So you just found out someone you care about may have borderline personality disorder (BPD). Now what?
As the owner of the Welcome to Oz online family community since 1996, I've helped thousands of people who care about someone with BPD learn what to do once they first hear about this pernicious disorder. Here are my top five tips and some of the best resources for this troubled time.
1. As tempted as you are to share the diagnosis with the other person, don't (unless they're looking for help). If you do, expect the person with BPD to turn the tables. Leave this to a qualified professional. Take a look at the traits listed for narcissistic personality too: that disorder may also apply (someone can have just one or both). If your family member is willing to see a therapist, see my next blog post about that.
2. Connect with other family members in your situation. Local ones are rare, although you can check the NEA-BPD Family Connection program. There are many online groups: my own group, Welcome to Oz, is the longest established. As the largest, it has the most diverse groups for all types of relationships (a sibling group for those with a BP sibling, etc.)
3. Information is everything. Buy some books. I can't help but mention my own: The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, Stop Walking on Eggshells, and the Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook. Love and Loathing (for partners), and Surviving a Borderline Parent (for adult children).
Two excellent books for parents are Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents
and Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions. I have a booklet called Hope for Parents. A great site for parents is http://www.parent2parentbpd.org,
The books Get Me Out of Here and The Buddha and the Borderline are by people with BPD (friends of mine, actually) who are either recovered or recovering. Both exquisitely explain BPD from the inside and well worth their price for a deep understanding of BPD.
If you are getting a divorce or are in a custody battle, these books/CDs will save you both your sanity and thousands of dollars: Splitting, the Splitting CD, and Custody Conversations. (All available only through my site www.BPDCentral.com, as are Hope for Parents and Love and Loathing.)
4. Visit some web sites. Here are just some in no particular order:
www.BPDDemystified.com By a renowned MD
www.NEABPD.com By a BPD organization
http://www.borderlinepersonality.ca By a former BP
www.bpdresourcecenter.org By an institution
www.BPDFamily.com For family members
http://www.borderlinepersonalitysupport.com By a former BP
http://www.fbpda.org By a Florida BPD organization
www.mytriptoozandback.com By a former partner
www.BehavioralTech.com By an important researcher
http://tinyurl.com/2br2yh4 An article in Time Magazine
5. Start learning skills to help improve your relationship. In The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, I identified five five powerful tools to help you organize your thinking , learn specific skills, and focus on what you need to do instead of becoming overwhelmed. The order in which you learn the skills is critical because they build on each other. The tools are:
1. Take good care of yourself.
2. Uncover what keeps you feeling stuck.
3. Communicate to be heard.
4. Set limits with love.
5. Reinforce the right behaviors.
As you increase your mastery of these five basic skills, you will:
• Feel less stressed and run down
• Become more confident and clear about who you are and what you need
• Know where to concentrate your efforts
• Be able to free yourself from non-productive, aggressive conversations
• Improve your problem-solving skills
• Larn how to help your family member without rescuing him
• Feel more self assured about setting limits without backing down
Now, what if you have BPD? Here are just a few resources:
Author, "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tips and Tools to Stop Walking on Eggshells"
(Available at www.BPDCentral.com)