Are you or a family member/ friend diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? Are you wondering whether you may suffer with a personality disorder, specifically BPD? Then this post is for you!
Firstly, Borderline Personality Disorder is diagnosed by meeting a certain criteria. This criteria is generally sorted into four main groups:
disturbed patterns of thinking or perception
intense but unstable relationships with others
Many problems arise under these categories, and the symptoms and their severity is dependant on the individual. What one person may experience as a direct cause of having a personality disorder may be a completely different experience to another person with the same disorder. You may also be diagnosed with other mental health issues which will also have an impact on your symptoms. Having been diagnosed with BPD myself, I have struggled to access professional, free, education based self-help strategies, and it’s only after being through low-intensity therapy last year that I have been made aware of certain skills and lifestyle choices that can improve the symptoms of BPD. Unfortunately, due to time and funding, mental healthcare teams in the NHS often aren’t available for those who aren’t in immediate need of them, and waitlists can be months, so I’m going to share with you some of the information and skills I have learnt over the years having been through the system and putting them in to practice. Some may be helpful to you, some may not, so please let me know if you have had similar experiences, if you implement these skills and the effect they have, if any, or if you have any questions!
Every evening I use a coloured heart emoji on my Notes app to sum up the day I’ve had. I don’t personally like to journal everything that’s happened, and moods can change a lot throughout the day, so I find it helpful to have a key of 3-4 colours indicating the general mood of the day. This helps me keep track and reflect on whether my mood is improving or deteriorating.
Particularly when my mood is low, I find it hard to gather motivation to look after myself, do the housework and just generally get things done. I also tend to beat myself up if I’ve had a bad day or week, in which I haven’t been productive. I find it useful and encouraging to write a list of daily tasks, either a to-do list the night before or a ‘done’ list at the end of the day, to remind myself of all the productive activities I HAVE done. Sometimes our negative feelings are sourced by negative thoughts about ourselves, so reflecting on those thoughts and challenging them with facts can help us overcome these thoughts and in turn our feelings about ourselves. I also find it motivational to have a list of things to do, without pressure to do them, so that I can tick things off as I go and get started on a mountain of tasks that can overwhelm our minds. Also, getting all our to-do’s and pressing tasks out onto paper can relieve the stresses of having them all in our heads. Organisation is a tool that can make you feel more in control; a clear mind is a happy mind! I use Mrs Hinch The Activity Journal as it also includes nice little activities!
One of the really useful skills I learnt whilst doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was the STOPP method. Sometimes those suffering with BPD, myself included, can react to things impulsively and intensely, which can often escalate situations and even create more problems. The STOPP method takes work and time, but if you use it, it can really benefit you in terms of your thinking processes, impulses and emotional distress. It is also really helpful for friends and family of those suffering with BPD to be aware of this method to remind that person when they’re showing signs of emotional distress or irrational thinking.
Stop what you’re doing
Take deep breaths
Observe - thoughts (what am I saying to myself?) feelings (why am I feeling this way?) behaviours (what am I doing?)
Plan - what is the best course of action? Can I change my thoughts, feelings or behaviour to create a more positive outcome?
Proceed - react rationally and mindfully
Let me know your thoughts and if you’d like more posts like these regarding personal experiences and self-help strategies!