A Year Since My BPD Diagnosis: The Ending / A New Beginning

From February to July, I’ve continued to maintain the healthy coping skills I’ve acquired in therapy and have made even more progress. I started group DBT therapy in April and that’s also helped me tremendously. Listening to members in that group talk about their issues has made me gain a lot of perspective. I’ve also had a few obstacles along the way of course. In May, I upped my dosage on one of my meds that ended up with me having a major depressive episode, here’s a blog post about that:

Borderline Awareness Month: I Could be 1 in 10

A year later, I can honestly say that I’ve been successful in managing my emotions in a much better and healthier way. My growth has been phenomenal in many areas of my life due to my hard work. I’ve had incredible support from my therapists, medical providers, friends, followers, and family who’ve helped facilitate my growth by encouraging me and giving me the space I needed to be who I needed to be at different parts of this process. Sometimes that was a complete emotional mess, sometimes that was an angry and salty poet, sometimes that was a cringy mom or a moody coworker. Restarting this blog and creating content for it has been instrumental in my healing process and has been a great outlet for the inspiration and creativity I’ve had during this time. Another beneficial thing I’ve done is simplified my life by letting go of anything that doesn’t serve me. I keep my life simple with work, kids, friends, family, and writing and this is the right combination for me to maintain my emotional stability. I’ve learned to prioritize my mental health above everything else because the consequences for me and everyone are too great for me not to do so. I understand now that the “old me” before her diagnosis was trying to have “everything” and well, that extended my emotional bandwidth to the point it was detrimental to my mental health to the point that I constantly lived in a flux of emotional dysregulation. I don’t blame anybody or even myself; I did not have the knowledge or awareness at the time to do any better.

I’m not completely where I want to be because I have two areas that I still have problems with:
-sticking to my boundaries especially when I feel pressure from others to bend to their will and desires
-my cognitive distortions which include black and white thinking and thinking in absolutes
I’ve lived with these cognitive distortions since I can remember, and it’s been really hard to break these unhealthy thinking patterns but I’m working on it.

There is a lot more to say about this journey, but I’ll save that for later throughout this year.
To conclude, here are a few thoughts:
To have an immense amount of progress and growth this year; I had to learn to be brutally honest with myself about things I had been lying to myself about for too long. I had a tendency to blame others when I felt terrible about my life. This year, I changed that pattern and I had to learn to hold a mirror to myself and take accountability for any harm I’ve done to myself and others and that was extremely difficult to do. It also meant facing some of my biggest fears and insecurities and that was fucking hard. Sometimes it was so much work, I wanted to give up but I didn’t. And now I’m here, at a place where I’m truly happy and content with myself and my life. And to not have major depressive episodes every other week where I’m stuck in this rut of misery feels like a type of freedom I can’t describe. To manage hard emotions like anger and sadness without it affecting my whole week or my whole day is something I always felt was impossible until now.
And while I am thankful for everyone that’s been helpful in my journey, I feel the most gratitude to myself and my determination and resilience. I had always known myself but just this year I’ve finally started to understand myself and finally felt a sense of freedom to be who I really am without a need to filter out the crazy or hard parts that make me the complicated and resilient human that I am. A year later, I no longer allow life to happen to me and feel powerless and have an immense need for validation from others. Now I’m a person who lives a life with intention and purpose for my own betterment.

Video taken 5/15/22, 5/22/22, 7/3/22- To get a place of emotional stability and permanence has been worth all of the tears, notebooks and journals full of self reflection, poems, essays, etc, miles walked or run, and countless hours of therapy. Let’s see where I am in another year! Excited about my future!
My new concept map 😍🥰

A Year Since My Diagnosis: The Middle-Therapy Works

Around September,I started to logically understand how out of control my behavior was at times. The strange thing about it is it doesn’t feel like me when I’m acting that way. I’m a person who has always tried to have control over all aspects of my life. For example, when I was first diagnosed, I was naive enough to think that I could somehow “fast-track my healing” . I quickly learned that’s not how healing or therapy works. It didn’t matter how quickly I read my DBT workbook or did the exercises from there, how many poems I wrote about grief in one day, or how many healthy coping mechanisms I picked up along the way; healing and changing my behavior was going to take time and patience. I couldn’t speed up the process if I truly wanted to get better.

