BPD

Self-Help For BPD

Self-help for BPD should be completed alongside therapy, with the help of a licensed medical professional. To read my full disclaimer, please click here.

Living with borderline personality disorder is mentally and emotionally exhausting. We are constantly internalising intense emotions and trying not to let them destroy us.

Day in and day out we grapple against self-destructive urges and paranoid fears of abandonment, trying to ignore the voices telling us over and over again that we are broken.

Self-care and self-help is essential for BPD, even more so during the current pandemic. Mental health services are strained and professional help is harder to come by than ever, meaning that a lot of us are riding this shit solo.

My self-help tips for BPD focus on managing your emotional self-care needs, ensuring that you have some handy tools to prevent, manage and diffuse emotional turmoil. I find that when my emotions aren’t high, my other symptoms are either a lot easier to manage or don’t exist at all, so keeping my volatile emotions in check is a priority for me.

Practising day-to-day self-help for BPD can mean the difference between a bad day and a full-on breakdown. By incorporating some of these techniques into our lives, we can slowly learn to independently manage our troublesome symptoms.

Learn As Much As You Can About BPD


Knowledge really is power when it comes to mental health.

Before my diagnosis I was super self-destructive. My mind was completely alien to me and I was slave to every single one of my symptoms. However, that all changed when I started educating myself on BPD.

I joined online BPD forums. I researched the shit out of my symptoms. I read as many books and listened to as many podcasts as I could. And now my BPD isn’t as terrifying as it was before.

My favourite resource is The Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook by Daniel Fox. Not only did the guide help me understand my BPD, but it’s been invaluable for managing it too, especially during the current pandemic.

For more BPD resources, visit my resources page.

Create A Self-Care Routine


Self-care is so, so important for managing BPD – but it often becomes something we pay little attention too. In fact, I spent a lot of my life thinking self-care was a total dud.

I also spent a lot of my life depressed AF.

Once I started looking after my self-care needs – making sure to target all five different areas of self-care – I saw a huge difference in my headspace. Self-care promotes internal balance and harmony, which helps when you’re battling against something as unstable and chaotic as BPD!

Create a self-care checklist and fill it with some of these 70 self-care activities to devise a routine that works for you and your needs.

Practise Mindfulness


Mindfulness is a powerful emotional regulation tool if you struggle with instantly overwhelming emotions. It encourages you to take a step back from the chaos in your mind, acknowledging and accepting your negative emotions without allowing them to overwhelm you.

It is also brilliant for self-awareness, helping you to identify unhealthy thought patterns and manage subconscious rumination.

Practising mindfulness daily has quietened some of my turbulent emotions and provided me with some useful BPD-ass-kicking abilities. You can read more about managing mental health with mindfulness here.

Make An Emergency Mental Health Toolkit


A self-care toolkit is a box or collection of feel-good items that you keep safe and handy for those really tough mental health days. Some suggestions for your own self-care toolkit could be a colouring book, scented body lotions, a comfy pair of slippers or your favourite packet of sweets.

Keep A Journal


Research shows that journaling and expressive writing are excellent coping mechanisms for overwhelming emotions. Not only does journaling provide us with a healthy outlet, but it can encourage us to challenge and analyse confusing emotions. It is also an incredibly effective self-awareness tool.

Get started on your journaling journey with these 60 mental health journal prompts.

Have A Safety Plan


When you’re living with borderline personality disorder, intense emtions can lead to impulsive and self-destructive behaviours like self-harm and suicide attempts. Having a safety plan can help to prevent this.

Devise a clear, simple plan that you or your loved ones can refer to in times of crisis. For example, it might consist of three steps like this:

1 – If I’m feeling extremely low, I’m going to try some of these self-care activities to make myself feel better.

2 – If that doesn’t work, I’m going to talk to a loved one / call Samaritans for support and advice.

3 – If I feel I am in a crisis, I am going to contact my local mental health charity, crisis team or GP.

Tips For Dealing With Intense Emotions


Living with borderline personality disorder means constantly internalising intense emotions like anger, frustration, despair and anxiety. It is common for people with BPD to turn to impulsive behaviours like drug abuse, binge-eating or self-harm in order to cope. However, these methods are often very dangerous and cause significant mental health damage.

Here are some of the things I do to calm down my overwhelming emotions.

If you’re feeling angry or frustrated

Hit or scream into a pillow

Do some vigorous exercise – jogging works especially well for me!

Crazy-dance to loud music

Do a physical household activity – I am all about cleaning my house from top to bottom!

If you’re feeling sad or depressed

Do something creative – draw, write music, colour in a mandala colouring book, anything that provides you with some release or escape

Go for a walk

Treat yourself to a sweet snack

Cuddle a pet or soft blanket

If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed

Have a warm bath, complete with essential oils and bath bombs for ultimate relaxation!

