The other day as I was looking through files on my computer, I came across a vlog that I recorded in 2010, about a month after being officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I was stunned. As I watched my “former self,” I compassionately remembered how awkward it felt to be her. I watched my physical mannerisms, my insecurities, and my then desperate attempt to present myself as someone who I thought others would think was “cute” or “cool.”
I had no real sense of identity. I was constantly morphing, like a chameleon, to adapt to the company that I kept. That’s the girl I saw in the video. Not only that, but in the vlog I spoke of a time when something that is so simple for many who do not suffer from personality disorders – the transition from weekdays to the weekend and vice-versa – was quite emotionally dysregulating for me.
Perhaps the thing that impacted me the most was how at the opening of the video, I said, “My name is Debbie, and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.” I don’t start my videos or blog posts that way anymore, because as I recently announced to the world via Healing From BPD, I no longer meet the criteria for a BPD diagnosis and am now in recovery.
Here’s that video. Compare it with other, more current videos I’ve done on my website and YouTube, and you’ll likely notice major differences, too.
An awful lot can change in three years. I hope you will be encouraged by my story if you or a loved one is currently suffering from BPD. Help is out there. There are tools and resources available to help you heal. I talk about many of them on my blog and invite you to check that out, as well as my books, Healing From Borderline Personality Disorder: My Journey Out of Hell Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Stop Sabotaging: A 31-Day DBT Challenge to Change Your Life.
I will also be one of the subjects in an upcoming documentary on BPD. Filming of my piece starts next week. I’ll keep you posted!
Thanks for reading,
You can follow Debbie at: Healing From BPD Website
Facebook: Healing From BPD
Tumblr: Healing From BPD
Google Plus: Healing From BPD
YouTube: Healing From BPD
As part of my recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, I have begun DBT coaching sessions on a weekly basis with Teresa Lynne of Essence Happens. You don’t have to be in recovery to benefit from the services she offers, and you’ll probably be very surprised to find out what these are for you and your family.
When you are coping with learning to be more skillful and to reduce self-sabotaging and self-destructive behaviors, I’m of the opinion that it’s a good idea to get all of the support you can get. It’s important that your loved ones (family members, partner) also have access to support.
Check out this video for more information and to take the next step in getting the additional support that you need at this time in your life.
You can find me at http://www.healingfrombpd.org
You can find Teresa at http://www.EssenceHappens.com
Thank you for watching. Feel free to leave a comment, share this video via social media and be a part of the discussion. You can also connect with me via the links below.
Thoughts pass through our heads all day long: “I wonder what I should wear today….Same old breakfast again….I look fat…He hasn’t called, he must not love me…The driver in front of me right now is deliberately being an idiot!”
The thing about thoughts is that they are not always facts, but we often give them undue power by responding to them as if they are. In this video, Debbie from HealingFromBPD.org discusses thoughts and the potential dangers of assigning meaning to them when we don’t have facts to support our assumptions. Also discussed are skillful strategies for effectively coping with thoughts — especially the more troublesome variety.
Can you relate to getting caught up in assigning meaning to your thoughts?
Thanks for reading and watching. I’ll be alternating weeks here at Psych Central with Dani Z. In the meantime, you can connect with me in the following ways:
Blog: Healing From Borderline Personality Disorder
Facebook: Healing from BPD
Twitter: @HealingFromBPD and @DailyDBT
Read my hopeful books on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Books by Debbie Corso]]>
Debbie truly embodies the “Be the Change” philosophy. She lives her life in a way that makes a difference. She speaks openly about her mental health issues and the things she has been through, she supports others and makes her own mental health and wellness a top priority in her life. I am excited to be working with her!
You can connect with me (Dani Z) here and on my website: www.daniz.me
Are you holing onto old negative perceptions of yourself? Do they hold you back and keep you from making changes? Do they keep you from appreciating who you are today?
More links to articles on the consequences of mental illness stereotyping in the media:
Crazy Talk by Vaughan Bell
You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother
‘I’m going on a date… we will have more fun if we are drinking.’
