We can sift through the inputs of the past and the future possibilities and become our own thing. We own that decision. In that moment, we are that decision. ~ Monica. A Coleman, Making A Way Out of No Way, 74
Two Years ago I was diagnosed by my therapist as having Borderline Personality Disorder and when I was then psychologically tested, the result was that I had very strong traits of it, which I wrote about here. My therapist and I treated the results as if I had been diagnosed with the disorder.
During that time I was in and out of Ridgeview's inpatient and outpatient programs. I had been in some tough situations and now was basically addicted to the hospital. I liked the feeling of being nurtured, being taken cared of, being validated and receiving kind attention. I also didn't trust myself to deal with my difficult feelings on my own without hurting myself-I love how Marsha Linehan calls people with BPD emotional third degree burn victims.
However, the last time I was inpatient I did not have the wonderful nurturing experience. I felt severe emotional pain and I acted out. Then I felt ashamed that I acted out while around other people. That loss of control was my bottom and I remember on the third day inpatient making the decision to not physically hurt myself anymore. In that moment, I became the decision that I was going to get better. I wasn't going to try anymore-I was going to do.
After that, things got a lot easier. Of course, it took a long time for my emotions to catch up with my brain, but because I had made the decision to really work at getting better, I started to see results. Those of you who have been following my blog all through this have also witnessed me change on my journey to wellness!
I took a DBT class about a month after my last hospitalization and boy, did that really change my life! I had a hard time adjusting to the group dynamic at first, but by the end, the group was sad to see me go. Now I am taking the DBT class again. DBT has helped me learn how to communicate more effectively, how to pause and reflect instead of reacting impulsively, how to safely handle emotional triggers myself, how to regulate my emotions, how to stay present and mindful-in short, how to have a life worth living.
My family attended family therapy sessions about once a month for about a year and that really helped us communicate better. It also helped me accept the fact that I would be living with my parents for a longer time than I had previously thought and that I don't need to be ashamed for that.
I also got a sponsor and found a twelve-step group that I like. After I finished my first DBT class, I worked on the steps and kept going to support groups. I also started doing service work, chairing meetings and being discussion leaders sometimes, doing more In Our Own Voice presentations for NAMI, and playing music at an assisted living home. These things kept me from focusing too much on myself.
Another change is the abundance of pleasurable events and hobbies that are in my life now. Two years ago, I felt so out of place in social situations, especially ones where I didn't know a lot of people. It was because I didn't have a clear sense of my own identity. I wanted someone to cling to, follow and identify with, but these past two years I have really pushed myself to rediscover myself and explore social situations with people I do not already know. And I have done well! Upon my therapist's advice, I joined meetup.com and I joined several social groups. In fact, I did so well that I decided to start my own book club almost exactly a year ago today! Now I feel quite comfortable in most social situations and have many friends that live close by.
I've had a lot of stressors in my life this year, but I think I have handled them pretty wonderfully. So wonderfully, in fact, that about a month ago I ventured to share with my therapist my dream-I told her that my goal was to one day be in recovery from BPD. I was not prepared for what she said next: "You're doing so well, you may already be!" I was astounded! She told me that when she got her new DSM that we would look in it together and see if I still fit in the diagnosis!
Well, I have good news! Last Wednesday we got out the DSM and looked and talked and we came to the conclusion that I no longer fit any of the criteria!!! Whoo-Hoo! Two years ago I fit eight out of the nine! (One only needs to fit five out of the nine. I'm an over-achiever.) I feel so happy, I am practically glowing!
Now I can say that I am in "recovery" from BPD! My therapist says I am in "remission," but I like the sound of being in recovery better. Of course, I will keep on practicing my DBT skills and the steps, going to meetings and therapy, but I feel so proud of where I am right now.
On Thursdays I attend a support group and we introduce ourselves by stating how we feel and I told them I felt "radiant" and then explained why. Everyone was immensely happy for me and incredibly supportive. A group of my friends went out to eat afterwards at my favorite BBQ restaurant, Jim 'N Nick's.
(Darn that pesky glare on my glasses!) As I sat there chatting with my friends, I reflected on how sure of myself and comfortable and happy I was. I don't mean to gloat, but it is so fine to achieve a goal and to have friends to share in that victory.
And to eat banana pudding. Can't forget the banana pudding! This banana pudding was thick and rich, with chunks of banana and cake-like wafers. Really, really good, although to be honest, there weren't quite enough chunks of banana in my opinion. It was really good, but not the best banana pudding I've ever tasted.
Send me a congratulations! I am quite proud of myself, although I must admit that I could not have done any of the hard work without the support of my Godde whom I experience in the forms of my therapists, doctors, friends, and family. I have received so much support and love that at times I feel completely overwhelmed by gratitude and I just want to give the world a hug. Of course, I cannot do that, but what I can do instead is to pass the love on by being supportive to someone else. Let us remember to support each other on this journey towards mental wellness and healing.
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