An Excerpt From My New Book!

HomeBlogAn Excerpt From My New Book!

In this blog post, I’d like to give you a peek into my new book: “Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook.” Now available!

An Excerpt From My New Book!

Your Strength, Resilience, and Empathy

As BPD symptoms can be confusing, you may have experienced some judgment or rejection from people around you, even those closest to you. Of course, you know that the symptoms of BPD can be challenging to deal with. But I have been hard-pressed to find a person with BPD who did not also have great gifts. These often include being:

  • Intuitive and perceptive. Folks with BPD often are very sensitive to their surroundings and to the emotions of others.
  • Passionate. When a person with BPD loves, they love hard. They are committed and loyal to those they care for. They are excited about ideas and plans. This passion is often found inspiring by others, and many people with BPD are highly charismatic.
  • Caring and highly empathic. Because folks with BPD are very emotionally sensitive, they are passionate about causes and helping others. Many are activists or volunteers, or work in helping professions.
  • Resilient. Just dealing with and managing the stress of overwhelming emotions on a daily basis points to resilience and ingenuity.
  • Bold. Although impulsivity is a BPD trait that is often considered negative, it can mean being bold, courageous, and having the willingness to speak one’s mind.
  • Creative. Many people with BPD channel their intense emotions into creative endeavors. People with BPD often express their emotions through music, art, performance, and writing.

Remember, you’re more than your symptoms! Everyone has strengths, and you’re no exception.

People Experience BPD Differently

It is important to remember that although many people have BPD, each individual’s experience of the disorder is different. BPD presents in a multitude of different ways. Some people turn their symptoms inward, and it is unusual for others, except perhaps those very close to them, to know that they suffer. Sometimes this is described as “quiet BPD.”

Others express emotions in a big way that makes it clear what they are feeling. Some people have had such difficulty in their experiences with emotion, they become almost emotion-phobic and do anything to avoid feelings, situations, and people that spark emotion. For example, if displays of anger have created difficulties for them, they will try to suppress or deny anger and strive to always display a calm exterior, despite their internal turmoil. When distressed, some folks with BPD will blame other people for their distress; others will blame or criticize themselves.

Why Can BPD Be So Hard to Manage?

Drawing on her work with people with BPD, Marsha Linehan has described folks with untreated BPD as being akin to emotional burn victims. If you have BPD, every sensation and emotion can be painful to the point of intolerability. Your high level of emotion and difficulty tolerating distress can cause relationship turmoil, fears of being abandoned, and intense reactions when you think you might be being judged by others. You may be highly critical of yourself or others. And as we noted earlier, other people may not understand how to help or haven’t taught you the skills to manage these emotions.

Is it any wonder that this disorder is often misunderstood? But, please remember, there is great cause for hope in the wake of a BPD diagnosis. As you will learn throughout this book, there are evidence-based skills that are highly effective. These skills can greatly improve your life and your relationships and result in greatly reduced dysregulation.

You Are Not Alone

It might surprise you to learn how common borderline personality disorder (BPD) actually is. Recent research indicates that 1.6 percent of U.S. residents live with BPD, which equates to around 4 million people. Women account for 75 percent of those diagnosed with BPD in the United States. However, it has been suggested that BPD diagnosis is biased based on gender. Males with BPD may mistakenly be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.

So if you have a BPD diagnosis, not only are you far from alone, but it can also be really helpful to get support from others who also have the diagnosis. Every day, I am inspired and filled with admiration for the many people who help those who struggle with dysregulation and for the organizations that support them.

Please reach out to them. The groups are often staffed by people in recovery from BPD and those who love them. After reading the list of the positive qualities that can be associated with having had BPD, you may rightly expect that they are a pretty terrific bunch of people. You’ll feel understood, hopeful, and less isolated. I’ve included a number of these organizations in the Resources section (page 158).

People Do Improve with Treatment

When someone struggles with regulating emotions, behaviors, and relationships, it can be hard to believe that life will not always be this way. You might think “Things may change for others, but not for me.” But there’s hard data to indicate BPD is treatable, not a life sentence.

A number of therapies have been proven effective for BPD, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mentalization-based treatment (MBT), and transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP). Every day, new treatments are being developed and research is being conducted. A BPD diagnosis doesn’t mean someone will have to live with the symptoms forever.

A 2015 research study indicated that after a year of treatment with a comprehensive DBT program, 77 percent of people no longer met the criteria for BPD. That’s hugely encouraging for a disorder that not too long ago was considered to be untreatable!

Excerpted from: “Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook” by Suzette Bray. More info here.