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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is treatable. If you have been diagnosed with BPD there is reason to hope. It is not in the comfort zone of many with BPD to trust feeling hope. Hope is not a part of polarized negative thinking. This is what makes hope something so challenging to those with BPD. The absence of hope only further fuels the hallmark of BPD – polarized all-or-nothing black-and-white negative thinking.

Why do so many with BPD tend to believe that BPD is untreatable?

There can be many reasons for this. Some are told by professionals that they will never get well. Others are told that they will not even ever get any better. Still others with BPD are told that the only way to achieve some relief or wellness is through some magical pill that professionals have yet to invent.

The absence of hope keeps many stuck in the active throes of BPD believing that they are too broken and too unworthy – too unlovable to be reached, let alone supported through the process of getting well.

Those diagnosed with BPD – borderlines – are caught up in polarized negative thinking that has been adhered to since they were very young – since they experienced their original core wound of abandonment. The experience, pain, and terror of abandonment separates the borderline, literally, psychologically, from his or her “self”. In the absence of a known self – in the absence of any palpable or evident and consistent identity (especially emotionally) borderlines cling to the very pain that they suffer from and so desire rescue from. Borderlines are so busy defending against their unresolved abandonment trauma that in all else that feels negative so too does the reality of getting better seem unrealistic and untrustworthy.

It is the way that borderlines feel and then think about what they experience that often keeps them tied to a set of negative core beliefs that include believing that they cannot get better. There is also so much stigma surrounding BPD and the treatment of it. This stigma when experienced by those with BPD can and does arouse even more hopelessness and helplessness and contributes greatly to many with BPD feeling far too lost and broken to ever believe there is actual hope for change.

Is Borderline Personality Disorder Really Treatable?

In a word, yes. From my own personal experience – yes! I recovered from BPD before Dialectical Behavioral Training (DBT) (Linehan) and Schema Therapy (Young) were as available as they are now. These are just two types of therapy that are really making a positive impact on the recovery of many with BPD. Both stem from the roots of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It was largely CBT in group therapy that was where I found the most successful of all the treatment I had for BPD. However, having said that, I was prepared for that group therapy by some years of traditional psychotherapy first. Today, if I were setting out to be treated for BPD I would seek out DBT for sure.

The journey of recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder is the journey From False Self To Authentic Self. It is a journey that those with BPD can Prepare for and decide to take. The first step in making a choice to pursue treatment and recovery if you have BPD is Find Hope From the Polarized Negativity of BPD.

What matters most today for you, if you have BPD, is not all that you read or all that others or even professionals tell you. What matters most is that you find a reason to find and hold onto some hope. Hope that what you feel right now won’t always be what you feel. Hope that they way you are suffering right now won’t always be the case. Hope that everything you fear or may feel you always “screw up” won’t always be as it may be right now in your life.

Many with BPD are finding that along with therapy working with a Life Coach can be a very significant part of discovering choices and learning to avail oneself of new and different choices.

Why Does BPD Often Seem So Intractable?

While I think there may well be as many answers to this question as there are people diagnosed with BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder can seem to be quite intractable largely because of the way that those diagnosed with it actually think. Borderlines develop highly negative all-or-nothing ways of thinking and feeling in response to dysregulated emotional experience – emotional experience – feelings – that they do not know how to manage. Borderline Personality Disorder is not really such a mystery, at least not to me, having been through it and come out on the other side. It becomes, over one’s formative years, a polarized and patterned way of experiencing life in the absence of effective coping skills, in the absence of inter-personal skills, and in the absence of the ability to perceive or hold the “big picture” the paradox, the reality that many things in life are both good and bad and that much of what we experience emotionally in life does not have to be so intensely (and often negatively and defensively) engaged. But to the borderline everything, almost everything or anything feels so threatening because there are triggers to past unresolved abandonment trauma in all attempts to relate to a “self” lost and/or to others.

This combined with the many pitfalls that exist in the delivery of mental health and the stigma attached to BPD can leave the borderline with the distorted belief that nothing will ever change. Borderlines also come to this intractable negative core belief when they experience obstacles or blocks in therapy, let downs, therapy relationships that rupture, and so on.

Why Do Those With BPD Invest So Much In What Hurts?

