I have been in a gooood headspace lately. I am so so grateful to be where I am at in my life right now that BPD feels so on the wayside in my day to day life. Apart from random moments where I have anger urges or feel uncomfortable with behaving in a new/more effective way, I spend my days in a pleasant working environment making friends with colleagues, spending time with my family and taking good care of myself. So I wanted to share some of the things that are helping me!
- Ever since I started recovery over a year ago I read and continue to read recovery related/hope inspiring BPD accounts. Knowing there are others out there who have gone/are going through exactly what I am makes me feel less alone, their strength and their recovery stories inspire me, plus I almost always learn some new tips/tricks on how to keep getting better. It also keeps my focus on recovery not on dwelling on my pain. I want to share a post I read just yesterday:
Background: severe emotional abuse at the hands of Borderline father from a young age
Diagnoses: Borderline, Paranoid, and Schizotypal PDs; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (centering around intrusive thoughts).
Recovery Process: It all started with being open to change—being able to admit I wasn’t perfect. In the end, the combination ended up being all of the following:
- Medication (Luvox [an antidepressant] and Topamax [a mood-stabilizer]). Luvox brought my baseline mood higher, and Topamax evened out my emotional rollercoaster.
- Dietary Supplements (Optional). I’m taking a men’s multivitamin, Omega 3 fatty acid, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC—which is technically for my OCD, but who knows if it helps for BPD too).
- A relationship based not solely on desire but on mutual compatibility, patience, and trust (in addition to ignoring impulses to sabotage that relationship, which has been going on for 1.5 years now and is the best thing that has ever happened to me)
- Individual therapy. Talking out my faulted thinking patterns with a professional really helped me work through the knotted mess of dysfunction that my head used to be. It took some time, but it was probably the most important mental aspect of all.
- DBT skills. Some of them were completely worthless, but some were life-changing. Deep-breathing and guided-imagery allowed me to tolerate distress in the moment when my therapist couldn’t reach me and my medication wasn’t enough. A good place to get started is /r/dbtselfhelp.
- Exercise. I have found that time and time again, this is the single most important aspect. Out-of-control emotions are the core aspect of BPD, and the larger the energy-surplus you have, the less even your keel will be. In order to be as even as possible, then, you must make yourself get out and get regular aerobic exercise. I have found that 3 days a week is my sweet spot—go out and find yours. (NOTE: I have found, personally, that anaerobic exercise–i.e., lifting weights–makes me more aggressive/emotional. I personally would recommend avoiding it.)
- Sleep. If your energy is sapped, your inhibitions are down, and your emotions run wild. You need to get regular (same time every night), restful (uninterrupted, comfortable, 7-9 hours) sleep as often as possible in order to stay out of Borderline-mode.
- Diet. If you put salt instead of gas into a car, how is it going to run? Not so well. Just so, with the human body. The body is sent into overdrive when it digests energy-rich foods or chemicals, and emotions are no exception to this rule. That being so, for people whose emotions are especially susceptible to going haywire, our emotions respond exponentially to these same stimuli. In short, cut out caffeine and cut down on sugar–or at the very least, maintain a very even intake, such that there are few to no spikes in digestion.
- A spiritual life. I know this isn’t for everyone, and I was a staunch atheist before meeting my girlfriend, but being with her has brought me back to my roots, and believing in something more than this world brings me comfort..
Some of my biggest realizations during my progression:
- I don’t need to be “special”—it’s okay to be average/not exceptional.
- “Love that isn’t tested can’t be true”—in other words, if I don’t let my girlfriend out my sight, then that’s not trust and that’s not real love.
- It’s not that other people are intentionally assholes, it’s just that they aren’t hypervigilant like I am because they weren’t abused as children. It’s not normal to empathize like I do. I should go out of my way to give them quarter, because I am aware and they aren’t.
- When something someone else does bothers me, it is myself that I must change, not the other person.
- I am a ball of clay, and my will is the hand that holds me. ”
This account also leads me onto my next point:
2. Healthy routine. Due to my work and my own comfort zone I have found a daily routine has worked wonders for me. It is amazing how different I feel just from having a sleep routine, limiting caffeine, limiting junk food, having set working hours, having a pleasant working environment, positive company, healthy eating and spirituality. These things alone without any kind of therapy help me so much.
3. Treating myself well. This may come a little more naturally to me as I enjoy home beauty treatments/pampering etc. but I am no stranger to the days where despair was so deep all I could do was exist, smoke and exist until the next day. But the past few months I have been taking care of myself in the sense that I pamper myself, regardless of how I feel inside, I take a bubble bath, I do an oil treatment for my hair, I cut my nails, I book a day or half a day off work, I plan lunch or dinner with friends, I make a natural ingredient facial. These small things work wonders when I’m feeling ratty, exhausted, less than human. My rationale for this was that if I treat myself as someone who deserves kindness, attention and care I will be sending that information to my brain almost like I am teaching myself that this is what I deserve regardless of if I feel differently inside. In doing this, I am learning to love myself and be kind to myself.
4. Gratitude. Ok, I usually feel like that sounds so cheesy when I read it but it is so true. Sometimes my ‘BPD’ brain can get stuck in negative thoughts, focusing on everything I don’t have or how my life is different to other peoples. But then, dig a little deeper and I realise I have so many things people are wishing they had. A conversation at work yesterday reminded me that I’m lucky just to have my own garden. This evokes in me a sense of humility, appreciation and happiness. I was almost moved to tears today by all of the good in my life that I DO have.
5. Going to places/doing things I haven’t done before and I’m excited about. I’m too broke for holidays so I’m not talking things that necessarily cost a lot. Just having a weekend that is remotely exciting/new takes me outside myself and out of my head, even if just for a while and helps me get through the weeks.
6. BPD management/recovery comes first. This might sound self-centered but I don’t care. I have prioritised my BPD after my spirituality (which studies have shown increased spirituality actually decreases BPD symptoms anyway). NOTHING and NO-ONE else comes before my recovery and management. I accept that’s the way it is for me. The minute I try to ignore/minimise the fact I have this condition and put other things before it, I will start to slip and negative behaviours come out. This has to come first in order to have anything else.
I’m deliberately leaving out therapy etc. because I wanted to make the point that there is so much that can be done outside the therapy and the manuals.
If anyone has their own list/things that they would put on this list please please do share, I am always looking for more ways to help manage this tricky condition. Thank you 🙂