Recovery, the one thing everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder wonders if it is actually possible, after all it’s a condition with little useful treatment options and no ‘cure’.
Is recovery possible?
How can someone with BPD achieve it?
Will it last?
These are just some of the questions that I and others with BPD ask ourselves and others all the time and the answers are not straight forward, the possibility of recovery from BPD is as complex and troublesome as the condition itself… but…
There are many stories of people who claim to have recovered from BPD and go on to live ‘normal’ lives. Read Rachel Reiland’s book ‘Get me out of here’, Merri Lisa Johnson’s ‘Girl in need of a tourniquet’ and Stacy Pershall’s ‘Loud in the house of myself’ for just a few examples of the degrees of recovery achievable. You can also check out Ellie Kerbela’s website Running Scarred and forthcoming book of the same name.
As for me, I guess there is a book in this my journey too, whether it get’s written or published is another matter, but for now I have and will continue to share my journey through this blog.
My current state is one which I would class as recovered (I want to stay positive about it so I’m dropping the ‘remission’ notion as that implies that I will return to my previous state – something I want, hope and am working hard to prevent happening). So, yeah I’m better, better than I was four months ago, better than I was a year ago, better than I have been in as long as I can remember!
How did I reach this point?
Well, it’s not been easy. I have not had the opportunity to get access to much in the way of help, support and/or treatment for my BPD. Heck, the ONLY bit of help I have had has been paying privately for psychotherapy sessions, which while they have been a good place to talk about things have not really (I believe) had much influence on reaching this point.
Mostly it has been down to my own inner strength and determination that I have come to be able to claim I am recovered.
I have read widely about BPD, analysed the condition and how it impacted me deeply.
I studied every detail of each criteria, applied it to my own situations and in doing this learnt to identify what was happening to me, my emotions and what things were triggers and my own and others actions, reactions and the resulting consequences.
Initially I was able to apply this scientific, analytical approach to how BPD worked just ‘after’ the event, but eventually I began to do it during events, and now I can even identify the potential situations before an event occurs, at least most of the time.
This alone has been the main route to my recovered state. I have learnt to step in with my rational, wise mind (in DBT terms, even though I have not had any DBT) rather than allowing my emotional mind to take control of events and situations.
Now, while that may sound like quite a simple thing to those who do not have BPD anyone with BPD will clearly recognise how difficult such control would be to achieve when BPD is basically all about you being unable to control, rein in and manage difficult emotions which are experienced at levels greatly amplified from ‘normal’. Intense, powerful, unstable emotions are the underlying characteristic of BPD which lead to the nine criteria for diagnosis and is more clearly recognised in the alternative name for this condition ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder‘.
Controlling your emotions without any help or guidance on how to do this is something BP’s struggle to do at all. We did not gain these skills growing up like other people did, for whatever reason during our childhood (recognised or not at the time or later) our ability to control emotions was hampered, flawed. The skill’s in managing emotions that non-bp’s gained naturally as part of growing up is something we missed out on somehow, whether it be down to our parental situation, environmental conditions, physically or sexually abusive situations or whatever other possible multitudes of factors either singularly or combined that caused this emotional dysregulation, it happened and we cannot change that.
Something is broken and needs fixing – emotion regulation – the key to defeating BPD.
Regulating your emotions is not easy, even non-bp’s cannot manage it all the time. Anyone and everyone can and will ‘fly off the handle’ at some point because emotions are powerful!
What I have achieved, the way I have done it, is not something that will be possible for everyone with BPD, I’m not being patronizing or mean here and I’m sorry if it sounds like I am, I really don’t mean it to be! It is literally about ‘how’ I did it that makes it not possible for everyone, I’m no saying that some people cannot recover, just that they cannot do it this way….
It has been extremely difficult to learn to regulate my emotions and I have done it alone, unaided, which has only made it more difficult. I have more strength than I realised and the skills, intelligence and desire to fight to overcome the emotional dysregulation that was the bane of my life. Not everyone with or without BPD has this capability…
What I am saying is that each of us has different levels of ability and reaching a point of recovery on your own without outside help, support and treatment is something even I did not think I could do by myself – I am lucky that I have managed to do this. Other’s may not be so lucky that they can gain control alone, there are many reasons why this may not be something other BP’s can do, so many factors can hinder the opportunities for doing this.
And even for those who may try to do it alone as I have done life itself can get in the way and prevent you being able to gain the control you are fighting so hard for – but don’t let this get you down, you are not a failure, you just need help and should put your efforts into fighting to get that help which will give you the boost you need to reach recovery. Doing it alone is the hardest way, and yes not everyone will have the choice or opportunity to gain outside help meaning (as it was for me) that doing it alone is your only option and if this is the case then you have to be prepared for working harder than you have ever worked on anything before, because gaining the self-control to recover from BPD alone is the biggest battle you will ever face!
Still it is possible to get there, whether you can do it alone or with help, it can be done, you just have to never give up, never give in and keep on fighting your inner demons – then one day you too will be able to claim you have recovered from BPD.
Then challenge then is to maintain this new state and as such my journey continues…
So, to answer my initial questions –
Is recovery possible? – Yes, but it is a long hard journey and you may not be able to do it alone.
How can someone with BPD achieve it? – With hard work, determination and by actually wanting to achieve it.
Will it last? – I guess that is down to keeping up the fight, never backing down, because control is something that could easily be lost again if you don’t keep on trying!
Have you recovered from BPD?
How did you achieve recovery?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below 🙂
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