“There's still a belief that if you are diagnosed with a personality disorder, you are never going to recover. That's completely wrong.”
Our personality is expressed through the way we think, behave, and relate to others. It may be influenced by relationships with primary caregivers, life experiences, and our own individual nature.
By adulthood, your personality has developed with quite stable and predictable traits. Although moods can change as often as the weather, personality is like the ever-present blue sky above the clouds.
But when your long-term patterns of thinking and behaving are very different to the culture you live in, it can cause distress. It may mean you find it hard to sustain relationships or find your place in your community. If your thoughts and actions seem rigid to the point where you have trouble functioning day to day, you may have a personality disorder.
To find out whether you have this diagnosis, you will need to have an assessment with a GP, a clinical psychologist, or a psychiatrist.
Living with a mental health condition can be challenging, but you are never alone. It’s important to take the first steps in getting support.
Taking action for change
The treatments for personality disorders vary. Recovery often depends on the level of insight you have about your own challenges. Being willing to try a new way of doing things can be helpful.
Talk with a health professional such as a GP to find out more and understand the treatment options available. Talking therapies are recommended, particularly with a mental health professional who has specialised in personality. Medications can also be prescribed to treat the symptoms of some personality disorders.
Self-care is an important part of recovery. Improving the quality of your sleep and food, exercising regularly, connecting with supportive people, and doing enjoyable activities daily are some of the actions you can take towards positive change.
Helping someone with a personality disorder
Supporting someone with a personality disorder can be challenging because the person may not accept they have a problem. You can help them by learning as much as you can about the disorder and encouraging them to seek treatment with a mental health professional. Allowing time and space for the person to talk and open up about their experience, if they want to, can be helpful. Encourage their self-care through diet, exercise, and making time to relax. Help them to plan at least one enjoyable activity each day.
If you are in a close relationship with the person, it’s especially important to be patient and let them know that things can get better. Ask how you can help, encourage treatment, and accept that progress will take time.
Looking after yourself
While caring for someone is rewarding, it can be physically and emotionally challenging. Don’t forget to take some time to look after your own mental health and wellbeing.