Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a broad diagnosis that describes the way in which our emotional responses to other people can be complicated and unpredictable. 

Whereas many people may remain, on a day-to-day basis, within the same emotional range, people with (BPD) are different, their emotional range is unpredictable.  They may be more prone to feeling insecure and unsafe, and to fearing that they may be at risk of being abandoned, and because of this their moods can be quick to change.

On the one hand, we are thinking about how the person with (BPD) survives and lives with the condition.  On the other, we are thinking about how their partners, carers, and loved ones survive living with someone with borderline personality disorder.

Information is power – Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Knowing that you are prone to emotional instability (borderline personality disorder is also referred to as emotionally unstable personality disorder) is helpful.  It means that you may be able to learn how to live with and counterbalance your emotional responses on an ongoing basis, and be able to do this for yourself.  

Being able to remember that you suffer from emotional instability is an important step in finding your way through the often-disturbing maze of emotions you may experience on an hourly or daily basis. You can start to provide your own emotional stability for yourself.

  • Remembering to counterbalance your emotional responses is like having a personal touchstone to better emotional stability; to a calmer and more emotionally settled world. 

Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is possible, but it takes practice and work. That is ok, because it’s good work.  You are taking responsibility for yourself and your emotions, and that might be the beginning of developing better, more consistent emotional control.

It is interesting how good we can become at learning to manage and regulate our emotions if give ourselves the chance.

What causes BPD?

Often the origins of the disorder can be traced back to our early experiences of attachment figures.  BPD is most probably an acquired disorder.  At some point, your emotions were dysregulated, probably by repeated traumatic experiences.  These are traumas that might have to do with a fear of being abandoned or an actual experience of abandonment. Some parents traumatise their children by constantly threatening to abandon them. The fear of the event happening can be as bad as the event happening.

If your primary care figures lacked emotional regulation themselves then you are likely to have internalised this, and therefore you may lack an ordinary sense of emotional regulation. It will be hard for you to look after yourself.

  • By coming to terms with the fact that you lack a reliable and ordinary sense of emotional regulation you are starting the work of repairing and regulating your emotions.

A Brief Carers’ guide to Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

If you are in a relationship with someone who suffers from BPD it will be helpful if you can remember that they are prone to be emotionally inconsistent. 

  • Try to remember that their mood swings and changeability is a function of their BPD, it isn’t personal. 
  • It can be draining to be in such a relationship because people with BPD tend to project their insecurities and memories of poor attachment figures onto other people. 
  • They may appear to suddenly treat you as someone who they cannot trust.  Mostly these kinds of responses will pass.  If they don’t then you may have to look for further support, perhaps for yourself and them.

Psychotherapy and Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Generally talking therapy is helpful.  Medication might be helpful in cases that have become extreme and the person needs more help to settle, but longer term it is not clear if medication helps.

A talking therapy can help sufferers and partners develop a clearer sense of what the swings in mood refer to.  Like I say, information is helpful, though it might take effort to remember and keep track of it.

Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – seek out stability

If you suffer from BPD, it will be helpful to avoid anything that confuses and destabilises your emotions. Alcohol and drugs are more likely to create problems and generate further emotional dysregulation.

If you are taking drugs or drinking and suffering from emotional dysregulation and mood swings, I would advise you to get sober and clean and then assess your situation.

Social groups, cultural norms, and peer pressure can lead to people with BPD taking drugs and drinking but often it creates more problems.

Surviving Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Adolescence

An interesting thing about BPD is that it often becomes a visible part of the personality in adolescence, it may have remained latent until that development stage. 

It may be that this is linked to the developing of sexual relationships, new attachment figures and a new risk of being misunderstood, to anxiety about being betrayed and abandoned. 

In adolescence, we are more likely to start experimenting with relationships, sex, alcohol, and drugs, and so the hitherto unacknowledged and more fragile aspects of our personalities start to come to the fore.  This is difficult, adolescence is complicated enough when your emotions are well regulated.

A lot of social problems, crime, truancy, theft, and acts of violence are probably the consequence of people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). These are adolescents who lacked helpful emotional relationships growing up, and who end up acting out their problems in later life.

If you can see that someone you know or care for is struggling to manage their emotions, see if you can guide them to someone impartial that they can discuss things with.  This may be the beginning of them learning more about themselves and how to live with their emotions. It may be the beginning of people being able to find better regulated and more constructive ways to live.

Contact me

Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often key to developing a clearer understanding of our emotions. It can provide a place to learn more about how well regulated our emotional lives are.    

By giving yourself a safe space to look at these things you may start to discover a greater sense of possibilities, and this may be the beginning of developing a greater sense of understanding how to relate to yourself and your partner.

The chance to reflect on ourselves, our feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative.  Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed.

I have been working with people on issues such like this for more than twenty years.  My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live. 

Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.

Mobile: +44 7980 750376
Email: toby@tobyingham.com