by Ana Montana
Helping a friend or loved one with mental health issues is not always easy. It is proven that support from friends and family can not only help in the recovery process, but sometimes can even be life saving.
We’re not going to lie, supporting someone with BPD can be a rocky road. BPD is a psychiatric illness characterized by intense emotions and chronic feelings of emptiness, which often lead to anxiety, depression and self-harming behaviors.
Learning about BPD won’t automatically solve your relationship problems, but it will help you understand what you’re dealing with and handle difficulties in more constructive ways. So, we hope this helps…
The FIRST thing to understand if you’re trying to support someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is that they do not choose to be like this.
Validate you Borderline friend’s experience: you may not always agree with your friend’s evaluation of the situations or feel the intensity of his/her feelings, however, you can still let them know that you’re trying to understand and how difficult it must be. Receiving validation from another person can provide a tremendous releif to someone with BPD. Most people with BPD are often told they are overreacting, so having someone actually caring how they feel can be very powerful.
Educate yourself about Borderline Personality Disorder: if you have a friend with BPD, it is critically important to educate yourself about the disorder. Understanding that your friend’s behaviors are not intended to harm you may help you build more empathy for your friend. Friendships with people with BPD can be rocky, so you need to know what to expect and how to handle it. It is important to understand the behaviors so that you can recognize them for what they are: symptoms of your friend’s inner suffering.
Try not to ignore threats of harm: never ignore a suicide threat or any other kind of threat for that matter, even though you’re sure your friend doesn’t mean it, any time you believe there is a risk your friend may harm herself/himself, leave it to the professionals or try to search for some help.
Take care of yourself: research has shown that friends and family that care for people with BPD tend to have high rates of hostility, anxiety, depression and distrust. That’s why it’s important for you to take care of yourself, try to take breaks when you need it and create good boundaries in order to get your needs fulfilled. It is possible to have a long-term with someone with BPD if you work at it.
In the long term, it is more helpful for a person with BPD to have a consistent, reliable friend than to have a friend who’s 100% there for a few months and then disappears forever.
So… in brief:
- Be honest, direct and respectful
- Be patient, gentle and empathetic
It can be challenging to keep all of these things in mind at times. Still, if you find yourself feeling irritated, try to consider the obstacles people with BPD overcome every single day. It’s important we have allies by our side as we navigate a disorder as unpredictable and stigmatized as BPD.
* Do you have a friend or family member with BPD? Do you want to share your story with us? Remember you can write us here. We’re here, contact us! 🙂