BPD & Emotional Distress: Our choices impact our nervous systems...

Do you struggle with self-care when you're under stress?  Some people shut down and let their self-care go by the wayside (hygiene, cooking, going out).  Others can't seem to stop trying to solve a problem, even if they know it is unsolvable in that moment due to circumstances beyond their control.

So many of us do these things, but the good news is, we can shift how we respond when we're feeling emotional distress and take better care of ourselves.  If we have BPD traits, borderline personality disorder, or emotional sensitivity, it is especially important that we take extra good care when we're feeling dysregulated.  The choices we make when we're feeling this way impact our nervous systems and really matter!

Through radical acceptance and self-care, we can get ourselves through a difficult time without making matters worse.

Check out this video on the topic, and let me know your thoughts!



In kindness,
Debbie

👉👉 TIRED OF SELF-SABOTAGING?! Check this out...👈👈

For those who are 👉👉 TIRED OF SELF-SABOTAGING!! 👈👈

As emotionally sensitive people who may have BPD traits or borderline personality disorder, there are so many reasons why we might be prone to self-sabotaging behavior.  In this video, I talk about one of the reasons that many of us do it that people don't talk about as much (but probably should!)

If we're operating from this one powerful belief, it can affect the choices we make about how we treat ourselves and others and whether we move forward or stay stuck, continuously repeating those patterns that no longer serve us, while at the same time deeply wanting to break free from them.

I give a very personal example of how this belief impacted my life years ago to encourage you that, no matter where you are, you can build a life worth living -- the life you want to live -- one step and one day at a time.

Give the video a watch, and then pop a comment down below with your thoughts! 



In kindness,
Debbie



For more information and to sign up for my online DBT informed course where I'll teach you everything I learned and answer your questions in real-time, visit: www.emotionallysensitive.com

Borderline Personality Disorder: Is there hope?


Are you worried that having a BPD diagnosis (or having a loved one with this diagnosis) means doom?  That there's little or no hope for building the life you want and that you are forever stuck repeating self-sabotaging, destructive behaviors and not getting anywhere with your goals? I have good news for you: If you're ready to be encouraged about the reality of this often misunderstood diagnosis, this article is just for you. Read on.

It's been said, but I'm going to say it again: "Borderline Personality Disorder is no longer considered a psychiatric death sentence."  To say this inevitably implies that BPD was considered just that: a psychiatric death sentence.  In the past, the mental health community agreed that there was little hope or help for the patient who demonstrated the traits to qualify for this diagnosis. 

They were seen as difficult, manipulative, and untreatable.  


While people with BPD traits may resort to behaviors interpreted as others as manipulative, the truth is that they have learned maladaptive ways to get their needs met. They are doing the best they can by doing what they know -- behaviors that at one time, earlier in their lives, may have served as a way to survive and get their needs met. These behaviors no longer serve them, but without learning new ways of coping and responding, they stay stuck repeating these unhealthy behaviors.

Because they often struggle with self-harm or self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors and suicidal thoughts, it is true that people with BPD may be more challenging to work with, but what is NOT true is that they are untreatable. 


We now know that Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the rare psychiatric diagnoses that can actually go into remission and that the sufferer can enter into recovery, not all mental health and medical professionals are up to speed on this truth, and people with BPD to this day often experience stigma, fear, or a refusal of help from the very people they seek for support.

My story of recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder started in 2010 when I finally received BPD as my diagnosis.  I had suffered from trauma (to the extent of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD), anxiety, OCD, and a myriad of other issues but had eluded the diagnosis for many years until I came clean about my behaviors and struggles with my treatment team. 

My emotions were intense. I was often emotionally dysregulated, and my behaviors in response to this distress were impulsive and reckless. 

To the outside world and within my own mind and body, I was almost always in constant crisis, showing up in emergency rooms suicidal, quitting jobs and dropping out of school without giving thought to the potential consequences or effects on my short and long-term goals (until it was too late), having one tumultuous, unhealthy relationship after another, and that's just the tip of the iceberg of what my life looked like.


