If you feel suicidal
Our page on suicidal feelings includes practical tips on what you can do right now to help yourself cope. If you don't feel able to keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help:
- call 999 or call NHS Direct on 111 (England) or 0845 46 47 (Wales)
- call Samaritans on freephone 116 123 (open 24 hours a day)
- go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department
- ring your GP or out of hours service for an emergency appointment
- contact your Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)
- use our 'I need urgent help' tool.
If you experience BPD you might feel like every day is a struggle, but in fact there are lots of things that could help, both now and in the longer term:
What can I do now?
When I am in a really irritating and triggering situation which I can't get out of or change I just take it five minutes at a time. Breaking it into bite-size pieces makes it possible.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, it might help to focus on one feeling at a time. Here are some ideas that you could try to see if they work for you. Different things work at different times for different people, so try to be kind to yourself if some things don’t work for you. Over time, you might develop your own tips to add to this list too.
How you're feeling
What you could do to get through it
angry, frustrated, restless
- rip up a newspaper
- hit a pillow
- throw ice cubes into the bath so they smash
- do some vigorous exercise
- listen to loud music
- do a practical activity like gardening or woodwork.
See our page on how to manage anger for more tips.
depressed, sad, lonely
- wrap up in a blanket and watch your favourite tv show
- write all your negative feelings on a piece of paper and tear it up
- listen to a song or piece of music you find uplifting
- write a comforting letter to the part of yourself that is feeling sad or alone
- cuddle a pet or a soft toy.
See our page on self-care for depression for more tips.
anxious, panicky, tense
- make yourself a hot drink and drink it slowly, noticing the taste and smell, the shape of the mug and its weight in your hand
- take ten deep breaths, counting each one out loud
- write down everything you can think of about where you are right now, such as the time, date, colour of the walls and the furniture in the room
- take a warm bath or shower – this can help change your mood by creating a soothing atmosphere and a distracting physical sensation.
See our page on self-care for anxiety and panic attacks for more tips.
dissociative, spaced out
- chew a piece of ginger or chili
- clap your hands and notice the stinging sensation
- drink a glass of ice cold water.
See our page on self-care for dissociative disorders for more tips.
wanting to self-harm
- rub ice over where you want to hurt yourself
- stick sellotape or a plaster on your skin and peel it off
- take a cold bath.
See our page on helping yourself cope with self-harm for more tips.
I have found meditation/listening to a tape on meditation and mindfulness very helpful on occasions.
What can I do in the longer term?
If you experience BPD you might feel like every day is a struggle, but in fact there are lots of things that could help. You could:
With time, you do learn to cope with [BPD] better. I have struggled for 15 years, but every year I seem to get stronger and better at coping with it!
Talk to someone
It can be hard to reach out when you’re not feeling well, but it might help to share difficult thoughts. If you don’t feel you can talk to the people around you, you could try contacting a helpline. For example, you can talk to Samaritans for free on 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org about anything that’s upsetting you. (See our page on telephone support for more information about different helplines.)
I now work within mental health and am trying to break the stigma. I still self-harm and have suicidal ideation but I have hope. I think trying to live using the recovery drivers of CHIME (Connections, Hope, Identity, Meaning and Empowerment) really helped me.
Keep a mood diary
Recording your moods in a diary could help you spot patterns in what triggers difficult experiences for you, or notice early signs that they are beginning to happen.
You could also make a note of what's going well. It's really important to be kind to yourself and recognise difficult steps you’ve taken, or new things you’ve tried.
If I am feeling very bad but can't put into words how I feel or why, I wear a particular bracelet. My closest friends and family know that this means I am having a rough time at the moment and might need some TLC.
Plan for difficult times
If you're feeling less well you might not be able to tell people what help you want, so it could be helpful to plan ahead.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in healthcare – recommends that everyone with BPD has a crisis plan. This should include possible triggers, self-help strategies and details for getting support, and should be shared with you and your GP.
(See our on planning for a crisis and making a support plan for more information).
Sometimes I have good periods where my symptoms don’t really trouble me – at other times, they can be overwhelming. It’s sometimes hard not to beat myself up for the relapses, but that’s something I need to keep working on. It’s ok to struggle sometimes.
Make a self-care box
You could put together some things that might help you when you’re struggling – a bit like making a first-aid kit for your mental health.
- favourite books, films or CDs
- a stress ball or fiddle toy
- helpful sayings or notes of encouragement
- pictures or photos you find comforting
- a soft blanket or cosy slippers
- a nice-smelling candle or lavender bag.
Watch Madeline talk about her self-care box, which contains all sorts of things that help her when she's going through tough times with her mental health: