Book recs for living with borderline personality disorder
January 9, 2011 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest any great books about living with borderline personality disorder, either for partners or for people with BPD tendencies and behaviors? also, am I ruined forever? I feel like damaged goods. I'd be happy to hear from anyone living with BPD, too.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I think one of the standard recommendations is I Hate You - Don't Leave Me. I got it from one of my BPD friends, and later passed it on to another one. It has one chapter specifically for partners/family, but the rest is useful to help understand the disorder too. [I admit I didn't read it all tho]
posted by ClarissaWAM at 10:52 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stop Walking on Eggshells. There's also a workbook.
posted by The Deej at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2011

You are not damaged goods. I found out after working with my therapist for about 2 years that this was the diagnosis that she gave to my insurance company; she didn't tell me, specifically because the common wisdom at the time was that it was incurable, and she didn't want me to google it and have that become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I don't have the disorder any more. I still have a tendency towards histrionics and I'm a bit of a drama queen, but it doesn't really get beyond the generalized eye-rolly level. It does take ongoing mindfulness on my part, to remember that even when I could manipulate people into the response I want, that I don't do that any more. It takes the courage and security to be able to ask, straight out, for reassurance, sometimes under circumstances that I'm pretty sure are ridiculous -- I try to balance it out by expressly thanking people for that reassurance, by recognizing that this is part of a social give and take.

You might never be free of the tendency, of the urge to stir things up to get satisfaction, but you can definitely keep it under control. My life now is so much better than it was when I was actively BPD that it defies comparison. I probably make a specific, small effort to turn away from those patterns, hm. . . five or six times a day? But now it's nearly automatic. It can be done, it really can. there's hope.
posted by KathrynT at 11:15 AM on January 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

Seconding Marsha Linehan. She has been a great force for solid research on BPD and its treatment. Beyond that, she is a compassionate clinician whose respect and empathy for her patients comes through in her writing.
posted by Bebo at 12:08 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you know someone with BPD, the previously mentioned Stop Walking on Eggshells. One of the authors has this website (and a new book, I see) which actually has the majority of the material from the book (albeit scattered about in different articles and essays, many of which overlap). Still, it's nice to have in its physical form.

If it's you that has BPD then you should really not read that or any other book (or website) aimed at friends/family-of-BPD-people, at least until sometime far down the road when you've got a handle on things. The BPD-person I know got a lot out of Lost in the Mirror, partly for its brevity. I liked Get Me Out of Here as I was up for a long read. BPDCentral has a list of links for websites aimed at people who actually have BPD (the second half of the list on that page) as opposed to friends/families of those people.

That person also said they benefited from BPD Demystified and Sometimes I Act Crazy. Their fondness for Lost in the Mirror may have much to do with it being the first book they read after their diagnosis.

Whether you have it or are close to someone who does, you are not forever damaged. But it does take time and work to stop and reverse the damage that has already been done.
posted by K.P. at 12:17 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mod note: this is a fairly narrowly tailored question about BPD, please don't turn it into an open BPD discussion, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:48 PM on January 9, 2011

Check into a group or therapist who specifically uses Dialectical Behavior Therapy. My group used the worksheets from the Linehan book.

I don't have BPD, but found DBT to be very helpful in dealing with many things that BPD people struggle with.

Best of luck to you.
posted by bilabial at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2011

There is hope for you, you are most certainly not ruined forever. I was diagnosed with BPD in 2002. I no longer meet the diagnostic criteria. Ignore the people who think that BPD is the ultimate crazy.

It's hard sometimes. Like KathrynT, sometimes I have to make a specific effort not to act childishly. Sometimes this effort is easy, and sometimes it's hard. For example, I make it my personal policy not to post passive-aggressive messages on Facebook, something that many people (even people without BPD) do. Instead, I email a friend about the situation. This is an easy decision. A hard one is not texting/talking to someone who is mad at me. I like to talk things out immediately and being ignored or leaving someone alone for a few days to get their space is hard for me. Again, I usually talk it out with a friend and that helps.

Therapy is good. I have read most of the books in this thread and second their recommendations, including Marsha Linehan's and I Hate You, Don't Leave Me.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:30 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

These are the Linehan books that people have mentioned above.
posted by zeek321 at 4:17 PM on January 9, 2011

i was also diagnosed with bpd (when i was a teenager, which is not the norm). there are so many types and symptoms that what will be right for one person won't be for another. my nagging voice still says i'm damaged goods, though realistically i know i'm not. i'm also someone who is very much a "let me help myself, i'm sure that i can do the best job fixing myself if i have the right tools" person. that being said, and after schooling in the psych department, bpd is one of those diagnoses that really needs other people for support and help. a great therapist, friends who understand and are willing to help.

i fell into the SI/promiscuity/distorted self image/major listlessness and depression with anxiety bpd type (among other criteria, but these were my majors). i'm doing quite a bit better with nearly all of them. if you are struggling with any of these and need to talk to someone who understands (i find sometimes that can give me reassurance that therapy can't), feel free to memail me.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 4:24 PM on January 9, 2011

Yes, please don't start with Stop Walking on Eggshells. It paints a very unflattering portrait of BPD because it's written for those who are in an unhappy relationship with a person with borderline personality. It really damaged the self-concept of a woman I know who was still grappling with the diagnosis. She is doing much better now, but it is not thanks to that book.
posted by reren at 4:38 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you've had recurrent trauma in your past, you may benefit from looking into C-PTSD and books, et al, regarding that. It's a very similar diagnosis with, and this is important, almost none of the stigma.

(IANAD, etc.)
posted by saveyoursanity at 11:41 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation against "Stop Walking on Eggshells"; it may be useful to you at some point if someone else in your life has BPD, but it's exactly what you don't need right now.

Having BPD has probably led you to do a lot of regrettable things, but it doesn't make you a bad person, and you can learn to deal with it. Seek help and don't give up until you find it. You'll be glad you did.
posted by shponglespore at 3:40 PM on January 10, 2011

Yes, there is a very big difference in what to read if you have BPD versus relating to someone with BPD. Most of the literature on the latter will (in varying degrees) recommend detaching if possible.

I couldn't tell from your question which category you fall under (I felt ruined after living with someone with BPD, so I get that), but, either way, you are not ruined forever. The recovery process will be different, depending on which it is (and it is a recovery process for those living with/detaching from someone with BPD - my shrink noticed some addictive (to him) tendencies in me) but there is recovery and it's possible.

Good luck.

PS SWOE also has (or at least used to) a closely associated message board, and it included space for people who are trying to stay in their relationships with the people in their lives with BPD. The board is not particularly appropriate for people with BPD.
posted by Pax at 7:45 AM on January 11, 2011

Mod note: From the OP:
Hi, OP here. I have a number of borderline traits but am very high-functioning and have spent years preventing myself from acting out some of the worst qualities of the disorder--projecting hostility and anger, attention-seeking, ignoring boundaries--and have been pretty successful. Nor do I self-injure or suffer from an addiction. But it was horrifying and hard for me to realize just how many of the traits I have, and how strongly, and how much work I have left to do. I am not abusive to my partner (my partner agrees with this assessment) so I especially appreciate the advice NOT to read stuff meant for partners. But we both agreed--partner and I--that thinking about some of my behaviors in the BPD framework would help partner understand and choose different behaviors.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:56 AM on January 11, 2011

OP, please memail me.
posted by saveyoursanity at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2011

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