Borderline Personality Disorder is often defined by the inability of the sufferer to maintain lasting, stable, rewarding relationships with others. I know, because my sister was diagnosed with BPD just a few years ago. The diagnosis itself came as incredible relief to our family, because it explained so much.
As someone who suffers from bipolar II disorder myself, I can say that, while I don’t have a complete understanding of what it’s like to have BPD, I do know what it’s like to have unstable relationships with family and friends as a direct result of a psychological disorder. From my experience, I can say that the only way to live with your suffering is through the support of your human relationships. Therapy and medication goes a long way, but, at the end of the day, surrounding yourself with social support is the only way you’ll be able make life bearable. That means letting people in. Here’s how:
- 1. Be open about your disorder.
I know—there’s still a lot of stigma associated with mental health disorders, so it can be hard to “come out,” as it were. But when your friends and family don’t know about your disorder, they assume the worst. They assume that your being difficult for the sake of being difficult, that you’re narcissistic, that you uncaring and distant. The best way to tackle these assumptions is to tell it like it is. While more people are aware of the more common disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, BPD requires more explaining. Explain to them the seemingly selfish behaviors the disorder causes, and how much you need their compassion and support regardless.
- 2. Forgive others when they don’t completely understand what you’re going through.
Even if you explain your disorder, no one except others like you can completely understand what it feels like, no matter how much they try. It’s a frustrating fact, but it’s a fact that you have to live with. For example, I also suffer from a terribly debilitating driving phobia that came about only a year ago. My sister doesn’t get it, and often chides me about it, saying that I’m making it all up, or that I’m just being a big chicken. That all I have to do is try. This has caused so many fights, that at some point, I became tired of fighting with her. Instead, I forgave her. She won’t ever understand what it feels like to have a panic attack behind the wheel. And, all things considered, that’s okay. Forgive those in your life who don’t understand. It’s not their fault. This forgiveness leads to stronger relationships—trust me.
- 3. Allow others to help you. They just might actually help you, and it makes them feel good.
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you suffer from a mental health disorder, and friends and family are just dying to help you. Though now I’ve reached a good degree of stability, before, whenever I got excited about anything, my mother thought I was getting “manic” and meddled in nearly every step I took. This sort of thing can be extremely irritating, especially when you’re trying your best to lead a normal life. At some point, however, I came to the conclusion that I should open myself up to allowing others to help me, in whatever way they can. This is a good plan for two reasons—when you are in the darkest of moods, you really don’t realize that you need help, so instituting an “accept-all-help” policy will cover you when you need. Even if you don’t need the help, let them help you. It makes them feel good and brings others closer to you.
Can you think of instances in which you’ve made strides in letting people into your life? What did you do? Chime in below!
Brenda Watson is a freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys writing about maintaining physical and mental health through a more holistic approach to healing. Read more of Brenda’s writing on www.healthinsurancequotes.org.
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