The Recovery Road (Beyond Typical “Therapy”) – Guest Blogger Romina Avila

If you frequent this blog, you probably remember Romina. She is the kind Healing From BPD reader who translated the Open Letter from Those of Us With BPD into Spanish.  She’s back to speak on her experiences on the road to recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder.  Romina is also a student at my online DBT school, DBT Path, where she is learning skills to build a life worth living.  But, as you’ll see from her post, a life worth living includes many things beyond traditional methods: rich activities, interests, and things that make us smile and give us something to look forward to. Many of the activities she engages in are offered in the various groups and clubs at the Roanne Program, my sister site, which offers services to young adult men and women ages 17-28 who suffer from emotion regulation issues, such as BPD. When Romina told me about the types activities she engages in as a part of her life worth living, I instantly thought about Roanne and how I wish I had known about their program in Southern California when I was still young enough to attend. They are an incredible resource.   I hope you enjoy Romina’s post as much as I did.  It’s my pleasure to share it with you.  ♥ Debbie

Recovery is not the same for everyone. BPD is not the same for everyone. There are 9 BPD symptoms and you only need to have 5 in order to be diagnosed with BPD. The possible combinations of those symptoms are plenty. Your personality, likes, and dislikes have a lot to do with your recovery.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has plenty of skills to help you deal with BPD symptoms, but I have found out that not all work for everyone and not in the same way. I think that the most important thing in recovery is to learn and practice the skills, but also to get to know yourself very well and use your own personality to help your recovery. I would like to talk with you about how hobbies might help you in your recovery as they have and are helping me.

When I first began to learn mindfulness, I didn’t felt really comfortable doing it. Mindfulness is about being completely in the present moment, without judging it. To ease myself in, I first started with some meditation exercises and didn’t like them a lot. I thought: mindfulness is not for me and I should give it a rest, and I did.

After a while I started learning crochet and loved it! I then found that I was practicing mindfulness as I crocheted and I was really enjoying it. Crocheting was my entryway to enjoying mindfulness, now I can practice more formal exercises of mindfulness easier.

Hobbies can be a great way to practice DBT skills. My first found was with crochet, but since then, I have found plenty of hobbies that I can use as DBT skills, here are some examples:

  • Crochet as mindfulness and self-soothing.

    Here are some examples of things I created:

  • Coloring mandalas as distraction, self-soothing, build MASTERy.

    Coloring mandalas has even taught me about balance and wise mind, looking at the balance of white spaces and colored spaces, you don’t need to color each space for it to be beautiful, there is a power on blank spaces too.
  • Singing as a relief of stress, building positive experiences, build MASTERy.

    Some of the songs I’m singing these days are: Happy (Pharrell Williams), Roar (Katy Perry), some spanish songs from “Rosana” and “Presuntos Implicados”, any Elvis song.
  • Design wallpapers as distraction, self-soothing, contributing.

    I list contributing here because I design wallpapers and I then give them away for free.
    Here’s the link for the wallpapers:

  • Photography as distraction, build MASTERy and contributing.

    I also see this as contributing because I take pictures of a daily affirmation calendar and share it on my social networks and I have found that it really helps people.
  • Repeating affirmations or reading quotes.

    I love affirmations and quotes and I have found the really useful to validate my emotions and use wise mind sometimes. I sometimes mix hobbies, creating wallpapers of the affirmations or quotes.
    Some of my favorite affirmations right now are: “I am safe”, “I am enough” “May things be good today”, “I forgive everyone in my past for all perceived wrongs. I release them with love.”
  • Watching TV shows as distraction.

    Some of my favorite TV shows at the moment are Parenthood, Law and Order SVU, Modern Family, The Simpsons.
  • Looking at art or beautiful images as self-soothing.
  • Pinterest has been an amazing source of tools for DBT skills.

    I have boards for self-soothing, humor (is so important to have a good laugh now and then). I also have boards about recovery and psychology, I have found amazing self-help charts in there.  You can visit my boards at:

  • Reading.

    I love to read and it has been so great for me. Not only because I use distraction and self-soothing, but I read about DBT or self-help so I get so much information to improve myself. I have even found contributing on reading, because I recommend books and people have really enjoyed some of my recommendations.
    My favorite books right now: “The Book Thief”, “The Gifts of Imperfection“, “Florence Scovel Shinn Collection” and bpd book: “Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder.” 
Finally, all of these hobbies can be used as practicing the skill of taking a mental vacation. I think the most important thing to remember in recovery is that everyone has their own path. We are all different.

Recovery is a very personal path. Knowing yourself and what works for you is the key to recovery. There are plenty of skills in DBT, but you don’t have to know them all or do them all. Finding the ones that work for you is essential. Recovery is about getting better, but also about honoring who you are. Hobbies are a great way to make recovery your own.

This quote best captures what I am hoping to express:
“She knew this transition was not about becoming someone better, but about finally allowing herself to become who she’d always been.” — Amy Rubin

Thank you, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.


7 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I also enjoy crocheting, colouring, photography and reading. These are all excellent ideas. Definitely checking out your links. Thank you for all the suggestions.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I also enjoy crocheting, colouring, photography and reading. These are all excellent ideas. Definitely checking out your links. Thank you for all the suggestions.


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