Thursday, May 17, 2012 Does Borderline Personality Disorder improve
Does BPD ever get better? Will everything always be the devastation
and earth shattering crisis that it seemed to be in my teens and
Yes, it does/can get better. No, things do not always have to be
this way. This is based entirely on the individual though. Iíve
received correspondence from many people in their 40ís, 50ís, and
60ís that still suffer with the more intense problems of Borderline
Personality Disorder. These are often people that havenít received
any help, sufficient treatment, or had trouble acquiring any kind of
treatment or support at all.
From my experience I canít say that Borderline Personality Disorder
will just spontaneously get better on its own. Over time the
severity of symptoms is likely to diminish but they may not go away
entirely. I think this is due, in part, to life experience. When a
person reaches a certain age, by virtue of experience and having
lived through so many situations they can recognize that all the
traumatic feelings that they experience are feelings theyíve had
before, and despite how they feel, see the pattern that things donít
turn out as terribly as they feared, or that they are in fact,
capable of coping with the results of what do happen.
Then thereís also the fact that the human body and psyche can only
handle so much. It can only deal with so much constant bombardment
of adrenaline boosting anxiety and pain before it starts to wear
down. Or build up a tolerance. When youíve been exposed to something
for so long, the body adapts. Itís a basic principle of existence.
Adapt or die.
Constantly fighting the pain, tears, and trauma is exhausting.
Eventually the body builds up a little tolerance to all the things
that create such distress and while things may still cause anxiety
and panic, the intensity of those emotions no longer reaches the
same heights. The body, the mind, the spiritÖ gets tired. And
Like scar tissue for the mind. Itís not to say that the pain wonít
eventually come through, but it doesnít penetrate quite as easily.
Which still doesnít sound incredibly encouraging.
However! Thatís the theory for those with BPD that have never
accepted or found support or tried to work through the disordered
thinking that we have to deal with. The odds of having your
Borderline Personality Disorder improve rises drastically and
dramatically when you are able to admit there is a problem, seek
help, support, and/or therapy, and actively work to tame the wild
beast that is the Borderline Personality.
You donít have to tell me that this is easier said than done. You
donít have to tell me that there are times when therapy feels futile
and it seems like nothing will ever improve. Trust me, Iíve been
there. I still have those days. But those feelings pass. Youíre kind
of on this journey with me. I still have my bad days. I have a lot
of my bad days. But I have many more good days as well. Days without
panic, without anxiety, without depression. Days with happiness! Or
just contentment. Those feelings are so foreign to me that itís hard
for me to recognize them at first. By the simple fact that I have
had days like that, days where my world wasnít shrouded in darkness,
proves to me that even though things may not be perfect, things most
certainly can get better.
The choice is yours. Thatís the important thing to remember. Blaming
our parents, blaming our exes, blaming the world around us,
regardless of whether or not our circumstances are our fault, does
not help. I certainly blamed my Evil-Ex for the years of trauma and
unhappiness I had to deal with when I was with him. But blaming him
isnít going to make my situation better. Blaming him isnít going to
suddenly make him take it all back and try to fix my life for me.
Thatís never going to happen. It wasnít fair, but life usually
isnít. The only one that can decide to make my life better, is me.
It sucks that things have to be so hard. Itís a shitty hand to be
dealt, but itís the only hand we have. We can let the murk mire us
in thoughts of self-pity, blame, and loathingÖ perpetuating a cycle
of dismal depression and anxiety, or we can decide to make a change.
In time, things may get a little better on their own, but frankly,
Iím sick of waiting, and I donít have a lot of faith that the world
is suddenly going to smile on me and decide that Iíve dealt with
enough shit for one person already. Borderline Personality Disorder
can absolutely improve with age, but the amount of improvement is
directly proportional to the amount of effort you are willing to put
Iíve seen a lot of ďstudiesĒ and read a lot of testimony from
therapists and social workers that say in X amount of years theyíve
never seen improvement for BPD. There are a lot of reasons for this,
including the fact that these people probably were not skilled or
trained in the very recent developments that create real change for
those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Therapists/clinicians
are people too, and certain types of people are simply not equipped
to deal with someone that can be more difficult to pinpoint their
problems. Thatís why we have specialized therapy now. Major, MAJOR,
strides have been made in therapy specifically meant for us. Donít
let these limited perspectives discourage you. They usually donít
have the kind of knowledge or experience to give an inclusive
The other thing that Iíve noticed people focus on is the distinction
between what improves. Many say the Ďsymptomsí of BPD often improve;
the self-harm, the suicidal ideation, the paranoia, impulsivityÖ but
how about the instability in relationships? Thatís a different kind
of symptom. That first group of symptoms are internal to the one
person suffering with BPD. However, relationships take two. It seems
more broadly agreed upon while the individuals symptoms may improve,
things like abandonment and dependency issues are longer lasting.
Again, this is all dependent on the individual, what kind of help
they seek, and how much effort they put into their own recovery.
canít promise that all symptoms of BPD will eventually go away. I
canít promise that everything will one day be healed and no longer
any issue at all, even with therapy and dedication. I can say that I
am entirely optimistic that these things can all become manageable
and not the monsters we know them to be.
BPD is not something that is going to get better in days, weeks or
months. Hell, even years may be an estimate that is too
conservative. Iím going on a year and a half of intense therapy and
medication and Iím far from Ďrecoveredí, but my Therapist tells me
every week that she can see improvements. Whatís more though, is I
Without acknowledging the issue that is BPD there may be little to
no improvement for decades. Even with active acknowledgement and
intense effort improvement can take years. I donít mean to be
discouraging, but I do mean to be realistic. You know me. I donít
sugar coat anything. Thatís not why I do this. Think about this: In
a world where it is now common to live into our 80ís and 90ís, isnít
taking a year or two to really focus on ourselves, worth it? If we
can have 40, 50, 60 years of living that is more content and happy
than what we currently know, isnít the long term pay off worth the
struggle and introspection?
Taking care of our mental health is no different than taking care of
our physical health. If you eat nothing but junk food, load up on
soda, and smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day your body is going to be
pissed and reward you with a heart attack by the time youíre 40. If
you eat healthy, exercise, get a good amount of sleep and donít
abuse your bodyÖ in other words; work on taking care of yourself,
your odds of living a long and productive life vastly improve.
Whether Borderline Personality Disorder improves or worsens with
age, is up to you.