How Could Someone Overcome Borderline Personality Disorder?

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Answered by: Carlos Miguel, An Expert in the Living with BPD Category
Whenever a normal person hears someone mention "Borderline Personality Disorder" or "BPD", they would usually freak out and react in disgust towards the concept. People always imagine a crazy and violent person suffering from lack of emotional control and unstable interpersonal relationships.

Even among therapists, BPD is stigmatized and they usually become more inclined to decline the responsibility of helping you or give up on helping a person with BPD at some point. Closed ones would eventually be driven away or leave behind the person with BPD because they already gave up on helping that person.



As a person who was diagnosed with BPD, the facts stated above saddens me. I'm sure that anyone living with BPD or living with someone who has BPD has asked, at some point, "How could someone overcome Borderline Personality Disorder?"

Borderline Personality Disorder: An Overview



Borderline Personality Disorder, as described by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is a mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in mood, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual’s self-identity. People with BPD suffer from a disordered emotion regulation. There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and a 10% rate of completed suicide in severe cases.

My Experience with the Symptoms of BPD

The symptoms of my mental illness surfaced during high school, my inability to find a place where I could fit in caused me to become more "neurotic" and my performance in school was affected. My self-esteem severely plummeted, and thus, I started to highly doubt others and avoided them. Whenever I interacted with people, I only stuck with a person or two, but in a clingy manner.

My relationships with my family and friends started to become blurry from my point of view. My self-image and my perception of other people constantly shifted; a small act of kindness made me like a person so much, while a benign gesture or remark easily offended me. My unstable interpersonal relationships caused me to alienate myself from others, and the loneliness caused me to feel awful every day, which then led to my having lost interest in functioning as a normal person.

I started to avoid school work, skip classes, and start fights with my parents. I immersed myself in food and video games because they made me feel manic even if just for a short while. I mutilated myself compulsively because I couldn't endure the constant barrage of negative emotions and lack of stability in my life. Eventually, I stopped going to school. This downward spiral of my life slowly being ruined went on until...

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: What Salvaged My Life

Enough about self-victimization and time for some good news! Moving on, I eventually found a partial solution to become a functional person again despite the presence of BPD. One day, I suddenly came across Marsha Linehan in a blog I've read and found out about Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is a modified form of the traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) model designed to help deal with intense emotions. I've read about skills to help overcome the urges caused by emotional instability and grabbed a few books and worksheets on DBT.

I managed to pick myself up and slowly fix my life thanks to the healthier coping skills I learned, such as Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. I managed to rebuild my relationship with my family and started to do well in school. It's not like I was really cured of my BPD; I still suffer the same emotional symptoms but I just don't let the rising urges overwhelm me and cause me to act impulsively. I may be a highly functional person now, but I still don't feel well most of the time. I doubt people heavily, but at least I'm not badly affecting my work or other people around me.

I also recommend checking out Schema Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as I have gone through those lately, and they do help me. Their concepts and methods work better for long-term treatment compared to DBT's short-term relief of severe BPD symptoms.

Conclusion

I think one can overcome Borderline Personality Disorder with sufficient amount of social support from loved ones and professionals. However, the person themselves need to be motivated to change their life. Most likely, only one's external life can be changed and the internal discomfort remains, and one may even relapse every few years. However, BPD does not stop a person from living a fulfilling life. For example, Marsha Linehan, the Founder of DBT admitted she had BPD too. So please, do not give up on yourself or your loved one and keep treading on.

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