Twentysomething (& Beyond) and Borderline Personality Disorder



This week's post includes my recent vlog on being twenty-something (& beyond) and dealing with the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I am now in my thirties and wish I had been more receptive to accepting my diagnosis and receiving help and treatment earlier.  While I can't go back and change the past, I am now (in my thirties) in recovery and actively helping others to reduce their suffering and learn skills that can help them out right now.

I talk about how DBT Classes helped me enter into recovery from BPD and how I am in awe of those who seek help and get treatment in their twenties.

The truth is, I am impressed with anyone at any age who seeks treatment from this disorder. It takes courage, and the timing is different for every person. 

Please enjoy, and I look forward to your thoughts.

 


Thank you for reading and watching.
More soon.

Italian Transalation of Open Letter from Those of Us Who Have Borderline Personality Disorder (Disturbo Borderline di Personalità)

 
 
For the people of Italy!  Thank you so much to the people of the Facebook page "Disturbo Borderline di Personalità"  for this translation!  (Links to this letter in English and several other languages at the bottom of the post.)
 

Una Lettera Aperta da parte di tutti noi che soffriamo di Disturbo Borderline di Personalità

 
    Cari Amici, Familiari, Partner, Ex-partner, Colleghi, Figli e tutti voi che avete a che fare con noi che soffriamo di Disturbo Borderline di Personalità (DBP),
    
    Forse siete frustrati, vi sentite impotenti e pronti ad arrendervi. Non è colpa vostra. Non siete voi la causa della nostra sofferenza. Per voi può essere difficile crederlo, dal momento che a volte vi aggrediamo, passando in un attimo dall’essere dolci e affettuosi all’essere malfidati e crudeli, fino ad arrivare ad accusare proprio voi. Ma non è colpa vostra. Meritate di capire di più riguardo questa condizione e ciò che vorremmo essere in grado di spiegare ma non riusciamo a dire.
    
    A volte ciò che voi dite o fate può costituire un “trigger” che innesca qualcosa dentro di noi. Un trigger è qualcosa che ci ricorda un evento traumatico o ci provoca pensieri angoscianti. Sebbene possiate provare ad essere attenti alle cose che dite e fate, ciò non sempre è possibile, e non è sempre chiaro per quale ragione una cosa diventi un trigger per noi.
    
    La mente è molto complessa. Una determinata canzone, un suono, un odore o alcune parole possono accendere rapidamente connessioni neurali che ci riportano in un luogo in cui non ci sentiamo al sicuro, e sul momento potremmo rispondere con una reazione simile (pensate ai militari che hanno combattuto – un semplice ritorno di fiamma di una macchina può provocare loro dei flashback. Questo fenomeno è conosciuto come Disturbo Post-Traumatico da Stress, e riguarda anche molti di noi).
    
    Ma è importante che voi sappiate che nello stesso momento in cui vi respingiamo con le nostre parole o il nostro comportamento, noi speriamo perdutamente che non ve ne andiate lasciandoci soli nella nostra disperazione.
    
    Questa modalità di pensiero estrema, in bianco e nero, e la facoltà di esperire desideri totalmente opposti sono note come dialettica. All’inizio della nostra diagnosi e prima di scavare davvero in profondità con la Terapia Dialettico Comportamentale (TDC), non abbiamo gli strumenti giusti per spiegarvi tutto questo o chiedervi aiuto in modo sano.
 
    Possiamo fare cose davvero eclatanti, come nuocere a noi stessi (o minacciare di farlo), finire all’ospedale, e così via. Queste grida di aiuto dovrebbero essere prese sul serio, ma noi ci rendiamo conto che la vostra preoccupazione e i nostri comportamenti reiterati possano farvi vivere un “burn out”.
    
    Per favore, fidatevi: con un aiuto professionale, nonostante quello che possiate aver sentito dire o ciò che crediate, noi POSSIAMO STARE MEGLIO E STAREMO MEGLIO.
    
    Questi episodi possono essere più o meno distanti l’uno dall’altro, e noi possiamo attraversare lunghi periodi di stabilità e di regolazione emotiva. Talvolta la cosa migliore da fare, se riuscite a trovare la forza nonostante la vostra frustrazione e il vostro dolore, è afferrarci, abbracciarci e dirci che ci amate, che avrete cura di noi e non ci lascerete.
    
