If non-Borderline mental health workers are triggered by working with people with BPD then how do peer support workers with a diagnosis of BPD cope with working with Borderlines?
Triggers, both conscious and unconscious can catapult people in to the past where old issues surface and can affect how workers interact with their clients.
One of the symptoms of BPD is becoming emotionally overwrought with an inability to decrease that arousal and staying at that high level for several days. Obsessions, ruminations, delusions and even micro-psychosis around the event, always relationship driven, don’t diminish easily. When working as a peer, trigger upon trigger can occur where personal stuff gets activated, and it is not unusual for peer workers to have to leave the job they love because it can affect their own mental health.
Having worked with a therapist myself for many years, I am getting a sense of what it feels like to work with someone with low insight and sense of responsibility. It sucks, I feel devalued and the work we did together dismissed as irrelevant. Everything I have ever read about BPD countertransference and how workers feel came true.
The other part of me, understands the illness better than most, the lack of social skills, inability to find words to convey feelings, feelings of perpetual victimhood and had the utmost empathy for their inability to navigate through the dark, murky waters of BPD.
I have to differentiate my professional and my personal feelings and days after the event I am still slightly stinging from this. I went above and beyond the scope of my job description for this person. This is not unusual when working with people with BPD. They can easily evoke the “rescue gene” in me as I elicited the “rescue gene” in my therapist.
I know I did my best for this person. I know my heart was concerned only with recovery. All I can do is let go and move on and wish them all the best. Hopefully one day she will see that, like my therapist, I am not perfect, I just did my best.
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Last reviewed: 9 Aug 2014