You or some-one you care about has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I hope you have heard by now that BPD is highly treatable! Now you can finally get on with living a good life! I can tell you from my experience, that once you get over the initial shock of finding out that you have a brain disorder, things start to get better as you realize how nice the treatment is and how we finally have a place you belong!
I was thinking, when I was diagnosed, that having a mental illness confirmed what I had already suspected, that the culmination of all my pain and suffering would be my becoming a homeless person that no one cared about or wanted to be with. I felt REALLY sorry for myself, and yes, I believe, I was entitled to be able to wallow in some self pity for a bit. But quickly I found out that FINALLY I had an answer, a treatment and a cure! Hurray!
So, here is where I suggest you start: find out good sources of information, number one, and then with that information, find good treatment options and good support.
First, begin with research.
Now, this is the first thing I’m going to tell you about research: beware of what you read on the web! There are some There are a lot of angry people out there whose approach, in my opinion, is not helpful to any of us. We are in this together, and there is a lot of empirical evidence and compassionate advice that is beneficial to concentrate on for our healing.
If you are a reader, my favorite books are: New Hope for People with Borderline Personality Disorder by Dr. Neil R. Bockian and BPD Demystified by Dr. Robert Friedel. These books offer multiple treatment options, including traditional and alternative treatments, as well as useful information on self-help and the family perspective. Dr. Friedel, while professional and clinical in his approach, has a section on his relationship with his sister, Denise, who had BPD, and it helps me feel validated to know his passion for his work is fueled by his emotions towards his sister. These books can be read by consumers and supporters as well.
If you are a supporter, you may have figured out on your own that we consumers are very sensitive to what you say to us. There is a reason for that, and I’ll point out right here that the flip side to us getting upset about things so easily is that we feel all emotions deeply, including our love for you. But, I digress…because we feel so deeply, especially early in our recovery, there are some things that a supporter can read that a consumer possibly could not. One of those books is Stop Walking on Eggshells. If you are a supporter and are looking for answers on how the heck to talk to us (quick!), there is a chapter on communicating with us that is right on!
Next, get in to effective treatment.
I’ll tell you in a nutshell, to save you a lot of time, what the current thought is on treatment. For some of us medication is helpful and for some not necessary. For all of us therapy is essential, and if your therapist doesn’t know how to treat BPD, she may be doing more harm than good, so find one who knows your disorder! For all of us, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills training can be enormously helpful and downright awesome!
Some of the things you will learn are how to effectively regulate your emotions and how to avoid black and white thinking.
Find yourself some support.
The illness usually forces sufferers into social isolation, which only compounds the symptoms. Part of your healing will be to slowly get back into life. Once you have learned some basic skills, you will be able to tolerate social interactions, and will grow to enjoy them once more. The key is to finding people who understand and are supportive of you, right where you are.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has support groups that encompass all brain disorders. BPD is a newcomer to their list of disorders, so some chapters may be more helpful than others. However, many Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers are diagnosed with multiple illnesses, so NAMI may be a supportive environment for a range of disorders.
I recommend the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) for your family members. They are an informed, passionate and helpful organization who offer the Family Connections class at a price that can’t be beat. This class will help those you love to understand your illness and teach skills to be more effective in their relationship with you.
Keep your mind open to possibilities.
If you can’t afford or can’t find a particular solution, there will be another one! It’s NOT black or white…there are many options. And be encouraged! Things can get better now!