When Saturday Night Live’s cast member, Pete Davidson was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, he did what any comedian would do, he shared his struggle with honesty and vulnerability and jokes. Pete has seen his fair share of difficulties in life. On Weekend Update, Colin Jost interviewed Pete about what it has been like to live with BPD and seek treatment. Pete was honest about how hard the disorder has been for him, but he was also honest about how much help therapy is giving him. Pete used the opportunity to spread awareness, and he promoted the importance of mental health care, 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 last piece of advice got a big response from the audience, but they knew that Pete’s suggestion of getting help and taking care of oneself was very serious. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can cause a significant amount of destruction in an individual’s life, but treatment for BPD has helped many people.
The therapists at Thriveworks Cambridge have worked with a number of clients who were struggling to manage their Borderline Personality Disorder. With treatment, they were able to establish balance in their lives again.
Symptoms for 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
There are ten different disorders that The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) categorizes as “Personality Disorders.” Each is characterized by some form of maladaptive behavior, and Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by instability. BPD can introduce unpredictability and volatility into an individual’s life. They frequently experience an unstable mood, relationships, and even identity. Other symptoms include…
- Vacillating back and forth from one feeling to the opposite: anger to happiness to irritability to euphoria to frustration and so forth.
- A deep fear of experiencing separation or abandonment.
- Difficulty handling any form of criticism or separation (even healthy kinds).
- Relational challenges: often, BPD causes people to idealize others, and then relationship, those expectations are disappointed. People with BPD often have a long history of broken or chaotic relationships.
- An on-going and ever-present feeling of being empty.
- Reckless and risky behavior that puts oneself and others at risks: spending sprees, binge eating, daredevil driving, unsafe sex, drug use, self-sabotage, gambling, and more.
- Self-injury, suicide attempts, and/or suicide ideation (particularly as a coping mechanism for hard circumstances and emotions).
- A belligerent posture, aggressiveness, angry outbursts, and more.
These symptoms give a small peek at the harm BPD can cause to an individual, but they do not tell the whole story. Borderline Personality Disorder can also increase an individual’s risk for other disorders, like substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and addiction.
BPD’s Development and Risk Factors
About 1.5 percent of adults in the United States are fighting Borderline Personality Disorder. Women are diagnosed with the disorder at a rate three times that of men. Mental health professions are uncertain whether men and women suffer from the disorder at different rates or whether men are going undiagnosed. What they know is that certain circumstances that can increase the risk of BPD for developing. In particular, people may be more likely to have BPD if they have…
- Lost their caretaker or parents when they were a child.
- A small hippocampus (section of the brain that regulates emotion and stress responses).
- Experienced childhood trauma (especially emotional, sexual, or physical abuse by a parent or caregiver).
- A family history of mental illness, including BPD.
Mitigating the Symptoms of BPD
“There’s a special therapy developed for people with borderline personality disorder called dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. It’s very practical, focusing on teaching the patients coping skills to keep in their back pocket, like a neurological cheat sheet to pull out in situations where we want our behavior to be different.”
“I Have Borderline Personality Disorder.
Here Are 6 Things I Wish People Understood.”
For those who have been diagnosed with BPD or who are struggling with its symptoms, it is important to state that there are effective treatments available. Many people work with a mental health professional and find the right course of action for them, and often, that course involves a treatment called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This treatment focuses upon helping people learn important mental health skills, such as…
- Emotional regulation – having the capacity to feel any emotion and remain in control of oneself.
- Distress tolerance – using helpful and healthy ways of coping when life gets hard or setbacks are experienced.
- Mindfulness – being present in one’s own thoughts, feelings, and sensations—noticing and paying attention without judgement.
- Interpersonal effectiveness – learning how to be in a variety of relationships across many different contexts.
Appointments for Borderline Personality at Thriveworks Cambridge, MA
If you are ready to meet with a therapists about Borderline Personality Disorder, the mental health professionals at Thriveworks Cambridge are ready to meet with you. When you contact our office, your first appointment may be the following day. We offer evening and weekend sessions, and we accept many different insurance plans. Call today.