    Uno dei sintomi del DBP è un’intensa paura di essere abbandonati e quindi (spesso inconsciamente) a volte manifestiamo comportamenti estremi, frenetici, per evitare che questo accada. La nostra percezione di un imminente abbandono può farci addirittura diventare folli.
    
    Un’altra cosa che vi può confondere è la nostra apparente incapacità di mantenere le relazioni. Possiamo saltare da un amico a un altro, passando dall’amarli e idealizzarli al disprezzarli – cancellandoli dalle nostre rubriche telefoniche ed eliminandoli dalle nostre amicizie su FB. Possiamo evitarvi, non rispondere alle vostre telefonate e declinare gli inviti ad uscire con voi – mentre in altri momenti tutto ciò che desideriamo è stare insieme a voi.
 
    Questo fenomeno è chiamato scissione ed è parte integrante del disturbo. Talvolta rinneghiamo preventivamente le persone prima che loro possano respingerci o abbandonarci. Non stiamo dicendo che tutto ciò sia “giusto”. Noi possiamo lavorare su questo schema distruttivo ed imparare come comportarci in modo più sano nel contesto relazionale. E’ solo che non ci viene naturale. Richiede tempo e tanta fatica.
    
    E’ difficile, dopo tutto, relazionarsi opportunamente con gli altri quando non hai una piena comprensione di te stesso e di chi sei, nonché delle persone che sono intorno a te. 
    
    Nel DBP molti di noi manifestano un disordine dell’identità. Possiamo fare nostre le caratteristiche di chi ci circonda, senza mai sapere davvero chi siamo NOI. Ricordate al liceo quei ragazzi che si facevano piacere prima la musica rock, poi quella pop, poi quella gotica, con il solo scopo di appartenere ad un gruppo – e si vestivano come loro, si pettinavano come loro e acquisivano gli stessi manierismi? E’ come se noi non avessimo mai superato quella fase.
 
    Talvolta assumiamo persino i modi di fare di altre persone (ci comportiamo in un modo al lavoro, in un altro modo a casa, in un altro ancora in chiesa) e da ciò deriva in parte il nostro soprannome di “camaleonti”. Certo, la gente si comporta in maniera diversa a casa e al lavoro, ma voi potreste non riconoscerci per come ci comportiamo al lavoro rispetto a come ci comportiamo a casa. La differenza è enorme.
    
    Alcuni di noi hanno vissuto un’infanzia in cui, sfortunatamente, i genitori o i caregiver potevano passare in un attimo dall’essere amorevoli e normali all’essere abusanti. Per sentirci al sicuro e sopravvivere, noi dovevamo comportarci, in ogni dato momento, come voleva il caregiver. Non lo abbiamo superato.
 
    A causa di tutto questo dolore, spesso ci sentiamo vuoti. Non possiamo immaginare quanto vi sentiate impotenti nell’assistere a ciò. Forse avete provato in tutti i modi ad alleviare il dolore, ma niente ha funzionato. Di nuovo – NON è colpa vostra.
    
    La cosa migliore che possiamo fare in questi momenti è ricordare a noi stessi che “tutto questo deve passare” e praticare le skills della TDC – soprattutto quelle auto-consolanti – che ci aiutano a sentirci un po’ meglio nonostante il torpore. Spesso la noia è pericolosa per noi, perché può portare alla sensazione di vuoto. Per noi è un bene essere impegnati e distrarci quando la noia comincia ad avere il sopravvento.
    
    L’altro lato della medaglia è che noi possiamo avere delle esplosioni di rabbia che possono risultare spaventose. E’ importante che restiamo al sicuro e che non facciamo del male a noi stessi o a voi. Questa è solo un’altra manifestazione del DBP.
    
    Siamo altamente sensibili dal punto di vista emotivo e abbiamo un’enorme difficoltà nel regolare/modulare le nostre emozioni. La Dottoressa Marsha Linehan, ideatrice della TDC, ci paragona emotivamente agli ustionati di terzo grado.
    
    Tramite la TDC, noi possiamo imparare a regolare le nostre emozioni così da non perdere il controllo. Possiamo imparare come smettere di sabotare le nostre vite e le circostanze… e possiamo imparare a comportarci in modi meno nocivi e spaventosi per voi.
    
