What is Borderline personality disorder (BPD)?

BPD is characterised by extreme shifts in mood and behaviour. People with BPD may have periods of anger, anxiety and depression. Many people with mental health concerns have been stigmatised by labels and misconceptions. One of the most misunderstood mental health issues is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which is frequently mistaken for bipolar disorder. However, BPD is its own unique mental health condition.

People with BPD have difficulties controlling their emotions. Their values and interests can change quite rapidly and without explanation. Those with BPD tend to have extreme views of people and situations, seeing them as all good or all bad. Since a friend one day may be considered an enemy the next, maintaining solid and consistent relationships can be a challenge for those with BPD.

Symptoms of BPD

Here are some of the main signs and symptoms of BPD:

  • Difficulty trusting others, sometimes escalating to paranoia
  • Periodically entering a dissociative state
  • Recurring thoughts or threats of suicide
  • Feelings of emptiness, isolation and boredom
  • Intense anger followed by guilt and shame
  • Self-harm, such as cutting
  • Loss of interest in routine activities
  • Seeks to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family
  • Impulsive behaviours, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex and aggressive driving
  • Unstable relationships; alternate between idealisation and devaluation.

It’s not uncommon for individuals with BPD to exhibit signs of other mental health problems, such as mood and eating disorders. Many people with BPD turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of managing their symptoms, which, of course, will only exacerbate their problems.

Though traditionally difficult to treat, newer therapies have significantly improved the quality of life for those with BPD. Since BPD can occur alongside other symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and substance or eating disorders, it’s vital that individuals with BPD receive personalised, evidence-based care from an experienced therapist.

Therapies may vary for people with BPD, an example of is dialectical behaviour therapy DBT, cognitive behavioural therapy CBT which can help people with BPD change their unhealthy beliefs and behaviours to healthy ones and reduce the emotional extremes often associated with the disorder. BPD impacts the way a person thinks about themselves and others and often leads to a distorted self-image. The inappropriate emotional outbursts, impulsiveness and mood swings associated with BPD may negatively impact an individual’s education, career and relationships.

Avoid Isolating

Feelings of hopelessness can lead to isolation. Force yourself to stay connected with your lifelines: family and friends. Frequent conversations with safe and trusted people can provide you with support, understanding and encouragement.

Focus on Emotions not words

It’s easy to react to the angry words a BPD person is saying, but condition yourself to remain calm and focus on the emotions behind their statements. People with BPD need acknowledgement of their pain, not lengthy explanations regarding the appropriateness of their words.

Lastly, Go Slow!

Recovery is a process. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so pace yourself. Set realistic goals and expect occasional setbacks. Taking baby steps will give someone with BPD a greater chance at succeeding in the long run.

If you or a loved one are suffering from any of the symptoms associated with BPD, then I can provide you with further insights on the issues you are struggling with.

The Mulberry Practice supports those looking for individual counselling, couples counselling, and young people’s counselling including supporting those with Borderline Personality Disorder or those who wish to support a friend, family member or loved one who has been diagnosed with BPD. For more information on the therapy and counselling techniques provided by us, please get in touch.

Published On: May 27, 2022

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