How to be friends with a borderline

Today on my newsfeed was an image about International Friendship Day. Only several hours before I had been writing a letter to a friend explaining how they had hurt me. A letter that was written for therapeutic reasons, rather than the intention of sending it. After seeing this message regarding International Friendship Day I broke down. Here I was writing about ending a friendship on a day that we are meant to celebrate friends.

Tricky… However, in that moment another friend messaged me if we could go out for coffee and another sent me a message saying “You are such a bright spark and I hope your light never goes out”. It was as if God had completely intervened as I started to think about self-harm.

As someone with BPD, it is not easy to make and keep friends. Why? our love is all-consuming. If we do find someone we trust we slowly open up to you. This is a scary process as every bit I share with you requires me to let my guard down. I am terrified of rejection. As I let you in, I trust you wholeheartedly. I prioritise you above everything else including myself. The issue with that is that no one person can provide you with all the comfort, support, love and encouragement you need. In fact, things that I should be reliant on God for I was seeking from one person. This isn’t possible or healthy.

A wise friend once told me we must make a Frankenstein friend. This means we compose our ideal friend from the parts of people we need in our lives. Just like we are a part of someone else’s Frankenstein friend. In other words, one person including yourself cannot provide all the emotional, physical, spiritual and practice care someone needs. I have to admit when he told me this, I was a little hurt as I realised my life long endeavour of finding a “best friend” had been childish. But I Thank him and his wisdom which is so profound and helpful.

So how can you be a friend to someone with BPD?

• Understand that when they share something with you this means they must really trust you. 
• We are afraid of you leaving us. Instead of saying I will never leave you or we are like sisters say “I am here for you now and I care deeply about you”. 
• We need time alone.
• We need you to read credible sources of what BPD is so you can better understand our struggles. 
• We need encouragement to increase our friendship network with others to seek support from them and not just you alone.
• Don’t rely on us texting or making plans. We are living minute by minute. I am more likely to go out if someone texts me and asks are you free for coffee today. It gives me less time to think of an excuse for not leaving bed. 
• When you do not reply to our messages we think you hate us, despite the fact we take ages to reply ourselves!
• A couple of my friends send me pictures, memes and uplifting quotes. People with BPD are often not good at expressing ourselves emotionally. But I love when friends send visuals that make me laugh and inspire me.
• Try to make outings during the day in quieter places. We easily get overwhelmed. 

So today, on International Friendship day. In addition to messaging your typical “bestie”, message or send a motivational quote to someone you know who is feeling lonely and hurting. It will make a huge difference in their life.

Until then… Have a day,   

Love Laura

Founder of OT for BPD


Published by Beyond Personality Disorders

Founder of My Potential Mental health Advocate; Occupational Therapy Teacher and Researcher Australia “As an occupational therapist diagnosed with BPD I will use this page to share about the various interventions and strategies that are helpful to those with BPD. I will also share about the positive and sometimes challenging approaches that health professionals have used in my treatment in emergency, inpatient, outpatient and community settings. I hope that by sharing my lived experience I can help improve the experience of those struggling to understand Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD) and also support those living with BPD and other mental health challenges Most importantly we will share how occupation can powerfully help change lives!" Laura

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