    Un’altra cosa che potete aver notato è quello sguardo distaccato sui nostri volti. Questo è chiamato dissociazione. I nostri cervelli si disconnettono letteralmente e i nostri pensieri vanno da qualche altra parte in quanto in quel momento i nostri cervelli stanno tentando di proteggerci da un ulteriore trauma emotivo. Possiamo imparare gli esercizi fondamentali e applicare le skills acquisite per aiutarci durante questi episodi ed essi possono diventare meno frequenti man mano che miglioriamo.
    Ma… riguardo a voi?
    
    Se avete deciso di attingere alla vostra forza e rimanere accanto alla persona con DBP che voi amate, probabilmente anche voi avete bisogno di supporto. Ecco alcuni suggerimenti:
        Ricordate a voi stessi che il comportamento della persona non dipende da voi.
        Appellatevi alla vostra compassione per la sofferenza della persona, pur riconoscendo che il suo comportamento è probabilmente una reazione intensa a quella sofferenza.

        Prendetevi cura di VOI. Nella pagina delle risorse di questo blog (http://www.my-borderline-personality-disorder.com/p/bpd-resources.html) ci sono una marea di informazioni riguardo libri, workbook, CD, film, ecc., che possono aiutarvi a comprendere questo disturbo e a prendervi cura di voi stessi. Assicuratevi di dare un’occhiata!

        Oltre ad imparare di più sul DBP e sulla cura di sé, assicuratevi di fare cose che vi divertono e vi rilassano, come uscire per una passeggiata, vedere un film divertente, mangiare qualcosa di buono, fare un bagno caldo – qualsiasi cosa vi piaccia fare per prendervi cura di voi e sentirvi a vostro agio.
        Fate domande. Ci sono un sacco di pregiudizi intorno al DBP.

        Ricordate che le vostre parole, il vostro amore e il vostro supporto contribuiranno molto ad aiutare la persona che amate a guarire, anche se i risultati non sono immediatamente evidenti.
    Non tutte le situazioni che ho descritto si applicano a tutte le persone con DBP. Un paziente, per avere questa diagnosi, deve manifestare almeno 5 di 9 sintomi e le combinazioni di questi 5-9 sintomi è apparentemente infinita. Questo articolo vi dà solo un’idea della tipica sofferenza e dei pensieri caratteristici di chi soffre di DBP.
 
    E’ il mio secondo anno in TDC. Un anno fa non avrei mai potuto scrivere questa lettera, però essa rappresenta molto di ciò che avevo nel cuore ma non avevo ancora potuto realizzare o esprimere.
    La mia speranza è che voi raggiungiate una nuova visione della condizione in cui si trova la persona che amate e cresciate nella compassione e siate comprensivi SIA con la persona che amate SIA con voi stessi, perché non è una strada facile.
    
    Io posso dirvi, in base alla mia esperienza personale, che vale la pena combattere questa malattia attraverso la TDC. La speranza può tornare. Si può avere una vita normale. Se non mollate, avrete la possibilità di intravedere sempre di più, nel corso del tempo, scorci di ciò che quella persona realmente è. Vi auguro la pace.
    
    Grazie per aver letto.
 
The author of this letter has since RECOVERED from Borderline Personality Disorder and no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. She now teaches the DBT skills that helped change her life over at DBT Path where you can take online Dialectical Behavior Therapy Classes from anywhere in the world. Co-facilitated with a licensed therapist. You can read Debbie's books here.

UPDATE: A video version of this letter, complete with narration and text, is now available for viewing and sharing by clicking HERE.

English Version
 

Dutch Transalation of Open Letter from Those of Us Who Have Borderline Personality Disorder


For the people of Belgium... the Dutch version of the Open Letter.
Thank you to HFBPD reader, Christine!
 
Een open brief van mensen met BPS
 
Lieve vrienden, familie, geliefden, ex-geliefden, kinderen en anderen,
 
Ik kan me indenken dat je je gefrustreerd en hopeloos voelt en het wilt opgeven. Het is niet jouw schuld. Jij hebt geen schuld aan mijn lijden. Dat is misschien moeilijk te geloven omdat ik wellicht tegen je te keer ben gegaan en soms ineens schakel tussen liefdevol en aardig naar gemeen. Misschien heb ik je zelfs wel verwijten gemaakt. Maar het is niet jouw schuld. Je verdient het om me beter te begrijpen en ik zou willen dat ik het je kan vertellen, maar dat lukt nog niet.
 
