What Is High-Functioning Borderline Personality Disorder, and Does It Need Treatment?

What does it mean to have high-functioning borderline personality disorder? It does not mean that you escape the shame and suffering. Treatment for BPD helps you to become more grounded, to better manage your emotional journey, and to get what you really want out of life.

Like an ever-present barrier, borderline personality disorder stands between you and others, between you and the life you really want. It walls you in and makes it possible to feel overwhelming emotions and unsettling emptiness at the same time. It can feel as if you’re just along for the ride of your reactive thoughts and feelings. It’s complicated and foreign, and it’s the home you can’t escape from.

But you get through your days. And you keep the intense suffering to yourself. What is high-functioning borderline personality disorder if not a trap? And how can you begin to free yourself?

 

What Is High-Functioning Borderline Personality Disorder?


High-functioning may mean that you can make it through the day with BPD while hiding your turmoil from others. Perhaps you keep others at arm’s length in order to avoid conflicts and loss. On the outside, you’re able to keep your symptoms quiet. But on the inside, the storm still rages, and you suffer in isolation.

For some people, having good days—as well as the bad—is the mark of high-functioning. A really bad, disheartening, self-destructive day can turn into an upbeat day the next. And, whereas they might not have been in the mindset or had the capacity to seek treatment the day before, on this good day, they don’t even feel the need for it.

As you hide the pain, you may feel even more shame. Putting up a brave and pleasant face can be exhausting and confusing to your complicated sense of self. It’s important to ask, why? Why work so hard to deny and resist your own suffering? People with borderline personality disorder often don’t know what they would really need in order to feel better. In fact, they question whether they deserve help.

In a word, it’s isolating.


How Does BPD Really Affect a Person’s Life?

How does borderline personality disorder affect different parts of your life?

Mood

  • Unexpected and destabilizing mood swings.
  • Lack of emotional control and regulation.
  • Moods can change with the slightest trigger.
  • Reactions are disproportionate to the reality of a situation and can include depression, anxiety, insecurity, jealousy, anger, paranoia, resistance, and attachment.

Self-Image

  • Taking things more personally than they are intended.
  • Self-esteem is highly vulnerable and easily shaken by even minor triggers.
  • Self-image may be just as changeable and unpredictable as the mood swings.
  • Dips in self-esteem, along with mood swings, can provoke impulsive and self-destructive behavior.

Relationships

  • Intense emotions tend to rise to the surface so friends, family, co-workers, and others nearby will experience the pressure and volatility.
  • Fear of abandonment is a powerful symptom, but attempts to avoid it often only exacerbate social isolation.
  • Ungrounded shifts from excessive love to distrust compromise one’s ability to develop real bonds.

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How Do You Know When It’s Time for BPD Treatment?


When you’re living from day to day, it isn’t really possible to have big goals for your life and to pursue them with steady progress. From where you are now, it may feel like enough to just get through the day. But is that really enough?

If treatment could be helping to improve your symptoms, your relationship with yourself and others, and your lease on life, wouldn’t that be better?

When your borderline personality disorder is taking a destructive turn, you know that it is time for treatment. The following side effects are serious signs that compassionate clinical care is necessary:

  • Self-harm—including thoughts of self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • Substance abuse
  • Impulsive and risky behaviors (perhaps around spending, eating, driving, gambling, or other areas of life)
  • Relationships suffering—with family, friends, significant others, and coworkers
  • Isolation
  • Worsening co-occurring mental health disorders
  • More intense emotional outbursts
  • Episodes of unsettling emotions that don’t abate
  • Performance issues at work or school or with other responsibilities
  • Disconnection with oneself, one’s body, or with reality

Treatment can not only intervene and save you from these dangerous consequences; it can also give you the tools necessary to live a more stable and fulfilling life. While your borderline personality disorder won’t go away altogether, it is entirely manageable with the right guidance through treatment. Symptoms can be greatly reduced with strategies such as dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. And, just as importantly, you can feel empowered in your progress and, ultimately, feel less shame and negativity.


Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego programs. We can help you or your loved one start on the path to healing.