that DBT workbook I’ve started 5 times and I still can’t get past chapter 8-lol

I needed to learn to sit with my grief, anger, mania, self-hatred, and any other uncomfortable and painful emotions and learn a healthy way to process and cope with them instead of chasing it away with booze, sex, or binge shopping. It’s been hard to do, and I’ve stumbled along the way and have made many mistakes. One thing I’ve learned this year is that changing unhealthy patterns in my behavior had to be the most arduous and difficult work I’ve ever done. For example, maybe one day I’m feeling fat and ugly, the old me would have gone binge shopping on Amazon for a pretty dress or reached out to one of the casual Joes in my life for validation; the new and healthy version of me had to ask myself the whys of why I’m feeling fat and ugly and what triggered this reaction in me, do I need to write about it, what can I do to make myself feel better that doesn’t involved shopping or the validation from others? It’s way harder to face my insecurities head on than chase them away with a quick and temporary adrenaline rush or serotonin fix. Throughout all this it helped to have an incredible support system who gave me what I needed emotionally to process, grow and move forward in my journey. Part of that support system was my therapist who was kind, compassionate, knowledgeable, and patient with me. I was really tough to deal with at times and I wanted to break up with her at times cause she pushed me a lot when it came to my driving phobia. I remember having a panic attack in front of her because of a driving exposure but she calmed me down enough so I could do it. I got paranoid after thinking she would leave me but she didn’t. She stuck by me through the end of our therapy sessions in January of this year. The few times I’d missed a session, she would call me to check in and talk to me for at least 10 minutes to make sure I was okay. She was also respectful of me and my experiences. I’ve had therapists in the past who talked down to me and were condescending and she wasn’t one of them. People talk about finding “the one” at the “right time”; well in my case, I found the “right therapist” at the “right time” in my life. Here is a poem I wrote about her:

The Healer

From September to January, there was so much progress in my healing and mental health journey thanks to having the adequate resources and tools because of my therapist. I did beat a driving phobia (but that’s a story I’ll tell in depth later on) and I was free from suicidal ideation until May of this year. What was strange to me during these months was how I was learning to really live and enjoy my life. I remember that before my diagnosis, I’d get annoyed sometimes at having to spend time with my kids. During the months of September to December, something switched in me to have this new appreciation for motherhood and spending time with my children. My relationship with my three sons got better and I grew closer to them. I feel like I’m finally the mom my children deserve.
Here is a poem I wrote about them:

My Three Kings

My first king, I met at 17
when the nurse placed
an alien like being in my arms
She was like “feed him”
and I was like “how do I do that?”
What should I do with him?
Eventually I figured it out

My second king, I met at 24
as a birthday present, just like me
he had to make a dramatic entrance
but it was love at first sight
No one could take him from my arms
I knew what to do

My third king, I met at 30
He was a dream delivered
After a dream lost the previous year
He was planned, he was awaited, he was loved
He was welcome by everyone
with him, I felt a completion of love

1/24/2022

As I’ve also mentioned, my therapy sessions ended in January and after that I was on my own with my maintenance plan making sure I didn’t do anything to sabotage the progress I had made.

Video taken 1/5/22 and 1/16/22-during this time, I really started to thrive-it felt like years of progress within a span of 6 months

to be continued…

A Year Since My BPD Diagnosis: The Beginning was Tough

Video taken 6/15/2021 before my BPD Diagnosis-I was burnt out and miserable AF

6/30/2022

It’s been a year since I received my life changing diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and so much in my life has changed because of it. I started therapy sometime around late June and I had to do a 3-hour mental health assessment in two separate sessions where my therapists asked me questions about past trauma and past patterns of behavior. It was a really, rough week emotionally for me because of that and other personal stuff going on in my life. I sat down across from my therapist as she explained how Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis ended up on my concept map.

My first concept map-made on 6/30/2021, altered by me in Mid July

My reaction was one of numbness and shock. And then I made the mistake of going to the internet and looking it up and well BPD gets a bad rap for good reason. After reading all the bad things about BPD, I thought “I knew I had issues and was kind of messed up, but I didn’t expect to be this fucked up, this broken”. It doesn’t help that a couple of things that stand out on the internet about BPD are “BPD is the most painful mental disorder “Or “BPD people are manipulative” or “Some people with BPD are incapable of love”. It didn’t help that at the time I was diagnosed, I was also having a mental breakdown and my relationship at the time was on the rocks. When I told my friends and family about my diagnosis, most of them were supportive and encouraging but some were in denial and didn’t fully accept it. I was told “I couldn’t have BPD because I’m not so awful” or that “it’s not a big deal”.
A couple of weeks after my diagnosis, I was broken up with. While I don’t want to go into the details about the events that led up to the demise of that relationship; I will say that the last day I saw my ex, there were a couple of things he said to me that really impacted me and made me really look at my life. I won’t say what they were, but it was useful for the next part of my journey. The breakup validated my worst fears about myself, “I’m unlovable”, I’m hard to love”, “I’m always going to be too emotionally unstable to be in a relationship” “I don’t deserve love” “I always fuck up everything good in my life” “I’m too fucked up and broken to be loved” etc., etc. Y’all have read the poetry and stories about how I don’t handle breakups well-ever. So, I’m lying-in bed crying and thinking all these things and don’t want to get up. I was on vacation when this happened so I could’ve stayed in bed all day and it would have been fine. However, something told me to keep going and getting up. The rest of the month of July is a blur to me at this point. I did document through video and journaling what I did so I know what I did, however there are parts of that month I don’t remember living.

