Psych Central

Borderline Personality Disorder and Coping Methods

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am a college focused girl and to others, it may seem that the only troubles in my life are balancing Advances Placement classes. In the past year, however, I have been encountering many signs of Borderline Personality Disorder in my behavior which seem to be rapidly growing in frequency and magnitude.

I am usually in a state of content or maybe a mild depression. It tends to worsen on stressful or bad weather days. My first sign of mental abnormality was the irrational fear of tornadoes of couple years ago, although I don’t know if that denotes any real correlation with BPD. I have an ustable relationship with my mother, who seems to have irrational anger and criticizes the smallest things, routinely saying I will never be as good as she is. She give little praise on my academic achievements, which hurts my already low self-esteem. In March of 2010, I kept having a aching feeling of emptiness and detachment. When I would become frustrated with myself or situations harming me that I could not change, I’d dig my fingernails into my scalp and arm. As it worsened, I felt claustrophobic in a way. I felt the need to get out of my own skin. The episodes would occur suddenly and would pass in an hour or two.

Eventually, my boyfriend found out, and somehow worsened the situation. Approximately 85% of the freakouts happen in his presence. When I am upset about a trivial matter, something seems to take over me. I feel like I am being purposely difficult, although I am in my right mind. I start to blame him for everything, punching walls, hurting myself, screaming at him to get out. But as soon as he does, I call him and tell him that he is horrible for leaving me, and sometimes have subtly threatened suicide. I calm down with time, being held by him, or occupying myself with something else. It’s just awful.
I was curious if this does indeed sound like BPD so I could research coping methods. I unfortunately could not see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist for the next 11 months until I turn 18, because my mother does not believe I may have an actual illness. She only believes I am a drama queen. Your input and advice is vital to me. Thank you.

A. I appreciate the very detailed account of your situation. You may be showing signs of borderline personality disorder but of course, only an in-person psychiatric evaluation could determine this for certain. One aspect of your letter reminds me of someone who may be demonstrating borderline-like personality traits:

I start to blame him for everything, punching walls, hurting myself, screaming at him to get out. But as soon as he does, I call him and tell him that he is horrible for leaving me, and sometimes have subtly threatened suicide.

Individuals with borderline personality disorder have significant difficulty with relationships. They desire relationships but they often act in a manner that drives people away. A very popular book that describes this trait, which is associated with borderline personality disorder, is I Hate You Don’t Leave Me. Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder by Jerold Kreisman. You might find it to be a very useful and educational book. It offers valuable insights into why individuals with borderline personality disorder act the way that they do.

With regard to interacting with your boyfriend, something about him may upset you. Perhaps you expect him to behave in a particular way toward you and when he doesn’t it disappoints you. An additional element of the relationship is that you apparently feel as though it is acceptable to treat him poorly. It was not wrong of him to leave a situation in which he was being abused. It was the correct action for him to have taken.

The Kreisman book may be of interest but you may want something more didactic. Books that may help you with coping skills are: The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide by Alex Chapman and Kim Gratz; Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, & Distress Tolerance by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey Wood and Jeffrey Brantley and almost any book by Marsha Linehan that is written specifically for BPD sufferers (as opposed to professionals who treat BPD clients).

You may want to consider other self-help materials that are less focused on BPD and give more relationship-based or general life advice. Check the reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I admire your willingness to ask for help and to know when it may be necessary. Individuals who are interested and invested in correcting their issues usually have the most success with change. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Borderline Personality Disorder and Coping Methods. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/22/borderline-personality-disorder-and-coping-methods/