Happy, healthy relationships with yourself and others are possible
“This is no way to live, but I don’t really want to die.”
If you’re living with borderline personality disorder, you may have lost so much already, looking back on a string of damaged relationships and burned bridges. You might be afraid that you can never get it all back. Maybe you've made more mistakes than you can remember, and the consequences feel unbearable at times.
Most people living with BPD fear they are incapable of loving themselves, having healthy relationships that last, and breaking out of bad habits including various forms of self-harm. It’s exceedingly difficult to control impulses and oftentimes feelings of emptiness and self-hatred can take over.
Perhaps you keep having thoughts that you would rather end it all than keep living like this.
Borderline Personality Disorder can present some unique challenges that make it very hard to achieve your goals or even know who you are as a person. Things like school, work, chores, and errands can feel impossible at times because of rapid mood swings, angry outbursts, an overwhelmingly negative perspective, a lack of motivation and consistency, and difficulty controlling impulses.
It’s also quite common to experience dissociation- feeling as if life is surreal or as if you’re not really in your body, which can be especially frightening. But the worst part is usually the fear that others are going to abandon or reject you and "splitting" which causes you to suddenly distrust or hate people you really care about. Most people living with BPD worry they might always feel empty inside and never truly know themselves.
Your struggle may be more relatable than you realize
Chances are rather high that most people in your life just don’t get it. To them, your emotional reactions, way of thinking, and behavior don’t make any sense. To you, those same people make "normal" look so easy, and they have no idea how real everything feels to you in the moment when you feel it.
But did you know that almost 6% of people exhibit traits of BPD at some point in their life (1)? BPD is a unique condition, but it is also a specific collection of common concerns, and we now have a powerful understanding of the psychology behind it.
About 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 18 have thoughts of suicide over the course of a single year (2). It’s quite common for people to struggle with controlling impulsive behaviors that have harmful impacts like angry outbursts, substance use, and risky sex. Most people have a strong fear of rejection and many of us can feel bitter and resentful toward our loved ones many times throughout our lives. Literally everyone dissociates sometimes and a majority of people struggle with their sense of identity at some point.
It has been proven that BPD is caused by a genetic predisposition combined with certain environmental factors leading to an intense fear of being abandoned or rejected (3). Being loved and accepted is one of the most powerful drives in life, so this fear can feel life threatening and cause intense despair.
Borderline personality disorder treatment can help you have a life worth living
I’ve completed intensive training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy which I refer to as an encyclopedia of skills. BPD used to be infamous for being extremely difficult to treat. Marsha Linehan recognized the failures of other therapies with this vulnerable, struggling population and dedicated herself to creating a BPD treatment that really works.
After DBT had been proven uniquely effective for borderline personality disorder treatment, it was quickly recognized as a huge breakthrough due to its impressive success. In fact, many clients have even made a full recovery (4)!
The DBT skills for analyzing and changing problem behaviors help you manage impulses like binge eating, substance abuse, regrettable sexual behaviors, reckless driving, and pushing away the people you love.
Mindfulness skills create more calm and sense of control in your life by helping you train your brain to remain present in the moment. They increase your awareness of what’s going on inside of you including your thoughts and emotions. DBT helps you learn how to use awareness of your environment for self-soothing. Mindfulness also helps you be more intentional in how you respond to and focus your thoughts, how you manage your emotions, the actions you choose, and the words you say.
DBT interpersonal effectiveness skills are specifically designed to help repair and maintain relationships which are often the first big casualty of BPD. They focus on meeting others’ needs and getting your own needs met while maintaining balance and self-respect. You also learn how to find and build new relationships as well as end destructive ones.
Emotion regulation skills help you respond to difficult emotions in various ways including when they are really intense. Distress tolerance skills help you manage crises such as when you become flooded with feelings, have suicidal thoughts, or experience cravings.
If you’re in a DBT skills group, individual DBT for borderline personality disorder treatment is the best way to support and reinforce your learning and use of the skills. Individual therapy will help you translate the skills to your own life and provide additional clarification and accountability.
Addressing some common concerns when considering borderline personality disorder treatment
“Therapy hasn’t fixed me yet so why would it now?”
Countless people have been in this same position and many of them have still gone on to recover. It’s imperative that you keep trying because you never know when it will “stick.” This is something therapists understand because we see the evidence all the time. I realize it’s tough to have faith when you haven’t seen it yourself, but most people who recover had to try multiple times before it worked out for them too.
You aren’t a broken object that needs to be fixed. You grow and change just like everyone else, and every day is a new day. As long as you keep trying, there is still hope. DBT is quite different from every other therapy so it’s well worth it to give it a chance.
“I have too many issues for a therapist to deal with.”
I focus on a handful of specialties instead of trying to be a jack of all trades. The other issues I work with tend to be totally familiar to people struggling with borderline: anxiety, depression, mania, addiction/impulsive behaviors, and relationship problems. Don’t those sound familiar? Recovery is a big, complex process but I break it all down in a manageable way. We can’t work through everything all at once but you can move mountains one stone at a time. If you can trust in the process and give it time, you can make huge changes.
“I don’t need someone else to tell me what’s wrong with me or how to live my life.”
You’re right, and that’s not my job. What I do is help you foster your own “wise mind” so you can decide what is best for you. It’s not about my judgments or agenda, it’s about facilitating a process for more self discovery and compassion so you can decide which personal challenges you want to focus on. You’ll be presented with a lot of excellent skills but only you can determine which ones will work best for you. I will never tell you that you have to give up behaviors you’re doing now or think another way for us to work together. I’m here to meet you where you’re at.