It’s interesting, because I had just received an email from Amanda Smith of My Dialectical Life(a DBT-skill-a-day email subscription), just days before, in which she also shared that she had recently used prayer as a DBT skill to cope.
Up until now, I’ve honestly been very hesitant to talk about this particular skill since it can be a
sensitive issue for many. But, since two other BPD sufferers recently opened the doors by sharing their experiences, I felt safe enough to blog about this with my dear readers.
I personally do not have a particular religion that I identify with. I was brought up Catholic and sometimes consider myself a mix of Christian – Buddhist – Agnostic – Atheist.
I think many people with Borderline Personality Disorder can understand my ambiguity around this. One of the criteria for having BPD is:
Identity disturbance: Markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
There are sudden and dramatic shifts in self-image, characterized by shifting goals, values and vocational aspirations. There may be sudden changes in opinions and plans about career, sexual identity, values and types of friends. These individuals may suddenly change from the role of a needy supplicant for help to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment. Although they usually have a self-image that is based on being bad or evil, individuals with borderline personality disorder may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which the individual feels a lack of a meaningful relationship, nurturing and support. These individuals may show worse performance in unstructured work or school situations
Not unlike my struggle to discover and commit to a career path or job has been an issue with my having BPD, a religious preference or decision has been also. I do have a hope that there is a supreme being or a supernatural force at large in the Universe. I am comforted by many spiritual things. Other times, I feel anger or fear toward teachings I’ve received and don’t want anything to do with any of it.
I’ve also met other people with BPD who have a strong faith and consider this their anchor, like the woman who shared in group this week. When our therapist asked her what she meant when she said she “used Wise Mind from a religious perspective,” she said that in considering her religious views while angry with another person, she was able to become compassionate and have empathy for their imperfectness. She said that this helped her dissolve the illusion that they were a villain and that she was a victim. Our therapist said that it sounded like she was able to reduce judgment and be as effective as possible with this perspective.
I do think it’s great that Western medicine is respecting the importance of religion and/or spirituality for some patients in their recovery process.
What about you? Do you ever use the DBT skill of prayer? Do you have a faith that helps you get through difficult times, or are religion and spirituality not a part of your life?