Het is mogelijk dat je iets hebt gezegd of gedaan dat me heeft getriggerd. Een trigger is iets wat een traumatische herinnering of beangstigende gedachte bij me oproept. Ondanks dat je probeert voorzichtig te zijn met je woorden en acties, is het toch niet altijd mogelijk een trigger te vermijden. Ik begrijp ook niet waarom dat gebeurt.
 
Het brein is complex. Een liedje, een geluid, een geur of een woord kan zomaar allerlei neurologische processen in werking zetten die me onveilige situaties laten herbeleven. Ik reageer dan alsof ik weer in die oude onveilige situatie ben. Dit lijkt op wat militairen meemaken die oorlog hebben gevoerd en thuis flashbacks ervaren (PTSS). Dit gebeurt mij ook.
 
Weet asjeblieft dat ik iedere keer wanneer ik je van me afduw met woorden of mijn gedrag, vurig hoop dat je me niet verlaat.
 
Dit extreme zwart-wit denken en het beleven van totaal tegenstellende gevoelens wordt ook wel een dialectisch patroon genoemd. Omdat ik nog maar net de diagnose borderline heb gekregen en nog geen of voldoende gedragstherapie heb gehad, heb ik gewoonweg nog niet alle gereedschappen in handen om op een normale manier om hulp te vragen.
Ik doe soms hele dramatische dingen, zoals mezelf beschadigen of dreigen om dit te doen. Hoewel het belangrijk is om mijn hulpkreten serieus te nemen, snap ik heel goed dat je soms ontzettend moe wordt van al die zorgen over mij en mijn herhaalde gedrag.
 
Geloof me wanneer ik zeg dat met professionele hulp, ondanks wat je hierover denkt of gehoord hebt, het beter tussen ons kan gaan.
 
Dit soort voorvallen wordt hopelijk steeds minder frequent en er kunnen steeds langere perioden zijn waarin ik me stabiel voel en mijn gevoelens beter de baas ben. Soms - als je hier in al je frustratie en verdriet de puf voor kunt opbrengen - is het het beste om me vast te pakken en houden en me te vertellen dat je om me geeft, van me houdt en niet weggaat. Een van de symptomen van BPS is intense verlatingsangst. Soms kan ik dan ook (vaak onbewust) extreem en paniekerig proberen te voorkomen dat ik word verlaten. Zelfs het vage gevoel dat iemand me eventueel kan verlaten, zet dit paniekerige gedrag al in gang.
 
Iets anders wat voor jou misschien heel verwarrend is, is het feit dat ik niet in staat lijk te zijn vriendschappen te onderhouden. Ik kan van de ene vriendschap in de andere springen, iemand op het ene moment verafgoden en vervolgens net zo hard aan alle kanten afkraken, hun nummer uit mijn telefoon verwijderen en ze ontvrienden op Facebook. Er zijn tijden dat ik je ontloop, je telefoontjes niet aanneem en alle uitnodigingen om iets met je te doen afsla - terwijl ik op andere momenten niets liever doe dan bij jou in de buurt te zijn. Dit "splitsen" maakt deel uit van BPS. Soms sla ik preventief toe door mensen uit mijn leven te bannen voordat ze mij kunnen verlaten of afwijzen. Ik zeg niet dat dit goed is. Ik moet eraan werken om dit negatieve patroon te doorbreken en ik moet leren hoe ik gezonder om kan gaan met relaties. Dat komt me helaas niet aanwaaien en ik zal hier veel tijd en moeite in moeten steken. Ik begrijp per slot van rekening niet goed hoe ik zelf in elkaar zit, laat staan dat ik een goed beeld heb van anderen om me heen. Dat maakt mijn omgang met andere mensen heel lastig.
 
Veel BPS'ers hebben problemen op het vlak van identiteit. Ik heb de neiging de eigenschappen van anderen om me heen over te nemen omdat ik eigenlijk niet weet wie IK ben. Kun je je middelbareschooltijd nog terughalen? Dan weet je misschien nog dat er kinderen waren die naadloos van rockmuziek naar pop en gothic sprongen, alles om maar bij de groep te horen. Ze namen niet alleen de kleding- en haarstijl over van de groep, maar zelfs dezelfde gebaartjes. Bij mij is het net of ik dat stadium nooit ben ontgroeid.
 
