I am doing an unexpected, for me, post. Sometimes with most posts I will have a plan for a few days that perhaps this is where one will go, many times I will have a draft simmering that I will finish off.. or for some they can be a recipe, or something fun… or even something that happened that caught me or my eye.
I have noticed though a search term coming up quite often. “how to deal with someone with borderline personality disorder” in my dashboard.
Not my favorite title for a blog, sort of insulting in a fashion, and this is not my intent, more to just answer the search term as I have seen it so often this past week.
When people reach out for advice, tis hard not to reply somewhat.
I would like help with this too, many of my followers have BPD, and who can offer better insight?
Everyone is different, so I am starting that way. People are people, someone that suffers with BPD… well they are no different than you, perhaps they just have some challenges to overcome. With your help too, that can be easier. It can be challenging for you as well.
Living with or working with someone that suffers with BPD can be challenging. Even difficult. It can be very rewarding too, as these people are often very very bright, creative and yes loving.
I have a short answer for that search term. Understanding.
Sounds simple right? Here is the twist though. You will not be able to understand. Not fully. Don’t try. Accept.
For my BPD readers, I will be referring to bpd sufferers as they, them.. tis not being callous, I just don’t like to keep writing bpd sufferers. I also skip around the term borderlines. You are not borderlines, you may suffer with it, it may be a part of you, but it is not you. right? I know it is an “accepted term” Borderlines, I just don’t really like labels.
I didn’t say it was an easy one, to understand you have to learn. To help you understand. A bit.
Compassion though, you don’t have to learn anything for this.
Support. Healthy support, encouragement. This too, you don’t have to learn anything to be able to offer.
There are things to remember, to tell yourself. People with Borderline need reassurance. A lot of it. Understand this. They may feel the need to check on you. a lot. Reassure when they do, don’t criticize their concern. Remember this, they have very powerful abandonment issues. More than you may comprehend, but you don’t have to feel this, just understand that it is so.
Emotions will be somewhat erratic. Don’t argue, lash out. Don’t encourage a debate when emotions are strong. Don’t defend yourself or thoughts, don’t argue.
Just as in therapy, with a therapist, establish boundaries. People with borderline do not like the word no. There are times though were no is right, so this needs to be discussed often by both parties, to establish when no is really no. Tis not a punishment or a withdrawal of something. Boundaries can be established for many things. Arguments can be one. To only discuss things when both are calm.
Empathy goes a long way, build trust. Work hard at this.
Just as cruel though, you want to protect, and should, but also there are times when allowing them to fail is ok too, failing at something is how we learn. Be there to pick up the pieces, support and learn together how to avoid that failure in the future. Now don’t go looking for challenges that they will fail at. Don’t play mind games.
Calm, always be calm, if you feel you are going to lash out, pop. blow up… go do it somewhere else. But do not tolerate any abusive treatment. This is part of the “no” . You have limits. When faced with rage, remove yourself from the situation. tell them you are going for a walk until they calm down. Don’t just leave, communicate, the fear of abandonment is strong so never appear like you are leaving. They may show anger, this is ok, Don’t try to stop it, but ask them not to yell at you. You can deflect too, agree to discuss something at another time, perhaps when they are calmer. Accept that rage may occur, don’t let it spread to you. Allow it to wash over you, it will pass.
Create a support network for yourself, friends. support groups or even a therapist. Remember you need to protect yourself too and to have a vent, a place to release. Therapists that work in groups to treat BPD also treat each other, this is important.
Treat suicide threats as real, have the appropriate contact information, therapist or psychiatrist, on hand, phone numbers.
Self harm is often something you will encounter. Don’t judge, treat wounds, if they are beyond your ability to treat, go to the hospital. Self harm is hard to understand. It should not be encouraged, but also not judged or discouraged. I know this is confusing. With love and support this urge can fade. Not with judgement, threats or pleading. If you want a bit more understanding I have a post here. Understanding Self Harm.
Go to therapy together. Helping someone is easier if you see the therapy they work with. You can then help more, you will have a better understanding.
Daily routine is important. Deviating from it, may create stressors. Even tiny things, if routine must be disturbed, you can work with them through it, support.
Know that doing some things may be difficult for them. New things, a new restaurant, even a phone call from a number that does not call.. these things can be unsettling. For someone with borderline, making a phone call can be a chore. Help when you can, even if it is just sitting with them whilst they do it. To support.
How do you understand black and white thinking?
This is also termed splitting. Because black and white thinking is all or nothing. They will know that someone is not horrible or perfect but between, this is hard to comprehend so it leads to splitting, back and forth, good one moment and horrible the next. Struggling to find the between or grey area that truly exists.
All or nothing, good or evil. black or white. This is tough to understand.. so remember I said you won’t understand everything, but tis good to know.
So the splitting is the thought process of all or nothing, middle ground does not exist. This is very complex. So there could be rocking back and forth.
One example is: for the morning they may feel you are perfect, good… later in the day, evil, flawed. To see someone as good but with some flaws is a grey area, this is not seen.
To cope with this is not to argue or to try to change thinking, but to agree to disagree.
I will add to this or do future posts, for now lets have some feedback. With the hope that people searching for ways to not “deal” with someone with borderline, but how to support them…. can find a bit of help here. But more will come.