Category Archives: Borderline Personality Disorder

Six Major Problem Areas Addressed by the DBT-CBT Recovery Program

DBT-CBT Addresses Six Major Problem Areas

These six areas are listed below.  Examples of the types of problems
we might have in each area are also noted.

This workbook is designed to meet the needs of people who suffer
from problems in SOME or ALL of the six areas.


1. RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

Conflict-Filled or Stormy Relationships   •   Abusive Relationships
Relationship Disappointments or Frequent Ups and Downs
Unfulfilling Relationships   •   Short-Term Relations
Love – Hate Relationships   •   Few or No Close Relations
Fear of Rejection  /  Actual Rejection  /  People Have Pulled Away
Co-Dependency  /  Dependency   •   Attention-Seeking Behavior
Fear of Abandonment  /  Actual Abandonment   •   Mistrust
Mad at Everyone   •   Loneliness  /  Can’t Tolerate Being Alone
Shyness  /  Fear  /   Major Discomfort in Social Situations

2. MOOD SWINGS – DEPRESSION – ANXIETY – ANGER

Moodiness  /  Major Mood Swings   •   Easily Angered   •   Rage
Guilt / Shame   •   Being a “High Drama” Person
Unbearable  /  Intense Emotions   •   Anxiety  /  Panic
Depression  /  Helplessness  /  Hopelessness  /  Worthlessness
Believe Things Won’t Get Better  /  Want to Give Up
Feel Out-of-Control  /  Overwhelmed  /  Suicidal

3. UNHEALTHY THINKING

Worrying  /  Overthinking  /  “Stewing” over Things
Dwelling on the Past   •   Preoccupied with Revenge
Pessimistic Thinking  /  Negative Expectations   •   Irrational Beliefs
Catastrophizing  /  Blowing Things Out of Proportion
Black and White  /  All-or-None Thinking
Putting Ourselves Down  /  Focusing on Our Worst Qualities

4. UNHEALTHY COPING BEHAVIORS

Please see the “List of Common Self-Destructive Coping Behaviors” above.

5. OTHER IMPULSIVE BEHAVIORS – BAD CHOICES

Doing Things on a Whim  /  Making “Snap Judgments”
Not Thinking Things Through and Having Negative Consequences as a Result

6. QUALITY OF LIFE PROBLEMS

Burnt-Out  /  Life Is a Chore   •   Nothing to Live For
Emptiness  /  Meaninglessness  /  Boredom
More Problems Than I Can Bear   •   Must Start Over
Financial Problems  /  Bankruptcy
Job Loss  /  Can’t Keep a Job Loss of Career or Professional License
Demotion  /  Probation at Work
Loss of Relationships   •    Family Pulled Away   •   Can’t See Children
Loss of Trust From Others   •   Reputation Damaged
Loss of Self-Respect and Integrity   •   Loss of Self-Confidence
Problems Getting an Education  /  Not Completing Semesters
Underachievement • Loss of Housing   •   Loss of Transportation
Loss of Possessions • Loss of Pets   •   Loss of Freedom
Legal Problems  /  Probation or Imprisonment
Health Problems  /  New Medical Diagnosis

This list is an excerpt from the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook – “Out-of-Control:  A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior”  by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.  – 2009 – Recovery Works Publications

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Why Do Borderlines Do Such Crazy Things?

This question was asked…and I couldn’t help to respond. One person responded to the question with an excellent description of the pain and trauma a borderline has experienced…a “well if you went through this…you’d be that way, too” type of response. It helps to make the non-understandable…understandable. It certainly helped to get a sense of the pain someone with bpd goes through…and has gone through.

To his response, I added the following information.

The term borderline originated because in the days of old, folks considered this to be borderline psychosis…because of the seemingly insane, crazy type of behavior…the OUT-OF-CONTROL behavior…behavior that oftentimes makes little sense to the observers and the targets of the behavior. Many times, borderline people don’t understand themselves because of their out-of-control emotions and behavior…imagine how hard it is for someone else to understand their behavior…especially someone who has little or no experience with this kind of stuff. At least the individual asking the question is asking…in a quest to understand the seemingly un-understandable!

From a DBT-CBT perspective, when we’re “Big Time in Emotional Mind,” we have little to no Rational Mind going on…we’re like 95% Emotional Mind and 5% Rational Mind. We’re not thinking straight…we’re not rational…we’re just BIG TIME IN EMOTIONAL MIND. Our emotions are intense…they are driving our perceptions…they are driving our behavior…they are driving our thoughts…we’re not dealing with reality or the way things really are…we are reacting to things based on our emotions, our fears and traumatic experiences, and our emotion-driven beliefs. Our emotions have “done gone crazy”…and we say and do irrational things in such an intense emotional state. But the truth, it’s not about being crazy…or stupid…or anything like that…it’s about being overwhelmed with emotions, memories, fears, trauma…it’s about being desperate…desperate for relief, desperate for comfort, desperate for a continuing relationship, desperate for assurance of safety…and it’s about desperately seeking to reduce our emotional intensity to a level that is more tolerable.

Everyone gets “Big Time in Emotional Mind” now and then…and when we are…we all do crazy, irrational things…we all lose control now and then…and we say and do all kinds of things…that afterwards we say, “What was I thinking?” Well, we weren’t thinking…rationally. We were just reacting emotionally. Emotional Mind was controlling our thoughts and our behavior…and we did some really desperate things to meet our perceived needs in the heat-of-the-moment.

With borderlines (and like the rest of us now and then), the past slams into the present…and it’s really hard to deal with the here-and-now as it is in the here-and-now. They react to today’s situations with the anxiety, intensity, fears, unmet needs, rage, and the memories of all the pain and trauma from the past. I’d venture to say that all borderlines have full-blown PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)…or many features thereof…and they react to the present…and live the present as if it was the past. It’s like they expect the present situations to be a repetition of the past…because the past repeated itself so many times before.

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.