The Role of Responsibility in Borderline PD Recovery

July 13, 2021 Kate Beveridge

When I had few responsibilities, I could afford to mope at home, overindulge on substances, and be generally destructive. However, now that I have greater purpose and obligations, my borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms are much less severe. Therefore, I believe that responsibility has an important role in BPD recovery. 

Avoiding Responsibility with BPD

I tried to escape from my BPD symptoms for a long time. I didn't understand why I felt so intensely, and it felt like the emotions were tearing me apart from the inside. Therefore, I would numb them with alcohol, drugs, and harmful and impulsive behaviors. These symptoms were at their peak in my early 20s, and I did little to manage them.

I also had few responsibilities during this time. I had part-time work, but it was a customer service role that didn't require much brainpower beyond smiling and other social niceties. University was another obligation, but I realized quickly that there were no real consequences to not showing up to classes. Sure, I would have to drop out because of poor attendance, but it didn't affect anyone but me.

During this time, I had no real motivation to get better. I knew that I didn't want to feel the way that I did, but I lacked the tools and incentive to make significant changes. So, I continued in my self-destructive patterns and made small amounts of progress but no significant recovery. 

Embracing Responsibility in BPD Recovery

I have noticed that my BPD symptoms are significantly less severe now that I have more responsibilities and a greater sense of purpose. With a husband and two dogs, I need to work to provide for my small family. I was also the sole provider in this family for several months during the pandemic, so I had that additional responsibility on my shoulders. 

Although it is more mentally challenging to have more obligations and concerns, it also takes energy away from my self-destructiveness. I cannot afford to perform badly at work or spend days in bed. I now have responsibilities beyond myself, and they motivate me to improve and continue with my recovery and day-to-day life. 

I also notice that my depression is much lower. Before, I felt like I had no purpose or value. These feelings were partly because of my suffocating mental state and partly because I felt like I was floundering with no direction. I never imagined that I would live past my early 20s, and I never made plans very far into the future. Now that I have a clearer view of the future and greater purpose, I feel more valuable and stable. 

I do not believe that taking on more responsibilities is the sole reason for my recovery. I have also benefited from discovering my inner child and learning to be more compassionate toward myself. However, responsibility has been one of the defining factors that propel me forward in life and keeps me from regressing in my mental health journey. 

Do you notice that having more responsibility helps or hinders your BPD recovery? Let me know in the comments section below.

APA Reference
Beveridge, K. (2021, July 13). The Role of Responsibility in Borderline PD Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Kate Beveridge

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October, 21 2021 at 1:55 pm

My brother was recently diagnosed with bpd and just the word responsibility is a big trigger for those surrounding him, taking care of him. They believe it's their responsibility to know what he needs or doesn't need or what to protect him from... that he can't be responsible for himself because of his mental state. Even just passing information along for him to decide what to do with is wrong because it may trigger him.... and that its our responsibility to just know... not his responsibility to communicate to let us know. And if at anytime we we get it wrong, and he's tiggered, its our mistake.
I don't clearly understand our role in all this. Are we hurting or helping him by taking on all the responsibility? Is he incapable of being responsible for himself? Please... any insight?

Lizanne Corbit
July, 13 2021 at 7:04 pm

This is an excellent point, "it also takes energy away from my self-destructiveness." Responsibility can sometimes be shied away from by those in recovery or those around the individual. We think we don't want to overwhelm or overtax, but as you point out responsibility can actually be a fantastic tool and benefit. Sometimes we need that extra weight because it gives us something to focus on and allows us to feel accomplished when we rise to the challenge.

July, 14 2021 at 11:38 am

Hi Lizanne,
Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. I agree it can be a fine line between overwhelming with responsibility and giving a sense of accomplishment. Early in my therapy process, my psychologist used to give me basic tasks (leave the house, shower, etc) to do every day so that I could re-introduce routine and challenge myself. Now, I have the capacity to take on and appreciate the higher-level responsibilities.

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