A Tough Day in Recovery

When All You Could Do was Make It Through

What a day. Seemed like things began bombarding me and my recovery goals from the moment I woke up. A few times throughout the day I thought to myself, “Why not just quit today; why not just lay down and give up? This is too hard. I’m not capable of handling this.” Then it spread into, “LIFE is too hard. I’m not capable of handling ANYTHING, let alone this day. I can’t survive as an adult; I can’t even keep my head above water. Everything is falling apart because I can’t handle basic tasks.”

Then it spread into, “LIFE is too hard. I’m not capable of handling ANYTHING, let alone this day. I can’t survive as an adult; I can’t even keep my head above water. Everything is falling apart because I can’t handle basic tasks.”


After a while I would catch myself, and for a moment I would breathe and see the bigger picture, that hard days happen and difficulties in relationships happen and everyday hassles happen. I’m okay, and everything is okay, and there’s peace.

But on days like today, you find the peace and instantly something else comes in like a rocket and blows you away again. You’re left tumbling and trying to gain a foothold somewhere. You get your balance and here comes another one.


It’s been like that all day long today, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping tomorrow is a little easier and I handle it a little better.

More than anything I’m just thankful today is over and that I got through it without destroying myself or anything else in my life. Sure, things happened and consequences happened and things aren’t perfect. But I made it through, and I know how I can do better tomorrow. I learned some things today that will help me in the future. And I wouldn’t have learned those things or been motivated to search for them had I not been in the predicaments I experienced on this crazy day.

I made it through, and I know how I can do better tomorrow.

When BPD Leads to Rejection and Abandonment

How we push people away when we have BPD

THE BRUTAL TRUTH

When you fear abandonment by the people you love, you start to see abandonment everywhere. To avoid being rejected, you push them away before they can hurt you. The result? No one can abandon you, because there IS no one.

Then the loneliness hits. You may or may not realize what just happened. But the end is the same. They leave and your worst fears are realized. Abandonment. Rejection.

BUT WAIT…

Borderline Personality Disorder can make relationships confusing.

I’ll be the first one to admit dropping someone like a hot potato at the first sign of potential rejection. Before mastering the DBT skills, I saw everyone as a threat to my fragile heart. If I cared about them in the slightest, they had the power to hurt me and I simply could not afford that most of the time.

Sometimes I actually managed to convince myself I didn’t need anyone. HA!

That wasn’t me talking. That was the BPD.

THE REAL ME WAS YEARNING FOR CONNECTION!!!

The real me loved people. Inside I cared about everyone; I was desperate for friends and relationships.

Furthermore, the real me knew I couldn’t survive for long like this. I needed people but I watched myself pushing them further and further away each day. Maybe they were rejecting me, abandoning me…maybe they weren’t. Maybe it was just me. Who could I trust? I couldn’t even trust myself.

HOW I STOPPED THE REJECTION CYCLE:

One of the things DBT skills taught me is that if I had thoughts telling me “no one cares” and “they’ll just leave you anyways,” there was a good chance my brain wasn’t telling me everything.

After I had that down, I started learning how to look at the facts to tell if abandonment or rejection was actually happening to me, so I wouldn’t leave good relationships based on an assumption. I learned how to tell the difference between feeling rejected and being rejected.

Ultimately, the skills taught me how to deal with actual rejection AND to heal from it. And they helped me make lasting relationships and deep connections with others, as well as myself.

THE CONCLUSION

Rejection, abandonment, and loneliness may be a way of life for you if you have Borderline Personality. And it may feel safer that way, from your experience. But that way of life will also keep you imprisoned and cut off from the true desires within you for connection.

If you don’t know where to start, that’s ok! I didn’t either. That’s what this page is for. Learn more about the DBT skills, recovery, and resources to help you break free. Surviving alone doesn’t need to be your only option.



Borderline Personality Survivor Stories

Recovery is Possible.

There are so many stories of the pain and suffering of Borderline Personality Disorder.  Unfortunately, we rarely hear stories about people who have taken their control and their lives back from this illness.

But this documentary is different, and when it first aired on YouTube it was an eye-opening picture for many others like me: people with BPD who kept seeing all the articles of hopeless prognoses for their illness.

 

(more…)

When You Have More Than One Diagnosis

Often a mental illness is accompanied by one or more additional diagnoses.  These illnesses may go undetected when they are lost in the shadows from the limelight cast on the main problem, whether it be depression, anxiety, BPD, etc.

My own doctor specifies some of these comorbid disorders in his teachings/literature about BPD.  He has focused on Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder among others, but I would also like to add some extra conditions I have found to be common.  The importance in explaining these hidden disorders is to make people aware that even when they are treating the prevailing illness they struggle with, it is also necessary to treat underlying problems as well.  By underlying problems, I don’t mean just talk therapy or addressing past traumas.  I want to stress the need for medical attention to all of the illnesses that can plague one’s mental health.

Because the main disorder is so hideous to deal with, the accompanying disorders are often forgotten in the treatment process.  The disorders listed above are common with Borderline, but the tendency is the same in many cases.  Some other things I have noticed with BPD are low self-esteem, self-destructive disorder, dissociative disorders, other mood disorders, and eating disorders.  Once you think of the effects of having Borderline, it seems natural that they would accompany our illness.