Soms neem ik dus zelfs de manier van doen van anderen over. Op het werk ben ik anders dan thuis, in de kroeg of bij vrienden. Door dit soort gedrag worden BPS'ers vaak kameleons genoemd. Natuurlijk gedragen veel mensen zich anders of ze thuis zijn of op het werk, maar bij mij is dat verschil zo extreem dat mijn vrienden me niet zouden herkennen wanneer ik in mijn werkomgeving ben. Helaas hebben sommige BPS'ers in hun jeugd meegemaakt dat hun ouders of verzorgers in een handomdraai van lief en normaal naar ronduit gemeen konden overgaan. Als overlevingsmechanisme leer je jezelf dan aan om je verzorgers hoe dan ook tevreden te stellen. Dit mechanisme heb ik nooit af weten te leren.
 
Door al deze pijn voel ik me vaak compleet leeg. Ik kan me niet voorstellen hoe het voor jou is dit te moeten aanzien. Misschien heb je al van alles geprobeerd om mijn pijn weg te nemen, maar heeft niets gewerkt. Nogmaals - dit ligt NIET aan jou.
 
Het beste wat ik kan doen op dat soort momenten is mezelf in te prenten dat dit allemaal overgaat en de vaardigheden toe te passen die ik in de dialectische gedragstherapie opdoe - met name 'self soothing', ofwel het vermogen mezelf te troosten. Dingen waar ik kracht uit kan putten, ondanks het feit dat ik me verlamd en verdoofd voel. Verveling is voor mij gevaarlijk, omdat het al snel op een gevoel van leegheid kan uitlopen. Zodra de verveling toeslaat, kan ik het beste zorgen dat ik iets om handen heb dat voor afleiding zorgt.
 
Aan de andere kant kan ik beangstigende woede-uitbarstingen hebben. Het is dan van belang dat ik mijn veiligheid in het oog houd en mezelf of jou niets aandoe. Ook dit is een symptoom van BPS.
 
Ik ben uiterst gevoelig voor emotionele zaken en heb grote moeite mijn emoties te reguleren en te temperen. Dr. Marsha Linehan, de vrouw die DGT (=dialectische gedragstherapie, een therapievorm om BPS te behandelen) heeft ontwikkeld, vergelijkt mensen met BPS met slachtoffers met derdegraads emotionele brandwonden.
 
Door middel van gedragstherapie kan ik leren mijn emoties zodanig te reguleren dat ik de controle niet verlies. Ik kan leren hoe ik moet ophouden mijn eigen leven en omstandigheden te saboteren. Daarnaast kan ik leren hoe ik me moet gedragen op een manier die jou minder beangstigt en jou minder pijn doet.
 
Iets anders wat je misschien is opgevallen is dat ik er vaak wat versuft bij zit. Dit heet dissociatie. Mijn brein sluit zich dan letterlijk af om verder emotioneel trauma te voorkomen. Ik ga dan aan iets anders denken. Om dit aan te pakken kan ik oefeningen leren waarbij ik houvast zoek, en leren mijn vaardigheden toe te passen om dit soort momenten door te komen. In de hoop dat dit soort momenten dan steeds minder vaak voorkomt.
 
Maar hoe zit het met jou?
 
Als je hebt besloten je eigen krachten aan te boren en mij wilt blijven ondersteunen, dan kun je misschien wel wat hulp gebruiken. Een paar tips:
 
·         Blijf jezelf eraan herinneren dat mijn gedrag niet jouw schuld is.
·         Probeer compassie op te brengen voor mijn pijn en onthoud dat mijn gedrag waarschijnlijk een intense reactie op die pijn is.
·         Vergeet jezelf ook niet. Er is heel veel informatie beschikbaar waarmee je een beter begrip over deze aandoening kunt opdoen, en tegelijkertijd jezelf in acht kunt blijven nemen.
·         Zorg ervoor dat je dingen blijft doen die je leuk vindt en waar je troost uit put. Een stuk wandelen, een grappige film, lekker eten, een warm bad -- wat je ook maar nodig hebt om goed voor jezelf te zorgen.
·         Stel vragen. Er bestaan legio misvattingen over BPS.                                                                                                    
·         Onthoud dat jouw woorden, liefde en steun mij enorm helpen op mijn weg richting herstel, ook al zijn de resultaten niet meteen zichtbaar.
 