‘I have to clean the house… this will be much more pleasant with some wine.’
Eventually things got to the point that I felt, ‘I woke up this morning… this entire day will be better with alcohol.’
I have come to a place in my recovery that I feel peace in my life. Reality is a good place for me to be today. The goodness of the present moment will not be enhanced with alcohol. I don’t need to numb any part of this moment out with alcohol either. Even when things aren’t going quite the way I would like I can still be content with reality. I don’t need to add or subtract anything from ‘right now’.
I did a writing exercise this morning I would like to share with anyone that struggles with addictive or compulsive behaviors. It came from a book I just started called Mindful Recovery. The activity is to examine our thinking to determine the myths that we believe about our compulsive behaviors and what they are capable of doing for us. Write out your answers to the following. If you can think of any more helpful ones please write them in the comments below. 1) What do you believe engaging in the compulsive behavior will do you for? 2) How do you believe it will affect you? 3) Where did these beliefs come from? The next part of the exercise is to rewrite all those beliefs in a way that affirms your ability to accomplish positive experiences in your life without the compulsive behavior.
For example one of the myths I believed in the past is, ‘Alcohol makes me fearless and relieves my anxiety.’ I rewrote it as, ‘The power to be fearless and calm my anxiety is within me.’
This exercise was very helpful in allowing me to examine my deeper feelings and beliefs about my destructive behaviors. Obviously I wouldn’t engage in these things unless I believed they would help me in some way. The reality is that when I do something like drink to handle my problems it almost always makes things worse for me. It was helpful for me to reinforce my beliefs that I am capable of solving my problems without alcohol. I thought of another way to continue using this exercise in my life as a way to combat any relapse thoughts and urges. Yes, I am in a much better place but I admit I still have those fleeting thoughts on occasion. If I find myself wanting a drink I can think to myself, ‘What do I believe the alcohol will do for me in this moment.’ Then I can remind myself that I am capable of doing those things for myself.
I haven’t posted in some time so I will leave you with my latest video blog where I update on some of the changes in my life. Thank you for reading!
I have not posted in a while because I have been having difficulties managing my time and stress levels effectively since school started. I know that I am not the only one that struggles to find balance as a person living with mental health issues. A recent study published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness revealed that up to 64% of college students living with mental illness ultimately drop out of school due to difficulties with their illness. Although this is an alarming statistic, I must say I am not that surprised. I have struggled for years working to complete my college education while managing my mental illness. For the first time this semester I decided to get help from my school’s Office for Students with Disabilities. This is my first semester back since I have been doing this well in recovery but it is still much more challenging than I thought it would be. I am determined to make it through this semester so I have finally decided to seek some help.
Overall the amount of students reported to be receiving mental health treatment while in college is on the rise. There are several possible causes for this.1,2,3
Despite the fact that more people living with mental illness are working towards their education they often struggle because of their mental health issues. They do not seek the help or accommodations that are available to them and end up dropping out of school. The NAMI survey revealed 50% of the students that dropped out because of mental health issues said that they never sought help from the disability office at their school. Personally I have struggled in the past with making the decision of whether or not to ask for help from the Office for Students with Disabilities at my school. In the vlog below I talk more about my experience. I struggled with idea of being labeled “disabled”. What will the people at my school think of me? I didn’t want to get special accommodations because I thought that they might give me an excuse to be lazy. I know I am smart and I am much healthier than before so I told myself I shouldn’t need any special accommodations.
I have finally decided to humble myself and get the help I have needed for years. I am passionate about raising mental health awareness and supporting others. I know that I can help more people and have more credibility in this field if I get my education. I will do whatever it takes in order to achieve my goals, which means doing the best I can now, where I am now, with what I have now.
