Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

We all can have periods where our emotions feel out of control or we have self-doubt or relationship difficulties. We may feel we are teetering on the brink of disaster. However, for those with borderline personality disorder, this is simply a way of life. While a diagnosis may be difficult to hear, it means that you can find some answers and there is hope for managing your life in a stable way. Understanding bipolar personality order goes a long way to helping address it and cope with it, in your own life, or in the life of someone you are close to.

image of woman's boots walking on train track for blog post on borderline personality disorder connolly centreWhat is Borderline Personality Disorder?

This is a mental disorder that results from an unstable emotional environment in early life.

Often those who struggle with this difficult disorder have been through severe trauma or a history of maltreatment or neglect.

We learn a lot about relationships early in our lives. Our parents, caregivers, family members and other influential adults teach us whether or not we can trust others and whether we are worthy of love and care.

Adverse experiences in childhood can sometimes set us up for self-doubt.
It also brings insecure attachments with others and a sense of general instability, particularly if those experiences were severe and pervasive.

People who deal with this condition are often quite emotionally reactive.
Their emotionally charged responses to others stem from the disorder and are a key symptom of the disorder. Along with emotional reactivity are symptoms such as, fears of abandonment, loneliness and shame. Other symptoms include unstable interpersonal relationships, feelings of emptiness, “black and white” (inflexible) thinking, and often self-harm behaviours.

The emotional dysregulation that those with Borderline Personality Disorder experience commonly result in severe depression and anxiety. Frequently these feelings become overwhelming and result in suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

Managing Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a challenging mental disorder to manage, but there is hope.

Psychologist Marsha Linehan created a treatment called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) that has become a successful treatment modality for the disorder. DBT helps people learn emotional regulation, behavioural skills and mindfulness techniques to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

DBT doesn’t “cure” Borderline Personality Disorder but it offers helpful tools to understand and manage the symptoms that often wreak havoc on the individual and their relationships.

Some additional ways to manage Borderline Personality Disorder are:

Do some research:
Researching the disorder is a good way to learn the underlying factors of the disorder. The more you know about the condition, the easier it is to recognise triggering events or challenging circumstances that might flare up symptoms.

Talk to loved ones:
Don’t carry the burden of the disorder alone. Talk to people in your personal life about the diagnosis and help them understand what it feels like and how to support your journey toward wellness.

Monitor your symptoms:
An important component of DBT therapy is the use of a diary card to chart your feelings, thoughts and use of coping skills. It is useful to keep track of these factors to help you identify what works for you.

Hire a therapist:
Licensed therapists are trained in helping people sort through thoughts, feelings and behaviours in a safe, non-judgmental setting. Talk about your life, your hopes and your challenges, and work together to explore strategies to work toward wellness.

Dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder can feel lonely.
It is important to be compassionate toward yourself and patient with loved ones who may not always seem to “get it.”

Treat yourself well and try to remember that some of the most challenging parts of this disorder are the misperceptions due to low self-esteem and fear. Focus on the positive aspects of yourself and strive to live a life true to your values. Work toward a better quality of life and try to keep stress at a minimum. Borderline Personality Disorder can be managed with ongoing practice and determination.

If you have a loved one with this condition, you may find our article on managing a borderline personality disorder helpful.

[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website www.livingwithfinesse.com ~ some content may have been modified for the UK & Irish context.]

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