Having Borderline Personality Disorder is hard. It’s a tough battle that we’re constantly fighting against – and it very much does feel like a tidal wave that we tend to easily get swept under. As somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder, I know all too well how tough the illness can be. It drags you down and makes you feel irrational, act irrational, and generally think irrationally. That’s one of the main issues with BPD – you don’t think logically.
However, I also know that’s it’s difficult for people to ‘cope’ with my Borderline Personality Disorder. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that they’re the victims here, but I know that it can be a difficult thing to comprehend and to understand. Due to the fact that there’s so many misconceptions around BPD, a lot of people are afraid to be in touch with people who have been diagnosed with it. For one reason or another, we’re labelled as too much of a problem for people to cope with and, so, they tend to try not to deal with us.
BPD is one of the most stigmatised mental illnesses – it makes us seem like we’re manipulative and abusive, but this isn’t the reality. A lot of the time, people with BPD are afraid to speak of their illnesses because they don’t want to be judged, and we’re really not inherently bad people. When people take the time to learn that the disorder is not what people make it out to be, it goes a long way. Here are a few ways in which you can support somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder without playing into the stigma.
Validate How They’re Feeling
One of the biggest parts of BPD is feeling invalidated in our emotions. Logically, we know that we might be experiencing our feelings to odd extremes, but we cannot help that. When somebody with BPD is acting a certain way, they’re not being dramatic, they’re genuinely out how they’re feeling inside. We often feel judged and misunderstood because we’ll be labelled as ‘childish’ or ‘silly’.
Even if you don’t understand the emotion that we’re feeling or why we’re feeling it, it’s important that you help us realise that our feelings are valid. You can help us come to terms with managing our emotions by reinforcing that how we feel is our reality, even if it’s not technically real. A person with BPD might be incredibly distressed over the thought that their friend may hate them if they don’t reply to a text message. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their friend does hate them, but their feelings are still very real in their own mind.
Educate Yourself On Borderline Personality Disorder
If you know somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder, it is so, so important that you really do your research and educate yourself on the mental illness if you wish to support them. There are a lot – and I mean a lot – of misunderstandings about Borderline Personality Disorder that you can be sure they’re afraid you’re going to believe. In the media, we’re labelled as dangerous or abusive or manipulative, when this isn’t the case. Just because we experience things to extremes does not make us bad people.
You can help your loved one and support them simply by looking into more information about the disorder to help you understand it better. Nobody is claiming that you have to become a professional, but having a clearer idea of what the illness consists of and what it’s like can go a long way. Not only are you going to enhance your own knowledge, you’re also going to help them feel a lot more understood.
Be Honest About What You Mean
For a lot of people with Borderline Personality Disorder, it’s a struggle to understand what people mean when they’re talking to us or interacting with us. Often, we’ll go days thinking over an interaction that we had with a friend or a situation that we happened to find ourselves in. Take that earlier example – that person with BPD who didn’t receive a text message might spend days and days contemplating what they did to make that person hate them. They’ll keep asking themselves what they did wrong, all because we tend to assume things rather than clarify them with the person in question.
Even if communication isn’t easy, being honest with somebody with BPD is a must. Being upfront and clear with what you mean or what you’re saying is going to go bounds to help them come to terms with the situation, rather than ruminating over what might be. Even if you are annoyed with somebody with BPD, tell them that – don’t just pretend that you’re not and think that they won’t notice.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a hard thing to deal with – for all those involved. Though, a little bit of effort really does make all the difference. Instead of giving up on your loved one with BPD, try to implement these few strategies in how you interact with them and their disorder.