Understanding Personality Disorders

Understanding Personality Disorders

Abbie Kraus, Staff Writer

According to clevelandclinic.org, 10 to 13 percent of the population suffers from a personality disorder. This is a very shocking number to hear, especially when taken into consideration how gravely misunderstood those with personality disorders truly are. Even you may be somewhat unfamiliar with personality disorders; what they do or how they affect the sufferer and those associated with the sufferer.

A personality disorder is a type of mental diagnosis that is deeply engraved into, as the name suggests, the afflicted’s personality. This means that their thinking, behaviors, and actions are significantly different than those who suffer from other mental illnesses or other functioning members of society. A diagnosis of one of the ten diagnosable personality disorders will deeply affect how someone with one perceives themself, the world around them, and how others perceive them as well. Sufferers will have a very difficult time “fitting into” a society that does not cater to nor has much tolerance for them. This does not make them an inconvenience, a burden, or anything of the like. People with personality disorders are just like anyone else with a disability; they deserve the same treatment as anyone else and should not be demonized for being different.woman in white and black stripe long sleeve shirt

As a sufferer of Borderline personality disorder myself, characterized by emotional instability and intense misperception of yourself and the intents of others, I am very, very familiar with the struggle of being criticized, disregarded, and rejected. Not only do I have to go through the absolute rollercoaster and deep struggles of suffering from the disorder itself, but I am also forced to conform to a society that does not aid me, does not give me any leniency, and bluntly, does not care for me. Granted, that feeling of not being cared for definitely comes from my symptoms, but I can confidently say that I do not get the patience from people that I do need. I am only one very small example of the true pain those with severe disorders go through. It is a complete fault in society that needs to be addressed and debunked for the quality of life of said sufferers.

So, what can you do? Listen.

It is never possible for someone who does not suffer from such a disorder to ever fully understand how we are affected. We will sound outlandish at times, but we need to be handled with kindness instead of just telling us to “calm down,” “stop being dramatic,” or anything that is asking us to conform to something that we simply cannot do. It can be very frustrating and very confusing because of how little we can be understood. However, believe in us that we are trying. Try to put yourselves in our shoes. We do not want to feel this way; imagine how much we are going through at that moment, or during a particularly intense episode. We are hurting and want nothing more for it to end. Though our actions may affect those around us negatively, people with these disorders have so much more behind their words and actions; so much suffering, so much pain, and just as much frustration and confusion with themselves as others have with them.

The actions of those with personality disorders come from what seems to be a very normal thought process in their heads. Everything makes perfect sense in our minds. As previously stated on mayoclinic.org, sufferers honestly may not even know that there is anything abnormal with their thinking because these abnormal patterns are deeply ingrained into their brains; they are physically incapable of thinking, perceiving, behaving, or acting in a different or more “normal” way. The brains of those with personality disorders, specifically Borderline personality are physically built differently than a typical brain. The amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex, which regulate emotions along with creating impulse control and decision making, are smaller and have unusual activity in comparison to a non-sufferers brain. This is important to remember and to take into consideration. However, the brain can also be shaped, changed, and healed through proper counseling and therapy, so it is not impossible for someone with these disorders to improve and even recover!hands formed together with red heart paint

I could not even begin to detail how much my personality disorder affects my life. How much it affects the lives of those around me. It would have to be an entire article on its own. But my story is just a tiny drop into the absolute sea of lives that are affected in silence and are disregarded in preference to those who do not have this class of highly stigmatized disorder. If you, as the reader, could give just a bit of your time to understand and maybe even research the different clusters of personality disorders, you could seriously make the lives of those afflicted so much easier. We deserve to be heard and given a voice that we simply do not always have.