My friend has Borderline Personality Disorder. I have tried to read up on it as much as I can, but I can't seem to get a good idea of how I can be a good friend to them, and what things I should avoid. Also, they have issues with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. But they never want to talk about it and I never know what to say. If I try to be too insistent about getting them to talk or something Im afraid the'll just refuse any contact. Nickname: Pax
Hey there anon!
I think it’s awesome you’re looking to help your friend that has BPD! You go, anon.
Now, it can get kinda tricky to deal with people that have BPD, because BPD is a disease that can make people act out in ways that you won’t always be able to understand. Heck, I know that I don’t even understand myself some days! But you gotta remember that people with BPD are still just people, people that feel things 10x more than other people. It’s hellish to live with BPD, so always try to have some empathy for you friend. I’m gonna try to list somethings you can do to treat your friend with BPD better:
- Validation. Validation is super duper important when you’re dealing with someone that has BPD. Practice this everytime. BPD often comes from abuse that people suffered when they were kids, so it’s likely that people used to dismiss their feelings and actions a lot. Say to them that it is OK to feel the way they are feeling, even if you or them don’t understand it. If you don’t agree with what they say, try to say “Even though what you’re feeling/doing is valide, try to seeing/doing this in this way. “
- Don’t you ever ever tell someone with BPD that they are overreacting. Man, I can’t stress this enough. This also goes into validation, but I think it’s important to talk about it separately, seeing how often I see it happens to people. People with BPD know they are overreacting. That’s it, we know it. But this is the whole point of BPD. You feel everything 10x harder than everyone else. It doesn’t matter if they are crying over a plate that broke, or if they are super happy over a stranger that was nice to them on the streets. Don’t tell them they are overreacting, even if you feel they are overreacting, just… don’t.
- Encourage them to seek treatment and don’t just drop it. Often enough peole with BPD feel they don’t deserve being treated. It can happen if they don’t feel they are sick enough to get treatment or if they don’t feel worthy of it. Encourage them to look for it, or if they are already getting treatment, encourage them not to drop it.
- Remember this is a disease. People like to forget that people with BPD have a disorder when they get mad at them, they like to label people with BPD as jerks, bitch, crazy people, etc. Remember we have a disease that it’s almost impossible to control in the beginning and that we do not act out just because we think it would be fun. Having BPD is not fun at all.
- Always tell them you love them and that you won’t leave them. People with BPD often get this feeling that you secretly hate them or that you’re gonna leave them for one reason or the other. Make sure to let them know they are loved and that you’re gonna stay around.
- Keep your word. If you say you will do something, do it. If you say you won’t do something, just don’t do it. If you say that you’re gonna do something just to cover up another thing you’re thinking about doing, be aware that they will find out, because they always find out, and things won’t be nice for you. Basically, just don’t lie.
This comes all from personal experience. Remember that people with BPD can be great friends, because they will be loyal and love you more than you will ever think it’s capable, so treat them nicely. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. Don’t listen to people that say that you should get away from people with this disorder, they know nothing about how it works. There is a lot of ignorance going around this disease, don’t get caught up on it.
Also, if you want to talk to your friend about cutting/suicidal thoughts, just let you know you are there whenever they need to talk. Let them know they won’t be jugde, but also, be ready. If you say they can talk to you and, when they do, or just tell them to stop, or dismiss whatever they say, they probably won’t talk to you about it anymore. Talking about cutting and suicidal thoughts can be scary, and even more scary if you’re just listening to someone you care about talking about it, so be sure you are able to deal with it just fine before saying the can talk to you about it.
I hope this helps you with your friend, anon. I think it’s great what you are doing. Feel free to message us again anytime you want.