Coping with an Emotional Crisis of Epic Proportions (BPD)

I've been having difficulties emotionally this morning. I was severely triggered.
If you're feeling strong enough to read this section, I think you'll get a lot out of it if you have similar triggers. LISTEN to your gut and engage in the self-care that YOU need.
These are the triggered I was able to identify as "cause":
  • I dreamed about my boss. It's a recurrent, upsetting dream. This set everything else off. It was the trigger that set me up for emotional vulnerability. As I began to peel the onion using Wise Mind, the list got longer. I have a LOT on my plate at this moment.  Boyfriend said that I've been "keeping it together" over work incident but that he knows that somewhere inside it is troubling me emotionally and that I should let it out. He's right. Little did I know that it would be a Pandora's box.  It's better to deal with these things and cope though, rather than deny them or suppress them. It never works anyway -- after all, look at where it led me.
  • I've been using a lot of negative self-talk about my body and feel that I may be over restricting instead of healthy restricting for moderate weight loss
  • I've been using a lot of negative self-talk about my lack of enthusiasm to get out of my chair and do any exercise. I did a long walk (7.5 miles) a few weekends a go and some shorter walks since, but I ultimately like to just sit in my computer chair or swaddle with a blanket in front of the computer. I have compassion for myself, because I know there must be another layer of cause to this as well.
  • I woke up with physical pain in my jaw and shoulder (TMJ), which is a physical vulnerability factor 
  • Thinking about past abusive and unhealthy relationships from the past. (Guess what I *won't* be writing about in the near future.)
  • I felt scared that boyfriend had to go to work today. As a result, I had to run to the bathroom with an upset stomach that's been relentless all morning. That queued my catastrophic PTSD fear of dehydrating. A well meaning friend who doesn't yet know the full depth of that trigger said to make sure I drink plenty to avoid getting dehydrated. I saw the word and felt a surge of cold adrenaline rush through my body. I considered going to the ER, then I considered I could always go later if I really needed to. I decided to try some skills and to calm down first. I've been very clingy to my bf the past week knowing his ultimate departure overseas is in just a couple of months -- I haven't had anxiety about him going to work in such a long time. This time, it was intense. I think it's in part because I know in my heart that I have difficulty having "in person" friends and that once he leaves, I will have my Twitter, Facebook, and phone families (and more recently, Skype), but I fear that I will feel terribly alone in the physical.
  • Confusing thoughts about sex have begun to resurface. I've been celibate for a while in honor of my body, mind, spirit, as intimacy was becoming severely triggering as well.  A relative is going through something similar, and I remember having a bit of a visceral reaction to her sharing the information with me.
  • Feel bad that my bf needs to go for an operation on Thursday. It should be a routine, safe operation, but I am still afraid of losing him to the anesthesia or something. I know how unlikely this is, but when you have BPD and are attached to someone beyond what people who don't have BPD can understand, the thought of losing them is pure terror, and you end up worrying about all sorts of ways that they could be "taken away" or how they might "leave.:
  • Feel bad for my mother that she's going through highly stressful times while needing to learn a lot of lessons of her own.
  • Feeling embarrassment and shame that I wrote a book about BPD and DBT, thinking that I now have to be this perfect role model and never have or share struggles or difficulties. I can't do that. I need to be honest with myself and with my dear readers, who are fighting their own battles. Now that I am coming into Wise Mind, I am seeing this as an opportunity for you to witness someone who is ordinarily stable, who has had 2 years of DBT, and who still from time to time has emotional crises and needs to reach out for support to get back on the right track. No pill, book (not even mine) is going to be the cure-all for this very complicated condition that we face. We need to be open and willing to reach out and get the help we need, even if we initially feel shame or embarrassment. I hope I am successfully modeling this for you and that this entire unfortunate situation serves to ENCOURAGE you that YOU can also get through no matter how mad you are feeling. We can still choose to make decisions that don't make matters worse.


