Does BPD ever get better? Will everything always be the devastation and earth shattering crisis that it seemed to be in my teens and 20’s?
Yes, it does/can get better. No, things do not always have to be this way. This is based entirely on the individual though.
I’ve received correspondence from many people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s that still suffer with the more intense problems of Borderline Personality Disorder. These are often people that haven’t received any help, sufficient treatment, or had trouble acquiring any kind of treatment or support at all.
From my experience I can’t say that Borderline Personality Disorder will just spontaneously get better on its own. Over time the severity of symptoms is likely to diminish but they may not go away entirely. I think this is due, in part, to life experience. When a person reaches a certain age, by virtue of experience and having lived through so many situations they can recognize that all the traumatic feelings that they experience are feelings they’ve had before, and despite how they feel, see the pattern that things don’t turn out as terribly as they feared, or that they are in fact, capable of coping with the results of what do happen.
Then there’s also the fact that the human body and psyche can only handle so much. It can only deal with so much constant bombardment of adrenaline boosting anxiety and pain before it starts to wear down. Or build up a tolerance. When you’ve been exposed to something for so long, the body adapts. It’s a basic principle of existence. Adapt or die.
Constantly fighting the pain, tears, and trauma is exhausting. Eventually the body builds up a little tolerance to all the things that create such distress and while things may still cause anxiety and panic, the intensity of those emotions no longer reaches the same heights. The body, the mind, the spirit… gets tired. And tougher.
Like scar tissue for the mind. It’s not to say that the pain won’t eventually come through, but it doesn’t penetrate quite as easily. Which still doesn’t sound incredibly encouraging.
However! That’s the theory for those with BPD that have never accepted or found support or tried to work through the disordered thinking that we have to deal with. The odds of having your Borderline Personality Disorder improve rises drastically and dramatically when you are able to admit there is a problem, seek help, support, and/or therapy, and actively work to tame the wild beast that is the Borderline Personality.
You don’t have to tell me that this is easier said than done. You don’t have to tell me that there are times when therapy feels futile and it seems like nothing will ever improve. Trust me, I’ve been there. I still have those days. But those feelings pass. You’re kind of on this journey with me. I still have my bad days. I have a lot of my bad days. But I have many more good days as well. Days without panic, without anxiety, without depression. Days with happiness! Or just contentment. Those feelings are so foreign to me that it’s hard for me to recognize them at first. By the simple fact that I have had days like that, days where my world wasn’t shrouded in darkness, proves to me that even though things may not be perfect, things most certainly can get better.
The choice is yours. That’s the important thing to remember. Blaming our parents, blaming our exes, blaming the world around us, regardless of whether or not our circumstances are our fault, does not help. I certainly blamed my Evil-Ex for the years of trauma and unhappiness I had to deal with when I was with him. But blaming him isn’t going to make my situation better. Blaming him isn’t going to suddenly make him take it all back and try to fix my life for me. That’s never going to happen. It wasn’t fair, but life usually isn’t. The only one that can decide to make my life better, is me. It sucks that things have to be so hard. It’s a shitty hand to be dealt, but it’s the only hand we have. We can let the murk mire us in thoughts of self-pity, blame, and loathing… perpetuating a cycle of dismal depression and anxiety, or we can decide to make a change.
In time, things may get a little better on their own, but frankly, I’m sick of waiting, and I don’t have a lot of faith that the world is suddenly going to smile on me and decide that I’ve dealt with enough shit for one person already. Borderline Personality Disorder can absolutely improve with age, but the amount of improvement is directly proportional to the amount of effort you are willing to put forth.
I’ve seen a lot of “studies” and read a lot of testimony from therapists and social workers that say in X amount of years they’ve never seen improvement for BPD. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that these people probably were not skilled or trained in the very recent developments that create real change for those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Therapists/clinicians are people too, and certain types of people are simply not equipped to deal with someone that can be more difficult to pinpoint their problems. That’s why we have specialized therapy now. Major, MAJOR, strides have been made in therapy specifically meant for us. Don’t let these limited perspectives discourage you. They usually don’t have the kind of knowledge or experience to give an inclusive opinion.
The other thing that I’ve noticed people focus on is the distinction between what improves. Many say the ‘symptoms’ of BPD often improve; the self-harm, the suicidal ideation, the paranoia, impulsivity… but how about the instability in relationships? That’s a different kind of symptom. That first group of symptoms are internal to the one person suffering with BPD. However, relationships take two. It seems more broadly agreed upon while the individuals symptoms may improve, things like abandonment and dependency issues are longer lasting. Again, this is all dependent on the individual, what kind of help they seek, and how much effort they put into their own recovery.
I can’t promise that all symptoms of BPD will eventually go away. I can’t promise that everything will one day be healed and no longer any issue at all, even with therapy and dedication. I can say that I am entirely optimistic that these things can all become manageable and not the monsters we know them to be.
BPD is not something that is going to get better in days, weeks or months. Hell, even years may be an estimate that is too conservative. I’m going on a year and a half of intense therapy and medication and I’m far from ‘recovered’, but my Therapist tells me every week that she can see improvements. What’s more though, is I FEEL better.
Without acknowledging the issue that is BPD there may be little to no improvement for decades. Even with active acknowledgement and intense effort improvement can take years. I don’t mean to be discouraging, but I do mean to be realistic. You know me. I don’t sugar coat anything. That’s not why I do this. Think about this: In a world where it is now common to live into our 80’s and 90’s, isn’t taking a year or two to really focus on ourselves, worth it? If we can have 40, 50, 60 years of living that is more content and happy than what we currently know, isn’t the long term pay off worth the struggle and introspection?
Taking care of our mental health is no different than taking care of our physical health. If you eat nothing but junk food, load up on soda, and smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day your body is going to be pissed and reward you with a heart attack by the time you’re 40. If you eat healthy, exercise, get a good amount of sleep and don’t abuse your body… in other words; work on taking care of yourself, your odds of living a long and productive life vastly improve.
Whether Borderline Personality Disorder improves or worsens with age, is up to you.