I’m diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and I recently had some trouble at work. I later sat down to think about why I was struggling, what I needed from my employer, and what I needed to work on myself. I ended up having a great meeting with my supervisors and we created a plan the would benefit both the company and myself to the greatest degree. When I looked back on how/why I was struggling I started to notice a pattern that most people with BPD see on a daily basis. Today, I’m going to outline these problems and offer coping strategies, education, and some ideas to help you or your employee work more effectively. It’s important to remember that BPD is a mental illness and an employee is trying the best they can with the resources they have.


Indicate mental health problems impact their work


Are scared to tell their employer they are suffering


Agree work is the most stressful part of the day


Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the 10 personality disorders outlined in the DSM (Diagnostic, Statistical, Manuel of Mental Disorders). 6% of people suffer from personality disorders in Canada. All personality disorders are separated into three clusters…

Cluster (A) Odd, Bizarre, Eccentric
Schizoid Personality Disorder, Schizotypical Personality Disorder 

Cluster (B) Dramatic, Unpredictable, Erratic
Anti-Social Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder

Cluster (C) Anxious, Fearful
Anankastic Personality Disorder

BPD is really hard to explain and even harder to understand, reading and reading on BPD will never prepare you to deal with someone who suffers from it, especially in intimate relationships. As an employer it’s extremely hard to understand that BPD symptoms and characteristics are not a choice, especially considering that most of the disorder revolves around instability in relationships.

Tip: think of the symptoms or BPD like a cough is a symptom to a cold

The Nine Diagnostic Criteria for BPD…

  1. Intense fear of abandonment (real or imagined) and drastic measures to avoid it. *Excluding self-mutilating behaviours mentioned in 5*
  2. A pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships alternating between extreme devaluation and idolization.
  3. Identity disturbance: unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least areas 2 self-dangering behaviours (cutting, gambling, addiction, eating disorders, sex, etc.)
  5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, and/or threats
  6. Instability due to the high reactivity of mood *Fun Fact: People with BPD actually have quicker mood swings than those with Bipolar Disorder*
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Intense anger and difficulty controlling anger
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoia or severe disassociative symptoms (psychotic episodes/hallucinations)


BPD patients working under 20hrs/week


BPD patients on disability


BPD is often brought on by childhood trauma and abusive environmental elements but the most common way to develop BPD is through genetics. This shows the great importance of brain development & chemicals that are aligned with BPD. There have been dozens of research behind the borderline brain but I want to quickly highlight a few things so you can have a deeper understanding as to why the symptoms of BPD are not a choice.

Amygdala: primitive part of the brain that regulates fear and aggression: People with BPD have a significantly smaller amygdala that has even possibly gone through atrophy resulting in stronger emotional reactions and longer cool down periods

Hippocampus: located in left and right hemisphere of the brain associated with long and short-term memory, spatial-orientation, and emotional reactions…
The hippocampus in a borderline is uncoordinated and dysfunctional, in a state of continuous hyperarousal, and it consistently misinterprets threats, relaying faulty messages back to the amygdala. This results in borderlines being in a constant fight or flight mode

Hypothalamic-pituary-adrenal axis: interconnected glands that maintain homeostasis…
These glands produce cortisol in times of stress, people with BPD have much higher cortisol levels than the general population.

Prefrontal Cortex: affects reason, rationality and decision-making but because it also inhibits our primal nature…
People with BPD have an inactive or inefficient pre-frontal cortex, this is especially scary because the pre-frontal cortex is the pinnacle of human evolution.

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