Fortunately, during an intensive outpatient hospitalization, the clinical team monitoring me during my stay evaluated that I had borderline personality disorder.

I say "fortunately," because this diagnosis opened the door to learning DBT skills, which changed, and ultimately saved my life. 


Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills are skills that help us learn to manage our emotions.  These skills are not about shaming ourselves for being emotionally sensitive or intense.  What they are about is acknowledging how we feel, growing in our ability to exercise self-compassion for our experiences, and learning to manage the intensity that can sometimes arise when you have emotion dysregulation issues. And, they made all the difference in my life.

DBT helped me to overcome:

  • Identity Disturbance Issues: I had no idea who I was and became like a chameleon around others. I wanted to be loved and accepted and not rejected, and my subconscious had learned to mimic others and be like them to improve my chances.  These skills allowed me to begin to become mindful of what I was doing and why I was doing it, and it opened the doors to learning and practicing new behaviors. I now know (and even *love* - something I wouldn't have believed would be possible) myself!
  • Self-Sabotaging: No longer am I jumping from one unhealthy relationship to the next, acting on impulse with other people, money, or my health, safety, and well-being.  No longer am I making commitments and sabotaging relationships, education, or schooling with knee-jerk reactions and behaviors that would serve to make me feel better in the immediate but then only cause a world of additional problems and the need for damage control.  You can read more about my story of overcoming BPD with DBT skills HERE.


If you're ready to learn the skills that helped me reclaim my life, I invite you to check out my online DBT informed course at DBT Path (www.emotionallysensitive.com).  Each week, along side a licensed DBT therapist, I teach you everything I learned in live, real-time global online classes. You'll learn the skills that changed and saved my life, along with so many more tools to help you begin to build the life that YOU want, to learn how to reduce your suffering, and to begin to finally and truly care about and for yourself in the way you deserve.

DBT takes work! Know this: Learning the skills is not enough. Putting them into practice is everything! 


It takes a willingness.
It takes getting out of your comfort zone.
It takes being willing to try and fail sometimes and still get up and try again.

Getting support and ongoing treatment from a qualified mental health professional in your local area to help you through the deep work needed to heal is so important.

Equip yourself for success, and you can achieve it.  If it was possible for me, I have hope for you, too!  The more we demonstrate our ability to overcome this disorder, the more evidence we present to those who are stuck in an antiquated perspective of this disorder.  Our hard inner work has important ripple effects.

Stay strong. Believe in your ability to overcome. 


In kindness,
Debbie


What one of my students has to say about my online DBT informed courses at DBT Path:


My Road to DBT (Fiona's Story)

Please welcome guest blogger Fiona, who actively blogs about her mental health experience to a captive audience at Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers. Her story is honest, refreshing, and inspiring. TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of self-harm and a suicide attempt (not graphic).

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression, and two years ago, I was given a further diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. I remember so clearly the day that the bpd label landed in my life. I’d seen my therapist a few days previously, and we’d agreed that after my psychiatrist appointment I’d give her a call to let her know what had been said. I’d been years in the public mental health service at this stage, and years trying and failing to get to grips with my extremes of emotion. We were dealing with the depression as best as we could (medication and ongoing therapy), but for every step forward I took there seemed to be three backwards.


When bpd was finally mentioned it made so much sense. I remember coming home and reading up about it, and being both relieved at finally knowing what I was dealing with, yet horrified at the implications - how difficult it is to treat and to manage, and how it had impacted my behaviour for most of my life.

I struggled on for another year with my therapist doing the best she could to support me, but it was becoming increasingly clear that I needed more help than she could give, particularly as found it more and more challenging to respect the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. I absolutely idolised her, and desperately wanted to be her favourite client, the one she would break all the rules for. This need became so strong that it finally got in the way of therapy entirely - I spent so much of my time between sessions agonising over not being able to contact her, that when I did eventually sit in the room with her, the shame of all that need overwhelmed me and I couldn’t even look at her.

The turning point came last May. It wasn’t a spectacular, everything-is-better-now turning point, but rather one that made everything so much worse. I took an overdose and while I thankfully did no lasting damage, it was the nail in the coffin for my relationship with my therapist. She knew I needed a different intervention, and my psychiatrist had started talking about DBT, so we agreed to finish and I went on the waiting list in my local Adult Mental Health Service.

