Stop Walking on Eggshells, Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul T. Mason, M.S. and Randi Kreger, is for the friends and family members of people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This is a self help book to teach non-BP (people caring about a BPD sufferer) to understand the condition, to enable them to help their loved ones find effective treatment, and to encourage them to stop feeling as though they are "walking on eggshells" to avoid confrontations with BPD sufferers. It is designed to help them understand how the disorder affects their loved one and recognize what they can do to get off the emotional rollercoaster while still remaining in the relationship. Much like Al-Anon helps friends and families of alcoholics, the aim of the authors is not to encourage "fixing" the person with BPD but give tips on what a non-BP can do to make their own life more manageable while maintaining a relationship with a BP.
In the first part of the book, BPD is defined and many facets of BPD behavior are delineated. There is also a chapter devoted to how BPD behavior affects non-BPs. Non-BP friends and family members often go through five common stages of grief as they learn to deal with their BP-loved-one. Non-BPs also experience many predictable reactions to BP behavior. Ten of the most common are addressed in order to make the non-BP aware of their own behavior.
The second part of the book addresses steps that can be taken by the non-BP to retake control of their life. This includes getting support, learning to not take BPD behavior personally and taking care of themselves. It goes on to explain how to identify BP triggers and develop coping strategies to set limits. It offers suggestions on how to defuse the BP anger and criticism by developing noncombative communication skills. It then explains how clear, consistent and confident communication can help avoid confrontation, and continues to suggest that having a safety plan is a necessary final resort.
The third section tackles special issues. First it discusses borderline children and what to do as the parent of one. It then addresses identifying and defusing "distortion campaigns," in which BPs falsely accuse non-BPs of harassment or abuse. Finally, it offers a roadmap to help decide whether to stay in the relationship.
Using direct quotes from BPs and non-BPs alike, the authors use real-world feelings and experiences to illustrate their points. It is equally heart-wrenching to learn how a BP feels as it is to read about the thoughts and reactions of non-BPs. "My days and thoughts are not consumed by plans of how to push which button in whom. My actions are about survival and preserving my identity; they are not some a preplanned sporting activity," says one BP. From the non-BP message board the authors reveal, "Living with a BP is like living in a pressure cooker with thin walls and a faulty safety valve;" and "Living with all BP is like living in a perpetual oxymoron. It's a seemingly endless host of contradictions." "I feel like I've been through the spin cycle on a washing machine. The world is whirling around and I have no idea which way is up, down, or sideways." Many more similar quotes are liberally sprinkled throughout the book.
The book ends with four appendices. "Causes and Treatment of BPD" explains in greater detail the science behind BPD, medications and therapy used in its treatment, and a short summary on the outcomes of such treatments. "Tips for Non-BPs Who Have BPD" discusses relationships involving two BP-sufferers, whether it's a parent-child relationship or a romantic relationship. The book ends with "Coping Suggestions for Clinicians" and "Resources."
All in all, this book brings a deeper understanding of the term "Borderline Personality Disorder" and offers a succinct but comprehensive look at BP-sufferers, those who love them and how to live with the unpredictability of the disease.