3. Reduce and Manage Stress.
Stress only makes symptoms worse, so anything you can do to keep it to a minimum will help. It’s not possible to eliminate all stress from your life, so also practice strategies for coping with it. Find what works best for you: meditation, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation.
Another way to better cope with stress is to practice healthy lifestyle habits. When you feel good physically, you will better tolerate stress and difficult emotions. Get daily exercise, spend time outdoors, get adequate sleep each night, eat well, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
4. Practice Controlling Your Impulses.
Impulsivity is a common characteristic of BPD. You may engage in risky behaviors or lash out at people with little forethought. Impulsive behaviors that you later regret can also trigger depressive episodes. If you can learn to control impulses, you’ll feel better.
Many people with BPD act impulsively because they feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions. To get relief, you may do something you know you shouldn’t. To manage these impulses, you need to learn how to deal with and tolerate the bad feelings.
When emotions build to an intolerable level, pause and assess them. Name your feelings and accept them. It also helps to ground yourself in the moment. Focus on your senses and breathing to calm down. If these strategies fail, try a distraction: Watch TV, call someone, do chores around the house, or anything else that will take your attention away from the emotions you’re feeling.
5. Work on Improving Relationships.
Social support is a powerful tool against depression and other mental health issues. But maintaining positive, mutually beneficial relationships with BPF isn’t easy. Anger, emotional outbursts, threats, and neediness often drive people away.
Be proactive in developing better interpersonal skills and maintaining relationships with the people closest to you. Relationship therapy is useful. It will teach your loved ones about your conditions and how to communicate with you more effectively. You’ll learn practical skills in treatment for questioning your assumptions, not projecting negative emotions onto others, and managing how you interact with people when emotions are high.
6. Plan for a Crisis.
When you’re in the middle of a storm of emotions, you may struggle to do what you know will help or to tell others what you need. Make a plan with loved ones for how to deal with this situation, so they know what to do.
The plan should include a mental health first-aid kit with strategies, coping mechanisms, and objects that calm you and help you bring your feelings back under control. It could include a list of your proven stress busters like a scented candle you like, a favorite book, or sayings that you take comfort in. Whatever triggers calm for you will be ready and waiting if you experience a crisis.
Coping with this difficult dual diagnosis isn’t easy. Living with BPD or depression alone is hard enough, but the two interact and trigger and worsen symptoms. You can live well with complicated mental health issues, but it takes work. Keep up with treatment, even after a residential stay. Use coping mechanisms and the support of loved ones to live your best life.