The First Steps are the Hardest: Understanding Young Adults with BPD  

By
August 16, 2016

Colors In Us series. Composition of Human profiles and swirls of colorful paint on the subject of emotion, passion, desire, feelings, inner world, imagination and creativity

When it comes to psychological or emotional problems, the first steps to get better will always be the hardest, but when a patient diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a younger adult, the first steps can seem almost impossible. Perhaps, the answer to the treatment of BPD in young adults lies partially in a familial understanding of just why overcoming the initial hurdles is such a difficult challenge for people in the age group between 17 and 28. If you have a child or relative who is struggling with BPD at this often precarious stage in life, there are a few things you should know about why your loved one may seem so resilient to therapy or even nonchalant about being ill at all.

  • Young adults are at a somewhat immature stage of their illness: People can live for years with BPD before they really come to grips with how this mental illness affects their outlook, and even older patients still may have a difficult time with regulating what they are thinking and feeling. A young adult is still in the juvenile stages of psychological development, even though they may be a fully-grown adult. Plus, the majority of patients are not diagnosed with BPD until they are well into their teens or early twenties, so many times, young adults are just getting used to the idea that something is actually truly wrong.
  • Younger patients have a need for family attention when diagnosed with BPD: A recent article in Psychology Today about young adults with BPD explains the outlook of these patients well. Adults suffering with BPD are basically in the same mindset of an abandoned child, constantly seeking that missing attention, whether it is through dramatic outbursts or otherwise. BPD is commonly associated with interruptions in the developmental process as a child when the child felt unimportant or disregarded. Knowing this is crucial because as a family member, you must be able to provide a fostering environment to someone who feels as though you are caring and tentative to their emotions, no matter how extreme they may be.
  • BPD sufferers at a young age see the world in black and white: People with BPD suffer from Splitting: a tendency to see the world in only black and white at every level: You are either with them to conquer their problems or you are a complete enemy who doesn’t care at all. Because of this outlook, it can be difficult for a young adult to see any form of treatment as anything other than someone who is out to get them. Because treatment can involve changing perceptions, a young adult with BPD may feel like someone is not understanding of how they feel and, therefore, an enemy. This is one reason why it is crucial to find a professional who has experience with treating BPD because it is definitely a delicate balance.