Although there is a multitude of studies, information, and treatment processes, I’ve only provided my own personal example.  I encourage you to look up some of the research and check out the video below for other examples.  Most importantly, though, I encourage you to address ALL of your body’s issues.  You don’t want a portion of mental health, you want it all!!!  And you can have it when you are willing to acknowledge and seek treatment for the multitude of complications that come along with having a mental disorder.  It’s a long, hard fight, but I assure you, it is worth it!

What kind of combinations of illnesses are you experiencing?

 

How to Let Go of Last Year to Start the New

The New Year was originally dedicated to an ancient Roman god of gateways by the name of Janus (think of the word “January”… see the connection?).  Janus had two faces, as a gate faces in and out, one looking backwards to the past and one looking forwards to the future.  Hence he was also the god of new beginnings! 
Greek and Roman mythology are one of my favorite study topics, but as you all know my TRUE passion is discussing mood disorders with my mental health tribe.  So, naturally, when I think of Janus and how his two-faced self applies to our journey to recovery, I think about the  importance of not just looking towards the future of 2018 but of reflecting on the previous year as well and the weights we are holding onto that could keep us living in 2017 longer than we need to.

  1. Intrusive thoughts and memories of the past, including abuse; trauma; neglect; heartbreak; rejection; and failure.

  2. Guilt over mistakes made, broken promises, and disappointing ourselves or other people.

  3. Regretting decisions that led to upheaval, missed opportunities, and time wasted.

  4. Blame towards ourselves and others, and the anger that comes with it.

These burdens are heavy; so heavy that they can become all we see.  We lose sight of the light and the hope of today and tomorrow because we are so weighed down with the hurt and pain of yesterday.  Getting control back over our future means looking towards our past first to deal with its demons, not ignoring the past and hoping it goes away eventually.  That may work for a while, but it can be exhausting and ultimately lead to a blow-up.  Spending some time to reflect on the past, the feelings and thoughts it brings up and the effects it has had on you is the first step, but it can’t be done alone or it will leave you feeling empty and depressed about the future.
You MUST combine your reflections with a soulful search for the meaning behind your life story.  What priceless lessons have you learned from past experiences?  How have they made YOU a better person?  Mistreatment is never condonable, and suffering is never pleasant.  But did you become a person who contributes to the world BECAUSE and DESPITE of it?  Or has been holding you back from the true person you want to be? For those of us who are being held back by pasts of trauma or abuse, has that been robbing you of any joy for tomorrow?  Are you missing something that you want back?

We can’t change the past.  We can only accept that it happened, and we arrived through it to THIS moment.  We have power over THIS moment.  What will we do with it?  We can hide from our pasts or we can use them to mold and shape a better future for ourselves and for other people in this world who need and want a better future with us.  Just as we can’t shy away from the things of our past, we can’t shy away from the future.  Approach today, and each day, with determination.  With hope and faith that life throws us both good and bad things, but we persevere to hold the hands of our brothers and sisters and move forward into tomorrow knowing that WE ARE NOT ALONE.

Brain Activity Behind Borderline Personality Disorder

Fighting to get someone to understand that you really aren’t “just overreacting?”  In my opinion, the best way is to educate them about the facts of your illness.  So in this post we will look into a brief overview of the brain functions behind the Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis, and how these processes affect our behavior in ways that require more than self-control to counteract.

The Limbic System

The limbic system is a collection of brain structures including the amygdala and the hippocampus, among others.  This limbic system is evolutionarily one of the oldest parts of the brain, so if you can imagine the idea of the stereotypical caveman and his brain function, you can imagine the importance of functions like survival instincts, the fight-or-flight response to predators or danger, memory, and a reward system for learning new behaviors.  The limbic system uses an intricate balance of neurotransmitters to perform these functions as it communicates with and produces responses from the rest of the body.  Responses like an increased heart rate, quick breathing, sexual arousal, and fight-or-flight are all associated with the limbic system.

Amygdala and Hippocampus

The amygdala and hippocampus have been shown to be smaller in people with Borderline Personality Disorder, using imaging like fMRI scans.  These brain structures are related to memory recall and learning, attention, response mechanisms, emotional functioning, and the evaluation of social information like interpreting emotions from other people’s faces.  As you’ve probably noticed, these are some of the main symptoms we struggle with as BPD survivors.  It’s no wonder we have difficulties with interpersonal relationships and unprovoked mood swings!

Prefrontal Cortex

Connected with the functioning of the limbic system is the activity of the prefrontal cortex.  This area shows itself in fMRI scans to be underactive in the BPD brain.  Linked to personality, planning, decision-making, short-term memory, and restraint of behavior while in an emotional state, low activity in the prefrontal cortex corresponds with symptoms like impulsivity and self-destructive behaviors.  So besides being emotionally and physically over-aroused, we are logically impaired to make the best decisions for our own well-being or for healthy resolution to our problems.

In other words, we have a medical problem that requires medical treatment if we are to stand our best chances at lasting recovery.  Medicine alone won’t cure us… We need to build new habits and new ways of thinking for healthy lifestyles and relationships.  But there is little to be gained from therapy, counseling, or coaching, without the proper medical attention to the malfunctions we are experiencing behind the scenes in our most important organ: our brains.