BPD and Your Support System (or lack thereof)

A support system is an incredibly important part of recovery from borderline personality disorder (BPD). But what do you do if you don’t have this? What do you do if you’ve pushed everyone away and burned every bridge? What do you do if you’ve isolated and don’t have any more connections? How do you get the support that you need to positively impact your recovery process?

This is a very difficult question. Today I posted on my DBT Path Facebook page about an online skills and support group for parents, partners, and other loved ones of those with borderline personality disorder, BPD traits, or who are emotionally sensitive that I’ll be offering in the near future. Licensed therapist Amanda Smith, LMSW of My Dialectical Life, also in recovery from borderline personality disorder, is tapped to co-facilitate. (Here is a signup list if you are a parent or loved one interested in receiving more information as well as other helpful articles and information.)

In the past, many parents have reached out to me as a result of finding this blog, coming across my e-books, or by having watched the documentary Border_. They’ve asked for insight and understanding about how to best support their loved one who has BPD.  I’m excited to be able to help these individuals to develop a sense of hope and understanding and to become skillful, or even more skillful, in their relationships with their loved ones.

What saddens me, though, is the inevitable responses to the announcement of this class from those who are deeply hurting because they believe, or perhaps know for a fact, that their family members or spouse or other loved ones aren’t interested in such opportunities.

I remember when I was in the thick of my experience of being highly symptomatic with borderline personality disorder, and it was pretty difficult to be around me. It was pretty difficult for me to be present with myself. So, I understand the frustration and hopelessness that can develop for loved ones observing someone who is having great difficulty managing her or his emotions, repeatedly sabotaging, and seemingly not making progress in life.

I understand how it’s possible to reach a breaking point, to burn out, and to just feel numb. I have also experienced that when I began to truly demonstrate a concerted effort to change my life, become skillful, and was finally able to keep commitments, people began to come around. It took a lot of hard work and proving myself. Sometimes it was difficult to accept that I had to work so hard to convince others that I had changed and was in a continual process of change. But, as soon as I accepted that I needed to do this, I released the struggle.

If you’re in a place where you are lacking the support of your family and loved ones as you cope as best as you know how and working as hard as you can to get well and stay well, it is so important to CREATE a network of support for yourself. This might look like getting into clinical groups in your area that offer support and the opportunity to connect with others with similar experiences (such as outpatient groups at OPI Living in the Los Angeles area), deciding to sign up for a workshop, class, or club that is in alignment with your interests (which is something I love about the Roanne Program residential for young men and women with borderline personality disorder, as this is emphasized greatly), or if you’re not feeling ready to go out into the world in this way, even finding some online communities that feel safe and supportive can be helpful to start.

If loneliness becomes too difficult to bear, and you begin to have suicidal thoughts, please immediately reach out to a suicide prevention line, your therapist or psychiatrist, your nearest hospital, or call your local emergency number. You do not have to do this alone. There were times in my life when I felt very desperate in my loneliness and became a regular in the emergency room. If you are feeling despair and are unsafe, please utilize services so that you get the support that you need.

It’s also important, though it can be difficult, to remember that what your support system looks like today may not be what it looks like a month from now, or three months from now. It can improve as you work hard in your recovery and are acknowledged by those around you. Also, don’t assume that your loved one wouldn’t be interested in an online class like the one Amanda and I are working on. You might share the information and be surprised.

Please take a moment to share:

What does your support system look like now?

What did it look like a year ago?

What would you like it to look like in the near and distant future?

I look forward to your response.

Thank you for reading.

More soon.

In kindness,



  1. My family doesn't want to understand my bpd at all. When I was in the hospital, the doctor recommended a book for my mom to read, and she didn't read it... I tried sending her videos and even the video of the letter that you wrote, and she dismissed it all...

  2. Hi I can understand people who don't have support. My family may not give me support they don't even know what illness I have. I am a very private person so don't like to talk to friends about my illness. The positive at it all I have support from professional. Which I am truly grateful for. So you might not have a supported family. There is always support else where, you just have learn to look and accept support where you can.

  3. I sent the loved one link to a co-worker. She is very much looking for support for herself in order to better help her sister (diagnosed BPD).

    Glad you're doing this Debbie!




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