When I talk about the cost of being borderline, I don’t mean metaphorically; I mean “how much does it cost to have borderline personality disorder (BPD)?”. Often when discussing mental illness we talk about how emotions affect a person or their family and friends but rarely is money discussed when it comes to being mentally ill.
At the moment I’m struggling with my mental illness so badly that I’m unable to keep a job. The reality of this means I’m not in receipt of a decent living income. I live month to month with money which can be very difficult for the average person never mind someone suffering from a mental illness such as BPD.
My impulsivity regularly causes me to spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need. It doesn’t feel that way, in the moment. I often feel like I HAVE to buy these things to ensure my happiness. This is not an uncommon reality. Many people that have BPD suffer from compulsive spending. Not only this but they can suffer from a range of addictions that can be very costly. From alcohol and drug addictions to food addictions. It can be costly trying to keep these addictions satisfied and often there are extra costs associated with these addictions that you wouldn’t realise. Such as with food addiction, this can cause health problems as well as buying larger clothes. These addictions can mean having to spend money on private treatments because, depending on where you live, treatment may not be paid for by the government.
Often self-destructive coping mechanisms like binge spending can be triggered by emotional pain, which is usually regular for those suffering with BPD. Someone who is usually frugal with money may max out a credit card after an argument with a loved one. Even though we might be aware of the fact it is going to impact us negatively in the long term, it is very difficult for us to get past the comfort it provides us in the moment.
BPD itself requires treatments and medications that aren’t always covered by the government. At the moment, although I’m not working, I’m still paying for one on one therapy which is not provided by the NHS. People like me often have to rely on charities to help with treatment because the NHS can’t keep up with the demand for treatments for the mentally ill. It also can be quite expensive having to attend these appointments with little income. It is very costly running a car so having to rely on alternatives is a necessity. It can also be very daunting to those suffering from mental illness to use public transport. For example, because of anxiety, I often have to rely on expensive taxis to get me to appointments, which is difficult to afford on a low income.
One symptom of BPD according to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) can be to have an unstable sense of self. This, for me, often means almost changing my style completely on a regular basis. This means new clothes, new shoes, new accessories, new makeup, new hairstyles. This all costs money and depending on what style I choose can end up being very pricey. It also means new hobbies. I’m constantly flitting from one hobby to another. Some are free and easy to do, such as meditation, but then there are things such as candle making which can end up being quite expensive.
The biggest cost, though, someone’s life. According to LiveScience * a human life is worth approximately $5million. One in ten people with BPD commit suicide, so when your loved one with BPD asks for help please listen.
* “the value of a statistical life turns out to be around $5 million” – http://www.livescience.com/15855-dollar-human-life.html
If they need immediate help or are in the process of attempting suicide, take them to your nearest ED in order to help them. Take any suicide threat seriously. If you have BPD or you know a loved one who has BPD and need a person to talk to about situations, please call your local suicide hotline or Samaritans. They are there 24hrs in order to help people going through a crisis, those with thoughts of self-harm and suicide, or someone who is going through a tough time in their lives.