Please welcome guest blogger Chloe Trogden with her first post at Healing From Borderline Personality Disorder.
The Challenges of Attending School while Managing Symptoms of BPD
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can make it challenging for those who suffer from it to meet responsibilities, such as maintaining a job or attending school. One notable success story is that of Gregory M. Duhl, who is diagnosed with BPD and is currently a law professor at the William Mitchell College of Law. While it may be challenging to attend and complete a college degree while coping with BPD, it is possible if this is a path you desire to pursue.
Without a secondary degree, job opportunities are often limited. It is important for those who suffer from BPD to find ways to manage their symptoms while completing their degree so that they can take advantage of these opportunities for more meaningful employment.
Here are just some of the challenges you may have to manage while attending school if you have BPD and some ideas around how to deal with them:
Those who suffer from BPD experience more intense emotions more easily and for longer periods. Moods can fluctuate wildly, and this can be exacerbated by stressful events. Unfortunately, completing a degree program is inherently stressful. Between managing a full class schedule and trying to make time for all the studying, writing papers, and completing projects, nearly every student feels stress. Most feel quite a bit of it.
To help BPD sufferers from feeling as if they are losing control of their symptoms, it is important that to do everything you can to reduce stress. This can include mindfulness activities (a component of DBT – Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a proven effective treatment for BPD), exercise, getting enough sleep, spending time with family and friends, or even cutting back on the amount of courses that are taken. The key is to make stress reduction a critical component of each day to keep it under control.
When you are coping with emotional episodes and dealing with impulse control issues, it can be difficult to effectively manage your time. It is important for students with BPD to develop time management strategies that are successful for them. This could include using calendar software or apps that send key notifications, alerts or reminders; maintaining a buddy system with another student, and working with an academic advisor or a family members to stay on track.
There is no one strategy that is effective for every person with BPD. The key is to find the solution that works for you while being mindful of this important piece.
A college degree program is very fast-paced, and that can be overwhelming for anyone and more intense for someone coping with the symptoms of BPD. In some cases, the overwhelm can cause a relapse of symptoms. Many students may find that a non-traditional setting actually helps them to be more successful. Some options include a part-time degree program, a community college, or an online program. Any programs that allows students to reduce the course load or to take time off from the program as necessary would be ideal.
Being Away from a Support System
Many students attend college in another city or another state from where their parents live. For students with BPD, this takes them away from an important support system. Not only could this lead to feelings of abandonment, which could trigger symptoms, but it will also take away supportive family members who offered support around helping the student manage the symptoms of BPD and to stay on track toward achieving progress.
It is often helpful for students with BPD to either attend college near home or to go to a program where other supportive friends or family members will be available. Being able to live with a member of their support system is also an ideal option for some.
While attending school can present many challenges for students with Borderline Personality Disorder, these challenges can be overcome so that students can earn their degree and have access to more opportunities for employment later.
The key is to recognize the challenges and to develop strategies for managing them to keep symptoms under control.
How did you manage your symptoms of BPD while you attended school? Share your strategies in the comments!
Chloe Trogden is a seasoned financial aid writer and a major contributor at collegegrant.net. Her leisure activities include camping, swimming and yoga.