Borderline Personality Disorder and Loneliness: How Residential Treatment Can Ease Your Feelings of Isolation

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by loneliness, social isolation, a fear of abandonment, poor social and communication skills, and unstable, difficult interpersonal relationships. The loneliness of living with this condition can be extremely painful, but treatments can be effective. Residential treatment within a therapeutic community is an important way to learn to manage borderline personality disorder but also to ease the difficult loneliness of living with it.

Borderline personality disorder is a challenging mental illness that impacts your life in many negative ways.

If you have this condition you may struggle to establish and maintain healthy relationships and interact with other people in normal, positive ways.

A key component of borderline personality disorder is a persistent feeling of loneliness.

Treatment, especially within a supportive therapeutic community, can not only help you learn to manage your condition but also ease your loneliness and reduce social isolation.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a type of mental illness known as a personality disorder. These conditions cause impairments and abnormalities in how you think about and relate to yourself, others, and the world in general. If you have a personality disorder, you probably struggle to see that your views and thoughts are anything other than normal, even as they cause impairment in your daily life.

BPD specifically causes you to have a poor or changing self-image. You may often feel empty and as if you don’t know who you are. This personality disorder also causes emotional instability, relationship and intimacy challenges, impulsive behaviors, and a fear of being rejected. Treatment can be effective for BPD and can help you learn to recognize and change your negative thoughts, reactions, and behaviors.

Do You Have BPD?

Many people with BPD struggle to realize that there is anything wrong with how they think or behave. They recognize the difficulties in their lives, but they tend to blame these on other people. You may be pushed to get a diagnosis by someone who cares about you, who knows there is something wrong and that you could use help. A diagnosis of BPD is based on several criteria that cause significant impairment in your life:

  • You have a poor sense of who you are or a self-image that changes often.
  • You struggle to set goals or decide on a direction for your life.
  • Empathy for others is a challenge.
  • Your relationships are usually unstable and intense.
  • Emotional outbursts are typical.
  • You struggle with anxiety and fear of rejection.
  • You often feel depressed and pessimistic.
  • Your behaviors are often impulsive, even risky.
  • Anger leads to frequent hostility or emotional outbursts.

Understanding borderline personality disorder and recognizing that you have this condition is the first step in getting treatment and learning to live a better way with more meaningful relationships. A diagnosis should come from an evaluation by a mental health professional.

BPD Triggers Loneliness and Isolation

There are many different ways in which BPD can impact your life and cause dysfunction. Loneliness is a typical issue. It may spring from your fear of being rejected or abandoned. This fear can make you feel lonely, even when you have a partner or loving family.

Also typical with borderline personality is co-occurring mental illness. One of the most common is depression. If you struggle with depression on top of BPD, you may isolate yourself from others and fight feelings of being alone, sad, and hopeless.

How you relate to other people can drive isolation. Social functioning is a major roadblock for anyone with BPD. Because the way you react and behave in relationships can be uncomfortable for other people, you may struggle to keep friendships or have positive social interactions.

How Is BPD Treated?

The challenge in treating any personality disorder is that patients really struggle to recognize that there is anything about the way they think and behave that needs to change. Many people with BPD end up in treatment because of a co-occurring disorder like depression or a substance use disorder or for relationship counseling.

If you can recognize that many of the problems in your life spring from the way you relate to other people and the negative thoughts in your head, you are ready for treatment. The main component of treatment for BPD is psychotherapy. There are no medications for BPD, but if you have co-occurring disorders, like depression, medical care may also be appropriate.

A type of therapy called dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is often used for BPD and was developed specifically for this purpose. It focuses on helping patients build and practice important skills, including mindfulness, tolerating distress and negative emotions, interpersonal and communication skills, and regulation of emotions.

DBT is proven to be effective in many ways. If you have the right therapist and treatment plan, this kind of therapy can help you stick with long-term treatment or rehab, avoid substance abuse, manage your emotions and anger, and improve your interpersonal skills.

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What Is a Therapeutic Community?

A therapeutic community is a style of treatment most often used for serious, complex mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder, and for substance use disorders. It is a participatory approach that brings people together as a family rather than as patients. Each person in the community helps the others. It is a supportive, holistic, group-based type of treatment. Some of the important characteristics of a therapeutic community are:

  • The development and nurturing of personal relationships
  • A scaffolding approach to care, starting where each patient is at intake and building skills
  • The involvement of patients’ families

In a therapeutic community, you will likely have plenty of one-on-one time with therapists, but this will be mixed with group therapy and other activities of mutual support.

The Benefits of Treatment in a Therapeutic Community

For most people with borderline personality disorder, treatment in a residential setting is the ideal choice. This is a difficult condition to treat, and you will benefit from having intensive, long-term focus on changing old habits and damaging thoughts and behaviors. While outpatient treatment can be helpful, it doesn’t present the same opportunities to spend dedicated time on getting well by working with a team of specialists.

A therapeutic community is just one of many aspects of residential treatment that can be helpful for patients with BPD. The immediate benefit is simply being around other people who have similar struggles. The sense of community and family is welcoming and positive. Also important is the opportunity this community provides for you to learn and practice better, more positive social skills and interpersonal communication.

Receiving treatment as part of a community can also be a powerful way to relieve loneliness. All of the skills, practice, communication, and engagement in the therapeutic community can help reduce the social isolation you have experienced in your life outside of treatment. You will be able to take these new skills and your positive behavioral changes back home to become a more socially engaged, higher-functioning, and less lonely person.

Living with borderline personality disorder is a daily struggle. The best thing you can do is reach out for help, not just to ease the loneliness and isolation, but to learn lifelong skills for managing this condition. Choose a facility that provides a community and a holistic approach for helping you learn how to make your life better. With focus and dedication, you can be happier.

If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.