“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness can’t be understood through reading self-help books or hearing about it from someone else. Mindfulness must be practiced on a daily basis to learn and receive the benefits from its use.
So how do you practice mindfulness?
Keep reading to learn 3 daily habits to start practicing to increase your daily mindfulness this week..
Mindfulness is the core skill taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, but how exactly does it help people with Borderline Personality Disorder?
One summary of the research by UCLA reported on the positive correlation between meditating and positive affect, as well as a more active immune system, for example. Harvard recently published a report on mindfulness as an alternative approach to depression.
The term “mindfulness” can be abstract and difficult to understand, so let’s begin with describing what mindfulness is.
Mindfulness (in the context of DBT) is a skill developed by Marsha Linehan from the basic principles of Zen Buddhism. It consists of practices designed to build conscious awareness into the everyday moments of your life. Practices include things like yoga, meditation, prayer, and visualization exercises. Mindfulness practice doesn’t necessarily have to be a religious practice. Prayer and spirituality are some ways to practice mindfulness, but there are many other ways to tune into your intuition and connection with the universe. It is not a requirement to be religious in order to receive the benefits of mindfulness.
But mindfulness is so much more than just the practice exercises that make it up. Mindfulness is a way of life, a way of experiencing reality as it is, free of judgment and distraction. It is a way to step back and view the world, and then enter fully into the experience of life with awareness and knowledge of your true self and your motivations.
With time, mindfulness practice actually produces changes in your brain. The limbic system, which is so involved with the episodes we equate with Borderline Personality Disorder, can be “calmed” and “focused” with mindfulness practice. Eventually your brain will automatically be able to separate itself from its emotional experiences without much effort at all, allowing us to think more clearly and make more rational decisions.
With a clear-thinking mind, we can let go of overwhelming emotions and judgments about ourselves and others and focus on doing what will work to achieve the goals we have. If our goal is to improve a relationship, for example, mindfulness will help us to calm our emotions so we can respond and communicate effectively with a loved one. THIS is how mindfulness helps us in our daily lives to manage our BPD.
So how do we make mindfulness a part of our daily lives? Start small. Choose one mindfulness exercise that resonates with you. One exercise I like is to let drops of water hit my hand, and focus on just the steady drop of water, feeling the wetness, feeling the weight, and breathing slowly. Do that exercise for 10 minutes every day for a week, or two weeks. When it has become habitual for you to do your daily mindfulness exercise, it’s time to add another mindfulness moment into your day! Ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the evening is a great way to build up your practice time. The more you build the habit, the easier it becomes, the less effort it requires. Keep increasing your mindfulness moments, and soon you’ll be shocked at how much control you are starting to gain over your thoughts and impulses!
How to Survive Depression
By Author Stephanie Anne Allen
How to Survive Depression is the first book in the “How to Survive Series”. This short but powerful self-help book aims to inform and inspire readers by connecting with them on a deeper level. I have had both professional and extensive personal experience with clinical depression, and therefore I can offer readers knowledge, compassion, and empathy.
In the pages of this book I hope you will find what you are looking for. I begin by educating the reader on the causes, symptoms, and the illness itself. Then I offer my own personal journey and I end with inspirational quotes that I have found helpful in my own struggles with this illness.
You are not alone in your battle against this horrible mental illness. I’ve been there. I’ve been through it, and I want to be a prime example of recovery and resilience.
How to Survive Depression is available in eBook, paperback, and audiobook at www.amazon.com/author/allenstephanie.
Here at BPD Balance we highly support and encourage our fellow mental health warriors to share their creative talents. Let’s give Stephanie Anne Allen a great review for her courage and hard work! And if you want to share your work as well, send us a message here on our website through our contact form. We will be happy to speak with you!
Lifelong mental illness requires constant monitoring by doctors, caregivers, and by ourselves. Not a day goes by that we can afford to skip the check-ins with ourselves and the action steps necessary to keep us from going off the deep end. Making sure we take our medications; trying to balance being productive with overextending ourselves and making the symptoms worse; examining every emotion and thought and action for mistakes… it’s a full-time job. The mental effort is just as exhausting as any physical effort.
This is the life lesson I’m revisiting these days. If I forget or choose to ignore how sick I am, I will fail to maintain the illness and it will get a hold of me. After so many years of working to gain control of my illness, I definitely want to maintain a healthy life pattern so I don’t take steps backward. Unfortunately it usually requires a few steps backwards to open our eyes to the need to maintain. I slack off when things are going well. Then I pay the price. With meds, with self-care and rest… you name it, I neglect it at some point in my struggle to juggle life’s demands. That’s the reality of chronic mental illness.
My initial instinct when I realize I’ve been neglecting some aspect of my health care is self-loathing and self-hatred for being such a horrible, lazy, stupid girl. Does that get me back on track? NO. Never. It just makes me feel worse. To get back on track, I have to practice my skills, and practice them now. Practice fighting the negative self-talk and self-hatred with truth. Everything ebbs and flows; as I ebb and flow through life, so does my inner growth. I may fall behind at times, but I learn a deeper lesson every time I pick myself back up and continue. Give myself a pat on the back for not giving up. Radically accept that I am in this particular place in my life. Cease to judge it as positive or negative. And embrace it for the lessons it will teach me and the depth and wisdom it will create in me.
