How do I recover from Borderline Personality Disorder: A DBT-CBT perspective

Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It will require a lot of perseverance and focus…and Mindfulness every waking hour. It will require great effort to gain control of out-of-control emotions, behaviors, and thought processes. Then it will require great control to MAINTAIN control over time. You’ll have to want recovery more than anything else in life. Just like the alcoholic…to recover they have to want recovery more than anything else in life. You’re attitude will have to be “Recovery is my #1 priority” and then you’ll have to act in ways to make it so.

The question of how to recover from BPD was posed to me and I wrote a couple paragraphs to give the person an idea of what it would involve. I did not spell out a comprehensive treatment program, just an overview of some things it would involve. BPD is a severe personality disorder that requires a comprehensive treatment plan and years of therapy…and years of practicing new behaviors and skills to undo and change years of dysfunctional responses. So consider the following information to be an overview of the process and know there’s more to it!

Some aspects of recovery include:

    Therapy
    A support system
    Mindfulness
    Practicing life-enhancing coping skills to replace self-destructive ones…and using these in the heat-of-the-moment…and on a day-to-day basis to keep negative emotional levels as low as possible.
    Challenging self-destructive Emotion-Driven Thoughts with Rational Mind thoughts. Rational Mind thoughts relate to the unchanging TRUTH and facts about a situation, our life, other people, etc. Our Emotional Mind thoughts are based on our “in-the-moment perceptions”…or the way we think about things when we’re in an emotional state. For instance, when we’re upset, we may think and say, “Nobody cares about me.” This will be a habit…so we’ll have to catch ourselves (Mindfulness) and turn on Rational Mind and say, “Many people love me and care about me. I’m just thinking that because I’m upset right now. That’s just stinkin’ thinkin’” If we think, “Cutting would help me to feel better.”…we must catch ourselves and say, “Cutting helps in-the-moment, but it ends up causing me more pain and problems. Calling a support person and working through the moment will help me NOW and in the future. Cutting is relapse for me and will only bring me down and land me back into the Cycle of Suffering. I want recovery and I’ve got to use life-enhancing coping skills.” Wise Mind is already kicking in and will be offering some suggestions for getting through the moment.

Borderline Personality Disorder also involves dysfunctional relationship dynamics and patterns. Part of the recovery process is awareness of our sensitivities and our typical responses in relationships. Mindfulness is essential here. When we catch ourselves responding in old dysfunctional ways, we’ll have to use Rational Mind and Wise Mind to alter our responses. Like when someone hurts our feelings, we might think, “She is such a b—-. She was never my friend. I’m never going to talk to her again. I don’t get mad, I get even.” That’s Emotional Mind thinking…it’s Emotion-Driven Thinking…thoughts that are driven by or are caused by whatever emotions we are experiencing. We’re thinking that way just because we’re Big-Time in Emotional Mind. So, we’ll have to catch ourselves and challenge that thought with Rational Mind. For instance, we might remind ourselves of the truth about her and other people, like “She’s usually nice to me. Maybe something’s going on with her and she’s not in such a nice mood right now. She’s been friendly and she’s been my friend. Everyone has their moods…and I guess she’s in one right now.” Wise Mind would kick on and make some problem-solving suggestions, such as, “I’ll pull myself together and go on with my day and TRY not to worry about this. I’ll check back in with her later and see if she’s okay. If something is troubling her, I’ll offer to talk with her about it. If it seems like she’s upset with me, I’ll let her know I appreciate her friendship and I’m sorry if I did something to upset her…and I’ll encourage her to talk with me about it…and I’ll work real hard not to be defensive! I’ll try to smooth things over with her so I can maintain this relationship.”

There’s a lot to working through and changing a lifetime of experiences, habits, thought processes, reactions, etc. Therapy, support groups, a support system, mindfulness, following through with life-enhancing coping behaviors and problem-solving, and an attitude of “Recovery is my #1 priority” are some key elements to recovery. READ self-help books too…and learn as much as you can about recovery. Know that it took a lifetime to get us to this place and time…and it will take a while to recover. It’s step by step, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day…month after month..and year after year. I think it is reasonable to expect that even though we get to a point of being “pretty well recovered” things will still come up…things that will bring up old feelings, insecurities, and issues…that we’ll have to deal with. But, by then, we’ll be real practiced at it and it won’t take long to set ourselves straight. Honestly, I am “pretty well recovered” but I still have to deal with myself on a daily basis. I consider myself to be “a work in progress.”

Another thing to think about is that it is normal to be “abnormal.” Most people have issues and concerns that bother them. Some struggle to get better n’ better…and others remain in denial and blame others, avoid their issues…and remain in a Cycle of Suffering.

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One response to “How do I recover from Borderline Personality Disorder: A DBT-CBT perspective

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