Many of us with Borderline Personality Disorder also have symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Even if we do not, there may be certain subjects and circumstances that can “trigger” us into a troubled state, whether we flashback to the past or feel extremely frightened, as if we were in present danger even if we are not.
- Gently Avoid: I deliberately avoid watching the evening news and stations like CNN unless there is a story of interest that does not include graphic images, references, or audios relating to violence. If I hear something in passing, I change the television or radio station and quickly distract with an engaging activity.
- Emotion Regulation (Empathy): If, like this morning, my emotional mind shows up and reacts to hearing the event (as would likely happen for many people, whether they have BPD or not), I tap into empathy and practice modulating the emotion. I use self-talk to remind myself of how human and normal it is to feel sadness for other people who have suffered or have been hurt. I sometimes feel compelled to use the DBT skill of prayer to pray for those who were harmed and their loved ones and neighbors. (As a side note, I am not any particular religion and am open and accepting of everyone. My boyfriend, for example, is an atheist.)
- Mindfulness Grounding: I notice my breath and follow it for a few minutes, then I begin noticing and describing sensations and surroundings. I notice my feet on my floor, the feeling of being supported by the chair, the plants in the room, the colors of the walls, etc. Doing this helps bring me back into the present moment, where all is well, and I am safe.