All good, right? Wrong. Hindsight is wonderful. If I had known exactly how the situation would play out I would likely have done things very differently, but of course, I didn’t. Initially there was talk of DBT starting last September, which would only have been a couple of months after finishing with my therapist. But, it was decided that I needed a break of at least 6 months between therapies, so my DBT start date was pushed out to March. 

During those 6 months, with no emotional support of any kind, depression came back with a vengeance, and by November last year I was signed out of work on sick leave (I’m yet to go back). We - my husband, family, friends and I - were hanging on by our fingernails. The promise of DBT was the only thing keeping me going. I was suicidal, self-harming, severely depressed and functioning at a bare minimum level. As I have two young kids this was incredibly difficult, and my general lack of ability to cope was starting to take a toll on my family.

As March approached, things got worse, not better. It was almost as though the closer I got to DBT, the less able I was to manage, kind of like the way we often get sick as soon as we go on holiday. My general practitioner was aware of this, my psychiatrist was aware of this, they were pushing as hard as they could to make sure I got a place. But at the last minute, the course was pulled. Not only was I not going to get a place, it was not going to go ahead at all (mental health services in Ireland are in severe crisis and have seen significant cuts to already paltry funding over the last few years)

I probably don’t need to describe how I reacted, how utterly devastated we were. There was something quite uniquely horrifying about being told that my last available option had just been taken away from me – it felt like drowning, watching the lifeboat get closer and closer all the while struggling and losing strength, and then watching them change their minds at the last minute and sail away, leaving me to fend for myself.
Perhaps unsurprisingly though, we had been expecting this. 

I’ve been let down by our mental health services so many times over the years that I had never fully believed they would come through for me with something as huge as DBT. We spent a couple of days in shock, then started to consider alternatives. Private treatment wasn’t an option, it’s prohibitively expensive and we just do not have the means, particularly as I’m currently on unpaid sick leave. But the more we looked, the more we realised there was no alternative, we would have to find a way to make private therapy work.

This next bit was really, really hard to do. I’ve been blogging for years about the various aspects of my mental health drama and have a decent following, people who’ve been incredibly supportive of me and were very aware of just how badly I’d been let down by the HSE (our national health service). I needed to raise €5000 to fund a year of therapy, so I decided to try crowd funding. It felt horrible. What right did I have to ask for money? Why did I deserve to get help above any of the other people who’d been let down just as much as me? We thought long and hard about it, but eventually decided we had been left with no choice – there was literally no other way for me to make this happen, and a future without treatment would quickly have become no future at all.

The response was just staggering. In less than 24 hours, I’d been donated enough to provide me with a year of sessions with a private clinical psychologist, one who specialises in personality disorders. I started with her a couple of months ago, and am quite literally astounded at the difference the proper treatment is already making to my life. She’s explaining so much to me – about how our brains work, how our bodies react, how inextricably linked the two are, how they constantly feed into each other – and most importantly she’s helping me to see that none of this is my fault.

I’ve a lot of work left to do, but I’m doing better now than I have done in years, possibly ever. I’m aware that I’m fairly limited in what I can take on right now and I have to work hard to keep myself well - I need to keep things as simple as I can, avoid stress, watch my diet, my sleep, my exercise, the demands I put on myself – and I also need to be able to function as a parent. With all of this, going back to work just isn’t on the cards for the immediate future. Right now, it would be a push too far, a push that would take energy away from everything else that has to happen.

But, with the help of my new therapist, I’m in a far better place to accept that. I’m not jumping ahead to what’s going to come next, or what could be around the corner. I am where I am, and that’s the absolute best that I can do. I’m just so incredibly grateful to the people who made this possible for me. They have quite literally saved my life. 

Fiona


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Top Picks for ‪‎BPD‬ (and other) Books [Facebook Live Stream]



Top picks for ‪‎BPD‬ (and other) books! Replay from live stream on Facebook... (www.facebook.com/dbtpath).  As promised, here's the list of books with links. Please continue to comment with books that have helped you or have helped your loved ones better understand and cope!