What kind of services and accommodations are available to students with mental illness? Many schools offer free or discounted counseling to students. In order to have special accommodations made through the disability office a note from a doctor, psychiatrist or a therapist is required. Specific accommodations will depend on your individual situation and your school’s policies. Here are a few examples of what is offered:
I spoke with the disability councilor at my school and she actually recommended that I take a medical withdraw from one of my classes. She said the number of hours I am working and classes I was taking would be challenging even for a student that didn’t have any disabilities. (I admit it was difficult to hear that.) She recommended I just start with one class if I have to work. She talked with me about the documentation I would need to send in to have the dropped class taken off my transcript for medical reasons. She also told me that I could get a couple other withdrawals from the past taken off my transcript too.
I am also getting some assistance in the class I am still attending. I get extended time on my tests and am able to type my answers to the English test essays rather than wright them. The councilor told me that she couldn’t offer me more time on my assignments but I have talked to the teacher personally about the situation. He has been flexible enough with me so that I am able to keep up. The councilor also told me that when I am ready to register for next semester I can come in and talk to her about the courses I want to take and she will help me figure out the best teachers and classes to register for.
I admit I am still getting adjusted to the whole situation. I woke up this morning and honestly felt very discouraged as I got ready for school. I wanted to have my paper finished to turn in today by the time I got there. Instead I am going to have to email it to my English teacher tonight and go in during his office hours tomorrow and talk to him about it. I had to remind myself of all the improvements I have made in recovery and that I am almost finished with this semester. I haven’t successfully completed a semester in years so that in its self is an accomplishment. I am doing well in the class and I know it will be an amazing feeling to make it all the way to the last day of class. I may not be doing perfectly but I am definitely making progress.
My goals right now are to continue with classes, get a bachelors and see where it goes from there. I plan on taking as many hours as I can while working. I think it would be awesome if I can start a NAMI on Campus or an Active Minds group at my campus someday but I know for now I need to focus on my own recovery and time management skills before taking on such a huge new responsibility. If you are living with mental illness and are interested in getting a degree I want to encourage you to get help from your school’s office of students with disabilities. If you know someone with mental health issues that is struggling in school please support them by letting them know help is available. There is a quote by Albert Einstein that I have been holding onto in this situation, maybe you will find it encouraging to: “Once we accept our limits we go beyond them”. To me accepting our limits means doing the best we can now, with what we have now, where we are now. If we do that we will surely make progress and get the most out of all life’s experiences.
¹ The New York Times “Mental Health Needs Seen Growing at Colleges”
² American Psychological Association “The State of Mental Health on College Campuses: A Growing Crisis”
³ NPR “Colleges See Rise In Mental Health Issues”
Stressed student photo available from Shutterstock]]>
Feel free to leave a comment to share your experience. You can also connect with me through the links below.
For more info on the topics I mention in the video please check out the following links
Recommended viewing and reading:
TEDTalksxBlue: Dr. Daniel Siegel explores the neural mechanisms beneath social and emotional intelligence and how these can be cultivated through reflective practices that focus on the inner nature of the mind. youtu.be/Nu7wEr8AnHw
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation with Daniel J. Siegel – youtu.be/Gr4Od7kqDT8?hd=1
Books by Daniel J. Siegal - www.amazon.com/Daniel-J.-Siegel/e/B00459LSPI
Function of emotions & benefits of painful emotions:
How Accepting Emotions Can Improve Your Emotional Health – bpd.about.com/od/livingwithbpd/a/accept.htm
The Function of Emotions – www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/emotion_function.html
More information on change and the therapy process:
American Psychological Associaltion – www.apa.org/topics/therapy/index.aspx
Dr. Katherine Nordal on How Therapy Helps Treat Mental Health Disorders – www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/05/mental-health-therapy.aspx
APA phamplet on depresston and treatment - www.apapracticecentral.org/outreach/depression.pdf
Mindfulness Based CBT- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness-based_cognitive_therapy
More information on family of origin therapy: www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-family-of-origin-issues.html
DBT Resources: behavioraltech.org/resources/tools_consumers.cfm]]>