Here's what I've been doing to take care of myself this morning:
In addition to calling my psychiatrist (who I heard back from, and our conversation helped a lot) and my DBT therapist (awaiting her return call)...
  • Made a firm decision to work my way into Wise Mind using Distress Tolerance Skills so as to not make matters worse for myself. I did this by:
      • Comparisons: I compared this situation to other similar ones that I've experienced and gotten through.
      • Thoughts: I refocused the frightening thoughts into thoughts about how I would get through this. I also tried a Self-hypnosis CD (phone kept ringing, and I got more anxious, but I plan to try this again later.) Practicing self-hypnosis and guided meditation gives us a chance to deliberately refocus our thoughts somewhere else. Sometimes we really need to do this, as I did this morning, to avoid from making matters worse.
      • Sensations: My hands got really cold from the anxiety. I touched other parts of my  body, like my face, to cool it down.  I may do the DBT ice cube exercise if the anxiety escalates again.
    • SELF-SOOTHE with the Five Senses
      • Vision: Put the cute Halloween card that my sister gave me in plain view.  Looked at my cats.
      • Hearing: Put on talk radio in the background to help me feel less alone
      • Taste: Sipping on cold apple juice
      • Touch: Held myself. Will swaddle with a fleece blanket a bit later, too. Also opened the windows to feel the sensation of the cool breeze on my skin.
      • Imagery: See note on self-hypnosis
      • Imagined feeling well again, knowing that this too, shall pass
      • Meaning: As I began to calm down more and more and get absolutely incredible feedback on this incident from my BPD Facebook and Twitter connections, I realized that many of my readers go through crises like this ALL the time and were relieved to see, while they don't like that I'm suffering, that I am still just like them. I have episodes. The difference of the old me and the new me is how I handle them overall.
      • Prayer: I cried out to God to please help me to feel better
      • Relaxation: See self-hypnosis, which I will try again in a few. Will also swaddle with blanket and watch something on TV later.
      • One thing at a time. I was trying to do a work project, tweet, and fill out my Emotion Regulation Worksheet 1a, and I was driving myself nuts. Stopped and did one thing at a time.
      • Encouragement: I encouraged myself through self-talk and received an incredible amount of support from my Facebook and Twitter BPD communities.
  • I also practiced some:
    • Radical Acceptance: I had to accept that my body and mind were reacting the way they were and take it from there. Denying how I felt was only making me more anxious (to the extreme).
    • Turning the Mind: My mind kept going to wanting to think catastrophic thoughts and react to the extreme fear. I had to repeatedly turn my mind back to my goal of staying in Wise Mind and not making things worse.
    • Willingness: I committed to being willing to ride this storm out without self-sabotaging or overreacting and behaving in response to Emotion Mind. I didn't want to later regret my actions.
  • For Emotional Regulation, I filled out this Emotion Regulation Worksheet 1a. I got so into it that I continued onto the back of the page:

Page One:

Page Two:

I am starting to feel a lot better. Not 100%, but getting there. I'm sipping on sparkling water and some apple juice to stay hydrated, and hopefully my stomach will feel better soon and I'll desire to eat something, even if it's small. Reminding myself that this is anxiety's affect on the body, and even this aspect of it will soon pass. 

Please remember that no matter how bad things get and how awful you feel, you can pull through. I'm practicing this in this very moment.

As I wrapped up this post, too many tweets to count showing me love and support came through, including this one:

Reaffirmed that everything really will be alright.

Thanks for reading and for your support.
More Soon.



  1. You're doing what you need to. That's an inspiration. This will pass and be sure you keep patting yourself on the back. You're going to make it through. ~hugs.

  2. Hi Debbie. Since I was diagnosed with BPD recently, I've been researching via internet (ahh! scary :() and have come upon many opinions that BPD mothers are "witches", incapable of loving, etc. What are you opinions of parenting and BPD? I am a mother of 5 children who I love more than anything in the world and I am aware that my behaviors can effect their lives negatively if they do not change. People make it sound like we are so cold and uncaring for anyone and it is just not true. Thoughts? (Sorry, racing thought ramble.) My email



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