When Pete Davidson, cast member of Saturday Night Live received a difficult mental health diagnosis, he responded as any comedian would: he shared his struggle in an open and honest and vulnerable and funny way. On the show’s segment, Weekend Update, Pete told Colin Jost about the difficulties that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has caused in his life as well as the help he has received through therapy. Pete encouraged others, 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.” That last piece of advice may or may not be applicable, but the reaching out for help and seeking care is excellent advice for anyone who is struggling. In particular, when people reach out to a therapist and go to counseling for BPD, they often receive the help they need.
“This heart of mine has just two setting: nothing at all or too much.
There is no in between.”
Thriveworks Grand Rapids works with clients who have Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD can make people’s lives unstable and volatile, but with therapy, many of our clients have managed their symptoms and learned how to live a more stable, controlled life.
Symptoms for BPD
There are ten different disorders that The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) classifies as personality disorder. These ten are all characterized by maladaptive practices—patterns of behavior that undermine an individual in some significant way. Each personality disorder has a unique maladaptive pattern, and Borderline Personality Disorder’s maladaptive pattern is volatility. When people have BPD, it can cause them to have unstable relationships with themselves and with others.
This volatility is shown in BPD’s symptoms, which include…
- Going to extremes, avoiding any real or perceived relational separation.
- Fear of being separated and abandoned in relationships.
- Antagonistic behavior— participating in and/or starting fights, frequently lashing out in anger, using sarcasm and bitterness, et cetera.
- Frequently altering one’s identity—values, perceptions, and goals in particular.
- Swinging between emotional extremes: anxiety and anger, happiness and outrage, and so forth.
- A pattern of difficult and even broken relationships (often, when people have BPD, they glorify others initially, and then when others inevitably fail to live up to the expectations, they may be deeply disappointed).
- Experiencing paranoia that can last for minutes or hours wherein people are not in touch with the real world.
- Attempting or threatening suicide or self injury as a way to cope with fear, criticism, or rejection.
- A deep-seated, on-going feeling of emptiness.
- Difficulty receiving rejection or criticism in any form (even constructive feedback).
- Engaging in impulsive behavior and taking unnecessary risks that put people in danger: gambling, unfettered spending, reckless driving, drug use, self-sabotage, unsafe sex, binge eating, and more.
Borderline Personality Disorder, clearly, can cause significant harm in an individual’s life all by itself. However, BPD can also increase an individual’s risk for other mental illnesses like self-harm, disordered eating, depression, addiction, and substance abuse.
How BPD Develops
There are many mysteries as to why and how BPD develops, but mental health professionals understand that certain factors raise an individual’s risk for the disorder. Risk factors include…
- A genetic history of mental illness in general or specifically BPD.
- Surviving childhood abuse (verbal, sexual, or physical) and neglect, especially if received from a caregiver or parent.
- A smaller hippocampus (the part of the brain that regulates stress hormones and responses).
- As a child, experiencing the death of a parent or caregiver.
BPD and Therapy
The harm that BPD can bring into a person’s life is not inevitable. With treatment, people may be able to manage the symptoms of BPD. Skilled and experienced mental health professionals can often tailor a treatment plan to meet their clients’ individual needs. The best care is often personalized, but often, treatment for BPD includes Dialectical Behavior Therapy—an intervention develop specifically to treat BPD. This therapy emphasizes certain healing and coping techniques like…
- Mindfulness: Observing oneself, what one is feeling, thinking, and sensing. These observations should be received without assessment or judgment or blame.
- Emotional regulation: The ability to feel emotions and use these responses well. Emotional regulation gives people the skills they need to feel a wide range of emotions (anger, frustration, desperation, euphoria, joy, relaxation, and more) without being controlled by them.
- Distress tolerance: Life is filled with disappointments, setbacks, frustrations, distress, and more. These are normal, universal experiences. Distress tolerances teachers people how to handle the harder moments of life with resiliency.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Relationships are vital in life, and interpersonal effectiveness teaches people who to build a wide variety of connections, from romantic pursuits to acquaintances to professional contacts.
Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment at Thriveworks Grand Rapids—Appointments
The therapists at Thriveworks Grand Rapids offer treatment for BPD, and we have appointments available. When you contact our office, your first appointment may be within 24 hours. We offer evening and weekend sessions, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist. We also accept many different insurance plans. Call us today.