Boredom & BPD: Some Skillful Alternatives to Harmful Behaviors (Guest Blogger Marci)

Please welcome first-time guest blogger Marci of Marci, Mental Health, and More

Everyone feels bored sometimes.  For people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) being bored can be accompanied by other intense emotions and/or can result in behavior that doesn’t help and sometimes makes things worse.  When I am bored some of the common emotions I feel along with it are: emptiness, loneliness and disappointment; anger, frustration, and restlessness; and apathy and depression.  
I’ve learned over the years from both DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and personal experience what works and doesn’t work when I am trying to deal with boredom and the feelings that occur with it.
What doesn’t work?
  • Isolating
    • Why I do it: I don’t want to bother others, I’m afraid of rejection; I don’t want my current emotional state to be seen.  
    • Why it doesn’t work: when alone my feelings/thoughts tend to feed off each other and I spiral out of control.  It is easier to engage in destructive behavior when I am alone.  People don’t see certain sides of me and may not know the authentic or “real” me.
  • Returning to bad habits or doing things we know are bad for us because of a lack of other options.   
    • Why I do it: it’s the easy way out, they are familiar, it has a short term benefit, willfulness or stubbornness.  
    • Why it doesn’t work: it usually has a longer term detriment or only fixes things for the moment, I end up judging myself and saying things like “I should have known better.”
What does work?
  • Reaching out to other people. 
    • This includes the DBT skills opposite action and distraction.  For me reaching out can be texting or Facebook messaging a friend to see if they can get together face to face.  This usually leads to doing an activity with them like going to the movies, out to eat, bowling, or just about anything. It can also be an online, text, phone, or in person conversation regarding what is currently bothering you or completely unrelated.  
    • Why it works: I feel better during the activities and it combats the feelings of emptiness and loneliness.  Even afterwards I feel proud that I reached out and did something and grateful that someone responded.  It also helps renew my faith in humankind if anger, frustration, or disappointment were adding to or causing the boredom.
  • Changing it around to focus on someone else by helping them. 
    • This includes the DBT skills contributing and finding meaning. Making gifts for other people (scrapbooks, cards, drawings.)  Planning events other people and I will like to do (family BBQ, movie day with friends, Groupon day.)  Listening to other people’s current situation or stress.  Helping people with things I have experienced or learned (I do this in the form of blogging for personal experiences/mental health and tutoring at school.)  
    • Why it works:   It is something to do and it makes others happy.  They say one of the best things you can do to make yourself happy is by making someone else happy.   When listening to others sometimes it puts our situation in perspective.  It gives meaning or purpose to experiences I would usually qualify as negative.
  • Activities I can do on my own such as: reading, blogging, scrapbooking, watching TV or movies. These are things that work for me and fit into the DBT category of effectiveness.   
    • Why it works: I don’t need to rely on other people to do them.   I usually have all the things available to me (books, iPod, TV, DVDs, computer, scrapbook supplies, photos.)  I use this a lot because if I am particularly sensitive or vulnerable, I don’t need to worry about rejection which can make the emotions even more intense.  Also if I’m on the angry and frustrated side I usually don’t want to do anything for anyone or be around anyone, which are my other two things that work.

What have you found “works” and “doesn’t work” as far as being effective when you are bored?

Thank you,

Read Marci’s blog Marci, Mental Health, and More
Follow Marci on Facebook

You may also enjoy these articles:

Boredom and the Borderline (BPD & Self-Harm) 
Why Do We Feel Empty? Emptiness and Borderline Personality Disorder

Interested in online DBT classes?  Visit DBT Path to learn more.

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