 Niet alle situaties I beschreven gelden voor alle mensen met een Borderline Persoonlijkheidsstoornis . Men moet slechts 5 symptomen van de 9 te komen voor een diagnose , en de combinaties van die 5-9 zijn schijnbaar eindeloos. Dit bericht is alleen maar om u een idee van de typische lijden en gedachten die van ons met een borderline-stoornis hebben geven .Dit is mijn tweede jaar in DBT . Een jaar geleden , kon ik niet heb geschreven deze brief , maar het vertegenwoordigt een groot deel van wat er in mijn hart, maar kon nog niet worden gerealiseerd of uitgedrukt .Mijn hoop is dat je nieuw inzicht zal krijgen in uw geliefde de conditie en groeien in mededogen en begrip voor zowel uw geliefde en jezelf, want dit is geen gemakkelijke weg .Ik kan je vertellen , uit eigen ervaring , dat het werken aan deze ziekte door DBT is de strijd waard . Hoop kan worden geretourneerd . Een normaal leven kan worden gehouden . U kunt een glimp en meer en meer van wie die persoon is echt de tijd te zien , als je niet opgeven . Ik wens u vrede.Bedankt voor het lezen .Meer Binnenkort .De auteur van deze brief is inmiddels hersteld van Borderline persoonlijkheidsstoornis en niet langer aan de criteria voor een diagnose BPS . Ze geeft nu de DBT vaardigheden die hielp bij DBT pad waar je online dialectische gedragstherapie Klassen kunnen nemen van overal in de wereld te veranderen haar leven voorbij. Co- gefaciliteerd met een erkende therapeut . U kunt boeken Debbie's hier lezen.
 
 
The author of this letter has since RECOVERED from Borderline Personality Disorder and no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. She now teaches the DBT skills that helped change her life over at DBT Path where you can take online Dialectical Behavior Therapy Classes from anywhere in the world. Co-facilitated with a licensed therapist. You can read Debbie's books here.

UPDATE: A video version of this letter, complete with narration and text, is now available for viewing and sharing by clicking HERE.

English Version

French Translation
Italian Version
Portuguese Translation
Spanish Translation 

Music: My Own Special TARDIS | BPD, and "Time Traveling" (Guest post by Alma)



I have always loved music: playing it, singing it, and listening to it.  Emotionally, of all my pastimes, I have found music the most evocative in terms of conjuring memory.  When I was growing up I was selectively mute for many years.  Music became the way that I expressed myself.  It helped me to survive.  I just didn’t speak to adults. I had one friend in school who spoke for me. After my first year at school, aged 5, my friend was taken from me as they put us in different classes. Due to my non communication I was labelled as "remedial," requiring "special help."  

When teachers started to ask questions about my physical and emotional welfare, my parents took me and my brother out of our local school and we then attended a private school in the city centre.  In 1970s Northern Ireland, child protection was a taboo subject.  During this period, from the age of seven, I discovered the joy of playing music.  I would lock myself away with my piano and play for hours on end. Then in my teens, I learned to explore every nuance of my pain through other people’s music, again, locked away with my stereo/radio for hours on end.  Perhaps, an extension of my choice not to engage with the world around me.

It is when I attach personal feelings and memories to my music that I believe it finds its real power.  Music has the power to lift your spirits, to articulate your grief, to take you back to specific times in the past.  In a sense Music, along with the sense of smell tends to be the most powerful of "time machines," usually with a default to the past.

It was at this point that I found music to be a potential obstacle to my recovery.  Mindfulness training and DBT exercises were focused on bringing me to and keeping me in the moment.  However, one of my true pleasures in life was in danger of inadvertently causing me to "time travel" to the past.  I didn’t want to lose out on one of my real pleasures in life, just because of my overwhelming emotional responses to it.  Not every memory is painful and it’s important to acknowledge that, even before recovery, my life was actually made up of shadows AND light.

