In many ways, Pete Davidson is living his dream: He grew up in New York, and now he is a member in one of its iconic institutions, Saturday Night Live. In other ways, Pete’s life has been a nightmare: He has spoken openly about how his father passed away in the 9/11 attacks and how he was recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). As a comedian, Pete has opened up in a beautifully honest and funny way about his mental health. In the process, he has encouraged many others who are struggling to seek help. On SNL’s segment, Weekend Update, he told audiences, “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 laugh on the show, but Pete was clear that the first piece is no laughing matter. BPD can cause many challenges in an individual’s life, but it is also a disorder that has treatment. Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder has helped many people find the balance and stability they crave.
Thriveworks Virginia Beach provides treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. We have seen how it can cause instability, but we have also seen how equilibrium can be restored through therapy.
Symptoms and 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
There are ten mental illnesses that The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) organizes under the label “personality disorder.” Each causes a particular pattern of maladaptive behavior (that is, behavior that does not serve an individual well in life). Borderline Personality Disorder’s pattern is marked by instability. People often have volatile relationships, identities, and feelings.
That instability shows up through signs and symptoms like…
- Vacillating between extreme feelings: anxiety and euphoria, happiness and irritability, and more.
- A pattern of turbulent (and broken) relationships: BPD can cause people to romantic other people, and then, others cannot live up to those expectations.
- Difficulty hearing any kind of criticism—even constructive criticism.
- A deep-seated fear of separation and/or abandonment.
- Reckless, risky behavior like daredevil driving, spending sprees, drug use, gambling, unsafe sex, self-sabotage, binge eating, et cetera.
- Attempting suicide or engaging in self-harm (especially as a way to cope with criticism, rejection, and fear).
- Belligerence and outbursts of anger.
- An on-going sense of feeling empty.
It is not completely clear why and how Borderline Personality Disorder develops, but mental health professionals understand that certain factors can increase its likelihood. Approximately 1 percent of the US population suffers from BPD, and these are often factors in its development:
- Death of a caregiver or parent as a child.
- A smaller hippocampus (region of the brain that manages emotion and stress responses).
- Surviving childhood trauma (especially emotional, sexual, or physical abuse by a parent or caregiver).
- Family history of mental illness, particularly BPD.
Treatment for 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.”
The symptoms for BPD give a picture of the destruction it can cause in an individual’s life, but it is important to understand that those effects are not inevitable. Dialectical Behavior Therapy can mitigate many of the harmful, maladaptive behaviors that BPD can cause through teaching people skills such as…
- Emotional regulation – this skill helps people process their emotions in a way that is healthy and helpful to them instead of overwhelming them or sabotaging them.
- Distress tolerance – Obstacles, setbacks, letdowns, and adversity are a common part of life. Everyone faces these, and distress tolerance teaches people how to handle life’s harder moments in a healthy way.
- Mindfulness – All the thoughts that pop into people’s brains and the feelings they feel in their heart and the sensations that flow through their body are important. Mindfulness teaches people to pay attention to what they are experiencing and to take note without judging what they see.
- Interpersonal effectiveness – People need other people in their lives, and interpersonal effectiveness sets people up to cultivate a variety of relationships in many different spheres.
Therapy for Borderline Personality at Thriveworks Virginia Beach—Setting Up an Appointment
As you read about Borderline Personality Disorder, did any of the symptoms remind you of your own behavior? If so, it may be time to reach out for help. Thriveworks Virginia Beach offer treatment for BPD. If you are ready to get started, so are we. When you contact our office, a real person (not a voicemail!) will answer and help you set up an appointment. New clients often have their first appointment the day following their first call. We offer evening and weekend sessions. We also accept many different insurance plans. Let’s work together. Call today to meet with a therapist or psychologist.