I Think My Loved One Has Borderline Personality Disorder
What should you do if you think your loved one has borderline personality disorder (BPD)? As I write More than Borderline, I write it from different perspectives and with different life experiences. I write it as a young woman living with diagnosed borderline personality disorder. I also write it as a woman who has loved many with BPD and who has had friends, acquaintances, and loved ones throughout my life that have displayed BPD symptoms. It’s touched my life in numerous ways. Without help, I know it’s a challenge to live with it; I know it’s a challenge to love someone with it. It’s especially challenging when we live in a society that doesn’t talk about mental illness enough and loved ones can feel just as frustrated and hopeless. As I’ve been more public about my diagnosis, many loved ones of those with BPD have reached out to me with questions about what they can do. In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ll be breaking down some helpful considerations into a two-part post on loving someone with borderline personality disorder. So, what should you do if you think your loved one has BPD?
What to Ask Yourself If You Think Your Loved One Has Borderline Personality Disorder
Does Your Loved OneThink He Has Borderline Personality Disorder?
If you’re reading this, you may have come to your own conclusions that your loved one has BPD as maybe you read some of my writing or someone else’s and think you’ve found the answer. Those intentions are good, but I'll offer some caveats here for when you only think your loved one has BPD.
I also write this as someone who has made mistakes in my interactions in others with BPD. For starters, not everyone with this diagnosis is as forthcoming as I am. Consider that this is one of the most highly stigmatized diagnoses out there. It can be frightening to those who don’t have a lot of information and completely overwhelming. So, while you may be trying to help by proclaiming you’ve found the answer and that you think your loved one has borderline personality disorder, you could do more harm than good. I say this as someone who thought I was "helping" by pointing out the clear traits of borderline personality disorder I saw in those around me. I dated someone whose close family member displayed the traits. A therapist by training, I offered my perspective. It was unsolicited and unhelpful advice.
I brought my borderline diagnosis to my family once I had it from a licensed therapist, not the other way around. If you bring this up out of the blue to your loved one, you risk triggering the very borderline behavior you are trying to help. In someone prone to defensiveness or aggression, I don't recommend bringing up the diagnosis yourself. It's certainly helpful to educate yourself, but I don’t recommend proclaiming this to your loved one. Those of us with BPD can also be prone to paranoia, so enlightening your friend about your research on BPD can be well-intentioned and it can also backfire.
Seek your own help first. Find your own therapist you trust and discuss your concerns about your loved one with BPD in a contained environment. Or, if in the context of a romantic relationship, bring the concerns to a trusted couples therapist if your partner is open to it.
Is Your Loved One's Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis from a Qualified Mental Health Professional?
While it may be appropriate to express concern to a loved one about his mental health struggles and ask if he is willing to seek professional help, leave the diagnosing to the professionals. If your loved one brings the diagnosis to you, then it’s an appropriate conversation to have about what it means and what BPD treatment options are.
Considerations If You Think Your Loved One Has Borderline Personality Disorder
It’s wonderful and okay to seek information and educate yourself about the diagnosis, but consider keeping your findings to yourself unless your loved one who has BPD wants to talk about it. I know this is difficult. I can feel like a self-proclaimed borderline expert sometimes and I’ve mistakenly thought everyone wants to hear my input. That’s not always the case and I've learned the hard way.
Easton, W. (2018, May 17). I Think My Loved One Has Borderline Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2018/5/if-your-loved-one-has-borderline