The Buddha and the Borderline
http://amzn.to/1SdWccm





Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder
http://amzn.to/1XtHhce




Coping with BPD
http://amzn.to/1XtHhZN





The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook
http://amzn.to/1VS0tBw




Oooh, they have one that addresses ‪#‎PTSD‬, too. I haven't yet read this one: http://amzn.to/1SdWik5




Hope and Help for Your Nerves
http://amzn.to/1XtHwE8




In kindness,
Debbie

(These are Amazon Affiliate links. Being an affiiliate did not influence my views, perspectives, or reviews of these books.)

Recent Facebook Live: Importance of Self-Care and Emotional Sensitivity (BPD)



I recently discovered Facebook Live, which allows my Facebook Followers on my Debbie of DBT Path Facebook page to connect with me in real-time, with me on the cam, talking and responding to comments and questions that you enter in below my video.  Here's the first live event, which took place on April 1st. Thoughts? I definitely look forward to doing more of these be sure to follow me on the DBT Path FB page!

BPD, Insecurity, and Reassurance




BPD, Insecurity, and Reassurance. What's it all about? Join me for this super quick (less than 5 minutes) lesson on this topic. Looking forward to your thoughts - drop a comment below the video after watching so we can connect!

BPD & Addicted to Drama




Are people with borderline personality disorder "addicted" to drama? My answer might surprise you. Take biology, past history, and other issues into account, and we can understand this issue a bit better and learn how to compassionately approach and work on issues around drama addiction.

BPD & Accountability (No sugar coating)

Are people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) just "innocent victims" of their pasts, or are they responsible for their behavior? Someone recently asked this on a comment thread on my Facebook Page, Debbie of Debbie Path, and I responded. 

You may be surprised by my answer. Let me know your thoughts after watching. 





I hope this was helpful to you or your loved ones in some way.


Thanks for watching and reading.

More Soon.


In kindness,
Debbie

Fear of Real or Imagined Abandonment & BPD



Is fear of abandonment one of the criteria of Borderline Personality Disorder that affects your most important relationships?  If you experienced abandonment or rejection early in life and went on to develop BPD, it's no wonder that this fear would be present and amplified as a concern and worry. But, we do not have to continue in the cycle of fear and unknowingly (or even knowingly) repeating unskillful interpersonal behaviors that can create a self-fulfilling prophecy and keep the pain going.

Check out this video, and share your thoughts!

More Soon.

In kindness,
Debbie

(You can learn more about Debbie by clicking HERE.)
(Learn more about Debbie's Online DBT Skills Classes.)

Facts, Assumptions, and Missing Pieces in Seth Meyers, Psy.D.'s "Price of Loving Someone...Borderline..."



Ok. Wow. Lots of emotions have been activated in response to an article that Psychology Today reshared today on their Facebook page, entitled, "The Price of Loving Someone Narcissistic or Borderline...and why it can take so long to recover."  Before I even began to read the (mostly insightful) comments and feedback left for the author, I had my own visceral reaction. In the pit of my stomach, I dreaded, "What I was about to read?"

Why? Because there are many incredibly sensitive, passionate, intelligent, creative, people with Borderline Personality Disorder or who have BPD traits on this planet, and when an article comes out that harshly, or even unfairly, criticizes who they are...that makes sweeping generalizations that ALL people with BPD traits are vindictive manipulative, or drama seekers, I know those beating hearts are hurting behind their screens as they are reading it.

In fact, that's why, in part, I started this blog (Healing From BPD) back in 2010. To give a new face to the "Borderline," and to put out encouraging, hopeful materials on how those of us with this disorder can and do get better. (I'm in recovery and no longer meet the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. If you're interested in learning more, you can read about my story by clicking HERE after you finish this article.)

So, there I was, looking at this headline on my news feed and thinking. What is Seth Meyers, Psy.D. going to say? Is he going to be fair? Is he going to be responsible? Or is he going to perpetuate stigma and make those sweeping generalizations? Well, read on...

