One of the most difficult moments in a relationship with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is when you realize you care enough about them that you want to see them get help and find respite from the painful and paralyzing symptoms characteristic of BPD.
You may feel anxious, nervous, or scared to approach your loved one about getting Borderline Personality Disorder treatment. Keeping in mind that BPD treatment can do nothing but help your family member, here are a few tips to help you broach the subject:
Do not start the discussion during a fight or an episode.
This tip is important in any situation, in any relationship, whether Borderline Personality Disorder is present or not. It’s difficult sometimes, but resist the urge to suggest that your loved one “get help” during an episode, if only due to the very fact that your own emotions are likely to be strained in the heat of the moment.
When you love someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, that person is not the only one whose emotions can become heightened and potentially irrational. We all react from a place of self-protection and fear at times. It’s best to broach the subject of treatment for BPD when at least one of you is speaking from as neutral a position as possible.
Show your support.
One of the most prevalent symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder is fear of abandonment. This fear can be ignited, believe it or not, by the idea of recovery. Your family member or loved one with BPD might assume that it’s their disorder that is keeping you near, that their need for you is what’s keeping you from leaving.
Assure your loved one that you will be there by their side during and after BPD treatment, that you won’t abandon them even after progress is made. Make it clear that the suggestion of their seeking treatment for BPD is coming from a place of love and concern. And coming from the fact that you want a relationship with them, and that you would like it to be a healthier situation for both of you.
Take it slow.
By now, you are certainly familiar with the unpredictable patterns of behavior exhibited by your family member or loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder. Maybe you picked a moment to start the conversation when they seemed calm and open, but a sense of disapproval or perceived rejection, based on the conversation you’ve begun, could send your loved one into a rage.
It is very likely that you will not get all the information out, or even your point across, the first time you bring up the idea of BPD treatment. Be prepared to try again, and to practice tenacity and understanding.
Don’t talk big picture.
Resist the urge to just dive in with an all-or-nothing suggestion. Approach the subject from the mindset that you are asking your family member to think about investigating the idea of pursuing treatment for BPD. Take it one step at a time.
Suggest starting small, making mini goals that can be scratched off a to-do list, one mini goal per day. Day one: make a list of Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers. Day two: make a list of what questions you might have for those centers, what information you’ll need from each one to make a choice. Day three: make a phone call to one of those centers, set up an appointment for a tour. And so on…
Understand rather than contradict.
If, as you begin this potentially rocky topic of conversation, your loved one says “I know! I make you feel bad because I’m a bad person,” your initial urge might be to contradict that statement. But the contradiction will likely cause even more distress. The contradiction might feel like invalidation.
Try avoiding that sense of invalidation, instead asking your loved one to further examine those feelings. For example, ask, “Why do you feel like you’re a bad person? What constitutes a ‘bad’ person?”
Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder can be one of the most difficult subjects to approach with a family member or loved one. It might be a good idea to reach out to Borderline Personality treatment centers ahead of time and see if they have a program for family members of those with BPD. They may have suggestions to help guide you through the process, in a supportive and informed way, of letting your loved one or family member know that you care about them and want to see them enjoying life to the fullest.