People with BPD are often misunderstood by the people closest to them. Their destructive or hurtful behaviors are usually a reaction to deep emotional pain and are rarely intentional.
Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help people with BPD better understand their thoughts and behavior. Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of treatment that was developed specifically for borderline personality disorder.
Learn about BPD
BPD is a mental health condition that affects how people perceive and interact with the world around them. It causes a person to feel more afraid and stressed than others, which activates the brain’s fight-or-flight switch and triggers primitive survival instincts. As a result, they may experience irrational feelings of fear, anger, sadness, and love that can change instantly. They often struggle to maintain a steady job and are likelier to have volatile, stormy relationships with family members and friends. They are also more likely to self-harm or attempt suicide than the general population.
One of the most challenging aspects of living with BPD is a false sense of self-worth and a lack of empathy. People with BPD are susceptible, often feeling as though they have exposed nerve endings. Small things can trigger intense reactions, and they have difficulty soothing themselves, leading to relationship turmoil and impulsive or dangerous behavior.
They are terrified of being abandoned or left alone, so they make frantic efforts to keep loved ones close by begging, clinging, and even starting fights to keep them around. They can also feel that they are being smothered or crowded out by others and may react with extreme anger.
Many different psychotherapies are used to treat BPD, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic psychotherapy. These treatments focus on developing skills to tolerate distress, reduce mood swings and improve interactions with family and friends. They may also help a person understand the underlying beliefs and emotions that fuel their impulsive behaviors.
People with BPD experience a strong desire for connection but struggle to maintain close relationships due to intense emotions, mood swings, and the need to self-isolate. They may also push away loved ones intentionally or unintentionally, resulting in feelings of loneliness.
These behaviors are often triggered by abandonment, rejection, or self-loathing. Understanding that your BPD loved one isn’t acting out or rejecting you can help you avoid becoming angry or taking their words and actions personally, leading to stress and burnout.
You can help your loved one feel less alone by finding ways to connect with others. This can be as simple as joining a BPD support group or engaging in a hobby, like painting or cooking. You could also seek to distract your loved one when emotions are running high by offering them an alternative, relaxing activity, such as exercising, sipping tea, or grooming a pet.
Finding a balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself is essential. If you feel overwhelmed, seek mental health treatment through formal therapy or medication. Priory offers hospitals and well-being centers around the UK specializing in treating personality disorders. BPD is treatable, but only with the correct diagnosis and ongoing care. If you or a loved one is suffering from BPD, it’s crucial to seek help as soon as possible.
Find Self Support
When dealing with someone with BPD, finding support for yourself is essential. This includes finding healthy activities that you enjoy, avoiding toxic people, and taking time for self-care. It is also necessary to take any threats of suicide seriously and seek help immediately. If you have a close relationship with someone who has BPD, it’s helpful to understand what triggers their emotional responses. This can help you be a more supportive partner. For example, if they are triggered by a fear of abandonment, checking in with them consistently can reassure them that you have not forgotten about them.
People with BPD often experience intense anger and rage when they feel rejected or abandoned. They may also become irrationally angry at others, believing they cause distress. They may also read too much into seemingly innocuous remarks, taking them as definite signs that they are being left behind or abandoned.
While you should always validate your loved one’s pain and experiences, it is also crucial to be able to set boundaries. Encouraging your loved one to be accountable for their actions and behaviors can help them gain control over their behavior. It is also important to not tolerate abusive behavior, including verbal abuse or physical violence.
Encourage your Loved One to Seek Treatment
People with borderline personality disorder have intense fears of abandonment and rejection. These triggers lead them to behave in harmful ways to keep others close. They may cling, start fights, track their loved one’s movements, or even act violently to prevent them from leaving. These behaviors don’t work, and they can drive the people around them away. Professional treatment is the best way to ease these fears and re-establish healthy boundaries.
You can help a loved one with BPD recover by encouraging them to seek treatment for their mental health condition.
Talk therapy is an effective treatment for BPD. Psychological therapies, like dialectical behavior therapy and schema-focused therapy, can teach your loved one new coping skills and help them work through their relationship and trust issues. You can support your loved one through this process by suggesting they contact their therapist and encouraging them to attend sessions regularly.
It can be tempting to put all of your energy into helping a loved one with BPD, but this can lead to burnout and isolation for you. You can support your loved one’s recovery by taking care of yourself and making it a priority to connect with other friends and family members who make you feel good.
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