First off, the article's title lumps together those with Narcissistic tendencies and those with Borderline tendencies. It's important to note off the bat that not all people who are narcissistic have BPD, and not all people with BPD are narcissistic. The diagnoses are not one and the same. Meyers does make the distinction in the article.

The first paragraph, where Meyers says that he has found in his clinical practice that those who have relationships with people with narcissistic or borderline personalities "often leads to one of the most upsetting relationship experiences a person can have...the closer you are to someone with one of these personalities, the worse the emotional injury," really stings; In part, it stings because I know that when I was in the thick of BPD illness, that statement was probably true. I was a mess, and my relationships, or lack thereof, were a reflection of that.

But, keep in mind that not ALL people with BPD behave this way. In fact, those who are in treatment, learning DBT Skills, and working hard to manage their emotions and improve their interpersonal effectiveness may have his type of personality but are not (or no longer) acting in self-destructive, hurtful ways. So, let's cast aside that sweeping generalization.

I was relieved to read on and find that Meyers does not paint a picture of someone with BPD as intentionally seeking to hurt and connive.  He acknowledges that BPD is something that develops over time, and the possible reasons he cited for its development did resonate with me personally.  We often wind up with distorted views and maladaptive behaviors to try to get our needs met, and in a word, they unfortunately don't work in healthy relationships.

He also touches upon the fears that are at the core of many of the bewildering behaviors those with BPD traits may exhibit in a relationship, including the classic fear of abandonment and issues with emotional connection and intensity, bringing, hopefully, a compassionate perspective as far as the "why" of such behaviors.

When I read his comments that those with BPD "don't fight fairly or consistently. [They] get nasty in a way you may have never seen before...[using] words as bullets, intended to hit you where you're most vulnerable" and that we will sometimes start arguments and then blame the whole argument on the other person, again, when I didn't have the skills to manage my intense emotions, take a step back, be mindful of my experience, and make the choice to respond in a way that would not damage the relationship or hurt he other person, yes, I did behave this way.

But, people don't choose to be "borderline." It doesn't mean someone doesn't love you if they have trait-related outbursts and say hurtful things. I'm not justifying the behavior, and at the same time, let's see it for what it is: behavior.  Behavior that can change. Behavior coming from a place of doing the best you can with what you know, until you know better. There is a hurting person underneath those behaviors. Emotionally terrified at times. You're dealing with someone who, emotionally at times, is as fearful as a wounded animal who lashes out in protection mode. Keep that in mind. It's most often not malicious. It's an attempt at survival.

What I wish, and what would be nice to see in general when professionals write articles on what nightmares "borderlines" can be, is that they close with something a bit hopeful, such as "the good news is, over time, those with this disorder, with the right treatment and determination, can get better. Realizing this doesn't help you in the now if your loved ones is lashing out, so be sure to seek support for yourself regarding setting limits and boundaries and guidance in suggesting resources that may help your loved one."

Yes, in an ideal world.


I hope this helped you in some way.

Thanks for reading.

More Soon.

In kindness,
Debbie


PS You might enjoy my articles:

Myth: Never Date a Girl Who Has BPD
Obsessive Love and Borderline Personality Disorder












The Sadness Spiral (BPD and Afraid to Feel)

bpd intense emotions


If you suffer from borderline personality disorder, BPD traits, or emotional sensitivity, you likely relate to having incredibly intense emotions.  What people who do not have these issues have difficulty understanding is how we can go from sadness to despair (and even having suicidal thoughts) or from anger to rage (and even lashing out and getting in trouble with the law) so quickly.

I'm now in recovery from BPD (I no longer meet the criteria for the diagnosis, which is actually possible with this disorder! You can learn more about my story by clicking here after you finish this article.) But, you know what? I remember those times. I remember when something made me sad, and that sadness, untamed, would become unbearable because I didn't yet know DBT skills, which would ultimately save me and move me into recovery.

