One of the primary dilemmas faced by the loved ones of someone living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is how to discuss the issue with them and encourage them to seek treatment for BPD. If you believe your father is living with BPD, the subject of getting help may be even more difficult to broach, given the nature of the relationship.
Truthfully, telling anyone that you think they may have BPD can backfire and result in further emotional escalation and conflict. That being said, let’s look at what you can do to affect some positive changes this Father’s Day and start a conversation within your family.
Starting a Conversation
People living with Borderline Personality Disorder are highly sensitive to perceived criticism from others, so it is not at all uncommon for them to react poorly to even reasonable suggestions or concerns. Often, those who suffer with BPD will project their behaviors back on to you.
For instance, if you were to say, “Sometimes I feel that you anger very easily and that anything I say may be misinterpreted by you and cause a conflict,” they may respond with, “It’s YOU who has anger issues and gets defensive whenever I say anything to you. You have a problem, not me.”
It is also not at all unlikely that they will turn around and tell you that you are the one who has BPD. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the conversation could plant a seed of doubt and eventually result in your father acknowledging a problem and seeking treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.
Even if you decide that it is not a good idea to bring up Borderline Personality Disorder to your father, you can still have a frank and open conversation with other members of your family. It can be very therapeutic to simply have an honest discussion about your family dynamic and what you all can do to make things easier for yourselves, since you are all living with BPD.
Encourage everyone to educate themselves about Borderline Personality Disorder and fully understand that while your father’s behaviors may be disturbing, damaging, or even abusive, he has very little (if any) control of his actions if he has not yet sought any treatment for BPD.
One good source of information about BPD relationships is the book “Walking on Eggshells” by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger. If you want to learn about communication techniques that can facilitate more productive conversations with your father and encourage other members of your family to do the same, this book is a wonderful place to begin.
When we endeavor to improve relationships with undiagnosed loved ones who have BPD, we usually have to do so without their participation in the process and with full awareness of the fact that they will not change until they themselves recognize the need to seek help.
Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder
If your father has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder but has not been in treatment actively, it may be a little less difficult to suggest that he seek help. You may read up on what your best BPD treatment options are locally, including residential treatment for borderline personality, and present some ideas to him when you feel he may be receptive.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Borderline Personality Disorder treatment has been proven to yield positive results and help those living with BPD on the road to recovery.
If you and your family decide to participate in therapy and make it clear that you support your father in every way and believe that he can recover, you may make his decision easier for him.
Ultimately, whether your father enters BPD treatment or not, you can still work on your own coping and communication skills and improve your own ability to understand BPD, which can make a profound difference in how you interact as well as how you process your own emotions surrounding the relationship.