Sunday 3 November 2019

Coping with Borderline Personality Disorder at University

Charlotte shares her experience of struggling with mental health at university and the support that she has found useful. This blog is for both those who suffer with Borderline Personality Disorder and those who may wish to support someone with it or understand it further.
- Charlotte

Experiencing university, and the new relationships it brings, with Borderline Personality Disorder, has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding times in my life so far. I have had some of the best and worst experiences here and learnt not only how extreme the struggles of mental health can be but how much support is available in a university setting. Despite my previous diagnosis of depression and an eating disorder, I wasn't officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder until just before my third year. However, the disorder has been affecting me for my whole life, particularly since I started university. 

Borderline Personality Disorder (now frequently referred to as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) is an emotional regulatory disorder which impacts hugely on personal relationships, individual behaviour and, of course, on mood. It has nine symptoms; however, a person only needs to experience five of the nine to meet the criteria for diagnosis. Due to this, no two people with Borderline Personality Disorder are the same, and I can only speak from my own perspective. I personally experience all nine of the symptoms, however, some are far more problematic and prevalent for me than others. For me, my biggest issues are unstable personal relationships, mood swings and impulsive behaviour. 

In this blog post, I will be focusing on personal relationships. Because of the way that my mind works, I find it extremely easy to become attached to people. I meet certain individuals who I put on a pedestal and become fascinated with. My relationship with them becomes integral to my mood; when things are good with that person everything feels wonderful but if anything happens that I perceive as rejection, my world comes crashing down. This is very difficult at university when you are meeting a lot of new people in a brand-new environment. 

Naturally everyone is looking to make new friends and form new connections, however, the way I form connections is very spontaneous and I can be quite intense. I try to hide this from people but there comes a point where that no longer feels possible. The downside of this is that occasionally I have found it has caused me to lose friendships or put huge amounts of pressure on romantic partners. The fallout of the first attachment I formed at uni was difficult to process and resulted in me taking actions in an attempt to end my life. That was when I realised something had to change

My first port of call was my supervisor who was extraordinarily helpful. She expressed her regret at what had happened but also took practical steps to support me with accessing the help I needed, by giving me the option to take time off from university and providing me with contact details for the support team. In the end, I decided to use both options, a short break from my studies assisted me in clearing my head and getting some removal from the situation, and I have returned to the university support services several times throughout my three years. The university counselling offers emergency and booked appointments so is useful in providing consistent support or something more last minute and flexible. 

Without such services and support, I would have struggled to get this far in my degree, and I would strongly encourage anyone who is struggling to take advantage of all support that is available to them. Upon graduating, you may find that accessing support with such short wait times is more difficult than it was at university, so take the first steps to getting help as soon as you can. In such a challenging time which brings a lot of change and pressure, you deserve to be supported.

If you're looking for support, or want to support somebody else, you can find more information here.
More tips on accessing support at University can be found here.

I'm Charlotte and I'm a twenty-four-year-old Theatre student, originally from London. I was first diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder this year however I have been living with it for as long as I can remember. I want to be open about my experiences in the hope that people can either relate to them or learn from them. University is a challenging time, made even more difficult by mental illness but there are ways to make things a little bit easier for yourself.


  1. Really insightful and brave, I can't wait to read more of your work X

  2. Beautifully explained. You're inspiring. X

  3. Hi you have written in useful way. Hope you have got counselling on behaviour therapy. Have you learnt any meditation technique? There are some meditation method which will help to clear negative emotions and thoughts in subconscious level. It will bring more peace and clarity within you. If any thoughts please share.