I’m really sick. It’s not a bad or good thing. It just is. Now what does it teach me?
First, tell us all about your book! When did you start writing it, and what led you to the decision to start creating it?
My Mental Madness Memoir by [pen name] Stephanie Anne Allen is my TRUE life journey through all the challenges and difficulties I faced due to suffering from several severe mental illnesses. It is an intriguing and chilling story that takes you deep inside the insanity, disturbing behaviors, oppressive symptoms, and the various feelings associated with mental illness. Discussed topics include, but are not limited to, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I endured suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation, mania, paranoia, and psychosis, with intense hallucinations of all five senses, and multiple delusions including the belief that I was the “second coming of Christ.” Just as I thought I could take no more, I turned my life around. I learned to accept and deal with my illnesses. I became grateful for all that I am blessed with in my life.
I began writing My Mental Madness Memoir in February of 2017. It was originally titled as “The Beggar They Hung to a Cross” but was retitled after being confused with a religious book. I made the decision to write this book in an effort to bring hope and inspiration to others by proving that recovery from mental illness is possible. It was published in an attempt to stop the stigma associated with the mentally ill and bring awareness to all.
What was the process of writing like for you? What difficulties did you experience, and did you gain insights about yourself?
I will be 100% honest, just like my book is. It was not easy revisiting all the mental pain and agony I went through. I spent many hours daily trying to write a story that would benefit others. As I was writing it, it was almost as if I was actually experiencing all the previous chaos I had been through. But I continued to write as I was hoping to reach out and help as many people as possible, whether they be the mentally ill, their families and friends, or just someone interested in learning what a mentally ill person goes through. I also gained much insight into my own mental health. So yes, I would say it was helpful to me as well.
What is your current mental health diagnosis?
Currently my diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder which is both a mood and a thought disorder.
My journey has not been easy to any degree, as you will see when you read my book. But going through all the heartache and pain made me into the individual I am today. Without the mental anguish, I would have not been able to write this book and help others.
What is your favorite book on mental health or Borderline Personality Disorder?
Actually I have two! The first being the DSM-V, which is very informative of the guidelines used to diagnose mental illness. The second is The Quiet Room which is an interesting and informative read as well.
What is your best online resource for mental health information?
There are several sites available, but not all of them are accurate. You have to be careful. Writers who have stigma about mental illness often write biased material. So if you are looking for a resource, I would recommend the DSM-V.
What do you consider to be the most significant differences between the DSM-IV and the DSM-V?
Well, to make this short, the DSM-V is just an “updated” edition of the DSM-IV. The DSM-V is less biased and is based on the newest research available.
What is your opinion on the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder?
BPD treatment is essential if the person wants to be able to construct any kind of healthy relationship in their life. For this illness, I would say that intense therapy is a must. Medication may also be helpful for some of the symptoms of BPD, but honestly of the two I would say that therapy is the most effective for this illness.
Also, there are other things victims can do, including reading self-help books (and even mine) and joining support groups.
What do you believe are the keys to recovery from mental illness?
Recovery from mental illness is a very difficult process. The first step is to admit to yourself that you are indeed sick and may be for the rest of your life. Then you must get treatment from professionals. But also the person must have hope and faith (in self and/or God).
It is very important for a mentally ill person to avoid stress and to not push yourself too hard. Stress often leads to resurfacing of the symptoms. Also, a regular sleep cycle is important. Exercise and healthy diet help. In addition, you must take your medications daily, as prescribed, at the same time each day.
How much of BPD do you think is hereditary, and how much is environmental?
BPD, without a mood or thought disorder diagnosis, is a personality disorder which is caused by outside factors such as past experiences. I honestly do not believe it is hereditary at all. The reason it may seem to run in families is because family members often have the same environmental factors. But I do not think that BDP is inherited.
What do you believe are the keys to finding a good therapist and/or psychiatrist?
Finding a good therapist and psychiatrist is difficult because treatment can be so expensive if you don’t have any medical insurance, but do not let your finances deter you from getting help.
When you are looking for a therapist, you need one that is empathetic to your situation and to your needs. If you do not like your therapist, you are free to select a new one. There are good therapists out there who want to sincerely help you.
As for finding the right psychiatrist, you need to look for one that is educated in newer drug treatments. Don’t be afraid to look around, and if you do not approve of the doctor, it is your right to get a new one.
What is your favorite life skill for maintaining emotions?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the most effective skills set to help those with Borderline Personality Disorder. I would suggest for individuals to get involved in this therapy. It will be very profitable to you.
What are your future plans in this area?
Well, I currently hold a B.A. in Clinical Psychology. I am hoping to become a peer support specialist, a mental illness blogger, and get involved in NAMI.
Also, I am working on turning My Mental Madness Memoir into a screenplay to be used in the creation of a movie.
Finally, I have started the creation of a new book, which I also hope you will find interest in.