Try some of these grounding techniques – holding ice cubes, playing mental category games and using the 5,4,3,2,1 method all work very well for me. Check out Healthline’s 30 grounding techniques to see what works best for you.

Write all of your worries down in a journal

Repeat some positive affirmations

Do you have any more self-help or self-care ideas for BPD? Please leave them in the comments below!

I am a mental health blogger sharing my experiences with BPD, depression and anxiety. I have created this space of understanding and healing in order to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. I also offer lots of self-care tips to help you live your best life! Any advice I give is based off my personal experiences and should not be substituted for medical advice. You can read my full disclaimer by clicking the link in the footer.

2 Comments

  • CURT BURK

    Hi Kia,

    I read your post “My Experience with Cannabis as an Undiagnosed Borderline” post on rtor.org today. It could have been written with my 27 year old son as the subject. I’ve always felt that there was a BPD component to his mental health condition (his psychiatrist agrees). His use of cannabis (or perhaps the withdrawal when attempts to stop) are the trigger for his worst episodes of psychotic behavior. His mom and I have tried so many things to help him, but we always return to the same place eventually (Dad’s a monster, Doctors just want money, i should kill him, it’s not my fault). I have created boundaries, provided financial and support, ensured he has a access to mental health care professionals/treatment, and changed my perception of him as a manipulative abusive person that I should be angry at and verbally retaliate against, to a more empathetic parent that sees the pain he lives with constantly and who should support, reassure and love him.

    But in the end, nothing seems to work. The cycle continues and I loose hope that he’ll get to a point where I know he’ll be ok and where his mother and I won’t have to always be very careful that we won’t trigger him. That’s been our story since he was preschool age.

    So, that’s my sad tale of woe, but I didn’t write to carpe or look for a sympathetic ear. I wrote because you have something I really need, insight. What should a parent do to help him. I’ve tried to help him see how the pattern of failed relationship, lack of success, ineffective treatments, bad life outcomes is directly connected to choices he makes. He sees this as me being critical (more Dad monster fodder) and unwilling to be understand his perspective on why nothing works (because the current enemy in his life caused it). So what would you say is the best thing a parent can do (in addition to encouraging getting help with cannibas abuse, getting into a DBT program, taking his meds for major depressive disorder, and get help with strategies for dealing with the anxiety causes him to quit school, jobs). To be clear, he can have months (it seems) where things are ok and our relationship is good. It just can’t be sustained.

    Any insights you have on what his parents should do (for him and ourselves) or books we should read to help us deal with the situation more effectively would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Kia

      Hi Curt,

      Thank you so much for reaching out to me and sharing your story. I see a lot of my undiagnosed BPD-self in how you describe your son.
      From what you’ve told me it seems as though you are already doing all you can. I understand as a parent that’s probably not what you want to hear, as you always feel like there’s more that you could or should be doing. However, it sounds like you are doing everything right – setting healthy boundaries, taking the time to research and see past his illness, encouraging him to get help – all of it is exactly what somebody providing a healthy support system should do.
      Unfortunately, BPD is complex. Triggers attack from all angles and are governed by irrational fears, emotional immaturity, self-hatred, a severe lack of a self-identity – it is incredibly internal and, sadly, it often seems like even if we had all the love and kindness in the world, it wouldn’t be enough to ‘fix’ what is wrong with us. I’ve heard others describe people w/BPD as being emotionally-stunted at the age trauma occurred and I’m inclined to believe that there is some truth in that.
      HOWEVER, as you pointed out, professional support is THE most important thing. The cycle can be broken, but the power to break it has to come from within. Carry on encouraging him to seek professional help and will him to engage as much as he can with things like DBT because it is self-awareness and self-control that will eventually help to break the cycle.
      Bringing up things like lack of success, failed relationships etc is a HUGE trigger for many people with BPD, even if what you are saying needs to be said. Even now, I struggle to see advice as anything other than criticism.
      One thing that I do want to suggest is how impactful reassurance can be for the quality of your relationship. People with BPD need A LOT of reassurance, more than most people are able to provide without growing tired and frustrated. You already seem as though you are providing a lot, but I thought I’d stress this just because offering reassurance when you are giving advice might help to get your point across without it being challenged.
      Remember – and this extremely important – look after yourself and your own mental health. Being a BPD loved one can be draining. There are some online support groups that you can find with a Google search – I don’t like to recommend them by name on here because some of the content can be triggering and unhelpful for BPD readers, but Reddit has a support group for loved ones that I know many find helpful.
      I know this was a very long comment. If you want to chat further, you can email me at kie@beyondtheblues.co.uk

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