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Adolescents & Borderline Personality Disorder

As a parent of a hormonal teen, it's extremely common to find yourself asking "is this normal teenage behavior, or is it something more."

Until recently it wasn't believed to be possible to diagnose #BPD before the age of 18. However, recent studies have found that not only is it possible, but it's vital. During our early teenage years, the brain is still developing and our thought patterns have not become firmly rooted yet. For this reason, it is far easier to form new thought patterns as a young adult than it is in our mid-twenties, thirties, and later on in life. The longer we think a certain way, the harder it is to learn a new way of thinking.

When we think, we do most of it on a subconscious level. We are used to the way we interpret the world around us and everything in it. We know what we like and what we don't like, without having to think it through at all. This is our subconscious mind. It has its patterns formed and runs off them like clockwork. For example, if someone cuts us off in traffic we don't stop and think "I want to get mad about this," we just react. Not to say everyone has road rage, but we each have our own triggers.

The sooner we start forming healthy thought patterns the easier it will be.

Not only is it possible to diagnose #BPD in adolescents, but it's vital.

The following are some indicators to start with that could signal that your child's behavior is more than just "normal teenage behavior."

One indicator is if your child is self-injurious. While some do this just as a phase, or because their friends are doing it, if it persists there is a big problem. Adolescents who try this for no other reason than because their friends tried it will generally stop within the first few instances because, well, it hurts. If they continue, they have found that it's a way to relieve internal pain and it helps to regulate their intense emotions. However, it's not a healthy method.

While suicidal attempts and self-injuring are two very different things, self-injuring (NSSI - Non-Suicidal Self Injury) increases their likelihood of attempting suicide three times over.

Not everyone with #BPD will engage in self-injury, while others without #BPD will. This is not a determining factor, just one of many indicators to watch closely for.

Another indicator is if they have a lot of problems in their close relationships. Parents, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. If they switch from idealizing to devaluing the people they are closest to, this is a back-and-forth battle between not knowing who they really are (mirroring and idealizing) and self-preservation (I'll push you away before you can abandon or hurt me.) Adolescents with #BPD don't have a very solid sense of self, if any at all, so they often mirror those around them. This isn't so much to fit in as it is their way of trying to figure out who they are.

While multiple sexual partners is becoming more and more common, there is a difference in exploring as your hormones change and using sexual encounters as a way to feel more desired and loved. Often times a Borderline will use sex as a way to hold onto someone they fear will abandon them. They can also be highly impulsive and use these encounters as a way to try and curb intense emotions in the moment. If they are "dumped" they could run into the arms of the very next opportunity they find just to ease the feelings they are having of not being wanted. Those intense and very unpleasant feelings can quickly spiral into self-loathsome and self-hate. "There's something wrong with me, or I'm unlovable."

The best way to distinguish between normal teenage behavior and #BPD is to look at the reason behind the behavior. Are they experimenting in their development, or is there a deeper reason?

Drinking, drugs, driving recklessly, and defiance; all commonly occur in adolescence. However, the reasons for these actions can be very different. For example, a teenager testing the limits of their first car, or racing with friends is far different than a teenager who is using a dangerous activity as a way to cope with emotions or feel more alive.

There are hardly, if any, cases of adults with #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder that did not have symptoms as adolescents.

Adolescents with #BPD struggle with emotional regulation and often their reactions don't fit the situation. Whether they realize it's an overreaction or not (this can be learned) they do have the emotion to contend with. Validation of what they are feeling is one of the most effective ways of dealing with these emotional reactions.

Validation is not agreeing with or feeling the same as; it's acknowledging someone else's truth.

Teaching self-validation through your own validation of your child is probably the most beneficial thing you can do for them yourself. Validation is not saying "I understand" or "I agree with" it is accepting another's point of view as their own even if it doesn't match yours. We are all individuals with our own thoughts and feelings. Not encouraging this individuality can lead to an even further lack of their sense of self and self-doubt. Validation communicates your acceptance of them and encourages their acceptance of themselves. It shows you accept the truth that is real for them, even if you don't agree with or understand it yourself.

One of the main comments people with #BPD make is that they don't feel understood. Validation, more than anything, can help them start to feel seen, heard, and understood. When they start to feel this way, they can start thinking with a new mindset. One that builds them into a stronger more self-assured version of themselves.

Early treatment of BPD is the quickest route to recovery.

Treating #BPD in your adolescent is vital and the best way we currently have for the treatment and regression of #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. #DBT

Thank you for sharing your time with me today!

-Borderline Brooke


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Thanks for stopping by!

Hey! My name is Brooke. 

I'm a Borderline diagnosed at the age of 17; a full-time employee and mother of 4. 

I've decided it's time, though I have a busy schedule, to make time to share what I've learned about BPD not only from my research but from living with the disorder myself. 

I created this blog to help others with Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as those who have someone in their life that suffers from BPD.​

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