Wednesday 27 September 2017

A BPD’s Favourite Person

Erin opens up about her experience of a non-clinical symptom that is very familiar among people with Borderline Personality Disorder. She draws upon the importance of being as open about your mental illness as possible and how it can aid your journey to recovery.

- Erin Cadden

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an illness that not many people are familiar with. Honestly, I wasn’t sure of the definition of BPD until a psychologist told me I displayed signs of it. Mental illnesses are highly stigmatised in general but BPD is particularly misunderstood and misrepresented.

A common symptom of BPD that I have personally experienced is having a “favourite person” (FP). Some BPD sufferers are able to easily identify their favourite person and are aware of how they have come to be attached to this person. For me, the realisation that I had a favourite person only came when my relationship with that individual ended. It was only then that I was aware that how I felt towards him wasn’t entirely normal.

An FP can vary by person; In my early childhood, my FP was my mother. For years I struggled with not being near her. Whenever I had to leave her to attend school, parties or sleepovers my anxiety would become increasingly worse. Extreme anxiety and panic attacks meant my social activities and interactions were limited.

When I started university, I met someone with whom I had a great connection. I no longer saw my mother on a daily basis, therefore, my FP transferred to someone new. This new FP was the boy I fell in love with, during the start of university. Despite the fact I may have often said otherwise, he was a great person. He was with me at the lowest points of my mental illness, helping me through episodes that even my mum and sisters hadn’t experienced with me yet.

The connection between someone with BPD and their FP is a bond that, in their eyes, will never be broken. Everything you think about and everything you do revolves around this person you idolise. You emotionally rely heavily on them; you feel they are the only person capable of making you happy. For an FP this can be draining, but for someone with BPD experiencing this reliance, it is equally as exhausting.

It is only now that I realise how dangerous this attachment can be for both the FP and BPD sufferer. Eventually, my FP couldn’t cope. My illness meant it, that I was a difficult person to love.

When my FP wasn’t constantly by my side, I experienced a lot of anxiety which led to the return of frequent panic attacks. My FP found this difficult to deal with. My fears that my FP would one day leave eventually came true. I felt my life was worthless and pointless without my FP constantly by my side. Unfortunately for me, this devastation led to a life threatening situation. Luckily I realised I needed help and was able to begin my journey to recovery.

I feel it is important to note that my FP could have been anyone that I connected with in life. I did not need to necessarily be in love with my FP. Feelings of being in love and the feelings of attachment to an FP are quite different. However, when they occur simultaneously they make relationships difficult. We lacked the awareness and understanding of my illness that was necessary to make our relationship work.

For a long time, I hated him for being the person who gave up on me. The immediate aftermath of the end of our relationship was hard because I had to try to grieve the loss of my FP but also recover from the heartbreak of a breakup, while trying to accept my mental illness. We no longer have any form regular contact and though I might not always want to admit it, I will always be extremely grateful for his presence in my life, good and bad. Although what I had to go through was far from pleasant at the time, I am grateful for the experience, in the sense that, I am now aware of what my mind is capable of.

Showing your appreciation for anyone in your life, especially those who help you through your worst episodes is so important. I have learnt to open my heart to trust more than just one person. Learn not to be sad when people can’t stand by you through your lowest of your mental health. It is not a judge of faulty in your character, but an example of a weakness in theirs. I am now the strongest and happiest I have ever been, and unfortunately, for those who have not stuck by me, they will not get to experience this.

Hi, my name is Erin, I am currently in my final year studying Design Management at UAL in London. I shave suffered from my mental health from the age of 10 years old. My diagnoses are still ongoing but suspected off; Depression, Anxiety, Autism, Bipolar and Borderline personality disorder. I began writing for Student Minds in order to share my own experiences of my journey with mental health. The aim is to increase awareness and to decrease the stigma attached to mental illnesses as a whole.


  1. I love this article. I have generalized anxiety disorder, bpd, adhd, major depression, ptsd and a few others stemming from these. I started a f.b page about my struggle with bpd. Its a sort of journal, with the same goals as you. I respect your efforts keep writing, this was helpful to me as well as others im sure. Thank you and stay strong.

  2. Great piece here. This has helped me with a situation I am in now with someone that has BPD. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  3. BPD'er here. Great articulation of the issues we face. You say the feeling of being in love differs from the feeling of FP attatchment; may I ask how? Are you able to offer any advice on distinguishing between the two? Just trying to better understand my own situation, as all. Thanks for a great article.