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[Day 11] Making Friends with Borderline Personality Disorder

Help for borderline personality disorder

A lot of young people I work with struggle to find and maintain healthy relationships – whether it be with friends, family or boyfriends/girlfriends – because they suffer from borderline personality disorder.

Here’s a breakdown of the major symptoms from Psych Central:

  • They have turbulent and stormy relationships, making it difficult to keep a job or maintain a close relationship.
  • They have frequent emotional outbursts, often expressing their outrage with verbal abuse, physical attacks or acts of revenge.
  • Though they’re acutely sensitive to being abandoned and rejected, they’re harshly critical of those closest to them.
  • They view others as “good” or “bad.” A friend, parent or therapist may be idealized one day, yet viewed the next day as a terrible person for failing to live up to their expectations.
  • They may act out with self-destructive activity (i.e. reckless driving, compulsive shopping, shoplifting, cutting, binging with food, alcohol, drugs or promiscuous sex) as a way to fend off feelings of unbearable emptiness.

As a teen, I was diagnosed with BPD and struggled with all of the above. Over the past 10 years I’ve worked hard to understand it, accept myself and shift my behaviors. This post will tell you everything you need to know to start the healing process.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided below is not intended to replace the medical advice of a qualified health care professional or to be used as therapy. Carrie Leigh Sandoval assumes no responsibility for the results generated.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Nothing changed until I was ready and willing to recognize I needed help.
  2. In order to make changes, acknowledging the problem is the first step.
  3. Next, increase awareness.
  4. Then, accept what is.
  5. Then, and only then, take steps to change the behavior.

Tips for communicating with someone with bpd:

  • Be straightforward.
  • Come from “I feel…”
  • Don’t validate the victim mentality. If they go into a story about how someone did something to them, validate the feeling, but not the story. “It sounds like this hurt you” instead of “I can’t believe he did that to you.”
  • Be consistent.
  • Don’t try to rescue the person.
  • Don’t let yourself be manipulated.
  • Don’t put everything on them because “they’re the one with the disorder.”
  • Be willing to learn from the experience.

What you can expect a friendship or relationship with someone with bpd to look like:

I’m not going lie, it’s turbulent and unpredictable, but there is much to gain in having a relationship with someone with BPD. Here’s what you need to know.

  • It’s never going to look normal.
  • There will be a lot of misunderstanding.
  • You may never get why the person with bpd reacted the way he or she did.
  • He or she often doesn’t understand the reaction either.
  • You can cooperate with someone with bpd. You may not be able to reason with this person initially, but with practice and the right skills you’ll be able to get along.

If the relationship is becoming too toxic, one of the best things you can do is walk away. Make sure he or she is safe, if safety is a concern, but sometimes it gets so bad that the only choice is to walk away. He or she will have to reassess and ultimately deal with what’s happening. It’s the hardest thing when it’s someone you love, but sometimes feeling the pain is the only thing that can set this person free (and you too).

BPD is no one’s fault. It is a combination of genetic causes, environmental factors and an individual’s biochemistry.

The most critical thing to understand when dealing with borderline personality disorder is that the person experiencing it cannot regulate their emotions. It takes a long time, a lot of patience and understanding to relearn or possibly even learn for the first time appropriate responses and boundaries. DBT has been found to be most effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. What I love about it vs the traditional cognitive behavioral therapy is that it’s main goal is teaching the patient how to accept what is rather than saying, “this behavior is wrong and it needs to be fixed.”

Behavior is simply a way to communicate. The person who is doing these things is not a bad person, they just never learned how to express their feelings in a healthy way. And remember, the more you react to their negative behavior, the more it reinforces the same behavior.

While I am not a therapist, my approach is based on the same principals as DBT in that my goal is to teach emotional regulation through self-acceptance as well as teach the skills necessary to both the teens who have been affected by this as well as the adults in their lives. If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, I encourage you to sign up for a free discovery session with me.

If you’re a teen, you can do that here.

Parents, go here to sign your son or daughter up.

Do you have a question or comment about this post? Share it with me below.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] As a perfectionist with OCD and a myriad of other diagnoses, I have trouble adjusting to change. I often feel that if I have to change the plan, I’ve failed. This thinking leaves no room for understanding and is the exact type of black and white thinking characteristic of borderline personality disorder. […]

  2. […] focusing on the problem as I know “what we focus on expands.” But to me, saying I have borderline personality disorder sets me free. Not so I can use it as an excuse, but as a reminder that I process things […]

  3. […] in life has been establishing healthy boundaries. As someone who has suffered greatly from borderline personality disorder, I made a lot of poor […]

  4. […] else would be happy. No one validated my feelings so I learned to invalidate my own (classic borderline personality disorder). I was sad and pissed off, but because no one else thought I should feel that way I denied it and […]

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