Video taken 7/16/21, 7/19/21, 7/24/21-the start of this journey was difficult and rough-I was in and out of suicidal ideation mode for 2 weeks straight

I know I kept up with my therapy appointments and worked every day and wrote. Something I had to do for therapy was keep a daily diary card monitoring my emotions and any situations that brought out strong emotions in me. The main emotions I felt the months of July, August, and September were anger, sadness, and despair so filling out my diary card was a task but also necessary for me to get better at coping with life.

my first diary card-first two weeks of July

Something my current therapist said in group therapy was how grief makes one take a stock of life and how you’re living it. After the breakup, while yes, I felt this immense grief over that situation, I also felt grief and anger over other traumatic events in my life I hadn’t healed from. It was like I had this closet full of unprocessed trauma that was about to burst open at any time and in July, the door busted wide open and out came well, almost everything I kept inside of me well hidden. Shame, guilt, anger, fury, despair, sadness over past trauma were feelings I became well acquainted with for those first three months. I felt stuck at times in this emotional fog but somehow kept going. I continually asked myself what the purpose of all my hard work was and at first it was so that I don’t ever “split” on my kids like I had on other people in my past. I also had to learn a new language with my BPD diagnosis. I know that sounds weird but with all the new vocabulary words thrown at me, it’s what it felt like. In June and July, I learned real quick what dissociation, masking, and splitting was because that’s basically what I did those months. I also learned the term hypersexuality which I’ve addressed in some of my posts and poetry in this blog. Reflecting on everything that I’ve learned I can understand how my behavior can seem scary and unsafe to some people. I’ve finally had a deep understanding of how much of my erratic and impulsive behavior has greatly impacted my life.

To be continued to part two

Resources:

BPD Terminology:

https://shitborderlinesdo.freeforums.net/thread/37/important-bpd-terminology

Here is an episode from my favorite podcast “Back From the Borderline” about breakups that resonated with me: https://open.spotify.com/episode/19fVPtpfy8bsO2qEKQueWv?si=8NWz6oVVQ52coU1g-Bcwyg&utm_source=copy-link

A New Diagnosis: BPD

Me at 16

It was April of 1996 and I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 3 months after he had grown distant from me. I was in a world of despair and teenage angst and longed to no longer exist. I was feeling this rush of intense sadness as I was walking home from school. I looked at the cars on the street and thought about how easy it would be to end my sadness if I got run over by one. As I was alone in my thoughts, I stopped paying attention as I crossed the street and wasn’t aware that a car was coming. It stopped within inches of hitting me and the driver honked at me and yelled at me. I continued to walk in shock of what had just happened. I didn’t know then but I would be walking into many more BPD episodes like this one.

Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and I’m 40, the mother of 3 kids, work 2 jobs, and have a complicated love life. I decide to go back to therapy due to some recent trauma and driving anxiety. I do a 3 hour assessment and when the feedback comes back, it’s there on my concept map: I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I expected the driving phobia but the new diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder was definitely unexpected.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

According to Mayo Clinic, “Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
  • A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
  • Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
  • Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
  • Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights

Causes for Borderline Personality Disorder:

  • Genetics. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental health disorders among family members.
  • Brain abnormalities. Some research has shown changes in certain areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation, impulsivity and aggression. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly.

Risk Factors include:

  • Hereditary predisposition. You may be at a higher risk if a close relative — your mother, father, brother or sister — has the same or a similar disorder.
  • Stressful childhood. Many people with the disorder report being sexually or physically abused or neglected during childhood. Some people have lost or were separated from a parent or close caregiver when they were young or had parents or caregivers with substance misuse or other mental health issues. Others have been exposed to hostile conflict and unstable family relationships.

Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

Learning about this disorder has been overwhelming and also life changing. Some of my friends didn’t think it was possible for me to have BPD because I’m too nice. I was also kind of in denial at first until I did the research and thought damn, my life finally makes sense to me. I’ve been coping with intense emotions since I could remember and have a pattern of risky and impulsive behavior and sometimes self sabotaging my own success and romantic relationships. One minute my mood can shift from happy and joyful to full on anger and sadness if I am triggered by feelings of rejection, abandonment, being criticized or judged. I also have a tendency to villainize people if I feel threatened by them. Also, when I feel like my life is “too normal” or “too boring”, I seek out an adrenaline rush and create chaos.

