How to Help a Loved One With Borderline Personality Disorder

support a loved one with borderline personality disorder

If your spouse, family member or a close friend has received a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, it can be tricky to understand the best ways to reach them. Rocky relationships are one hallmark of this mental health challenge, along with risky behavior, mood swings and fears of abandonment. The heartbreak of watching someone you love go through these issues comes coupled with the worry that you’ll lose them to their illness. What can you do if your loved one has BPD?

1. Learn as Much as You Can About It

Despite its official recognition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, BPD is still a widely misunderstood diagnosis. Because it tends to create so much instability in the lives of people it touches, this disorder requires in-depth analysis to help you empathize with your loved one and understand the issues they’re facing. Educating yourself about this condition and its symptoms can help give you a well-rounded understanding of what you can expect and equip you with the necessary knowledge to help your loved one explore treatment options.

2. Don’t Brush Off Suicidal Ideation

Recurring suicidal or self-harming behavior is another hallmark of BPD. Unfortunately, many people dismiss these warning signs as attention-seeking behavior, instead of taking them seriously. If your loved one is signaling any intention to commit suicide or threatening to hurt themselves, don’t dismiss or disregard them. Call their therapist, 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and stay with them until they are under professional supervision. Though you shouldn’t blame yourself if a loved one attempts suicide or self-harms, it is vital to do what you can to keep them safe.

3. Move Self-Care to the Top of Your To-Do List 

Though your priority is undoubtedly to support your loved one, don’t overlook your needs and feelings. Having a loved one with BPD can be isolating and frightening. By seeking counseling and finding a compassionate support group, you can get the guidance you need to cope. Family therapy can be invaluable for people who need to heal and move forward. 

4. Set Reasonable Boundaries

Telling your loved one “no” or allowing them to experience all the natural consequences of their actions might feel like a betrayal. However, setting boundaries can encourage the person you care about to seek much-needed help for their condition. Your goal should be to keep you and your loved one accountable and prevent you from dealing with unreasonable and irrational behavior. 

5. Don’t Judge or Belittle Them

A loved one with BPD can go through emotional highs and lows. If you’ve never had BPD or another mental disorder, it can be challenging to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Try to be kind, patient and sympathetic. Instead of telling them to get over it when they’re struggling, you might say, “I see you’re having a hard time; is there anything I can do to help you feel better?”

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Having a loved one with BPD can be tremendously stressful. If you’ve become over-reliant on alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism, seek help at Canyon Crossing. As a women’s-only rehab center, we cater to women’s unique needs in substance abuse recovery. Contact us to learn more about long-term addiction treatment in Prescott, Arizona.

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
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