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Living with borderline personality disorder: Aaron's story

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Following story as told to Fairfax media.

Living with complex mental illness is hard enough, but the accompanying stigma and isolation make symptoms worse and act like a handbrake on recovery.

That was the case for Aaron Fornarino, who was first admitted to a mental health facility at age 14 and eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). He spent his teenage years and young adulthood in and out of psychiatric wards and foster homes, where he struggled with self-harm, anxiety, depression and impulsiveness.

“It was just a really chaotic time,” says Fornarino, now a 37-year-old public servant in Adelaide.

“Borderline personality disorder wasn’t taken very seriously back then. I was sort of treated like an attention-seeker or a pest.”

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Five things nobody told me about living with a mental illness

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Since turning 18 I've actively sought and managed my own treatment, this includes seeing a raft of counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and health professionals.

I've had my share of hospital visits, undertaken a year of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), completed a 20 day inpatient Schema program and recently started an Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing program.

I also take medication and have found a lot of purpose through my work in the arts.

I've been through all this and I'm proud of my progress. But my journey would have been easier if someone mentioned, all those years ago, five simple facts about living with a mental illness.

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Caring for a spouse with BPD

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Fred and Cathy live in regional Victoria. Cathy has borderline personality disorder, and is supported by her husband Fred.

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Common questions about BPD

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There's far more to borderline personality disorder (BPD) than the stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings that often exist.

People who live with BPD are ordinary people. People who are overcoming challenging symptoms, as well as stigma and discrimination.

So, to raise awareness and reduce stigma we asked the community what they wanted to know about BPD. These questions have been answered by people who live with BPD and the SANE Help Centre.


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Caring for someone with BPD: what it’s really like

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Every relationship has its ups and downs, but when one partner is diagnosed with a mental illness, it can add an extra pressure. When your carer is also your spouse, it is important for both partners to look after themselves and each other. Todd and Natalie have worked together to manage Todd's mental illness since he was first diagnosed six years ago. 

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Could it be BPD?

Could it be BPD?

At the SANE Help Centre we receive many calls from people concerned that a loved one may be displaying symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). About 14% of all traffic to the SANE Australia website is for BPD-related content. 

It's common for someone concerned about a family member or friend to want to learn as much as possible about BPD and confirm what is happening to their loved one.

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Carer insight: Living with and loving someone with BPD

Carer insight: Living with and loving someone with BPD

A common call to the SANE Helpline often goes like this:

‘I think my partner, daughter or son has borderline personality disorder (BPD) and I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around them. I love this person, but the situation can be so hurtful. How can I stay and support them, but protect myself as well?’

To help we asked one of our carers, 'Ace', to share his advice for living with and loving someone with BPD. We also asked SANE Help Centre Manager, Suzanne Leckie, to add SANE’s perspective on best practice for carers.

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Five things people get wrong about BPD

Five things people get wrong about BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a commonly misunderstood condition that carries a lot of stigma. Misconceptions about BPD can stop people seeking treatment and influence the way people with BPD are treated by others.

So what are these common misconceptions? And what facts can we use to correct them?

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Living with BPD: the facts

Living with BPD: the facts

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a widely misunderstood and stigmatised illness.

According to Stephanie who has lived with BPD for almost ten years, some people do not understand or even accept that it is an illness. The symptoms of distress associated with BPD can often be dismissed as attention-seeking which creates further stigma.

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6

Top picks: Exploring borderline personality disorder

Top picks: Exploring borderline personality disorder

For BPD Awareness Week we’ve put together a list of articles, resources, videos and blogs that shed light on this often misunderstood illness.

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