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5 Unique Coping Strategies I Use to Manage My BPD

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There are lots of lists with skills and coping mechanisms for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Skills for handling extreme emotions, stress relief, for mindfulness, meditation and self-encouragement. Some of them are really helpful but for me, some just don’t fit. As time went on, I developed skills I now want to share:

1. Playing catch.

I know to importance of exercise for stress relief, but I often cannot motivate myself to actually do it. I needed to find some low-threshold activity and eventually found myself tossing a ball with my partner. It’s playful but also physically demanding. Even more, it helps me focus and not drift off in thoughts. Furthermore, being clumsy and missing a catch brings a smile to my face.

2. Reminding myself of the “little things.”

Practicing mindfulness is a lot easier for me with a daily reminder of little beautiful things I can appreciate. I put a collage of different phrases from the “Just Little Things” blog on my wall so I do not overlook the small moments that bring me joy and happiness.

3. Writing my thoughts in third person.

Writing short stories in third person is an alternative to coping skills involving imagery exercises that may contain memories that are distressing or disturbing to me. Under a lot of tension, it is nearly impossible for me to use imagery exercises. I find it helpful to instead write about my thoughts as a third person narrator so I can distance myself from them.

4. Reading fantasy novels.

Reading a good fantasy novel about keeping evil at bay, continuous fighting and finding hope in dark places helps me a lot. Next to “The Hunger Games” and “Lord of The Rings,” the Harry Potter series is my favorite. J.K. Rowling’s books stand for encouragement and show how to live with trauma. When Albus Dumbledore tells Harry “It is our choices far more than our abilities that show what we truly are,” I felt much less burdened by my illness.

5. Listening to heavy music.

I could name hundreds of bands that are helping me to get through my struggles, but I will focus on a more popular one, Bring Me The Horizon. Listening to BMTH often fits my emotions. They are loud and aggressive as well as soft and quiet with tender melodies. They sometimes feature sounds of screams that may be intolerable to a majority of people. It seems as if their music can pick up my high level of tension, ride along with the rollercoaster of feelings and finally relieve them. It is not only their music but also their lyrics that speak to me on an emotional level.

Below is an excerpt from their song “Can You Feel My Heart” that almost perfectly sums up my feelings when my BPD is at its worst.  

I’m scared to get close and I hate being alone,

I long for that feeling to not feel at all,

The higher I get, the lower I sink,

I can’t drown my demons, they know how to swim.

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Thinkstock photo via Lanka69.

Originally published: March 23, 2017
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