The month of May marks Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Awareness Month. The suicide rate for those who suffer from BPD greatly exceeds that of the of the general population. Emotional dysregulation is often critical for the individual suffering from BPD. Emotional dysregulation, simply put, is the difficulty in soothing or calming oneself when stressed.
Loving someone suffering from BPD means understanding the dynamics of the disorder, learning skills, knowing what warning signs to watch for, and exercising great self-care. BPD is difficult to diagnose and this can delay effective treatment and cause suffering via unstable relationships, poor self-image and impulsive behaviors. Learning to self-regulate emotions and soothe oneself is key to living with the disorder. It is also important to understand and validate the strengths of many individuals living with Borderline Personality Disorder: heightened creativity, courage, emotional intuition, empathy and compassion.
If you have a loved one who struggles with BPD, here are some helpful tips:
- Go slowly with goals, longer term big goals can lead to fears of abandonment.
- Keep the family environment light and neutral and maintain routines.
- Listen to feelings, don’t dismiss or negate. Stay calm and try not get defensive.
- Be collaborative in coming up with solutions to help your loved one with BPD.
- Threats and ultimatums are ineffective. Identify your limits of tolerance, clarify expectations, and allow natural consequences to occur.
- Know that relapse is normal and doesn’t indicate failure.
The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (borderlinepersonality.org) offers resources for those suffering from BPD, their families, and professionals. While the Family Connections Program has an extensive waitlist, there are several free webinars ranging from topics on understanding and coping with emotional dysregulation, stories of recovery and current research on effective treatments. The site is a treasure trove of digital media on borderline personality disorder. Check it out if you, a loved one, or a client is struggling with BPD.