An estimated 2 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). And if you have a family member with BPD, you know it’s not just the person diagnosed who suffers from the disorder.
Families of people with Borderline Personality Disorder often experience a lot of stress and anger as a result of the BPD symptoms displayed by their loved ones. If you have a family member with BPD, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do to make the situation better.
But there are some ways to cope that can help you to better deal with your loved one’s BPD symptoms and get the support you need:
- Don’t harbor guilt: Evidence shows that a number of people who develop Borderline Personality Disorder in adulthood grew up in abusive homes. Studies have also found a strong genetic component to the psychiatric disorder. These factors sometime lead families to believe that they are responsible for the BPD individual’s problems. However, this may not be true. There’s an equal chance that the occurrence of their disorder was totally out of your control. So abandon guilt and look for ways you can make the situation better both for yourself and the person concerned.
- Try family therapy: If you’re unable to deal with the BPD individual in your family, it might be a good idea to give family therapy a try. Sessions are conducted with the BPD patient and their key family members. Therapists will listen to everyone’s concerns and problems, and help the parties understand one another. These sessions can help you get insights into your family member with BPD and help you gain skills that can make it easier to handle BPD symptoms.
- Get BPD support: Just as important as taking care of your family member is taking care of yourself. Join a support group for families of people with Borderline Personality Disorder so you can get support from people who know what you are going through. The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) offers a Family Connections program throughout the country. This program lasts 12 weeks and helps families by offering education, skills training, and support. Avenues like Family Connections will get you in touch with other families in a similar situation, and you’ll be able to get a lot of perspective on your own. The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) offers the Family-to-Family program, which provides help and support to families coping with various psychiatric disorders, including BPD. A number of local BPD treatment centers also offer family support programs.
- Educate yourself on BPD: Borderline Personality Disorder is a complicated psychiatric disorder. People with BPD demonstrate extreme behaviors. For example, they can completely idolize you (idealization), and if something even minute goes wrong, they can immediately dethrone you from the pedestal they put you on (devaluation). While support groups are a good place to learn about BPD, you should not rule out books on BPD and workshops – they can be a valuable resource in furthering your understanding of the disorder. Understanding the psychology of BPD will go a long way in helping you deal with the BPD individual in your life.
- Encourage them to get BPD treatment: One of the best ways you can improve your family’s situation is by encouraging the individual with BPD to get treatment. BPD is a serious psychiatric disorder, and the sooner professional intervention is brought into the equation, the better it is for everyone involved. Don’t try to be pushy – this could backfire. At the end of the day, the decision to enter a BPD treatment center rests with the concerned person. The first big step toward BPD treatment is getting a diagnosis, which can help rule out any other disorders the person might have.