Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) isn’t easy. It’s common to feel helpless when dealing with the intense emotions, emptiness, anger, and other symptoms of the disorder. The symptoms of BPD can impact every aspect of your life. But even with the suffering and chaos this condition causes, many people learn ways to cope and increase quality of life.
How Living with Borderline Personality Disorder Impacts Your Life
You've probably been living with borderline personality disorder since adolescence or early adulthood and can see that it has affected every part of your life. You may notice the negative impact from your disorder in the following areas:
Career. Work, hobbies, and school give people a way to improve themselves and pursue a fulfilling purpose in life. Borderline personality disorder interferes with educational and professional success. You may find that you have a pattern of relationship problems with teachers, coworkers, your boss, or other people in authority. You may feel as if you can't function during some of the intense emotional episodes arising from your BPD, causing you to miss unacceptable amounts of work or school. Consequently, you may have trouble holding down a job or being successful in educational pursuits.
Relationships. A pervasive and consistent pattern of interpersonal conflict and instability represents a key symptom of BPD. This means you will likely have great difficulty forming and keeping stable and lasting relationships of almost any kind. Like others with the disorder, you probably experience a significant amount of conflict with friends and loved ones. (Read about borderline personality disorder relationships.)
People without BPD do not dramatically change their feelings and perceptions about friends and loved ones in a flash. If you have untreated BPD (borderline personality disorder treatment information), you may not be aware that your pattern of rapidly changing views about those around you isn't normal and that it's destructive when it comes to forming stable relationships.
This erratic behavior causes a great deal of stress for those who might otherwise want a relationship with you, causing them to distance themselves from you. This can further reinforce your unclear sense of personal identity and contribute to feelings of loneliness and emptiness. (Learn about BPD and romantic relationships.)
Legal. Living with borderline personality disorder that's untreated can lead to legal problems. Your unregulated anger and aggression may lead you to assault others, throw things, or destroy the property of others. You may engage in impulsive behavior like shoplifting, reckless driving, illegal drug use, and other activities that could lead to arrest and, thus, legal issues.
Effectively Dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder
You can take concrete steps to help you in dealing with borderline personality disorder. Following these suggestions could increase your quality of life and lead to a more fulfilling future. Steps you can take to cope with BPD are:
- Seek professional help – This is the most important step. Borderline personality disorder is a serious illness. The intense inner experience, distorted thought patterns, and resulting negative behaviors are not things that you should try to handle by yourself. An experienced psychologist or psychiatrist will have a number of effective therapeutic techniques that can help, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for borderline personality disorder. All it takes is a strong commitment from you to get better. Take this first step toward living a better life and get help.
- Educate yourself – Step away from any shame you may feel about your disorder and educate yourself about it. When people get a diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease, they don't hide in shame, they learn all they can about their illness so they can take an active part in recovery. You should do the same. Check out books from the library, read authoritative information online (like the information you find here at HealthyPlace) and talk to others with BPD.
- Create a safety net – People with BPD experience a wide range of very intense and painful emotions on a daily basis. Sometimes these extreme emotions change from hour-to-hour. This can put you at risk for suicidal thoughts and ideation. Your plan should outline what you will do in the event of a crisis. You need to know what steps you will take if you feel the urge to hurt yourself or someone else. You might plan a quick route to a nearby emergency room; have your therapist's direct line on hand; plan to call a suicide hotline or other psychiatric helpline. Have these numbers programmed into your phone and keep it with you at all times.
- Build a support network – Ask your therapist about local BPD support groups that you can join, so you can connect with others who truly understand what it's like to live with the disorder. Your doctor may want you to attend a therapist-led group at first. Then, when you've made progress, he or she can put you in touch with a less formal, client-led group.
- Exercise and take time to relax – It's critical that you actively care for yourself. Good self-care can help stabilize your emotions and put you in a better position to cope in appropriate ways when things get tough. Set up a routine to ensure you get regular exercise, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. You might also practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
When it comes to mental health, knowledge and action save the day. Learn all you can, actively seek professional help, and take steps to ensure your safety during a crisis. Living with borderline personality disorder doesn't have to mean a lifetime of emotional agony and failure. By taking steps toward change, you can live a happier and more fulfilling life.