5 Keys to Living With Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD Can Affect Many Aspects of Your Life, But There's Hope

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Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) poses some challenges. Intense emotional pain and feelings of emptiness, desperation, anger, hopelessness, and loneliness are common. These symptoms can affect every part of your life. Despite the challenges, many people with BPD learn how to cope with the symptoms so they can live fulfilling lives.

Your Relationships and BPD

BPD can have a major impact on your relationships. In fact, having difficulties in relationships is one of the primary symptoms of BPD. People with BPD can have many arguments and conflicts with loved ones or a lot of relationships that repeatedly break up.

The way that you feel about your family, friends, or partner can change dramatically from day-to-day or hour-to-hour. These patterns can be very difficult both for the person with BPD and those who care about them.

Your Work and BPD

Work, school, or other productive pursuits can give us a sense of purpose in life. Unfortunately, BPD can interfere with your success at work or school.

Since BPD has such an impact on relationships, people with BPD may find themselves in trouble with co-workers, bosses, teachers, or other authority figures. The intense emotional changes may also impact work or school; you may have to be absent more often due to emotional concerns or hospitalization.

Some of the symptoms of BPD like dissociation can also interfere with concentration, which may make completing tasks very difficult.

Your Physical Health and BPD

Unfortunately, BPD can also have a major impact on your physical health. BPD is associated with a variety of conditions, including chronic pain disorders such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and other serious health problems. BPD is also associated with less-than-healthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol use, and lack of regular exercise.

BPD and the Law

Some of the behaviors associated with BPD can lead to legal problems as well. The anger associated with it can lead to aggression (e.g., assaulting others, throwing objects, or acting out against others' personal property). Impulsive behaviors, such as driving recklessly, misusing substances, shoplifting, or engaging in other illegal acts, can also lead to trouble.

Coping With BPD Symptoms

People with BPD do not have to resign themselves to a life of emotional pain. There are a number of things you can do to help you cope with the symptoms.

Get Help

BPD is a very serious disorder. The intense experiences associated with BPD are not something that anyone should face alone. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments for BPD. Finding a mental health professional you feel comfortable with and discussing your symptoms and treatment options is one of the most important steps you can take for your health.

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Have a Safety Plan

BPD causes very painful emotions and, as a result, it is not uncommon for mental health emergencies (for example, active suicidality) to arise. For this reason, it is critical for you to have a safety plan in place before a crisis happens.

If you are in danger of harming yourself or others, what will you do? Can you call 911? Is there a hospital nearby with an emergency room that you can go to? If you have a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or social worker, talk this plan over with them. 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Get Support

Having the support of your family, friends, or partner can be a big help. But, not everyone has someone to turn to when things get difficult. You may need to find ways to connect with others and to build a support network for yourself.

BPD is not an uncommon disorder; it occurs in about 1.4% of the population. That means that there are roughly 4 million people with BPD in the U.S. alone. Many of those people are looking for support, just like you.

Take Care of Yourself

It is important that people with BPD take good care of themselves. Healthy self-care can help reduce emotional pain, increase positive emotions, and reduce the emotional ups and downs you may experience.

Some of the most basic things like eating nutritious and regular meals, practicing good sleep hygiene, and getting regular exercise will help tremendously. Also, try to take time for relaxation and stress-reduction and schedule enjoyable activities into your daily life.

Learn More

When it comes to your mental health, knowledge is power. Educate yourself about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of BPD. Learn about ways to manage your symptoms. Share what you have learned with the people in your life who are affected by it.

8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
 Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.