Because borderlines have been experientially trained by the negative and overwhelming experience of core wound of abandonment and the Shame of Abandonment for which there often wasn’t any opposing experience. Borderlines have their very needs shamed to the core in a way that binds shame to need and often results in rage addiction that leaves one believing and feeling that when needs are thwarted one must mount a primitive and primal scream that will make what is most needed/wanted happen because for the borderline his or her very existence seems to hinge upon what he/she needs and what often stays just out of reach. When I had BPD and things hurt, all they did was hurt. When I felt anything I would instantly just feel invalidated or when I was vulnerable I would immediately feel that I was being emotionally punished. Borderlines not only experience this core wound of abandonment that is shaming but they get bound to that shame of abandonment in ways that distort their emotional and psychological experience.

Borderline Personality Disorder, as I look back on it now in my own life, was really more about a patterned, negative, and protective way of experiencing the world and a punishing, angry, response to what was felt because what I used to feel when I was borderline felt so unfair, so unjust, so annihilating. Everything I felt when I had BPD was black and white. It was either all-good or all-bad, and frankly it was almost always all-bad back then. After all, when I was borderline, I did not have a “self” or an identity. So I would (without consciously realizing it) ally my “self” – my “identity” with what others thought, with how I was treated, with what I needed and didn’t know how to get, with my own inability to soothe a “self” I didn’t even know and through an inability to tolerate being alone because I could only exist through others.

When I had BPD, and when I was in recovery, I had to learn to change the way that I reacted to anything and everything that happened or that I thought had happened or that I perceived or felt. Each and every person with BPD really and truly does have this power inside. Therapy can help you to empower yourself to learn how to make new choices. Choices that will provide you with a reason to have and hold on to hope – the very hope that can will carry you through the really difficult times. You can learn that pain is actually a friend, a guide, and a teacher. It was through facing my pain that I found and won my freedom from Borderline Personality Disorder. Pain is the purveyor of hope – hope for change. Pain is an ever-present growth opportunity for those with BPD.

Those diagnosed with BPD face the considerable challenge of coming to truly realize, know, experience and appreciate that pain is not all-bad or all-negative or to be avoided at all costs.

The way to begin to address what seems so untreatable about BPD in your life, if you have BPD, is to really take a good hard long look at the patterns in your life. The reality of therapy is that for it to be successful for someone with BPD wanting to get well, it must first re-play out all of the abandonment trauma that caused the borderline to lose him or her “self” in the first place. Those with BPD must both make a strong commitment to stick with the process of therapy even when, in fact especially when it hurts the most, and must find a skilled professional who believes that you can be treated and that you can get well. Not all professionals, just because they are therapists, are competent and skilled professionals.

In my journey of recovery from BPD I had a few very unskilled therapists who told me I would “not ever get better” or that I wouldn’t get better, “until we find a better pill” (even though I wasn’t on any pills at the time – go figure) What I think was central to my recovery was the fact that I didn’t stay with these therapists. I didn’t believe them. Somewhere in the absence of my “self” and in all of my borderline lostness back then I knew something different deep inside of myself. I had hope.

Not only did I find and have hope but I found skilled competent professionals who hoped with and for me and who supported and mirrored my (then) new-found hope to me. These therapists hoped for me when my hope would falter through the inconsistency and incongruence of growing and healing.

Hope and commitment to the process of therapy, of recovery, with a skilled professional, being willing to lay down your borderline defenses and learn new ways of coping emotionally – of regulating dysregulated emotions as Linehan’s DBT teaches – and making the choice to actively feel and engage what has been the Abandoned Pain of your core wound of abandonment and its legacy is the way to get on the road to recovery. It is the way that one with BPD can make the choice to actively engage the process of treatment that can and will make all the difference in the world in your life.

If you have BPD, you need to know something, you are not unworthy. You are not too broken to be invested in and to be supported. Earning the trust of others, however, in this process of being supported and helped means that you have to get and stay honest with yourself and with others. It also means that you need to be willing to learn what it means to accept personal responsibility for yourself and for your life and for your healing.

Borderline Personality Disorder is treatable when the individual borderline decides that the benefits of wading through his or her pain far outweigh – despite all fear and terror of that pain – the suffering that one lives in a life void of self in the active throes of Borderline Personality Disorder.

© A.J. Mahari  July 1, 2008 – All rights reserved.

A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and non borderlines. A.J. has 5 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.

Borderline Personality Disorder Is Treatable