In one respect, Pete Davidson’s life has been a dream: as a native New Yorker and as a comedian, he is living his fantasy as a cast member of his hometown institution, Saturday Night Live. In another respect, Pete is also living his nightmare: he has shared openly about losing his dad when he was a child to the 9/11 attacks. Pete also opened up about his mental health challenges and being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. He took on these tough subjects the same way he takes on everything: with vulnerability, kindness, and humor. He encouraged SNL’s audience, saying “first of all, if you think you’re depressed, see a doctor and talk to them about medication, and also be healthy. Eating right and exercise can make a huge difference. And finally, if you are in the cast of a late-night comedy show, it might help, if they, ya know, do more of your sketches.”
The audience gave Pete a big laugh at that last suggestion, but everyone knew that his first two suggestions were on point. Seeking help and care are important for anyone, but especially for people diagnosed with BPD. Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder has helped people mitigate many of the harmful effects of the disorder and live the life they have envisioned. Thriveworks Boston has worked with many clients who have BPD and has offered them the treatment they need and deserve. It is possible to find equilibrium after BPD has thrown life off balance.
Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder
“It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative —whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.” — The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Each of the ten mental illnesses that The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) labels as a “personality disorder” has a unique way it causes maladaptive behavior in an individual’s life. These maladaptive behaviors are patterns in an individual’s life that often undermine their well-being, and Borderline Personality Disorder’s pattern is instability. BPD can cause volatility in an individual’s sense of self, emotions, and relationships.
That unpredictability is represented in the signs for BPD…
- Swinging back and forth from one emotional extreme to another: happiness to irritability, euphoria to anger, and more.
- A history of chaotic and often broken relationships (people with BPD may idealize people and then, when their expectations are not met, they villiainize them).
- An inability to receive any kind of separation or criticism.
- An extreme fear of being abandoned.
- Risky behavior that can recklessly put people in harm’s way: spending sprees, daredevil driving, drug use, sex, self-sabotage, gambling, unsafe binge eating, and more.
- Suicide attempts and self-injury (especially as a way to manage difficult emotions).
- Outbursts of anger, belligerence, aggressiveness.
- Feeling empty inside.
A quick glance at these signs of BPD gives a glimpse of the harm it can cause in an individual’s life. However, BPD can also raise people’s risk for other mental illnesses, including eating disorders, substance abuse, self-harm, depression, and addiction.
Development and Management of Borderline Personality Disorder
Just over 1 percent of people in America have Borderline Personality Disorder. Women are diagnosed at a greater rate than men, but it is unclear if women are more susceptible to it or if men are under-diagnosed. What is clear is that certain genetic and experiential factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing it, factors such as…
- A smaller hippocampus (part of the brain that handles emotion and stress responses).
- As a child, losing a caregiver or parent to death or abandonment.
- Surviving childhood trauma (especially emotional, sexual, or physical abuse by a parent or caregiver).
- Genetic history of mental illness, particularly BPD.
The difficulty that BPD can introduce into an individual’s life may be alleviated with the help of mental health care. Many people who have BPD benefit from a therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. As Eliza explains, DBT teaches people coping skills that can help them, skills like…
- Emotional regulation – The ability to stay in control of oneself regardless of what one is feeling.
- Distress tolerance – Turning to healthy coping mechanisms instead of unhealthy ones.
- Mindfulness – Paying attention to what one is thinking, sensing, and feeling without passing judgment on those thoughts, sensations, and emotions.
- Interpersonal effectiveness – Building healthy relationships in a wide variety of contexts and with a wide variety of people and in a wide variety of ways.
Counseling for Borderline Personality Disorder at Thriveworks Boston—Scheduling an Appointment
If you are ready to work with a mental health professional, know that Thriveworks Boston offers therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. When you contact our office, you will not reach a voicemail, but one of our scheduling specialists will answer your call and help you make an appointment. New clients often meet with their therapist within 24 hours of their first call. We accept many different insurance plans. We also offer weekend and evening appointments. Let’s work together. Call today.