There are lots of things you can do.
If someone you care about is diagnosed with BPD, you might find it hard to support and understand their feelings or behaviour at times. In the long term, it is probably more helpful for a person with BPD to have a consistent, reliable friend than to have a friend who is 100 per cent there for him for a few months and then disappears forever. Although it may seem tricky to help without them thinking that you’re treating them with pity, there are lots of positive things you can do to support them:
Try to be as patient as you can
If your loved one is struggling to deal with their emotions, don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment and involved in the argument. It’s better for both parties to wait until you both feel calmer to talk things through.
Don’t judge them, validate them
Listen to them without saying that they’re overreacting or that they shouldn’t feel the way they do. Take some time to just listen and validate their feelings. Regardless of whether you find it reasonable, it’s still how they’re feeling and it’s important to acknowledge it. Receiving validation from another person can provide tremendous relief to someone with BPD. Many people with BPD grew up in emotionally invalidating environments and expect that no one cares how they feel.
Help remind them of all their positive traits
When someone you care about is finding it hard to believe anything good about themselves, it can be reassuring to hear all the positive things you see in them. It may take a while for them to believe it, but it’s worth the wait.
Try to set clear boundaries
When your friends feel insecure about being rejected, abandoned, or seems worried about being left alone, it can be helpful to make sure you both know what you can expect from each other. It’s important for you to take care of yourself, take breaks from your friend when needed, and create good boundaries so that you can get your needs fulfilled as well.
Plan ahead and learn their triggers
When the person you’re supporting is feeling well, ask them how you can help them best when things are difficult. It’s much easier to ask this when their head is clear, and you can take note of how to act next time a situation comes up. Try to find out what sort of situations or conversations might trigger negative thoughts and emotions.
Take care of yourself
Looking after someone else can sometimes be difficult and stressful. It’s important to remember that your mental health is important too. Sometimes friendships with people who have BPD become unbalanced, and you find yourself giving more than you receive. If this is happening all the time, it will create a strain in the relationship. If you give too much, you may start to feel resentful or burned out. After a while, you may get to the point that you need to end the relationship for your own health.
Finally, but not least important, learn more about BPD, and help to challenge stigma. BPD is a complicated diagnosis, and your loved one might sometimes have to deal with other people’s misconceptions on top of trying to manage their mental health problem.