A difficult few days | Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD

What do you do when you've been going along fine, feeling mentally well, and feeling stable -- when suddenly, as if out of nowhere (though you later discover there was, as Dr. Marsha Linehan says, "cause"), you have an episode, and it feels like you've backtracked?

This is going to be a long one. Writing is my therapy, and if just ONE person is encouraged by this post, it's all worth it to me.

Before I even get further into this blog post, I want to take a moment to sincerely and from the bottom of my heart thank my readers. Last night (in the middle of the morning, really), I chose to reach out on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, essentially being open and honest about this current, very difficult struggle I am experiencing.

Moments after I did it, I wondered if it was impulsive. If I'd regret it.  I felt momentarily humiliated at my own hands -- after all, aren't I the one who writes primarily about wellness and feeling better even though I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder?

As I began to notice the shame rising up, I fortunately had a glimpse of Wise Mind, which allowed me to think about how my THOUGHTS were affecting me. I also read a tweet from another BPD sufferer, urging me to keep in mind something I'd recently told several others who were going through a difficult time: "A thought is JUST a thought."  Others said, "Breathe, this too shall pass," sent hugs, or other encouraging, loving, and kind words, such as that my willingness to be so open about this struggle has given them the courage to also reach out and seek help in the midst of their current suffering.

My fears and thoughts about how people who have been following my journey and sharing their own would be suddenly sabotaged -- that they'd see me for the imperfect being that I am and no longer "like me," that they'd reject me -- I recognized that as an old tape.  Sure, there may be some who are in a place where hearing about another's suffering is too triggering, and I honor and respect that.  

In this post, when I get to the triggers, I will use the courier type font to distinguish it, allowing you to skip over that section if you need to do that to take care of yourself. If that's the case, Please Do!  I will wrap up with some thoughts not discussing the triggers, including a self care plan, which I feel I truly need right now.

HIGH Trigger Alert Starts (I will let you know when it ends)
A number of issues set me off these past few days, including:
  • Un-mindfully watched not one but TWO movies, out of extreme boredom, even though I was well aware that the subject matter could be triggering. I figured I'd been doing well and could turn away, block my ears, etc. during difficult parts. Well, this wasn't enough. It's about to get graphic. In one of the movies, a beautiful young college girl agrees to be fondled under heavy sedation in exchange for large sums of money from a prostitution house that coordinates everything. Although there is a rule of no penetration, I went into several PTSD flashbacks as disgusting, perfected men treated he body with no regard, calling her horrendous names, licking her face, burning her ear, and dropping her on her head. It was SICK!!! Yet, I continued to watch it, feeling dirty and violated, as I had when I was in my early 20s and was sexually assaulted and then somehow was convinced to continue engaging in self-degrading acts with that person. He was older, and the guy who was doing the lewd face licking, names, and burning her ear reminded me so much of him. I'd worked so hard for YEARS to convince myself I wasn't that girl (always knowing of course, that I was, but making that disconnect and being in denial helped me to move on with my life and not be constantly devastated by it), but pieces have been surfacing, along with emotions that are difficult to hold and process, and this movie just sent it into full speed. Maybe I was hoping to have a break though? Who knows what was going through my mind, but it certainly wasn't Wise. Which brings me to other movie I watched, which starred Mariah Carey. I like her, so I thought I could handle it. The gruesome violence, again, literally had me sick to my stomach. These were NOT wise choices, and now I am paying the price with suffering emotionally and needing to work through this.
  • My boyfriend and I haven't had many opportunities to connect during this 24 days away trip of his (6 days left), since he hasn't had the best access to cellular and internet. All kinds of thoughts, fears, insecurities, etc. have been racing through my head. Most of all, I worry that he has completely stopped loving me (crying now as I write this part) and that, perhaps, being away from me for so long opened his eyes to how peaceful his life could be not having to deal with me and my mental illness. I know he's been frustrated when I've had backsliding moments and his expressed his inability and lack of desire to cope with these episodes. Last night, when I had a headache and was sick to my stomach several times, I thought to try to get a hold of him, but as desperate and terrified as I felt being alone and not feeling (yet another trigger I've written about in the past), I just couldn't do it. I knew that hearing him upset would only further my anxiety and despair.
  • My Mom has an illness that is getting worse. I've also been in denial about this, and it's difficult for me to visit her. Not because she lives across the country, but because she chooses to stay with an abusive boyfriend, is getting kicked out of yet another place of living, drinks on the weekends (heavily), and there is just a lot of drama within the family otherwise. I miss her. I love her. I care about her, and I know I need to spend time with her. I'm just not sure how to do it and feel safe.
  • Last week a coworker showed up to work drunk and belligerent and abusive - not to me, but right in front of me to my colleagues. I blogged about this as well. Definite trigger.
  • My job has had some slow days. Seeing that I was unemployed for nearly 1.5 years already once in my life, I've been very anxious about the slow days, freaking out that my boss will come into my office and ask what I am working on. I've been making a good effort to have a list, to do busy work, and to voluntarily help in other departments, but the fear is still strong and upsetting.
  • Appetite is now affected, since I got my whole nervous system all shook up.
END Trigger Alert 

The ways I've taken care of myself so far are:

  • Wise Mind: I am challenging my thoughts, especially intensely, emotionally charged thoughts.  I am reminding myself that a Thought is, in fact, JUST A THOUGHT.
  • Mindfulness: Last night, I did a mindfulness exercise where I literally spoke out each and every move as I did it. This kept me in the present moment and helped a lot.  For example:
    • I'm placing the shower spout back up on its hook
    • I'm turning off the shower water off
    • I'm pulling the shower curtain to the side
    • I'm reaching for my face cloth
    • I'm drying my face with the face cloth
    • I'm putting the face cloth back
    • I'm reaching for the towel
      At this point, you get it. It's also interesting to do this exercise and see how many of the details we ordinarily gloss over and do on automatic pilot.
  • I did deep breathing to help calm my nervous system
  • I listened to a guided hypnosis CD, and although I could not focus, the familiar sounds on the track and the guider's voice were soothing and helped me to stop hyperventilating, which was great.
  • My stomach was very hungry, but I mentally did not have an appetite. I still listened to my body's need and SLOWLY had a 1/2 glass of milk, 2 pieces of toast, and took my meds (which require that they be taken with food.)
  • I cuddled with my cats to self-soothe. They could sense something wasn't right, and this increased my anxiety, as I didn't want them to be afraid. Somehow, they were able to be there for me.
  • I called out sick for work today. A bit anxious about that choice, but it was really necessary. I couldn't have shown up there in the condition I was in this morning and with how tired I am now.
  • I called and left a voice mail for my psychiatrist. I wasn't dramatic. Sleepy sounding, if anything. I let her know that I was having a hard time, would try to make into DBT group this afternoon (which is facilitated by another doctor), and that I was hoping she could walk through my plan with me around coping with the PTSD triggers.
  • I took Ativan, as prescribed for extreme anxiety (this qualified, obviously)
  • I got on here to write.
  • I am going to lie down for a bit more and rest, as I didn't get much quality sleep last night.
  • I'm staying hydrated and will snack here and there throughout the day until my appetite gets better.
  • I will be mindful of all of you, around the world, who understand, having compassion, and have shown me support.

Thank you.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.


  1. really wish my ex would read these bpd blogs and get help...... youra extremely brave person and i wish and pray for the best for you

    1. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU for saying this. It meant a lot on a day like today, especially.

  2. I have been feeling this EXACT way for the past week. I just found and started reading your blog last night...and reading your posts has made me feel a LOT less alone. I'm thinking maybe I'll start a blog similar to yours. Keep your chin up, girlie. :) <3, Kaylee

    1. Kaylee, thank you for your kind comment and for letting me know how you can relate. It's never easy, but it helps to be reminded that we are not alone. If you start a blog, please be sure to let me know about it! Hugs xo

  3. Hi Debbie, just wanted to say that you are amazingly strong and brave! I can relate to many of the symptoms and episodes of BPD. This blog has given me hope and strength, and I feel it has given a voice to the overwhelming and confusing emotions I have been feeling. Thank you so much for all your work, you surely are an inspiration!
    I hope you feel better soon - take good care. Your fans (myself included!) are behind you!

    1. And can I just add to my previous comment - there are many days when I just feel like giving up on working towards my recovery. But seeing how hard you work in spite of your anxiety has really given me that hope and motivation to keep striving, even when I'm exhausted. God bless you, gorgeous! =)

    2. Everything you've said has meant so much to me. I really felt apprehensive sharing such suffering, but your comment affirms my hope - that at least one person would be encouraged to see that, even in deep suffering, we can press through and get to the light again. I am thankful that you took the time to write this. xo

  4. Thank you for posting this! I'm going through what feels like a setback (a severe episode of depression that won't let up) and am beginning to doubt that DBT did anything at all, as I feel like I did before I even started DBT a year ago. It was encouraging and inspiring to read about how you still managed to stay skillful even in the face of so many triggers and difficult experiences. I was kinda feeling like giving up, but you reminded me that I do have options to improve the moment at least a little bit and also not make it worse. Your blog is so helpful; thank you!

    1. I am SO glad that choosing to post this was a WISE decision...Thank you for sharing this with me. It means the world. I am PROUD of you for not giving up and for realizing that the skills do take work...and it's worth it. xo

  5. Hi Debbie, this is grumpy_joycie from twitter. I am a bit surprised that you were a bit held back about sharing your difficulties with us! I understand your fear of not being convincing enough for the main purpose of having this blog (showing how to use DBT to get better), but honey, all these emotions you are experiencing make you very human and make us all BPD chameleons relate to you more!

    Please keep in mind, what you are doing here is truly amamzing and inspiring. Your twitter n vlog helped me go through difficult times and continue to give me hope that I will have a life worth living. I am positive I am not the only one who feel this way.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for all your support from twitter.


    1. Hello, dear Joyce. Thank you for your kind and thoughful comment. And, after reflecting, I realzed it's equally important to share the difficult days (while modeling ways to cope and get through, of course). I have another doozy coming up, as the relationship isn't going so well.

      Thank you for encouraging me with your words and letting me know how much my blog and tweets have impacted you. It means the world, and motivates me to keep on putting in the effort to do this.

      Thank you, and huge hugs,
      Debbie xo

  6. I realize this post is old now, when this was posted, it fit my life perfectly (down to taking the day off from work.) It is so good to hear how you get through the bad days. It is a great reminder that I am not alone. I had been doing good for a while when it seemed like suddenly my world was falling apart though I had been coping fine. Your posts are truly inspiring. I am learning that BPD is day to day and moment by moment at times and that THIS IS OKAY! Thanks again for your inspiring posts.




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