From Love: The Power of Peer Support in Healing from BPD (Guest Post by Mary) Part Two

I am so proud to again present to you the work of Mary, a friend who is a Certified Peer Support Specialist in recovery from BPD.  This is part 2 of her guest post series.  If you missed part one, read it here, then enjoy the article below.

Love as the Doorway to Recovery

“I am honored to walk beside you in this journey.  I’m here for you.  Even when you may lose faith in yourself, I hold belief in your ability to recover.”
My therapist to me as I was sobbing after a major bump in the road…
I was working on a behavior chain one day last summer.  I found it excruciating to go over, in detail, the event that led to me acting out a destructive coping mechanism (Dialectical Behavior Therapy calls them “therapy interfering behaviors”).  I wasn’t allowed to go into group again until I completed the chain analysis.  I got so upset while working on this chain that I ended up screaming and throwing a chair against a wall.  A few minutes later, when my therapist came in and asked me how I was, I just started sobbing…wailing might be a more accurate description.  I was in despair and overwhelming pain, and then she did something that shocked me.  Seeing how much pain I was in, she came over and hugged me, saying those words quoted above.  I was overcome by a sense of love. 

Love is a loaded word.  When love shows up between a therapist and a client, warning signs of transference go up.  However, there are many kinds of love.  Not all love is of the romantic or parental form.  In that moment, the form of love that I felt was closer to what is known as “Agape” in , or “Mettā” in Pali.  A common translation of Mettā is “loving-kindness.”  In my peer support training, I began to understand how love is the key to opening “recovery pathways.”  Love is the key to peer support.  Sometimes when we are facing mental health challenges, we need to experience love from others before we come to cultivate it within ourselves.
“May I be happy.  May I be safe.  May I be well in body and mind.  May I be peaceful and at ease.” ~ Loving-Kindness (or Mettā) Meditation

How Peer Support Helps Me to Recover from BPD

            Before I discovered Debbie and the Healing from BPD community, I felt completely alone in my efforts to overcome BPD, trauma, and an eating disorder.  I was full of that shame and self-stigmatization I referred to earlier in this post.  Though I knew about DBT and had worked through a DBT self-help book, I was struggling.  Shortly after I “came out” about my specific mental health challenges in 2012, I discovered Debbie’s blog.  I decided to begin her 31 Day DBT Challenge  as a way to further integrate the skills.  I decided to document my journey through that 31 day challenge on YouTube.  From doing so, I discovered and was embraced by a supportive online community of peers.  These peers, especially Debbie, helped support me until I found more structured resources from a DBT program in my area.  I owe a great deal to Debbie for her role in my recovery journey.

            When I entered an intensive day treatment DBT program, I immediately connected and resonated with one of my peers who was about to graduate.  She had been there for a year.  We had so much common ground in terms of our challenges and life situations.  She had also just graduated from peer support training through Recovery Innovations, Inc. (where I later was trained in peer support).  This individual lived DBT and radiatedthe spirit of recovery.  I was hopeful that if she could get there, so could I.  I just needed the right kind of support and skills.  Even after she graduated, we have stayed in contact, and she has been one of the most influential supports and role models in my recovery.

            I was also blessed that−though they did not serve me in a traditional peer-support role−most of my treatment team had faced their own mental health and/or addiction challenges.         Their openness about those experiences inspired me to work towards my own recovery.  They provided professional support in a kind and compassionate manner that respected my personal autonomy and drove me to be more effective.  Upon graduation from that DBT program, like that peer I resonated so deeply with, I also had graduated from peer support training.  From that training, I came to be familiar with the things that make peer support so effective.  These things have aided in my own recovery.  I look forward to sharing the top three things in my next post, coming soon to Healing From BPD.

Until next time,

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