“It is important to appreciate that once in hell, it is possible to climb out of it. -Marsha Linehan”
The authors describe how they participated in DBT treatment, as well as the effect and the hard-earned results that came from their commitment and efforts.
DBT taught me the skills I needed to help manage my illness. I deal much better with stressful life events. I am able to stop and think before acting on impulses. I have effective coping skills to replace the self-destructive ones I was using. I still have moments are lapses; I’m just better able to get back to the baseline or back on my recovery process quicker. Author 17 (p. 121)
Living with chronic pain, like BPD, takes severe patience, discipline, and self-knowledge. It is absolutely exhausting on every level to have to be so constantly aware, to have to keep employing DBT skills over and over and over again, only to watch those skills break apart under pressure. Author 14 (p. 104)
The cumulative effect of the DBT skills — I was learning weekly and practicing daily–was resulting in changed behavior and changed outcomes in my everyday life. It was clumsy, but I was making an effort to describe to someone a situation that was making me angry and expressing how the situation was making me feel and telling them what I wanted them to do or say in order for me to feel good or better about the situation — this, as opposed to a more scorched-earth pattern of profanity and unfixable relations.
The overall effect of six months of DBT was that I was less agitated, both in frequency and degree, than before. I found myself open to new things, new ways of thinking. When the doctor asked me to make a list of things I wanted, because I’ve spent my life focused on what I hated and was mad about, I found that I wanted a lot of things. I put together three pages of things under a heading of I WANT I WANT I WANT. Author 21 (p. 158)
Learning DBT was like finding the Rosetta Stone to my foggy fibro, BPD brain. Suddenly I understood. Everything became so clear. Building skills like mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness has drastically changed how I see, interpret, and respond to the world, as well as to myself. I’m handling crises better. I no longer have a complete mental breakdown when I’m late or losing life, which is huge for me. Author 14 (p. 105)
And now, here I am to say this: yes, borderline personality disorder is frightening. It sounds scary, and it’s a horrible thing to have to endure. But I can also say that BPD is treatable and can be overcome with patience, persistence, and a well-trained DBT therapist who truly cares. It is so possible to get through it, so don’t quit. DBT not only saved my life; it gave me one. Technically, I no longer meet the criteria for BPD anymore. I still have some bouts with depression, but I can stand them, and I can get through it on my own. I do have a life worth living, and now I’m working on a life worth really loving. Author 22 (p. 163)
The next entry of this series on Pearls from Beyond Borderline will focus on the messages of hope from the authors with BPD.
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