The most common search term that brings people to my page is some variation of “my boss has borderline”. If that is what brought you here, this post is for you.
I don’t know what exactly brought you to search this, maybe curiosity, maybe struggles working with your boss, maybe seeking advice, maybe one of 10thousand other reasons. I’m going to do my best to give a good overview for everyone, but please feel free to post questions or comments if there is something I missed.
First, what is Borderline? There are plenty of medical explanations online so I won’t bore you with those. Best way for me to explain it is to say it’s like having an emotional paper cut in your brain. You know how you get a papercut on your finger at it’s so tiny? Then you put on hand sanitizer and holy crap that hurts! And it’s strange how something so tiny and common can hurt so bad. That is BPD. Every emotion is extreme to the point of terrible pain. Something so small can have a huge impact. Every emotion you have, a person with BPD has far stronger. And this isn’t now and again, it is 24/7, it doesn’t stop, ever.
So how do you deal with someone who has borderline, and has such an impact on your life like a manager does? Best advice I can give is to remember that everyone has something that makes work more difficult. Maybe a physical condition, maybe a mental condition, maybe family issues, maybe a learning style that is difficult to accommodate, there are so many things that can impact the way someone works. We all have something. Be patient with that persons something just as you want others to be patient with your something.
Something that is typically a question friends and family ask, but that can also apply to coworkers, is “how can I encourage them to get help?” And the answer is, you can’t. Treatment is a personal choice that cannot be forced by someone else. And BPD messes with the brain when it comes to relationships. So for many of us, having someone push for us to get treatment translates to something like “they hate me, I should give up”. Inaccurate, I know, but that’s mental illness for you. Welcome to my world.
Worst case scenario. You tried being patient, you’ve tried working things out, your exhausted and your work is less productive and less enjoyable from the stress. What do you do? Get a new job. It sucks to be put in that position, yes. But a company cannot fire on the basis of mental illness, so unless your boss quits or transfers, it’s up to you to find a team you fit better. And if you were doing really well at being patient and understanding then chances are you can transfer internally rather than moving companies if that is what you want. Also, most HR departments will do an exit interview. When asked why you left, explain that it is because of a wrong fit with your managers work style. It’s honest and helps them to consider that. If this happens frequently than the company may look at that manager to see if maybe they should be moved to a different position to avoid this in the future. But again, don’t mention mental illness. This opens up the company for a potential discrimination lawsuit, therefore making it more difficult to look into possible changes in position for that manager.
I hope this helps at least a little bit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, I am open to helping you understand this from the point of view of a Borderline as best as I can.
Update: I go into a little more detail in a second post. Please remember that you can always ask questions, and there should be the option to post them here anonymously.