What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
This May it’s Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month, but what is a borderline personality disorder or BPD? Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is the most commonly diagnosed personality disorder. Most people with BPD are diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood but it can be diagnosed earlier or later. BPD is a condition that affects mood and it also impacts how a person interacts with others.
The symptoms of BPD include emotional instability, distorted thinking patterns, impulsivity (i.e., substance misuse or reckless sex), and unstable relationships with others. People with BPD may feel chronically empty and often attempt to avoid abandonment at almost any cost. This can result in intense yet often short-lived relationships. Self-harm and suicidal ideation are also symptoms of BPD. If you think you’re experiencing the symptoms of BPD it’s important to make an appointment with a doctor to get support with diagnosis and treatment.
Causes And Treatment Of Borderline Personality Disorder
Anyone of any background can be diagnosed with BPD. It’s likely to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Most people with BPD will have experienced traumatic life events, often in childhood. These traumatic events include experiences such as abandonment, abuse, and neglect. Treatment for BPD can include medication where indicated and psychotherapy. Following therapy, many people with BPD experience less frequent and less severe symptoms, although it can take time for things to improve.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective in helping people with BPD to change unhelpful beliefs about themselves, the world, and others. Learning coping skills for BPD can also be useful. This article explores some strategies you can try out if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of BPD. However, BPD can be difficult to manage with self-care alone so consider reaching out to professionals who can support you too.
Five Coping Skills For Borderline Personality Disorder
1. Practice Grounding Techniques
When you feel overwhelmed by intense emotions or negative thoughts, using a grounding technique can help to shift your focus. When you notice your emotions or thoughts taking you away from the here and now, try splashing your face with cold water or holding an ice cube. This can help to bring your attention back to the present moment. You can also try holding an object like a pebble and noticing how it feels. Or paying attention to the sounds or colours around you. When you practice a grounding technique try to focus on what you’re experiencing through your senses rather than on the challenging situation you were thinking about or feeling.
2. Learn To Tolerate Difficult Emotions
Grounding techniques can be helpful as a way of coping with difficult emotions. However, it’s also important to learn that it’s OK to experience strong emotions. Emotions come, they reach a peak, and then they always go. People with BPD often experience strong emotions and then react to them impulsively as a way to try to cope with that emotion or escape it. For example, by ending a relationship or engaging in harmful activities. Learning to let difficult emotions be there without reacting to them is an important technique for managing BPD.
Instead of reacting to challenging emotions, try to practice building tolerance for them. Start by identifying and naming what you’re feeling. You could journal this if it helps. Remind yourself that the feeling won’t last forever (it can help to set a timer and get through the next 10 minutes, then the next, and so on). Remember that your thoughts and feelings don’t have to determine your actions. Experiment with reacting in a more helpful way this time. If you were able to react differently acknowledge this and use it to show yourself that you can do it for next time too. Be kind to yourself if you didn’t react differently, changing these deep-rooted behaviours takes time.
3. Make a Self-Care Book Or Box
A self-care book or box is a bit like a first aid kit but for mental health. Collect some tried and tested items or quotes that you know help you when you’re struggling. These could be things like a comforting book or film, words of wisdom, a weighted blanket, photographs that make you feel good, or things with calming smells or tastes. Keep all the items together and then get the book or box out when you’re finding things difficult. It will remind you to look after yourself and prompt you about the best way to do that. You could also store information on your phone or write notes to yourself to remind yourself how to deal with challenging situations when you’re going through them.
4. Look After Your Physical Health
When we’re not feeling at our best emotionally it can be difficult to look after ourselves physically. However, it’s so important that we continue to care for ourselves even during challenging times. Try to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep as this will support your emotional well-being. Regularly eating healthy food can stabilize our mood and give us energy. Physical activity and spending time outside can help to manage anxiety and depression.
5. Reach Out To Others
When we experience intense emotions or the symptoms of BPD, it can feel like we’re alone. This can make it difficult to reach out to others for support. However, we’re not alone in how we feel and there are many others who understand. Contact friends and family if you have supportive people around you. Let them know how they can best care for you when you’re finding things difficult. You could also try joining a peer support group. This could be local to you or online. Self-help strategies can be useful in learning to cope with BPD but talking to others is also important. You might consider finding a therapist who’s experienced in working with BPD as a source of guidance too.
How Can Online-Therapy.com Help?
If you’ve tried out some of these strategies already and would like to explore coping skills for borderline personality disorder further then Online-Theray.com can help. By signing up with our program you can choose a therapist who will work with you to develop a personalized toolkit to support you with developing new coping skills for living with borderline personality disorder. You can choose to have your therapy sessions by video, phone or text chat (couple counseling will be video only), making Online-Therapy.com a flexible and convenient option.
At Online-Therapy.com we offer an integrated and holistic package to enable you to feel at your best. Our approach includes regular video, phone or text chat sessions with your chosen therapist, unlimited messaging and worksheet support, journaling and yoga. This ongoing support means that you have the daily expert guidance you need to learn strategies and skills to support you with borderline personality disorder, as soon as you sign up.