Here are five things that someone with BPD needs to hear from their loved ones.
1. You are not a bad person.
One of the hallmarks of BPD is incredibly low self-esteem, and being convinced that we are inherently bad people. This isn’t helped when people often accuse us of being manipulative or hysterical. Reassurance that we are not inherently bad is so crucial to building up our self-esteem and helping us to see that there is a difference between being unwell and just being a bad person.
2. Just because I don’t always like what you do, doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
It’s important for loved ones to differentiate between behaviours that people with BPD do, and them as a person. Some people can feel that they’re walking on eggshells and they don’t want to address poor behaviour because they don’t want to make the person with BPD feel bad. However, it is still important to address these issues, because it will help us in the long run, it’s just vital that the loved one identifies and explains the specific behaviour that has upset them (for example, persistent outbursts of anger), whilst clarifying that they still love the person – they just need to address the behaviour, and work together with them to change it.
3. You are worthy of love.
Those of us with BPD often genuinely believe that we are unworthy of love, and as such we often accept poor behaviour from others because we believe we don’t deserve anything better. Reassurance that we are worthy of love can help us to identify this poor behaviour for ourselves, and take action to either change the situation or remove ourselves from it. An example of this may be your loved one with BPD accepting cheating and abuse from a partner. If this is the case, it’s important for their family and friends to reinforce to the person with BPD that they are worthy of real love and worthy of being treated with respect. Don’t get angry with the person for accepting the poor behaviour – the feelings of unworthiness are ingrained into our brains, so it’s going to take time and support to make a change.
4. It’s okay to be kind to yourself.
Similar to feeling unworthy of love, those of us with BPD often struggle with being kind to ourselves. Because we feel like bad people, we feel like we don’t deserve to accept kindness, even (or especially) from ourselves. Let us know that it’s okay to be kind to ourselves – we do deserve it, just as much as anyone else does.
5. I might not understand, but I want to try.
Something I have said a lot is “You don’t understand”. It’s almost impossible to describe BPD to someone who doesn’t have it. You can try to explain it theoretically, but unless someone as experienced it, they’re never really going to understand the full force of it. However, it helps a lot to know that our loved ones recognise that they can’t possibly fully understand what we’re going through, but that they really want to try. Show willing to read up on BPD, ask us questions, let us vent. We appreciate that you’re trying.
Do you have BPD? If yes, what do you need to hear from your loved ones? Maybe you know someone who has BPD and you have questions about it? Leave your comments below.