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Borderline personality disorder

Self-care for borderline personality disorder

To get well, you must be involved in your treatment. There are some things you can do:

  • Work with your treatment provider (and partner or family, if appropriate) to make a plan to manage your BPD.
  • Make sure you attend your appointments.
  • Talk about things that worry you with your treatment provider.
  • Let them help you make changes to your daily life and choices.
  • Do any tasks or ‘homework’ that are part of your psychological treatment.
  • Be honest about your BPD. Think and analyse so that you start to understand your crises or what makes you harm yourself.
  • Learn how to manage your emotions, impulses and relationships. Learn ways to cope instead of harming yourself.
  • Keep on trying until you can take control of your life and mental health.
  • Get reliable information. Some of the information about BPD that you may find on the internet is misleading. Ask your psychiatrist (or other therapist) for reliable information about BPD treatment and recovery.
  • Make a safety plan to get through bad times.

Coping with bad times

You might have times when everything seems too much to cope with and you feel extremely distressed. This is called having a crisis.

If you see health professionals during a crisis, they will focus on the ‘here and now’. During a crisis is not the best time to start an in-depth discussion about past experiences or relationship problems. It is usually better for you to deal with those issues later during your usual treatment with your main treatment provider.

Even when you are experiencing strong emotions, you should stay involved in finding solutions to your problems. This means the people who are treating you for your BPD will not make all your decisions for you. They will ask you for your ideas and expect you to join in making plans to get well.

Planning to keep yourself safe

Have a plan for what to do when you feel in crisis – things to do to keep yourself safe, including when to contact emergency services. This type of plan is sometimes called a safety plan.

A safety plan helps you think clearly when you are distressed. When you are well, and with the help of your treatment provider, you should write down a plan that you can follow when you need it. You can also give a copy to your partner or family.

Ask the main health professional who treats your BPD to work with you to make a safety plan. It should be included in your management plan as a special section.

Tools to help you make a plan are available from:

Information that should be in your safety plan

  • Your personal goals for treatment and problems that you are working on, including a list of short-term goals and long-term goals.
  • Situations that make you feel unsafe or distressed enough to cause a crisis.
  • Things that you can do to get through a crisis – this could be strategies that you have used before that have helped you survive and won’t harm you.
  • Things that you should not do during a crisis – list things that you have tried before during a crisis that did not work or made things worse.
  • Things that your partner or family can do for you that will help you.
  • People you can contact for help during a crisis – list phone numbers of people who support you (e.g. your partner or a family member, your psychiatrist, case worker, school counsellor, GP) or organisations that can help (e.g. Lifeline, emergency services, a mental health line).


Psychoeducation helps people with BPD (and their partner or family) understand the illness. Psychoeducation programs explain about symptoms, treatment options, recovery, and services that can help. You can do psychoeducation as well as your main psychological treatment.

You can have psychoeducation individually or in groups. It can include written information, videos, websites, meetings, or discussions with your doctor or another trained mental health worker.

Ask your doctor if any programs are available in your region.

Support that involves families

Your family can help you understand your diagnosis and learn how to support you in your treatment. Try to include your family in your management plan, if you can. Make sure you nominate which family member/s or friend/s your treatment provider can talk to, and make sure this is recorded in your notes.

It is easier for you and for your family when all of you have the same information about your condition and the choice of treatment. If you can all understand each other, you can work towards the same goal of your recovery.

Family psychoeducation programs help with communication and problem-solving. Family psychoeducation is also good for family members. It can be very distressing to see someone you love become unwell with BPD.

You can ask for written information about your treatment (including medication and psychological treatment) to show your family or partner.

What if I have kids?

BPD might make it feel hard to be a parent, but you can still be a good parent.

The best things you can do for your children are to keep working on your treatment to get well, and to shield them as much as possible from the effects of BPD.

If you feel that you need help with parenting, a parenting program could help you learn skills. Ask your psychiatrist or another health professional to help.

If you have a baby, your baby should stay with you even if you need to go to hospital.

Page last reviewed Apr 2017 | C1038V1

This is a general guide only, and does not replace individual medical advice. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. The RANZCP is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information. Subject matter experts, people with lived experience of mental illness and carers all contributed to this fact sheet.