From Love: The Power of Peer Support in Healing from BPD (Guest Post by Mary)

I am so proud to again present to you the work of Mary, a friend who is a Certified Peer Support Specialist in recovery from BPD.  Her ability to convey her message of hope while retaining the vulnerability, rawness, and human-ness of her experience always moves me.  Here is the first part in a series that will be featured here at Healing From BPD.  Enjoy!

Borderline Personality Disorder affects relationships… plain and simple.  If you’re reading this, odds are you know that all too well.  BPD can cause relationships with significant others, family members, co-workers, and friends to feel the strains of conflict and out of control emotions.  The most important relationship those of us with BPD must attend to, however, is the relationship with ourselves. 

Nowhere is the harm caused by BPD and other mental health challenges more intense and damaging than from within the person facing them directly.  Shame, self-stigmatization, and hopelessness eat away at any attempts made for recovery.  With such obstacles in the way, how can we have any chance at healing?  Though it is often so hard to get to, the answer lies with self-validation, acceptance, and a belief that recovery is possible for all, including ourselves.

When someone receives a mental health diagnosis or believes they fit the criteria for one, it is incredibly common for them to start identifying with the diagnosis.  I know I did.  Discovering something that summarizes or explains our struggles can be extremely validating and comforting.  It can also point us towards effective treatments such as DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
The flip-side is that identifying, say, as a bulimic, or a borderline, or bipolar, limits our conceptualization of ourselves.  We then start to lose contact with all the other aspects of our wonderful selves that are helpful, working, and positive.

A Peer Support Recovery Model

“Recovery is remembering who you are and using your strengths to become all that you were meant to be.” ~ Definition of Recovery (Recovery Innovations, Inc.)

I love that definition of recovery.  There is no single definition of recovery; they are as diverse as the many people working towards it.  However, this one is so beautiful because it takes for granted that we do have strengths, that there is much more to us than our challenges.  It also tells us that we have a purpose in this life.  The good news here is that recovery is possible and can be reached by everyone.  It doesn’t matter if you have depression, anxiety, a “personality disorder,” or substance abuse challenges.  Recovery is possible for all.  This belief is at the core of peer support.

I'll dig more deeply into this in subsequent posts here on Healing From BPD, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I welcome you to visit my YouTube channel and to share:

  • How has BPD or another mental health diagnosis affected YOUR relationships?
  • Do you find that you've become identified with your diagnosis and want to break free from this, even though finding a name for your suffering was at first comforting and validating?
  • What is your personal definition of recovery?  Do you consider yourself to be in this stage of your journey?

I look forward to reading and responding to your comments below.

Until next time,

Click here to read Part 2!

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