Coping With a Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis: A Family Guide

When someone you love has borderline personality disorder, your patience and participation can improve their chances for recovery. Learn about coping with a borderline personality diagnosis as a family, how to thwart stigma, rebuild relationships, and embrace an integrative treatment path.

Borderline personality disorder has the potential to divide relationships and families. But it carries the equal potential to bring families closer together in the recovery journey. The fear and division that surface come from a lack of understanding and from not having positive coping strategies at hand. But your family’s unraveling is not inevitable.

There is good news that comes from an abundance of clinical knowledge and proven treatment options for borderline personality disorder. Starting with your first steps forward on the recovery path, your family member with BPD need not feel isolated and hopeless. Find out about coping with borderline personality disorder in compassionate and progressive ways together for lasting, harmonious recovery success.

Coping with the Realities of Borderline Personality Disorder

A mental health diagnosis is often scary, overwhelming, disorienting. A borderline personality disorder diagnosis in the family can be really confusing because the common side effects of the illness (namely, relationship unrest) are directly opposed to what the disordered individual actually wants (especially, lasting, fulfilling relationships). As a family member in the thick of your loved one’s BPD symptoms, it can be difficult to see clearly how much that person is really suffering without an apparent way to fix the problems and the fallout. So, how, as a family, will you cope?

The Diagnosis

What does a borderline personality disorder diagnosis mean? It means that clinicians have been able to figure out the problem that needs solving. And that’s good because there absolutely are solutions to the problem, and now you have access to this critical healing path. It also means that you can better understand what has been going on with your distressed loved one and why. A BPD diagnosis is an invitation to learn more about what’s really going on, to show your loved one the patience and compassion they need, and to get started with treatments that can vastly improve an individual’s life and the wider family dynamics.

The Stigma

Stigma about mental illness stems from misunderstandings, misinformation, and fear. And misperceptions that are common in mainstream culture and social forums fuel this warped view—and create strong barriers for people who really need life-changing treatment. Don’t let misguided stigma stand in the way of your loved one’s chances of recovery. The more you learn about borderline personality disorder, the more you can have a realistic view of their struggle and of the possibilities for their healing over time.

The Family Dynamics

Relationships of all kinds tend to feel the effects of a person’s borderline personality disorder. Relationships trigger BPD symptoms and borderline personality disorder provokes instability in relationships. This complicated interplay is understandably overwhelming. And the productive way forward is not always easy to see.

When families are involved in treatment, there are real-time opportunities to work out complicated dynamics and conflicts with therapists. And this meaningful process is also an opportunity for someone with BPD to become aware of how their symptoms and behaviors affect their relationships and the people they love. And they can get real practice with positive strategies for managing stress and symptomatic behaviors.

The Treatment Plan

Clinical treatment is essential for someone with borderline personality disorder to develop resilient coping skills and to thrive in the life they really want. Once clinicians determine a diagnosis, it’s possible to move forward with treatment options. The treatment program will reflect an individual’s needs for symptom management and skills development, as well as their personal goals.

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How to Move Forward with Long-Term BPD Treatment and Recovery

It is normal to feel confused or defeated once a family member is diagnosed with a mental illness. But it does not change who they are or who you know them to be. It changes their options and opportunities for living their best life—for the better.

What Do You Face in the Short Term?

It is possible that your loved one with borderline personality disorder may have a harder time accepting their illness and the fact that they need to get help. Their personal, if altered, view of the world may be all they know, and they need to gain clearer perspective the thoughts and behaviors that may be normal to them but that ultimately cause upset in their life. The essential direction is toward comprehensive professional treatment.

What can you do to support them right away?

  • Learning

Learn as much as you can about BPD treatment options. Understand more about the underlying brain abnormalities that occur with borderline personality disorder, the environmental triggers that tend to provoke their symptoms, and the lack of specific coping skills that could otherwise improve your loved one’s daily life and relationships.

  • Patience

Have patience for them as they begin to wrap their mind around the nature of their disorder and the responsibility to work toward effective recovery. Hold your boundaries against behaviors that are intolerable. But have compassion and empathy for their struggle and for the challenging road ahead.

  • Treatment Transitions

If you have not already, seek advice and options from a comprehensive treatment center for behavioral health. It is important to get the recovery journey started as soon as possible to mitigate further distress and to begin to put healing strategies in place. An integrative program for borderline personality disorder will be ready to harbor your participation and support for your loved one’s best recovery outcomes.

What Can You Expect from Long-Term Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder?

Treatments for personality disorders generally will focus more on psychotherapy options than on medication. The healing change possible with therapy is broad and inspiring, but it takes time to unlearn old thought patterns and habits and to learn healthy new ones. Hence, the best environment for your loved one to become immersed in the most effective therapy and life skills practice is a long-term residential treatment center. Here, they can develop trusting and productive therapeutic alliances, lean on a community of supportive peers also in recovery, and take the time to reshape their understanding of their inner landscape and the world around them.

Know that it is possible for them to live with borderline personality disorder and to pursue the life and the goals they really want. Transitioning into treatment is the first step. And pretty soon, they’ll be transitioning into a healthier way of being every day.

BrightQuest offers long-term residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use 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.