So it began March last year with me being single (again), back at my mums, unemployed and fallen out with my younger sister who ceased all contact with me, all at the tender age of 25. This was NOT how I envisioned my life to be at this age. But, this was the turning point of when I decided to get really serious about recovery.
Luckily for me, while I was still in a fragile state of mind, I got an offer for a job in April. I immediately accepted and began mid April. I then looked for therapy. For BPD regular therapy, talk therapy, counselling, and therapists just won’t cut it. So I looked up an award winning therapist who specialised in therapy for emotionally sensitive and intense individuals and those who may or may not have BPD. She had qualifications in all the right therapies for BPD (MBT, DBT, Psychodynamic therapy). I began weekly sessions with her in May.
I covered my difficult past childhood trauma. For the first time someone knew and validated the entire experience of my childhood. She took my side and understood me when all my parents did was make me feel like the black sheep of the family for being so ‘angry’. These sessions gradually reduced my anger as I finally felt understood. I can safely say this has reduced my anger and changed my dynamics in the family permanently.
I learnt things about myself. This is huge for BPD as we feel we have no ‘identity’ I am not 100% there but even learning small things about yourself feels so amazing when all your life has been spent being confused. We looked at things I value. Not what my family values, not what my culture values but what I value. And I find them still to be true today. This helps me engage in activities and plan my life in a way that fits that. For example, I’m now always trying new experiences, seeing new places because I highly value that. (I am planning on going to Hyper Japan for the first time in July so excited!). I found out I have a love for architecture, that spirituality not money is important for me and other things.
I fundraised for the first time in my life and had fun doing it. I spent my summer going to gardens and meals out and was generally excited about life. Despite feeling the nagging claws of sadness and depressive episodes (which can feel really intense and disappear in a matter of hours) I clung onto the idea of life and joy. My friend even brought me a necklace with the chinese symbol of Joy that I had been trying to find to remind myself of my dedication to happiness.
I realised I enjoy teaching as I discovered through therapy. I booked a CELTA course and passed.
In November I fell in love with someone who was quite possibly the best personality I had picked out for myself. He was stable, calm, charming, polite and understood my sensitivity as being a positive thing. Too bad he was married but I made a conscious decision about that, so I can see I still chose a situation that wouldn’t work but despite that, it showed me that I have the potential of choosing good people and now know what I need in the future.
I got into DBT in February. This was a great choice for myself. I did emotion regulation and that has changed my life for the better. Whenever I feel an emotion and don’t know how to act because of it, I can check the facts, I can use opposite emotion if I need to and it has saved me from getting into arguments, saying things I will regret and making myself feel better. I have learnt skills for life. It has also saved me at times I felt really depressed and worried I would act out on self-harm or destructive urges.
There must have been a noteable difference by now as my sister slowly started talking to me again.
In March this year, I got a promotion. I was thrown into finding a new position at the same time as my break up. It was tough but with DBT and with taking a chance, I applied for a higher paying position and got it. I was working my way up the pay scale just as I had wanted.
I did the mindfulness module of DBT. This has helped me realise how important mindfulness is. I am also constantly learning about BPD, reading BPD survivor stories (almost everyday) and this helps me keep hope alive and has changed the way I think about BPD forever. It is not a life sentence, it makes life harder for sure, but you can make progress. I also listened to many Tara Brach talks – she helped me realise the importance of accepting your emotions, honouring them and not viewing them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and to practice self compassion.
I got into therapy again that helped me balance myself again and got me through the break up in a healthy way. It also allowed me to stop looking to my mum for the love and validation I didn’t get as a child and to some level I was still seeking. I was able to finally come to terms with the fact that as a person, my mum will never be able to give me that. My therapist called this ‘cutting off the psychological umbilical cord’ and it has changed me forever. I now seek those things for myself and no longer internalise hurt against my mother for failing to do that.
I then decided I needed something a bit clearer in terms of my therapy and progressing. In May I have done a lot in 1 month as I was off work:
I got myself a GP – call this a weird form of self harm but I never bothered to really take time to register with a GP since I moved to London as I hate going but I also felt it showed I didn’t care about myself. As in, if I had gotten seriously ill I would have just had to deal with it or end up in walk-in’s or emergency rooms. This means I finally eliminated that form of self harm.
I put myself forward for a free DBT programme, if all goes well, these are usually 1 year long and I am hoping and praying I hear from them soon.
I got myself a formal diagnosis. I got myself a medication treatment plan and have started medication. I also changed therapist and got myself a psychologist. Not because she was a bad therapist, she’s great but I realise it’s okay to address different issues as they come up and with someone new.
I entered the SLAA program. This has already benefitted me in so many ways. I have gained so much insight about my past patterns. I realised I have an addiction which I didn’t know for all my life pretty much and I am really looking hard at what my destructive relationship patterns did for me so that I can address them in new ways. I have also reached out to complete strangers and have shared intimate parts of myself and I have never done that or imagined doing that. I have finally been brave enough to accept the help of strangers and to welcome it. It has given me a new strength. Attending a face to face meeting made me challenge my social anxiety (which I have in new situations) and realising I was safe and not judged is helping me learn to face these situations in a new way.
I got myself another promotion. I moved up the pay scale once again. Although it’s not full time this means when I’m ready I can earn more than I ever have when I do work full time and quite possibly afford 2 therapy sessions a week if I want to.
I am getting the nerves to do teaching interviews. I’m looking for ESL positions online and although I have to wait until next week to hear back, I am going to use my DBT skills to tackle the fear and anxiety and just do it. If I do get a position I will be earning even more and making enough for my family to live better than we ever have.
The Quetiapine has been helping I have no doubt now and my mood is more even throughout the whole day. My head was actually quiet for the first time today and I cannot recall it ever being like that. It doesn’t remove the work I have to do in interpersonal situations (not taking things the wrong way, anger etc.) but I don’t fall into random depressive moods in the evening. That is an amazing feeling to finally have.
My relationship with my sister is completely resolved and if not better than ever as there have been no more periodic arguments. This is for the first time ever. Infact my whole family has noticed a change in me for the better as told by them.
I haven’t raged, broken anything, hurt anyone or self-harmed for 15 months. I am so happy to be able to say that in and of itself.
Of course there have been hiccups and things I wish hadn’t happened but, I want to focus on the positives here as they are much more important.
I have plans for the rest of this year, but maybe I’ll post that tomorrow.