11 thoughts on “Part 2: 7 Challenges of Borderline Personality Disorder

  • October 19, 2016 at 3:08 am

    I so look forward to your articles, Tamara–even on the harder topics for me personally lol. I realize just now as I was reading, my perspective on things (whether or how they affect me) is sometimes impacted by the space I am in, things going on in my life etc. Not that unusual I suppose…
    For instance, lately, I can identify with some dysphoria, feeling empty and lonely, and definitely I can see areas where things are way out of balance lately with regard to diet, exercise, sleep, too much free time and in every single relationship I have except one (family members and friends). I am the one people turn to for comfort, “borrowing” very small amounts of money or other items etc.
    I have always had a very negative bias against D.B.T. even with what little I know of it. This is because when I was hospitalized once several years ago we had to go to this group where we were introduced to it via a work sheet. It had 3 circles on it…something about wise or rational mind, emotional mind etc. It happened to be during the same hospitalization that I took an open book final college exam in my “Abnormal Psychology” class and ended up acing it–talk about irony LOL!
    I fear this will sound conceited (definitely NOT me) but even at my worst, I generally function pretty well–or at least have enough insight to know and admit I’m not doing well and explain why. The d.b.t. sheet went over self soothing ideas. I remember thinking and at one point expressing that the ideas seemed so common sense that it seemed insulting to people’s intelligence because “If those things, something so simple had worked, I wouldn’t even BE here in the hospital!” It listed things like “take a hot bubble bath,” “cuddle a pet or stuffed animal,” “go for a walk,” “call a friend.” I don’t know, it just seemed to strike me the wrong way but as I said in the beginning, when I am in a bad emotional place, things can do that!

    • October 19, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Velveteen Rabbit – I also had (and somewhat still have) a bias against DBT. For some reason I always felt embarrassed and ashamed that I had to be taught, as an adult, skills I “should” have learned as a child. I felt stupid, like I was so far behind everyone else. But the sad truth is that my parents were simply unable to teach me the basics of emotion regulation because they didn’t know them either. I also had the belief that I shouldn’t *have* to take care of myself as an adult, that someone else “should” soothe me because I didn’t get any of that when I was a kid, like I was somehow entitled to have someone else (like my therapists) take care of me. Those two issues/beliefs have made recovery really difficult for me in my almost two decades of therapy. It’s only been in the last few months or so that I’ve made an effort to care for myself because it is becoming blatantly obvious that no one else on earth is going to do it. I’m also finally starting to feel worthy of being cared for (thanks to EMDR), so that’s making it a bit easier as well. I totally understand the bias against DBT. I think learning it is probably life-changing, but I get why it may be difficult to buy into it.

      • October 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm

        Hi Dusty,
        Thank you for such great and wise insight. I appreciate that. I think you are right when you say that DBT can possibly be life-changing in some way. Even if it is just 1-2 concepts. The only 2 concepts I “approve of” and teach clients is self-soothing techniques and wise mind. Otherwise, I often shy away as many of you have in the past.

      • October 20, 2016 at 1:07 am

        Hi Dusty,
        Thanks for responding to my post! I can completely identify with you when you shared that you weren’t taught emotional regulation because I wasn’t either. I think part of it may be that emotions just weren’t talked about as much in our parents generation and/or maybe THEY weren’t given what they needed either. I just know that growing up with my stepfather, the only emotions the family focused on were his and if we had emotions, they’d better be passivity, obedience and happiness!
        I also identify with at times wishing to be taken care of. Even as a full grown adult, I crave that (mostly silently) when I am really hurting and then I often feel ashamed that I feel the need for that as well as feeling sad, frustrated and at times angry that I didn’t get it AND that I can’t have it now. It is hard sometimes but I too am learning that I can try and give myself at least some of what I missed.
        Thanks again Dusty!

    • October 19, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Hi Lori,
      Thank you for your kind comments. 🙂 You always add wonderful layers to our discussions and that’s what we need to educate each other and keep the conversation going. So thank you for commenting and sharing.

      In regards to your comment about dysphoria, I did not mention (but should have) that dysphoria is something that may come and go. I don’t think many clients with BPD feel dysphoria most of the time. Some of my clients claim their dysphoria comes and goes and that there are some days/months/weeks/years where everything seems okay. The ways in which you experience dysphoria will most likely depend on how severe the symptoms are, how many coping skills you use or do not use, how much social and emotional support you have, etc.