Throughout the years, I’ve leaned some healthy coping mechanisms like journaling, writing poetry or blogging, exercising, mediocre dancing and singing. I’ve also had some unhealthy mechanism like drinking, binge shopping, binge eating, having sex for only validation purposes. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better with time because I’ve become more self aware of myself and my need to survive not only for my myself but also for my kids.

I’m hopeful that with this new diagnosis of BPD and therapy, I’ve have way better coping mechanisms to become a better version of myself. I’m hopeful that going on this new journey, I’ll not only be surviving but I’ll be thriving. I also hope that I heal the girl in the picture above who was a teenager trying to find love for within the arms of a any dude because she didn’t know how to love herself.

Poetry: Home

I wrote this in March of 2003 when I went back to Hawaii. I had a lot of conflicting feelings about this trip.

Waikiki Beach

I’m back here
Where it all started
A place I once called home
But now I’m not so sure
I always wonder if I should’ve stayed
But now I see why I had to go away
It is filled with both
Beautiful memories
of the loved ones I left behind
And ugly memories
of the ones that left me behind
when I needed them the most
I don’t regret coming back
Because it’s what I needed
In order to heal and move on
from you my past, and let you go

Turning 41: Changing the Narrative

“My last year in my 30s ended up with me being an essential worker during a pandemic while being a mom of three and being involved in two different romantic liaisons. I could look back on what I have not accomplished in my life and be sad but instead I’ll focus on my growth and my goals for the next year. I’ve made a lot of progress this year both financially and personally. I’ve improved my credit score by 100 points by working 2 jobs and paying debt off. Also for the first time in my adult life I’m in a healthy romantic relationship with a wonderful man. This time last year I didn’t think either was possible and at times I don’t feel like I deserve all of the good fortune in my life. As I look forward to my next year and my new decade, I hope to really focus on becoming a confident driver, submit my writing everywhere and try to get published, and continue to work my two jobs to save up to buy 2 houses. I’m kind of excited for what the next decade looks like. My thirties taught me I can survive what I once thought would not be survivable. During my thirties, I felt myself merely surviving. In this next decade I look forward to thriving.”

I wrote this a year ago and so much has changed. I can tell you that my 40th year didn’t go as planned. I’m not involved in any romantic relationships.In fact, for the first time in 26 years, I’m not chasing love or the adrenaline rush of being in a romantic relationship. I can honestly say that I am in the healthiest and happiest relationship at this time-with myself. This time last year, I thought that personal growth meant sustaining a “healthy” relationship with someone and now I’m not so sure. I have more to say about this but that’s something I will share later on.  I could talk about everything that went wrong this year but I won’t. Honestly, there are parts of that year that I’m not done processing and not ready to talk about and that’s okay. I learned in therapy that grief isn’t linear and I have to honor my process and not to suppress my feelings. It’s hard to write this but it’s my truth. What hasn’t changed is that I’m still working 2 jobs and am actually paying off new debt that I incurred when I went on several binge shopping sprees this summer and fall. I do have to say that my wardrobe is amazing and I’m the best dressed person in the office. I’ve had tremendous growth this year in a lot of areas. I’m in the best shape of my life after I took up angry power walking and running this summer and lost 20 pounds within a 3 months period. I beat this driving phobia I had through exposure therapy. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality this summer and successfully completed a therapy program that has helped me manage my symptoms in a much healthier way. I started blogging again. I’ve lost count of how many poems and essays I’ve written because this year has been beyond inspiring. The best thing that has happened this year is that I’m finally the woman I had always wanted to be but was too afraid to be. It’s taken a lot of hard work, tears and so much introspection to get here. Here is a place where I no longer run away from my life but I run to it instead. Here is a place where I’m comfortable and in love with solitude and am no longer chasing the high of love in someone else. Here is a place where I look forward to each and every day because I finally understand that my life is a gift and not a burden. Here is a place where I’m no longer just surviving but I’m thriving. Here is a place I want to stay in for a really long time. My goals are for this year are simple:

  1. Continue to thrive by keeping my life as uncomplicated and drama free as possible.
  2. Say “yes” to anything that brings growth and progress even if it might feel uncomfortable at the time.
  3. Say “no” to anything that feels unhealthy or will stagnate my growth and progress.

Here is me looking forward to a calm year full of growth and progress.

February 23, 2022