This informal CPD article, ‘Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms and Supporting a Co-worker‘, was provided by Magdalena Jalocha, Training Manager at Holden Knight Healthcare, a Recruitment Consultancy with a passion for achieving excellence.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition characterized by pervasive patterns of instability in relationships, self-image, and emotions. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding how to support a co-worker with BPD can be crucial in fostering a healthy work environment. In this article, we will explore the common symptoms of BPD and offer guidance on how to provide assistance to a colleague facing these challenges.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Intense and Unstable Relationships:
Individuals with BPD often struggle with maintaining stable and healthy relationships. They may experience intense and stormy relationships, characterized by extremes of idealization and devaluation.
People with BPD may struggle with a distorted or unstable self-image, leading to uncertainty about their goals, values, and identity.
Emotional instability is a hallmark of BPD. Individuals may experience intense and rapidly changing emotions, including anger, sadness, and anxiety, which can be challenging for both the person with BPD and those around them.
Impulsivity in areas such as spending, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating is common among individuals with BPD.
People with BPD may engage in self-harming behaviours as a way to cope with emotional pain. This can include cutting, burning, or other forms of self-mutilation.
Chronic Feelings of Emptiness:
A persistent sense of emptiness and boredom is often reported by individuals with BPD, contributing to their impulsive actions and unstable relationships.
Fear of Abandonment:
Those with BPD may have an intense fear of abandonment, leading to frantic efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment.
Supporting a Co-worker with Borderline Personality Disorder
Take the time to learn about BPD to gain a better understanding of the challenges your co-worker may face. Knowledge about the disorder can help dispel myths and reduce stigma.
Maintain Open Communication:
Establish open and non-judgmental communication with your co-worker. Encourage them to share their feelings and concerns, fostering a supportive and understanding work environment.
Clearly communicate and maintain boundaries to ensure a healthy and professional working relationship. Individuals with BPD may struggle with boundaries, and providing clear guidelines can be beneficial for both parties.
Encourage Professional Help:
Suggesting professional help, such as therapy or counselling, is essential. A mental health professional can provide the necessary tools and coping mechanisms to manage BPD symptoms effectively.
Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance:
Encourage your co-worker to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Adequate rest, regular breaks, and stress-reducing activities can contribute to overall well-being.
Offer Emotional Support:
Be empathetic and offer emotional support without judgment. Recognize that your co-worker may be going through a difficult time, and your understanding can make a significant impact.
Navigating the workplace with a co-worker who has Borderline Personality Disorder requires understanding, empathy, and effective communication. By recognizing the symptoms and implementing supportive strategies, colleagues can contribute to a work environment that promotes mental health and well-being. Encouraging professional help and maintaining open lines of communication can make a positive difference in the life of someone dealing with BPD.
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