Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder is possible. Borderline Personality Disorder is treatable. But, is it about the science or is it about the self?
Do I say this only because I have recovered, and been recovered for 14 years now? Do I say this because I do not have to work at recovery, because I don't grapple with anything borderlineanymore? Do I say this because recovery means much more than just not meeting 5 out of the 9 diagnostic criteria for BPD?
In a word, yes, and in a way No!
I know that BPD is treatable and that recovery is possible, firstly, yes, because I lived it, did it experienced it, recovered from it so very long ago now in what were really still the dark ages of treating BPD, if you will. I have been banging the drum of the possibility and reality of recovery from BPD for 14 years now. Some of those years I didn't really have any company online that agreed with me or any other examples of others who came forward, at the time I first did, online, to lay their lives out in the way that I have to a great degree to inform and to provide hope for others.
When one no longer meets the 5 out of the 9 criteria does that mean they have recovered? In my experience, no. It is a very significant and important signpost as to one's journey of recovery. It is a long way down the road toward recovery but in and of itself, say having 1-4 traits still out of the 9 that define BPD, means one is still in the on-going process of one's recovery. It is important not to try to rush the process or to think you are recovered before you are. To do so can create considerable confusion.
Of course the reality that BPD is highly treatable isn't made so just because I say it. However, I do say that BPD is highly treatable, (and have been for 14 years online now) and want you, if you have BPD, to not just read this and think about it, but want you to believe it and know that you too can find the treatment you need to recover as well. I say this also, partly, because, finally science is catching up with something I've been living for over 14 years now – that there are ways to address the thoughts that are generated in patterned and negative ways at a brain level. The good news is that whatever aspect of BPD that may indeed involve some changes in brain chemistry due to early childhood trauma and/or abandonment and so forth can really be healed in therapy.
If you have BPD you really can learn to change the way that you think. You can take that journey From False Self to Authentic Self that involves Finding Hope From the Polarized Negative Reality of BPD through learning to regulate what is the Emotional Dysregulation of Borderline Personality - namely, the borderline false self through which your thinking and subsequent feeling is generated along with the reality of the lost self and its role in perpetuating the impact of the core wound of abandonment in BPD.
Is recovery from BPD really so much about the science of it?
Professionals are now more able to speak about certain components of BPD in terms of brain science that gives them a base from which to finally shed some light on the fact that BPD is treatable and that it isn't some "life sentence". Facts that are beginning to help in the fight against BPD stigma. A stigma that still persists as strongly as ever, however, in some countries, some mental health delivery systems and even in the minds of some therapists.
I recovered before the revelation of this new wave of science when it comes to BPD. I know that I was very fortunate to have dedicated therapists who believed in treating those of us with BPD long before it was shall I say, acceptable to hold that view. I encountered tons of stigma. Some of it was very harmful and hurtful to me.
BPD and Recovery From it – It's really all about the self
Based on my own experience I don't believe that recovery from BPD is so much reliant upon the science. I know, from my own experience, it is so much more about the self – specifically the authentic self lost which leaves the borderline false self defending against the loss that is caused by abandonment actually experienced or perceived. It is this legacy of abandonment in BPD that supports the polarized and distorted thinking patterns of those with BPD leading to a stock-pile of rage that keeps one's lost authentic self at bay, often outsideof one's conscious awareness.
For those who have BPD, perhaps newly diagnosed, perhaps stuck in the patterns of negative thinking and the way it perpetuates emotional suffering, quite naturally you seek to protect yourself from the emotional pain. You seek to avoid the pain that you may not emotionally understand. It is that very pain, the pain of the lost self that can keep you in the rock and a hard place of BPD.
For many who are older, with BPD, having been diagnosed years ago, perhaps in the '70's like I was or before, when stigma was everywhere, science was nowhere to be found, and the idea that BPD was treatable could only be found in that rare dedicated professional who dared to think differently than his or her colleagues, it can be very difficult to end relationships with therapists that may well be thinking in what would now be described as old-school ways.
For many who are older, in their 50's, 60's, and beyond, still in the active throes of BPD, wondering why and reading more about younger people finding recovery more often of late, you may feel like time has passed you by. Please know that it hasn't. In many cases what stands, still, between you and recovery, are two primary things:
- That you may not yet believe you really can get well
- That you may still be with a therapist who you have been with for years who doesn't believe you can get well
Recovery from BPD is about finding that lost self.It isn't about the science. Yes, science has contributed to methods of treatment, but, what's more important than that, still, is the relationship between the client and a therapist who believes you can get well, a therapist who is trained in the various therapeutic approaches now being documented as yielding positive outcomes for more and more people with BPD.
Each individual person with BPD has to make a choice to do the work in therapy necessary to re-connect to that lost authentic self. Each must re-connect to his or her abandoned pain. It is from within the pain that is so protected against that you will find the self that you so long to find, to know, to think, live, and feel from. The self that you need to learn to take personal responsibility for and healthy care of. This self that you were born to be and that you are still meant to be.
© A.J. Mahari, March 2, 2009 – 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 6 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.