Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Recognize and Navigate BPD

Living with borderline personality disorder can make it tough to manage your emotions, especially when things get really intense. You may have problems controlling your impulsivity, experience extreme fluctuations in mood, and suffer from an intense fear of abandonment.

Because your fear of being alone can lead to extreme emotional reactions that push people away, your BPD may make it difficult to maintain relationships.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition, also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. It is characterized by challenges in regulating emotions and controlling impulses. People with BPD often go through sudden and intense mood swings and engage in impulsive behaviors.

If you have borderline personality disorder, you will likely experience distorted and unstable self-perception and a sense of who you are. As a result, your reactions and behavior can be unpredictable, which can really mess with your decision-making, goals, and relationships.

But BPD is a treatable condition. Psychotherapy and the appropriate self-care strategies can help you learn how to manage your condition and start feeling better.

How to Recognize BPD

Instability, sensitivity, and fear of abandonment are central features of BPD. If you experience at least five of the following signs and symptoms, you may have borderline personality disorder:

  • Rapid and intense mood swings
  • A paralyzing fear of abandonment and efforts to avoid abandonment at all costs
  • Splitting, or thinking in black-and-white terms that often results in a recurring pattern of unstable relationships that oscillate between idealizing and devaluing partners.
  • Profound feelings of emptiness and worthlessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Impulsivity
  • Binge eating
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Self-harming and suicidal behavior
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Uncontrollable anger and aggression, often followed by guilt and shame
  • Transient paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms caused by stress

Also, your symptoms must have started in your teens or young adulthood to be diagnosed with BPD.

Emotional Instability, Sensitivity, and Impulsivity

BPD may cause you to go through intense and rapidly shifting emotions, often out of proportion to the situation. When you are upset, you may find it difficult to calm down. You may turn to impulsive behaviors such as substance abuse, unsafe sexual conduct, or self-harm to cope.

You may also experience irritation and rage that are difficult to control, contributing to conflicts and troubled relationships.

Self-Image Issues

One of the hallmarks of BPD is a fluctuating sense of self, so you may be unsure of who you are, feel chronically empty, and struggle to find meaning in your life. You may feel disconnected from yourself and your experiences. To fill this hole, you may seek out intense relationships or experiences, ultimately feeling even more empty and confused.

Unstable Relationships

If you have BPD, a deep-seated fear of abandonment can make it hard to maintain healthy relationships. You may rely on other people to make you feel good about yourself. You may engage in codependent relationships in which you alternate between clinging to your partners and getting furious when you think your relationship is in danger.

For example, you may idealize your partner at the beginning of the relationship but cast them off when they cannot meet your demands.

You may try desperate things like being sarcastic or cynical, begging and making threats, losing your temper, or physically hurting your partner to keep them from leaving.

How to Navigate BPD

BPD is frequently associated with co-occurring disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse, so effective BDP treatment requires addressing any other conditions you may have.

Also, BPD is actually one of the most stigmatized mental health conditions. People with BPD get unfairly labeled as angry, out of control, and impossible to treat. This makes it challenging to identify the condition and get the appropriate treatment.

How Psychotherapy and Self-Care Can Help

Taking care of yourself is really important when you’re trying to recover. If you learn how to handle your emotions, deal with distress, and control your impulses, it can really make a difference in managing your symptoms and feeling better about yourself.

Still, psychotherapy is the primary treatment for BPD. A qualified therapist can help you develop self-care practices such as mindfulness meditation to increase self-acceptance, overcome self-judgment, and learn to tolerate emotional distress.

Also, working with a therapist can help you learn strategies to self-soothe and handle stress better, improve your interpersonal skills, and take ownership of your actions.

If you are struggling or know someone struggling with BPD, the professionals at House of Wellness are here to lend a hand.

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