It’s not breaking news that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) affects more than just the person who suffers from the symptoms firsthand. BPD profoundly impacts the lives of those around people with the disorder. You may be in a relationship with someone who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, or the person might be your mother, your father, a sibling, or maybe even your child.
The home life of a family that includes someone with Borderline Personality Disorder can be unstable and confusing. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a child raised by a mother with a mental illness may have an increased risk of developing the same disorder. Family members may find it extremely difficult to sustain a relationship with someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Seeking BPD treatment for relief from the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder is the first step toward a more stable home environment. There are several options for treatment for those with Borderline Personality Disorder, including Borderline Personality Disorder residential treatment, as well as programs to support the family members and loved ones of someone with BPD.
But just as important as treatment for the person with Borderline Personality Disorder is support for the families. These family support systems are invaluable even when your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder either does not see a need for BPD treatment or sees a need but refuses to undergo treatment.
Focus on You
The New York Times approached Dr. Marsha Linehan, psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), to answer some questions about Borderline Personality Disorder. When asked what to do about a loved one with BPD who refuses to get help, Linehan responded:
“If another person does not see the need for getting help, it is their right to not do it. Sorry. In those cases, you might want to find a friends and/or family group.”
She continued to stress that, in seeking help in such a situation, “The focus should be on how to live a skillful life no matter what people are intimately involved in your life.”
Where to Find Family Support for BPD
Support for families of those with Borderline Personality Disorder can be found at local BPD treatment centers, through Meetup groups, and through mental health organizations.
The National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD) offers educational Family Connections classes at locations throughout the U.S., including at Clearview Women’s Center in Venice Beach, Calif. This free 12-week course provides family members the most current information and research on BPD, teaches coping skills based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and helps families to develop a support network. Family Connections also offers a “tele-connections” virtual version of the course for families who are not in locations where the program is offered.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also offers a family program, though it is not specific to Borderline Personality Disorder. NAMI’s Family-to-Family education program is a free 12-week course for family caregivers of those with mental disorders. The course, taught by trained family members, has benefited more than 300,000 family members since its inception.
Support groups such as these help families cope with the challenge of living with and loving someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. Additionally, these courses help families work with mental health professionals collaboratively in supporting their loved one as they work toward a healthier life.
If you have any other resources for family support, please include them in the comments below.