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Supporting your Own Mental Health when Caring for Someone with BPD.

By Aimee Sullivan, Trainer at PMAC.

12.12.2023


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Understanding BPD and its Impact on Caregivers.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition which can be characterised by a pattern of unstable relationships, distorted self-image, and fluctuating moods. Individuals with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days. This is challenging and painful for the individuals experiencing them, but also for their caregivers, who can face emotional turbulence while providing support.


BPD can result in considerable strain on caregivers, especially when considering the unpredictable nature of BPD and the intensity of the person's emotional responses. Caregivers may themselves feel overwhelmed, anxious, and even develop symptoms of stress and burnout. This highlights the importance of self-care and mental health support for caregivers involved in supporting someone with BPD.


For businesses, understanding the challenges faced by employees who are caregivers to someone with BPD is vital. Offering mental health support and easily accessible resources can help these employees not only in their personal life, but also manage their roles more effectively. By doing this, it can also aid in creating a supportive and understanding work environment. This can lead to employees feeling understood and supported, which in turn can result in increased productivity and employee satisfaction.


The impact of caring for someone with BPD can affect all aspects of a caregiver's life, including their work performance. As a business, acknowledging this and providing appropriate support can help maintain the health and wellbeing of these employees. A business truly thrives when its workforce is mentally and emotionally well.


It is essential to have open, honest conversations about mental health in the workplace, as well as providing access to resources such as counselling services and flexible working hours where possible. This not only supports the wellbeing of those directly impacted but also lays the foundations for a culture of empathy and understanding throughout the entire organisation. The benefits of mental health training in the workplace have been shown to have a positive impact on culture and overall wellbeing of employees.


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The Role of Self-Care

Caring for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be mentally and emotionally challenging. When providing support and understanding to someone else, it can be easy to neglect your own mental wellbeing. This is where the importance of self-care comes in.


Self-care is a crucial part of maintaining mental health, especially for those in caregiver roles. This can involve identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It's not just about your physical health, but also maintaining your mental and emotional health.


1 - Regular relaxation and stress management. This could be anything from taking regular walks, practising mindfulness or meditation, or even engaging in hobbies you enjoy.

2 - Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also plays an important role in self-care. Having a balanced diet, taking part in regular exercise, and getting an adequate amount of sleep can greatly improve your physical health. This can then help you manage stress better as well as boosting your mental resilience.

3 - Setting boundaries is also important and knowing when to take a step back. It can be all too easy to immerse yourself in caring for someone with BPD to the point where it consumes your entire life. However, it’s important to remember to take regular breaks and that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

4 - Seeking support from others, either from friends, family, or mental health professionals, can also be an important aspect of self-care. By sharing your experiences and feelings with others, this can often bring a sense of relief and provide a fresh perspective on things.

5 - Don't forget to celebrate your successes, big or small. Caring for someone with BPD can be along journey, and it's important to acknowledge the progress you're making along the way.


Taking care of your own wellbeing isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. As the saying goes, "You can't pour from an empty cup." By regularly practising self-care, you're not only supporting your own mental health, but you're also ensuring that you’re better equipped to support the person you're caring for.


Building a Support Network

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When caring for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it can feel like an uphill battle at times and lead to feelings of isolation and burnout. Having a strong support network in place can be a great help in relieving these stresses.


A robust support network is not only about having people around you but having the right people. Having those who understand your situation and can provide important practical and emotional assistance. Your network can include a mix of family members, friends, mental health professionals, support groups, and even online communities.


Relying on a single support avenue can be emotionally draining and unfair to that person. Balancing your reliance across your network can help maintain healthier relationships and ensure you have the support when you need it most. Each individual or group in your network can offer different perspectives as well as different types of support.


Family and friends can provide emotional comfort, a listening ear, and help with daily tasks. Mental health professionals can offer a treatment plan, coping mechanisms for stress, and mental health resources for further support. Support groups, which can be found in many communities and online, provide a safe space to share experiences, learn from and connect with others in similar situations, as well as feeling less isolated.


By establishing connections with people who are in a similar situation, their experiences and support can provide a valuable source of understanding and empathy that those who are outside your situation may not understand or be able to provide. Don’t underestimate the power of shared experiences; they can illuminate the path when things seem bleak.


Keep in mind that it is always okay to ask for help. It's not a sign of failure or weakness; instead, it's a sign of self-care. You can't pour from an empty cup - by taking care of your own mental health, you will be able to fully be there for your loved one with BPD.


Building a strong support network may take time and effort, but it's worth it. Taking care of someone with BPD is not something you have to - or should - take on alone. With the right support network in place, you'll find that you are stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to support your loved one on their journey with BPD, as well as yourself.


Whilst caring for someone with BPD can be intense and difficult, it is worth noting that the individual with BPD can also bring great happiness, spontaneity, creativity and empathy into the relationship. This is not to downplay the struggles the carer faces, but to acknowledge that caring for someone with BPD is a unique journey with highs as well as lows.


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