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 difficult for the average person never mind someone with a mental illness like 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 with BPD struggle with compulsive spending. Not only this, but they may have a range of costly addictions from alcohol and drugs to food. There are also extra costs associated with these addictions you may not realize. For example, food addiction may cause health problems or a need to buy better fitting clothes. These addictions can mean having to spend money on private treatments because, depending on where you live, your government may not cover it.
Often self-destructive coping mechanisms like binge-spending can be triggered by emotional pain. 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 that it is going to have a negative impact on us in the long term, it is difficult for us to get past the comfort it provides in the moment.
BPD itself may require treatments and medications that the government doesn’t always cover. At the moment, although I’m not working, I’m still paying for one-on-one therapy, which the NHS doesn’t cover for me. People like me often have to rely on charities to help with treatment because the NHS can’t keep up with the demand for our treatments. It also can be quite expensive having to attend these appointments with little income. It is costly running a car so having to rely on alternatives is a necessity. It can also be daunting 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 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, is someone’s life. According to LiveScience, a human life is worth approximately $5 million. One in 10 people with BPD die by suicide, so when your loved one with BPD asks for help, please listen.