Getting old is easy but getting wise is hard work. Especially for someone with BPD.
Just because I have a recovered lived experience from BPD and I live a well life, does not mean I don’t ever get angry, pissed off, irritable, frustrated, bitchy, gossipy, mindless and jealous. I do, but it is no longer the only way of dealing with life for me. I still miss people terribly when they go on holiday or move interstate, I still have impulsive moments when I eat chocolate, spent too much at the shops or write an irritable facebook response (and then delete it). However, I never self-harm, I never think about killing myself and I stopped drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and I no longer take pain killers to remove my mental anguish. My relationships have mellowed out, I walk away from conflict and argument and I avoid toxic people at all costs. I accept that the world is a terrible place or a happy one depending on where I place my focus and that my life is fully under my control, except when it isn’t. I also sleep well at night and wake up mainly refreshed to enjoy my job.
Age is reported to be a factor in overcoming BPD. This is measured on emergency department statistics. Less older people present at ED with self harm and suicide. Yet I am not 100% convinced this means BPD naturally resolves as we age. Some people get to 80 and you have to wonder what they have learned on the way up because they still don’t get it. They still subscribe to the same beliefs and ideology they did in their twenties.
However, it would be interesting to see what my BPD would look like had I not had 20 years of pretty special nurturing therapy. I think I too might have been as thick as a plank sandwich. I’m reasonably sure I would not have the same mind space without the ebbs and flows of that creative relationship, without all the books I read on mental health in general and BPD in particular, the trillions of blogs written and read, books, articles and emails I have written and received. In other words I have worked hard to earn the right to sleep well without the night demons eating my brain.
So BPD wisdom does not just happen because you clock up a few years, some wrinkles, iron grey hair, a dodgy bladder and several arthritic digits. It takes a lot of active mindfulness to remain focussed at all times on how you fit into this world, what your stable identity is, staying true to who you discovered you are and to be able to effortlessly deflect all the crap that flies your way. No way could I have done this without a lot of hard work and someone to guide me. I still have to actively control my emotions when I get triggered and deploy my own ways of detriggering myself.
Know thy brain structure and function. I found one of the best ways to mindfulness was to learn how the emotional brain worked when fired up. Learn how to feel deep inside your body, listen to the signals it is sending but remember also to sort facts out from feelings. No matter what house you live in, where in the world you travel, you will always live inside your body first. Get to know it well.
Woman in the mirror photo available from Shutterstock