Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe mental health condition marked by symptoms such as…
You Can Recover From BPD
When Shane tells his story of recovery from borderline personality disorder, it’s hard for audiences to relate the calm, rational voice of the speaker before them to the highly volatile and extremely sensitive Shane of the past. In order to help them understand his experience, he tells a story of his 4-year-old, Declan. At a family gathering to celebrate a great aunt’s birthday, Declan, an usually quiet child, had become hyper. He was happy to receive the attention and praise of the people in the room and seemed extra talkative. But when he realized the gifts weren’t for him, and was asked to calm down and make room for others, he seemed to experience a sense of rejection. Declan became emotional. He’d gone from happy and excited to pouty and tearful in a matter of moments. And very soon, he was throwing a fit – crying loudly and throwing himself against the furniture. His little body finally collapsed on the floor as he whimpered to his mother, “I just need a hug.”
Shane tells his audiences that he in no way intends to equate BPD with childishness, but for him, being borderline felt like his little boy seemed to feel: unable to manage his own emotions and easily hurt by people and situations.
Just like Declan, Shane did not want to feel the way he’d felt. Any person living with BPD wants to heal. So when he discovered that multiple therapies had been proven to help BPD sufferers, he immediately went on a search. He’d tried cognitive behavioral therapy for many years, and it had helped, but dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and something called schema therapy pushed his progress forward even more. Within a few years, Shane felt like a new person. Unlike the period of his teens and early 20s, he was now mostly calm, centered and relaxed. He experienced his emotions less violently and was more able to talk about them honestly. He felt less desperate and more in control. Through the process of BPD recovery, he’d even been able to give up addictive behaviors and had met his wife – the first relationship in Shane’s life that had been healthy and functional. Their decision to bring Declan into the world had been rational, not reactive, and his parenting approach was the same. Shane knew that his recovery allowed him to be the father he’d always wanted, and the man he’d secretly hoped he could become. He wanted others to know it was possible.
BPD Can Get Better
BPD has had a bad rap in the healthcare community. Because sufferers experience such intense emotional reactions, they are often labeled as “difficult.” And it was long believed that they would never get better, but that simply is not the case. With better research and the voices of advocates stepping forward on behalf of BPD sufferers, it is now understood that BPD is a disorder from which suffers can recover; it does get better. These days, BPD is even referred to as “the good prognosis diagnosis.”
Believe in BPD Recovery
Like any type of growth or evolution process, recovery for BPD sufferers is not a straight shot forward and up; the progress may involve many back steps and some pauses. These “failures” can and should be seen as opportunities; they are simply a part of the process. Believing in the possibility of recovery is necessary to its development. With an open mind and an optimistic attitude, you are more likely to engage actively in exercises and practices meant to help you transition out of old patterns and into new ones. Have compassion for yourself along the way. No recovery happens overnight, but it does happen – if you are a willing participant to your own growth, and be an active agent of change in your own life.