The Importance of Family in BPD Treatment
Loving someone with Borderline Personality Disorder can be confusing and, often, exhausting.
Imagine your loved one telling you, “I’m a bad person,” or, “I want to kill myself.” These statements, so emotionally charged, are difficult to deal with in a way that isn’t simply a knee-jerk reaction.
“No you are not a bad person,” is, of course, the first thing you’ll want to say. But the contradiction of what you’re saying and how the person suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder feels can be confusing and invalidating to that person.
There is a need for almost a hyper-awareness of your own actions and reactions when it comes to dealing with your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder. When I was developing an eating disorder during my parents’ divorce, I remember that the only time my father seemed to notice that things weren’t going well with me was if I would refuse food. I would live for the next time he might say, “Eat something. You’re looking too thin.” This only made me want to lose more weight in order to get more attention.
Sound familiar? Think back to episodes you’ve experienced with your family member with Borderline Personality Disorder. Do you give your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder more attention when he or she is in crisis, and then back away when he or she is not? This can actually serve to reward crisis behavior. Especially considering that fear of abandonment or withdrawal of loved ones is one of the symptoms of BPD.
BPD Treatment for You and Your Loved One
The symptoms of BPD can result in these sorts of damaging vicious circles. Encouraging your loved one to seek treatment at a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center is a way to show your loved one that you believe in their ability to recover and improve their life.
Raising the subject of BPD treatment can feel like treading on thin ice. Bring it up gently, with love, and definitely not during a time when emotions are high. Offer to help them reach out to Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers. Let them know you will be there as a solid foundation through the process.
As a family member, you are in a unique position to remind your loved one that changes and healing take time, and to remind them that you are there as a constant in the sometimes tumultuous healing process.
For this reason, finding a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center that involves family in the process will be vital helping your loved one recover. It’s not just those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder who would be helped by learning skills such as mindfulness and better communication.
Taking care of yourself, your own mental and emotional (and physical, really) health is of the utmost importance. Look for your own support in friends and family of BPD groups. You may find you, too, need validation as you help your loved one on his or her journey to a healthier and more satisfying life.
Providing Support During BPD Treatment
While your loved one is in Borderline Personality Disorder treatment, there are some things to keep in mind to provide support in their journey to recovery:
- Take it Slow. Accept the fact that change takes time, and that there are often leaps forward and then setbacks.
- Be Cool. Keep things calm and on an even keel. Praise is good, but keep it at a cool level. The same goes for conflict.
- Don’t Forget Life. Keep up with your routines and maintain contact with family, friends, and activities that have nothing to do with BPD or its treatment. Your loved one is not defined by their symptoms or their treatment.
- Joke, Smile, Laugh. Make an effort to focus on things and events outside of the subject of BPD. Enjoy life and each other’s company as family members, not just family members in treatment. Don’t forget why you are taking this journey together. Love.
There is no doubting the importance of family and loved ones when it comes to the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. Family can provide a home base and a foundation for a loved one, as well as a stable source of positive reinforcement and compassion.
Contributed by Jenni Boran.
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Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.