**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer
There comes the point when learning to deal with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) that a person needs to choose whether or not he is going to take his learning seriously, or if he is going to continue complaining about all of the BPD challenges. It is hard work, for instance, to practice feeling rejection, guilt, shame, worthlessness, and abandonment (all everyday emotional experiences in BPD), and likewise to keep up with all the thoughts and behaviour that need adjustment. And because of the difficulty, the temptation to insist that others always be supportive, emotionally validating, and so forth, can quickly creep into everyday life. The urge to even give up on “practicing feelings” and other adjustments (independently) could get very strong.
In my articles, I often speak on behalf of the BPD sufferer because I know very well how hard it can be to struggle alone, and also that a comprehensive knowledge of BPD as a disease process is necessary to start making adjustments. I also write as an advocate for BPD because opportunities for a BPD sufferer to experience real and genuine empathy from significant others can be so rare, or even non-existent. However, in writing from this perspective so much, I become concerned that those reading might get the wrong idea and maybe start believing they are under no obligation to continue healing unless others in their life are deeply invested in learning about BPD and how to be helpful. In reality, the extent to which significant others will take the time to learn about BPD, how hard it can be, how to be helpful, etc., is very low.
For one thing, the real suffering of BPD is invisible to others because no one can see what is happening on the inside of another human, and this is why so many “BPD moments” get invalidated… it takes a lot of knowledge, patience, and curiosity to see past the drama and chaos of BPD. Most people don’t have this to offer. For another thing, many people are consumed by many of their issues, mental health or otherwise. For yet another thing, people are further consumed by their sense of obligation to keeping up with the material world: paying bills, paying tribute, paying to play, paying to get more things, etc. People are very busy indeed, even exhausted, and so what in the way of time for mental health and caring about BPD does this leave?
Hard to hear, right?! But real?
**If possible, and depending on who a BPD sufferer is in relationships with** there is a place for compassion and understanding from others since it can be so helpful in working through difficult emotions, rearranging the irrational thoughts, and correcting the ineffective behaviours. However make no mistake about it… “this card” (the sympathy/empathy card) can be overplayed, or unrealistically played, by a BPD sufferer for all the reasons mentioned above, and more. The balance between independent and interdependent (with others) emotional work can, therefore, be hard to find. In many relationships and families, it is sadly unrealistic for a person with BPD to expect any help at all with his condition.
So what happens when a person with BPD chooses to fight against reality continually and refuses to take the level of responsibility needed for his circumstances? In short, things will probably never change for him, and things could very likely get a lot worse (losing relationships, losing opportunities, losing wealth, losing, losing, losing). In any case, when there is a refusal to take serious responsibility to learn everything possible about BPD and how to overcome, there is going to be suffering, and probably lots of wondering “why is this happening to me?”. A better question that someone with BPD could be asking himself is: “How hard on me do I want to make this learning process?”
In my face-to-face work with people who suffer from BPD, I recommend that they generally assume they will be going through an independent learning process. In other words, I try to prepare for them for the most common reality… that others will not, or cannot, make the time to help with a complicated condition like BPD. If by some stroke of luck a BPD sufferer knows someone who cares to learn about BPD to be helpful, I recommend treating this interest with healthy skepticism and keeping expectations low, because treating BPD takes several years of commitment. BPD challenges will no doubt remain over time… having some good days and some bad days… and so it can be hard for the person battling BPD to persist in the learning process. Now consider for a moment how much more challenging it would be for a person who doesn’t have BPD to continue as a helper.
Indeed, the best resource you can have in the battle of BPD is yourself. You can always be there for yourself, and you can still take the time to learn more about what to do to take care of yourself. It may be hard to accept that your mental health is such a low priority issue in the lives of many (or perhaps most) of the people you know. Unfortunately, it seems that humans have a tough time caring about the mental health matters of others, even if that human is living in a human family. And so at the end of this article, I stress that taking responsibility for BPD is a highly independent activity and that it is perhaps most realistic to believe you are on your own most of the time. The choice as to how much you want to suffer from BPD, therefore, needs to be made again and again, and so hopefully suffering “big time” does not have to be your reality.
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