek help when they are depressed. They may be misdiagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder; this can complicate therapy treatment and drag out the time it takes to be accurately diagnosed and treated in therapy and with medications.
Because we know how difficult it can be to get the proper diagnosis and treatment, we prioritize screening and assessing clients when they come to us for help. We work hard with each of our clients to reach their goals and get the appropriate diagnosis and care.
Treatment. There are no distinct medications specifically for BPD, but many psychopharmacological medications treat Bipolar disorders. Medication and therapy are most often needed for managing Bipolar disorders, while specific therapy modalities effectively treat BPD. BPD was previously thought to develop through unhealthy attachments and trauma in childhood. Recent research indicates that BPD also has a genetic component, as do Bipolar disorders.
At Inner Balance Counseling, we are excited to find the right therapeutic fit for you and help support you in the areas you are struggling with. We have many clinicians who love to work with those who have a difficult time due to BPD and Bipolar Disorders. We can find you the help you need and start your healing journey.
Stigma. Even in the clinical mental health communities, BPD carries a stigma of being difficult to treat. This often comes from the difficulties that a person struggling with BPD has in their interpersonal relationships, sense of self, and management of emotions. Thankfully, as research focuses more on finding the cause and evolution of BPD, more understanding and compassion are growing for struggling individuals.
Bipolar diagnosis often has its own stigmas due to the need for medications, the swings in mood that impact functioning, and the occurrence of hallucinations and delusions present in several more severe cases. Bipolar disorder with psychotic features may be confused with schizophrenia outside of clinical treatment and make an individual afraid to seek help and support.
At Inner Balance, we know all about the stigmas surrounding mental health diagnosis and their treatments. We recognize the strength and courage it takes to ask for help despite the stigmas, and we respect each person's journey. We work tirelessly to offer our clients the support and safety that they need to do the hard work of healing and growth.
The Impact. Both BPD and Bipolar Disorders are serious diagnoses and require treatment for a person to be healthy and well. Those suffering from symptoms of BPD may fear abandonment and have complicated and short-lived relationships, and they may also abuse substances and self-harm to self-soothe or cope. Those who struggle with bipolar disorder symptoms may have periods of high energy, lack of sleep, changes in the sense of self, and impulsivity for a time and then sink into depression, low energy, and an increased need for sleep.
These diagnoses cause symptoms that may make it challenging to be a consistent partner, employee, and friend. There are some overlaps in symptoms that may look like connection seeking, loneliness, and feelings of not being normal. When they occur together, they may cause the individual heightened distress, emotional instability, and feelings of helplessness.
Hope. Even though both diagnoses discussed are serious and require specific treatment, there is so much hope for those who may have BPD or bipolar disorder. With the right therapist, doctor, and therapy, a person who struggles with borderpolar symptoms can live a healthy life. Once the proper support is found, many individuals feel good, manage their lives, and even thrive. Our goal with each client is to grow into a place where they can feel good and thrive. No matter the diagnosis.
There can be a tendency to feel less hopeful as the years of an incorrect diagnosis go on. The quality of life for a person who has BPD or Bipolar Disorder and is misdiagnosed or untreated can be low. There are often intense feelings of helplessness and of being a victim of circumstance because the person may not be able to understand what they are going through as a mental health disorder and may instead see it as a personal failing. This can be very hard for those who already feel marginalized due to their struggles and the impact on their functioning.
If you or someone you know displays symptoms of BPD or Bipolar disorders, know that there is help. Identifying the genetic component of both BPD and Bipolar Disorders requires compassion, empathy, and appropriate treatment. These symptoms do not develop due to moral failing or being less than. Reach out for support when needed; it can change your life.