Ask About BPD
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Ask about BPD: Relationship cycle

Ask About BPD

Today’s question is being answered by Kayla.

I have a question. I have a loved one with this illness. I love her dearly but she’ll go weeks, sometimes months without talking to me. I think she’s a caring individual but is battling herself. I give her space but I do worry about her. She is medicated but still self-harms. I validate her and have educated myself. I am just wondering if I am going down a dead end road.

This is a tough one. I’ve struggled with this before, too. I have a close friend who I sometimes don’t see or talk to for months at a time. Part of BPD is unstable relationships. We want people around but want to be alone at the same time so we often go back and forth from being super social to total isolation.

Part of it is the aspect of BPD called splitting, or black and white thinking. We go up and down a lot. Another part that it ties into is the pushing-away-the-people-we-care-about-most.

The important thing to know is that people who have BPD don’t isolate because they don’t like a person, really. They isolate because they have too many feelings and feel that dealing with it alone is better for them and those around them. Especially if she’s been self-destructive lately. She may be so overwhelmed by her feelings that she just doesn’t want to burden you with it (even though it’s not a burden to you, she feels like it is. It’s another part of BPD.)

I’m thinking she doesn’t usually talk much about her feelings in general, or she may go back and forth with it. She may be processing a lot of emotions right now for whatever reason. Some people just cope better on their own.

The best thing you can do right now is to let her know that you’re still there for her. Even if you don’t talk for months, every so often send her a supportive text message or something along those lines. A simple, “You’re important to me and I care about you,” will work. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

As for the self-harm, someone who self harms is not always suicidal so I think we can rule that out here. Maybe try to encourage her to practice some safe alternatives.

For Anger:

  • Journaling her feelings
  • Screaming very loudly
  • Exercising
  • Listening to music
  • Singing loudly
  • Drawing a picture of what is making her angry
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Popping balloons
  • Scribbling on a piece of paper until the whole page is black
  • Throwing darts at a dartboard
  • Writing her feelings on paper then ripping it up
  • Creating a Relaxation Jar. Fill a mason jar or similar with colored water and glitter. When feeling upset or angry she can shake it to disturb the glitter and focus on that until the glitter settles.

For Pain:

  • Holding an ice cube in her hands, against her arm, or in her mouth
  • Clapping her hands until it stings
  • Splashing her face with cold water
  • Massaging where she want to hurt herself
  • Writing or painting on herself
  • Paying attention to her breathing 

For Boredom:

  • Making a cup of tea
  • Making as many words out of her full name as possible
  • Reorganizing her closet.
  • Calling or texting an old friend
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Painting her finger and toe nails
  • Cooking
  • Learning origami
  • Knitting, sewing, or making a necklace
  • Learning to swear in another language
  • Coloring in a picture in a coloring book.
  • Having a warm bubble bath with candles and essential oils
  • Doing some house hold chores

Unfortunately, with self-harm, we can’t really stop anyone from doing it. Or force them to stop (which I know we’d all like to.) It’s something she has to learn new self-soothing skill so she can cope with life’s struggles. Just keep letting her know you care about her. That’s really all you can do right now.

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