Marsha Linehan: recent publications

The Dos and Don'ts When Someone You Love Has Borderline Personality Disorder

When someone you love lives with a mental illness like borderline personality disorder, it’s only natural that you’d want to help them and support them as best as you possibly can. Unless you also live with BPD, though, it’s hard to know how you can best support them without hurting their feelings or making the situation worse. So, here are some suggested dos and don’ts when someone you love lives with borderline personality disorder.

Don’t: Make assumptions about their diagnosis.

Between online forums and mainstream media, there are lots of false narratives about BPD that people can use to quickly make assumptions about their loved one’s diagnosis. However, a lot of these fallacies don’t have any factual basis, and more importantly, BPD can manifest in different ways for each person.

Do: Make an effort to learn about their illness.

Borderline personality disorder is a highly stigmatized, often misunderstood mental health condition. However, you can change the narrative around the disorder and connect with your loved one in a more meaningful way by learning about BPD. There are several great books about BPD written by people with lived experience and by experts, not to mention there are lots of great online resources (like The Mighty).

Don’t: Call them “crazy.”

When we don’t understand a person’s feelings or actions, it’s easy to place labels like “weird,” “crazy,” or “abnormal” on the person we don’t understand. However, calling someone you love crazy just because their perspective doesn’t align with yours isn’t supportive or helpful. This invalidation is hurtful, and it can ultimately make a person with BPD feel even worse about themselves and their diagnosis.

Do: Validate their feelings.

Psychologist Marsha Linehan

people personality feelings

Marsha Linehan

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