      As far as DBT, I can see why you have that bias. DBT is not an exact science and many individuals with BPD who I have worked with or who my colleagues have worked with report that DBT has only either helped them a little bit or not at all. Every person is different and no therapeutic theory is 100% effective. I struggle, even as a therapist, to offer certain DBT concepts to my clients. I only discuss the concepts that make sense to me and doesn’t cause me to have a “what the heck is this?” reaction.

      What you are referring to is Wise Mind (rational, emotional, and wise mind). This can be a helpful tool for some clients, but most people truly seem to struggle with embracing this tool. I think it is simply too complicated and theoretical for some.

      • October 20, 2016 at 1:25 am

        Tamara, I have a feeling that if you ever decided to run an online support group, you’d be swamped with new clients lol! Thanks for responding to my comment.
        I love that you don’t seem to have that belief that there is only ONE right way to heal according to your own belief or value system or even just one rigid therapeutic orientation! You and my therapist are alike in that area. NOT that you don’t have beliefs, values etc but it’s great that you seem to understand that not every client responds the same way or needs the same things.
        I’m glad you aren’t offended by my dislike of some of the D.B.T. stuff (what little I know of it). It seemed when it was fairly new, EVERY professional I encountered was embracing it like it was the “holy grail” of healing and they were pushing it on clients left and right! Some were okay with it and seemed to respond well and function better–or at least, it allowed them to put some space between “slow idle,” “revving up” and “crash and burn” lol. By that I mean, it seemed it bought them some time to think of some healthier solutions to try and calm themselves down compared to the previous reactions. Other clients I worked with as a respite care worker just wanted no part of it or were simply too ill to find it helpful.
        Thanks again!

  • October 19, 2016 at 3:19 am

    I have just been diagnosed BPD, but also have Bi-polar Effective Disorder. I have never understood my own thinking, some of which I won’t even share in therapy. I have attempted twice, but nearly succeeded once with an overdose. I’m always told how strong I am, but inside I’m screaming. I’ve felt like I pretend at living every day. I hate it with a passion.

    • October 19, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Hi Ruth,
      I am sorry you have struggled so much with the BPD diagnosis. Just know that you are not alone. Although knowing this will change nothing, it may give you strength to continue on. For me, when I know I am not the only person suffering in some way, I gain a different perspective and different level of strength which gives birth to courage.

      As far as therapy, therapy should be a place where you feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts an deepest feelings. If you feel uncertain or uncomfortable, perhaps you have the wrong therapist. Your therapist should be able to help you explore the “screaming inside” and find some kind of comfort. Just an ounce of comfort can take you a long way.
      Take good care

  • October 22, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I have BPD, I have a ex boyfriend who takes care of me who is a angel for putting up with me, I have had bad relationships with men in the past and now don’t bother, I am hard work, I know that I will never be married and I’m cool with that, I’m unique and just getting on with life the best way I can. Love Elizabeth x

  • October 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Hi Tamara. Great, insightful piece, as usual. You’ve advised me before about BPD when combined with avoidant behaviour. My question this time is about crossing the line, and whether it’s possible to cross back again. My high functioning BPD friend stepped almost into relationship territory with me – that was when the conditions became evident – realised he couldn’t cope with it and said he had to step back to friendship. However, since then his behaviour toward me has changed. It’s clear he feels close and I think that’s a trigger for feelings of depression and withdrawal, which didn’t happen before. He’s also blamed me for random things a few times. Now he can only cope with limited, non-emotive contact by text, and definitely not in person as this seems to trigger the withdrawal again. Is there any way we can move back and rebuild the friendship and trust we had before?

  • September 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I “failed” EMDR and chickened out on CPT-PE, so am doing DBT as a sort of foundation course so I can decide what to do next while stayin’ alive. My DBT therapist is basically a dog trainer and doesn’t give a fig for bizarre experience(s), since nothing could *ever* top being born in the wrong body like this person was, amiright? 😉

    Anyway, on the plus side, this person is very consistent, amenable to argument, and very hard to shock. So if I ever do get around to sharing any details with them, I think I can count on a total lack of nose-tears or reflexive disbelief.

    DBT itself is a mixed bag. (I’ve actually wanted to do the interpersonal stuff for *years*.) So far it is helping me create a “gap” between myself and my emotions/behaviors/decisions/impulses/whatever. Also meditation is slowly becoming less of a terrifying blast from a very bad past, so hooray. But I can tell that DBT will not be the only thing I need to heal and become fully human, no matter how much I put in.


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