Borderline personality disorder

Explains borderline personality disorder (BPD), including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

A disordered personality?

Debbie talks about her experience of borderline personality disorder.

Debbie
Posted on 30/07/2014

Borderline Personality Disorder: receiving a diagnosis

Lucy blogs for us about her experience of receiving a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Lucy
Posted on 12/09/2014

Having a BPD diagnosis - my reality

Rebecca's account of being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Rebecca
Posted on 21/11/2014

How can other people help?

This page is for family and friends who want to support someone with a diagnosis of BPD.

If someone you care about is diagnosed with BPD you might sometimes find it hard to understand their feelings or behaviour, or to know how to help. But there are lots of positive things you can do to support them:

  • Try to be patient. If your loved one is struggling to deal with their emotions, try not to get involved in an argument in the heat of the moment. It could be better to wait until you both feel calmer to talk things through.
  • Don't judge them. Try to listen to them without telling them that they're overreacting or that they shouldn't feel the way they do. Whether or not you understand why they feel like this, it's still how they're feeling and important to acknowledge it.
  • Be calm and consistent. If your loved one is experiencing a lot of overwhelming emotions, this could help them feel more secure and supported.
One thing that I find helps is when others validate my emotions, as I often feel guilty for having them.

 

  • Help remind them of all their positive traits. When someone you care about is finding it hard to believe anything good about themself, it can be reassuring to hear all the positive things you see in them.
  • Try to set clear boundaries and expectations. If your loved one is feeling insecure and worried about being left alone, it can be helpful to make sure you both know where the boundaries of your relationship are, and what you can expect from each other.
  • Plan ahead. When the person you're supporting is feeling well, ask them how you can help them best when they're unwell.
I have a friend who [...] goes for hot chocolate with me every week. To know there is somebody who cares and has time for you, even when you're not sure who you are... that means the world.
  • Learn their triggers. Talk to your loved one and try to find out what sort of situations or conversations might trigger negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Think about how you could help keep them safe. It can be scary if you're worried someone you care about is hurting themself, or is struggling with suicidal thoughts, but being prepared can help you cope. See our pages on supporting someone who is suicidal, and on supporting someone who is self-harming, for more information.
  • Learn more about BPD, and help to challenge stigma. BPD is a complicated diagnosis, and your loved one might sometimes have to deal with other people's misconceptions on top of trying to manage their mental health problem. Our pages about BPD and on BPD experiences contain more information.
  • Help them seek treatment and support. See our page on how to support someone to seek help for more information.
  • Help them find an advocate. (See our pages on advocacy for more information.)
  • Take care of yourself. Your mental health is important too, and looking after someone else could put a strain on your wellbeing. See our pages on coping as a carer, managing stress and maintaining your wellbeing for more information on how to look after yourself.

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