Borderline Personality

Experience the Freedom of Living in the Present: DBT Skills Anyone Can Use

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a highly effective evidence-based treatment that was originally developed by Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (Linehan, 1993). Today, it is used for the treatment of a variety of mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, substance dependence, and eating disorders.
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Anger

Borderline To-Do List

To my psychiatrist…who questioned my motives…and was right.

I have had so many psychiatric hospitalizations. So. Many. It’s a hazard of being Borderline, and we both know it. What we DON’T know…is how to make it stop.

Several weeks ago, you and I had a talk about how I act in the hospital. We talked about the behaviors that I consistently display on the unit, and why oh WHY it is that I keep doing these “crazy” things.
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Anxiety and Panic

Productive Fidgets: 8 Ways to Deal with Anxiety and Depression

As a person with active and severe mental illness, for six months I worked with a service animal. When I weaned off of his care, I transitioned to things that would keep my hands busy, things that would keep me from absentmindedly scratching myself or picking at my skin. I tried things like Play0Doh, modeling wax, and rubbing stones, but none could engage my brain enough to keep me on track. I eventually found the missing link: they were not productive.

Once I had isolated this critical thread, I was able to pack myself a small bag of “productive fidgets” that I could carry around in a manner that is *relatively* socially innocuous while mitigating the symptoms of my anxiety and depression.
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Borderline Personality

A Letter to My Borderline Brain

Dear Borderline brain,

I know you want to go to the hospital. I know. But you are okay, you are not in crisis, and you do NOT need to be there. There will be times that you do. You remember the boy who cried wolf? This is important. Are you listening to me? It’s nice to have people take care of you, but please remember that people ARE taking care of you. Your therapist and your psychiatrist and your nutritionist and your outpatient program leader are always on your team. They are not going anywhere.
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Books

A Box Full of Darkness: Growing Up in the Shadow of BPD

Someone I loved once gave me
A box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
That this, too, was a gift.
-Mary Oliver

I can’t remember now how I ran across this poem by Mary Oliver. I saved it, because the box-full-of-darkness metaphor seemed genius. As time went by, its relevance to my experience became clearer. The poem eventually served as an epigraph for my book Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother.

First, here’s what I won’t be saying about these lines. I won’t say that all dark boxes become gifts. The loss of a child or debilitating pain or one’s own mental illness? Starvation? Violence? Are these gifts, or can they become gifts? It feels presumptuous to say so. I can speak only to my own experience, and a largely blessed and lucky experience it has been.
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Bipolar

Stop Blaming Stigma: Take Responsibility for Yourself

Stigma: A set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something (Merriam-Webster).

Let’s get the full disclosure out of the way first: I have bipolar disorder (type II, leans far more toward the depressive side than the manic) and borderline personality disorder (would take too long to explain; look it up if you like). I have been on disability for four years because of a nine-month depressive episode for which I received nine months of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It pretty much destroyed my brain. I no longer have a short-term memory of which to speak.

I can’t function in a lot of ways like I used to. I work part-time, for a psychologist who understands my many limitations and helps me work around them. But I could never go back to what I used to do in any aspect of life and expect to handle it like a normal adult.
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Anger

Moving on from Dysfunctional Relationships

Not so long ago, I joined a Facebook group for abuse survivors, in hopes of finding support and encouragement. While I was encouraged and supported in the best way an anonymous person on the Internet could be, I felt there was too much reliance on the word “narcissist.” As I tried to find intelligent solace in reading members' posts, I discovered many people playing the martyr. (I had observed that behavior in my own mother). Many of these people seeking and offering advice probably suffered from some mental or personality disorder as well.

I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have also been told I have low self-esteem. Despite my plethora of issues, I am still able to see myself and others through a clear lens.

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Anxiety and Panic

Surprise Diagnoses

When I was diagnosed with PTSD at the beginning of the year, it came as a surprise to me. I’d gone to this psychologist for a potential BPD diagnosis. I walked out with not only that, but four years' worth of PTSD as well.

It was surprising because in these four years I’d not once thought about this disorder; it never even occurred to me. But as I thought about it, letting it sink in, things started making sense. And since the diagnosis, I’ve had to think about what happened. Because I really didn’t deal with it; I'm still having trouble figuring out where to go from here.
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Borderline Personality

Always Recovering, Never Recovered

"Always recovering, never recovered." A simple sentence that can be a harsh reminder. That's not to say your efforts or how far you've gotten were for naught, but to keep getting back up when you do fall.

I've learned over the years, of course, that it's extremely important to know you are not alone. Others are struggling and surviving alongside you and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

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Borderline Personality

Strikeout

“Who is going to step up?”

How many of us recall this trite saying from our gruff high school coach? We winced every time he muttered these well-worn proverbs. But the Ol’ Ball Coach was right -- just in a different context.

As diehard fans, our attention is misplaced. We can dissect a player’s batting average against left-handed relievers during Tuesday day games. We can analyze a shooting guard’s player efficiency rating against the woebegone Sacramento Kings. We can recite the contractual language for a third-string quarterback. But if we deign to discuss sports and mental health, screamin’ Stan from the South Bronx swallows his microphone.
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Borderline Personality

Borderline Personality Disorder: Facts vs. Myths

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious psychiatric condition marked by a pattern of unstable and stormy relationships, an unformed sense of identity, chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom, unstable moods, and poor impulsive control in areas such as spending, eating, sex, and substance use.

Fear surrounding real or imagined abandonment from loved ones is a profound concern for people with BPD and often is what underlies their destructive behaviors. Some people with BPD will go to dangerous lengths to avoid this fear, for example, by becoming suicidal or engaging in self-mutilation.
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Bipolar

World Mental Health Day 2015: We Belong Together

I’m a big fan of the singer/pianist Gavin DeGraw. As a writer, I tend toward musicians who write compelling lyrics, and he does that and puts compelling melodies with them.

World Suicide Prevention Day was about a month ago. About a month before that, I spent some time in a psych hospital, trying to recover from a mixed episode. That’s a special piece of bipolar hell where you’re manic (bouncing off the ceiling) and depressed, often suicidal, at the same time. I maxed out two credit cards -- overspending is a hallmark of mania -- and yet told the ER doctor that while driving to the hospital, I kept thinking about opening the door and playing in traffic on Highway 52. Time between checking in at the admissions desk and getting a security escort to a bed on the mood disorders unit? Two and a half hours, shortest ever.

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