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Why Do People Keep Getting Sick with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

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**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not  intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer

One of the questions that haunts me as a therapist and person who has struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is this: “why do people keep getting sick with BPD when there are many resources and services available to treat it?” I believe this question is important and valid considering the great tragedy that BPD can bring into the lives of the afflicted. Indeed, lives get entirely wasted and families completely destroyed over this one mental health issue!

No doubt this kind of question doesn’t have any simple answers. For Borderline Personality Disorder, and likewise, for many other mental health issues, it can be complicated to sort out the variables and develop healthy patterns of living. Nonetheless, perhaps we could all agree that further reflection and consideration for “what to do” in light of such weighty matters remains very important? After all, serious mental illnesses like BPD do take lives every day.

For some time, I have been exploring the online world of mental health and available supports for BPD. One of the main things I have noticed is the many well-intentioned people who really do seem to care and are trying to make a difference. Many people and organizations are actively engaged in mental health support activities and activism (social media campaigns, celebrity campaigns, corporate campaigns, online chat, mental health bloggers, mental health days, etc. etc.). All of it is awe inspiring and impressive.

Likewise important to factor in are the many offline supports (hospitals, funded clinics, and so on) that have been trying to help others with these sorts of issues for many years. Millions of tax dollars surely get spent every year trying to keep these services active and available to the masses. Then there are the legions of private practitioners who are available to take on patients. Again, all of the available help is awe-inspiring and impressive.

Nonetheless, Borderline Personality Disorder seems to remain a recurrent and widespread problem. People keep getting sick with this disorder, and with many other related conditions, and there is no shortage of patients, EVER! Perhaps BPD is just one of those human disorders that happens no matter what you do? Or is it?

One has to wonder if the available supports and programs are making the necessary impacts for real and lasting improvements to occur, or are they all together making only limited or superficial impacts?

If the possibility exists that all of the available supports for improving mental health (and in particular supports for BPD) are only making modest or superficial improvements, and people keep getting sick anyway, then what else might be going on here? Is there something else not being considered to reduce the scale of this problem? Are we really on our way to reducing the prevalence of BPD with everything that is being done?

While at times there is lots of collective attention brought to mental health, it still doesn’t seem to change the priority placement of mental health in the lives of everyday people. Collective attention seems to be just that… collective attention. In other words, the popularity of mental health waxes and wanes as the media attention waxes and wanes, and people then switch back to carrying on in the modern world as producers and consumers (business as usual).

If the priority placement of mental health did realistically change in people’s lives after all these collective forms of attention were given, there would be a lot less ongoing mental health difficulty, wouldn’t there? Therapists wouldn’t remain so busy if things were getting better, would they? But there isn’t less mental health difficulty after all the collective attention, and therapists do remain as busy as ever. So what is going on here?

Perhaps we have established a pattern of mental health neglect in society because there is no obvious benefit (for instance, no monetary benefit) that is attached to mental health promoting behaviors? Monetary rewards are commonly attached to everyday work behaviors and routines that, unfortunately, can also easily preoccupy us, consume the bulk of our daily energy reserves, and therefore, act as a formula for chronic neglect to mental health.

Does this seem like a very real and common reality to you too?

I wonder what would happen if a person actively participated in mental health promoting behaviors (such as studying mental health concepts and skills, practicing the concepts and skills in everyday life, and then completing a reflective journal about this process) and was rewarded financially thereafter. Would the priority placement of the health-promoting behaviors in everyday life go up?

What if mental health became an industry unto itself, such that working on mental health became both intrinsically rewarding (healing things on the inside) and extrinsically rewarding (life enhancing on the outside) at the same time? A huge benefit to doing things differently like this might include modifying the large-scale behavioral pattern of mental health neglect. In other words, rewarding interest in mental health could perhaps change the pattern of WAITING TOO LONG to invest time and attention into these seriously important health matters.

Indeed, without any monetary benefit attached to mental health promoting behaviors, it seems as though much of the human population could indefinitely remain vulnerable to developing conditions like Borderline Personality Disorder. Recall… there is no shortage of people suffering from BPD and many other related mental health conditions, EVER!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a way to both learn about mental health and benefit monetarily at the same time? It would be a completely different paradigm for mental health…. one that acknowledges repeating patterns of mental health neglect and ongoing potential for disease in modern society, but then also adapts by doing something radical and realistic about it. We all need money to live, and likewise, we all need to get sufficiently skilled/trained so as to become and remain mentally stable in the modern world.

The point of this new paradigm for mental health would be to act proactively and innovatively, seeking to get people knowledgeable and skilled about mental health sooner rather than later, and avoiding the all-too-common tragedy of people slipping through the cracks and losing out on the joy of living due to mental health issues remaining undetected and untreated for FAR TOO LONG.

Perhaps a new approach to mental health that includes financial incentives is just what is needed as societies apparently continue to fail at keeping humans mentally healthy?







photo credit: August 2014D 054 via photopin (license)

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