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) is not always easy. Intense emotional pain and feelings of emptiness, desperation, anger, hopelessness, and loneliness are common. These symptoms can affect every part of your life. However, despite the suffering that BPD can cause, many people learn ways to cope with the symptoms and lead normal, fulfilling lives.

How Does Living With Borderline Personality Disorder Affect You?

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 him or her.

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. This 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, abusing substances, shoplifting, or engaging in other illegal acts, can also lead to trouble.

5 Keys for Coping With the Symptoms of BPD

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. These are just the beginning. Getting help from a licensed mental health professional and learning more about managing the symptoms of BPD, can alleviate the impact it has on your life.

1. Get HelpBPD is a very serious disorder. The intense experiences associated with BPD are not something that one person should face alone. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments for BPD. Finding a professional you feel comfortable with is one of the most important steps you can take for your health.

2. Have a Safety PlanBPD 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. 

3. Get SupportHaving 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 percent of the population. That means that there are roughly four million people with BPD in the U.S. alone. Many of those people are looking for support, just like you.

4. Take Care of Yourself. It is important that individuals with BPD take good care of themselves. Healthy self-care can reduce emotional pain, increase positive emotions, and help 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.

5. 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.

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