Because of my tendency to use music as shorthand to express important emotions, it follows that when trying to build up the skills to manage my overwhelming emotions more effectively, I needed to find a way to either use it as an aid to my recovery or lose it by limiting my exposure to it.
It occurred to me that the waves of emotion evoked by music, had a tendency to recede if I focused on the music itself, rather than use the music to unpick my emotional scars.  So I recognised that the way forward was to perhaps treat the emotions evoked by music in the same way that I had learned to let go of unwanted thoughts and feelings which arose during mindfulness exercises in DBT skills group. 

In practice, this means that my focus is not on the emotional impact of the music on me, but is on the notes themselves, the instruments and voices listened to.  When my feelings arise and are in danger of taking me into the past, I notice them, then return to my musical focus. 

Listening mindfully is an excellent practice, simply because music is all around us and could become a problem, with songs evoking flashbacks and unwanted feelings and thoughts in all sorts of environments.  It has taken me some time to extricate my emotional memory from music and learn to enjoy it as it is in each moment.  Equally, music can express emotions effectively so that it can soothe, or change emotion, or help us to ‘sit with’ painful emotions.  For me the important factor is about ‘when’ I am feeling the emotions: am I ripping the plaster off painful feelings from the past, or am I experiencing sadness, grief etc. in the here and now? In which case, music becomes an aid to observe, describe and then let go.

How does music affect your recovery? 

I look forward to your thoughts.

~ Alma


Guest post by:
Alma Johnston, based in the North West of England
Visit Alma's blog "BPD Life in the Moment"
and on Twitter: @AEJ1967

Got Anxiety? Top 5 Easy Tips That Can Work NOW

 
 
If you're suffering from anxiety today, I want you to know you're not alone. I am, too.  No, I don't think it will make you feel better to know I'm being affected in this way -- but sometimes it helps to know that even people who we consider to be "strong" also can be anxious. Whether you know the cause of your anxiety or panic symptoms or not, there are things you can do to reduce your suffering now.
 
I find it really important to notice and cope with anxiety rather than let it spiral out of control or to try to suppress it (which only ends up making it more intense).  What can you do to help reduce your anxiety today? 
 
Here are some ideas that work for me: 
 
Breathe
 
1. I notice my breath.  Sometimes this can be even more anxiety provoking initially.  Our breath is usually shallow and "scary" when we are anxious. Slowing it down can help substantially. I like to lie down on my back on a soft surface or on the floor or on my yoga mat.  I put one hand on my chest and the other on my stomach. I slow my breathing down by inhaling through my nose for a count of 4, then hold for 4, then exhale through pursed lips for 4, then hold for 4. Then I repeat.  I do this until I feel a bit calmer.
 
 
Calm Your Nervous System
 
2. While still lying down or sitting in a comfortable position, I put on one of my favorite relaxation CDs.  Here are my top choices:
 
  • and this one, Lucinda Bassett's Relaxation Tape, which you can listen to right away on YouTube. (Just an FYI, the echo they added can initially sound creepy, but then if you can let that go, it's a very helpful relaxation session.)
These tend to help me SIGNIFICANTLY.  They work on relaxing the nervous system and helping us to convince our minds that there is no emergency -- that just because we have a thought doesn't mean that thought is true. 
 
 
 
3.  I use yoga balls to relax my nervous system through the sensation of touch.  I wrote this post on how it works. It's quite amazing, and it never ceases to amaze me how something so seemingly simple can help calm me down.
 
 
Move it, move it
 
4. If possible, I go for a walk.  This can help work off a lot of nervous energy and adrenaline.
 
 
Change Scenery
 
5. I get out of the house.  Even going to the library or a café or walking around a shopping center can help quell my anxiety.  I realize that for some, crowds and public places can increase anxiety, so you'll have to determine if this idea would be effective for you or if you'd be better off going to the shoreline, a park, or something more low key with less traffic.
 
 
 
 
I've already done number 1 & 2, am seeing improvement,  and plan on doing the rest shortly.  
What safe, non-harmful ways do you help reduce your anxiety and soothe your nervous system when feeling anxious?
 
I hope this post helped you in some way today.
 
 
Thanks for reading.
More Soon.
 
In kindness,
Debbie

BPD Recovery in Reality: Sometimes We Slip Up (and it's only human)

 
Okay. I'm not trying to make a bigger deal of this than it is, but I wanted to share something with you.  As most of you know, I am in recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder.  I no longer meet enough of the criteria to have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. With this in mind, I still do meet SOME of the criteria, and I still am (and will always probably be) an emotionally sensitive person. 
 