Sure, in those moments I could remember times when I didn't feel sad in the past, but I couldn't really tap into and feel anything else.  To make matters worse, it was difficult to imagine that I would feel any better ever again. Yes, those of us with BPD often go through this, and it is a very real experience, even if it doesn't makes sense to us, our family, friends, co-workers, bosses, and even some of the professionals who treat us.  We don't choose it, and we wish it weren't so.

The problem with having the fearful thought that a feeling, such as deep sadness or despair, may not end, is that it is very difficult to then access our inner wisdom in order to make skillful, healthy choices to get through those difficult episodes. Instead, we often seek quick fixes, usually in the form of unhealthy, impulsive behaviors that give us temporary relief but ultimately cause us more pain, suffering, and consequences in the long run.

And, we don't do this because we're stupid or because we don't care. We've learned to behave this way.  Somehow, over the years, these maladaptive coping strategies have helped us to get by and survive. But we do want more than that for ourselves. We really do.

So, when someone with BPD traits is experiencing a painful emotion such as sadness, the natural tendency is to want to push away and reject that emotion. It's uncomfortable, makes us feel badly, and doesn't seem to serve a purpose.  Another component, which is one that I struggled with for a long time and still notice arise in my thoughts when I'm feeling sadness, is this fear that sadness won't just stay sadness. That it will spiral into despair and worse, as it did many years ago.

So, on my own personal journey and in my role as a DBT skills peer educator, I've realized:


  1. In DBT, we learn about a concept called Radical Acceptance.  This means radically and fully embracing reality as it is, without trying to change it.  This doesn't mean we lie down and give up. It means that the paradox is, if I want to change something, I have to first accept (acknowledge) the truth of what is present in this moment with that situation or issue. In this case, "I am sad."
  2. We also learn in DBT that there is "cause" for everything, meaning that this moment is the result of every moment that came before it. Every thought, decision, choice...by us, those around us, humanity, etc.  Even when we can't pinpoint why something is happening in a particular moment, i.e. "I don't even know why I feel this sad right now!" , this theory of cause says that there is a reason. (The great news is that we don't have to pinpoint it in order to move forward with taking care of ourselves and making skillful healthy choices.)
  3. It's important to validate our feelings and experiences. If we have some awareness about the cause, we might say, "Well, of course I feel sad. Most people would be upset under these circumstances." If we don't know the cause, we might say, "I am not sure why I am feeling so sad right now, but the fact is that I am. There's some cause, and I am going to love myself through this with kindness and compassion. Here's what I'm going to do to take extra good care of myself today. This too shall pass."
  4. I like to then remind myself of two things: One, that I am not the same person I was back in the days when sadness would go untamed and unchecked with skills, and two, that no two situations are exactly alike. There are new variables at play. The past is the past. Just because sadness led to deep despair in the past, doesn't mean it will or needs to this time.

I've plugged in other emotions, such as anger, as well, and found this line of thinking to be helpful.

So, we've got our work cut out for us explaining to others why we're afraid to feel certain emotions and how quickly our emotions become more intense than they do for the average person, but there's hope. We can learn skills, work hard with our therapists, and take good care of ourselves in order to get better at accepting emotions, feeling them, and letting them pass. We don't have to spiral or fear the spiral. We can reach out to our clinical support when we have concerns about this, and then get right back on track with skills.

I hope this was helpful to you in some way.

More soon.


In kindness,
Debbie

Our New Look



If you're looking for encouraging posts on borderline personality disorder and dialectical behavior therapy skills (DBT), you're in the right place!

Check out some of our most popular blog posts (updated from time to time on our HOME page):

The Open Letter to Those Who Do Not Have BPD (from those of us who do)

Goodbye Norma Jean: Did Marilyn Monroe have Borderline Personality Disorder?

Obsessive Love and BPD: When It's Difficult to Let Go and Move On

Anxiety and Appetite: How I Fell Back in Love With Food

My Wife is Not her Borderline Personality Disorder

Watch the Short Documentary: Border _: A Compassionate Look at Borderline Personality Disorder


Learn the skills that helped the author of this blog (Debbie Corso) overcome Borderline Personality Disorder and learn to THRIVE as an emotionally sensitive person. Visit DBT Path to learn more!

Thank you for visiting!

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