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How Does BPD Affect School Performance

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Students with Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) may struggle to pursue education since they experience strong emotions that disturb concentration, have social difficulties because of emotional outbursts, and may cope by consuming alcohol, drugs, or self-harm.

BPD and academic performance

Many students with borderline may perform well in school at first, but due to their lack of sense of self, impulsive and self-destructive behavior, unstable relationships, and fear of abandonment, their performance may deteriorate over time.

The things that are going on in the life of someone with BPD greatly affect their ability to follow their education properly. If their emotions are running high, which happens quite often, it negatively impacts their chances of doing so.

People with BPD often give it their all, but when facing a small problem, their enthusiasm for education may diminish quickly, or they may become paralyzed by their fear of failing. This is due to their black-and-white thinking. It's either all or nothing. For example, when they face trouble in their relationship, it can often turn into depression or suicidal tendencies, which might cause them to fall behind in education. And for someone who thinks in black and white, failing and falling behind is not an option.

School is extra stressful for someone with BPD, and it's not unusual for them to drop out. And If they do drop out, this can cause further problems since early dropouts are vulnerable to high-risk activities. It's also very common for someone with BPD to change their degree because they can't find what they want, and their interests often change. BPD patients frequently seek purpose in everything they do. As a result, they frequently enter with enthusiasm, only to change their minds later.

BPD is nearly always accompanied by additional disorders such as ADHD, eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, or depression. This might make it difficult to concentrate and, as a result, difficult to pursue the degree.

Time management

People with BPD frequently experience tunnel vision and are unable to focus on more than one life event at a time. As a result, time management can become difficult when they are obsessed with something since it leads to procrastination.

Someone with BPD could be studying and doing their best a few weeks ago, only to have all of their interest and focus shift to a new person who enters their lives. Everyone has had a crush, and it doesn't always interfere with someone's education, but for those with BPD, a crush is someone to be obsessed with. It feels as if that person fills the emptiness that someone with BPD chronically feels. They experience obsessive thoughts for hours after every interaction and try to find meaning behind things said, and create unrealistic expectations about the situation.

You can imagine how this may affect someone's life to the point where they are unable to focus on their studies.

Dealing with negative feedback

When someone with BPD gets a bad grade or gives a wrong answer in class, they may feel stupid and worthless for the rest of the day or week. To avoid rejection or criticism, it becomes increasingly important to overperform and achieve good grades to gain positive approval/attention from others. This is also why many people with BPD are perfectionists who really do not like it when problems occur. This can eventually cause someone to burn out, which is another reason for someone with BPD to drop out of school at some point.

Some BPD students can develop the impression that their professors and classmates dislike them. This can make it extremely difficult for someone with BPD to attend class since their self-esteem is heavily impacted by how others see them.


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