Self-help for BPD should be completed alongside therapy. 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, unlovable and evil.
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!
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!