Tonight I had a reaction that I hadn't seen in quite some time. It was a pretty human reaction, but normally I turn to my skills instead of act from "Emotion Mind."  Not always though.  I'm going to tell you what happened because it doesn't serve you or myself to try to portray myself as if I have it together 100% of the time, that I never act out emotionally, that I'm always skillful, and that I have no room to grow.
 
Tonight a friend (a person I'd actually met, hung out with, and spent time with) unfriended me on Facebook without a word. This has never happened to me before.  I found out because I went to message her about a funny memory I had of us.  I felt really sad. I thought it could have been a mistake. I messaged her to ask her what happened, and she said that I was "way too confrontational." In that same moment, my roommate was calling to me from downstairs that he was upset that I broke something of his (which was a total accident).  I felt very overwhelmed.
 
In addition, I've been coping with some emotional vulnerabilities, such as some health concerns (I need to get an exam that makes me very anxious, and it's difficult to sit with not knowing what might be the cause of my ailment), my business partner is taking off some pre-planned time which means I'm doing more work and feeling a bit stressed, and some OCD-related stuff that has been quite dormant has resurfaced and caused me distress in connection with EDNOS. I'm doing the best I can, managing well for the most part, but these things definitely do affect my ability to cope effectively.
 
In that moment when I received the reason from my (I suppose former) friend, I felt quite judged and offended, but more than that, I honestly had NO CLUE what she was referencing.  I am usually quite mild mannered but have said some things to others in the heat of the moment, in anger, or in a knee-jerk emotional reaction situation that I've later regretted. I couldn't think of a single time this had happened with her, though.  Unfortunately, I likely in her mind proved her point by saying a very rude comment and then blocking her. It was as if I lashed back out, feeling vulnerable, embarrassed, and angry all at once.
 
A lot of shame came up after that. I didn't want to sit in that place for too long.  I then texted her twice apologizing and trying to rationalize my behavior.  I then had thoughts and interpretations that this must have made me look "crazy."  I also talked to my roommate. I actually expressed to him what I wrote to my former friend, and he said, "What are you crazy?" which of course didn't help.
 
I was flooded with familiar feelings from the past, as the incident that happened today, which is pretty isolated and rare in my life nowadays, is something that used to be routine.  I used to jump from one impulsive behavior to the next, reacting in a knee-jerk way and then regretting and trying to do damage control.  I got scared that I "went there." It used to be such an ugly state that was pretty constant.
 
I went into black or white thinking (one of the symptoms that I still suffer).  I had to remind myself:
 
"Debbie, you are human.  What you did was not kind, and it was rude, and it was not skillful. You weren't acting from your highest self... But am I a horrible, evil, person because of my reaction and chosen action?  Am I no longer in recovery because I made a rude comment to someone who hurt my feelings? No, of course not."
 
But when you have BPD or some of the traits, (or if you're very emotionally sensitive), it can be easy to jump to the worst case scenario, i.e., "I slipped up and acted from emotional mind instead of getting skillful, so I am XYZ!"  Of course this thought ran through my mind.   I decided to practice what I preach and fill out a DBT Emotion Regulation 1a worksheet.
 
As I filled it out, I came to realize the number of emotional vulnerabilities I was experiencing. Are these an excuse to behave in an unkind way? No.  But seeing it for what it is did help me have compassion for myself around why I did behave in a way that was not the best choice.
 
In my work, I talk as a peer about how the skills have changed my life.  I think sometimes this creates an added pressure to always be skillful (which is impossible), or to feel shame or embarrassment if I do not meet my own high expectations around how I "should" be now that I am in recovery and co-facilitating DBT groups. It's unrealistic, and it does not help others to set such a high and unachievable image of perfection.
 
So there you go. I slip up.  My emotions sometimes get the better of me.  I sometimes don't act in the most skillful way.  I'm human.
 
I am going to forgive myself for this incident, reflect upon how I can better handle things next time something like this comes up (hopefully not another unfriending, lol), and move on.
 
I find it's helpful to check in with someone who cares about you and run emails and messages by them first if you're unsure and emotionally charged.  A thought for similar situations in the future.
 
 
I hope this helped you in some way.
 
Thanks for reading.
More soon.
 
In kindness,
Debbie
 
 
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