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  • Christina Anozie

What have you Heard?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a term that refers to a combination of symptoms and

behaviors, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual. BPD is a complex diagnosis with specific clinical criteria, however, there are some characteristics that are common to many individuals who have been diagnosed. Some common symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include: a history of impulsivity, rapidly changing self-image, extreme mood changes, difficulty maintaining interpersonal relationships. One of the hallmark symptoms of BPD is an inability to regulate one’s emotions, to the extent that individuals with BPD often experience very rapid and extreme mood changes. Katy Perry’s pop song Hot & Cold describes a portion of what it can be like to engage on an intimate level with someone with mood swings.

Photo depicting the emptiness many with BPD feel.

In her song, Perry uses antonyms to describe the unpredictable changes she experienced, including “You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re yes and you’re no, you’re in and you’re out, you’re up and you’re down …”.

Managing BPD can be a challenge, even for individuals who are aware of their mood irregularities and their body’s inability to regulate emotions. While a person can choose how they respond to those mood changes, the immediate flood of emotions in the body is an involuntary event. Many people with BPD report a constant feeling of emptiness.

A heart-breaking, soul crushing, mind numbing feeling of being alone in this world.

The widespread coverage of this trial has provided an opportunity for every observer to share their opinions of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

Photo depicting a Starbucks tip jars with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's names on them.

Social media has been flooded with memes,

reels, and other visual depictions of people picking one side and poking fun at the other. For many people who live with BPD, this trial is a harsh reality of the ever-present stigmas about mental illness. The very public presentation of Ms. Heard’s clinical information and the corresponding commentary have created an opportunity for equally public criticism.

If you have been diagnosed with BPD, we see and hear you. You are more than your diagnosis. We recognize you, your courage, and your strength. If you love someone with BPD, they may need you to show up for them now more than before. Remember that your likes, shares, and comments on social media are visible to your connections – some of whom may be experiencing their own mental health challenges. Please know that while BPD is complex, it is treatable - often through a combination of medication and therapy. Before you share another post on social media, or rush to comment picking one side and disparaging the other, take a pause and remember the words of Robin Williams, who quoted, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

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