This guest post was written by Clair Happer, all views expressed are a personal view of BPD and Recovery and in no way should be considered professional advice. If you disagree with anything in this post, or have your own thoughts do let her know in the comments below. For all other questions and issues relating to BPD do use the Contact Us page. Take it away Clair…
Lately, I have seen some huge shifts in the world of BPD. Leaps and bounds really, from once being considered by many as a psychiatric death sentence, to what now is being considered today by some, as a completely recoverable disorder. Personally, I find all these arguments to be frustrating, to say the least, and I have asked myself; “Where is the realistically attainable middle ground here”? Is this a matter of semantics? Another well-placed argument over a disorder is when the focus truly should be manageability and successful skill building. As I have watched time and time again from the improper naming issue, when some thought Borderline was an inappropriate name, to the huge uproar by some suffering the disorder being hurt and angered over some calling those not having BPD a “non”, and all the arguments in-between.
Most certainly I identify as a sufferer of BPD, I understand the criteria as listed in the DSM, I have struggled to learn how to manage with the issues related to having the disorder, and I work hard to be a functional person in my life, my family, as well as my community. In my life, I have made great strides and huge accomplishments, and I have also dealt with huge setbacks and failures along the way. My biggest goal through it all has been to find my way to the life I want, from where I currently am. In my mind, I can clearly distinguish from areas where I am struggling versus how I would rather have those areas function, and the changes I would truly love to see. What I often cannot seem to do is put those changes into action without some help.
While this may not be a popular theory with many out there dealing in one way or another within the world of BPD, I feel that this notion of complete recovery is just that, an idea or a vague or imperfect conception. In no way am I saying you cannot become functional in the ways that you want, and achieve the goals you have set for your life. In no way am I implying that you cannot successfully overcome many of the issues associated with having the disorder, or even reintegrate into society as a functional contributing member of not only your own life, but in the lives of others as well. In fact, I believe that most people suffering from BPD can do all that and more. What I disagree with is the idea of being recovered, if we look at the intransitive verb form of the word recovered it means by definition to regain a normal position or condition.
By default those who go on to develop BPD were already outside of the “norms”, they are often marked as having a heightened sense of emotional sensitivity, as well as a slowed ability to return to the baseline of “normal”. It is my opinion that BPD develops in those already sensitive, and I feel as though it is very much like heat stroke. Once one suffers they are always just a little more susceptible to succumbing to higher temperatures than those who have not had heat stroke, much like those having BPD and their ability to manage intense emotions. My feeling here is that we often get lost discussing issues from one extreme or another in the battle against mental illness, as we are here when it comes to BPD.
Perhaps an even better comparison, since BPD is in fact a medical condition much like for instance type 2 diabetes, and is in my opinion a chronic condition. With proper education, resources, and life changes, this condition can be managed and you can live a full, enjoyable, prosperous life. Those of us suffering from BPD, much like those having a disease such as diabetes, have to not only make the choice to accept what they have, but also face the reality of what that means and the limitations involved. We have to learn how to do the things necessary to educate ourselves and those around us, to properly care for ourselves, as well as make the appropriate changes in our lives, not only for us but for our loved ones as well.
Instead of focusing on things like complete recovery, perhaps it would be better to consider what is necessary to be able to succeed, and live a strong life with continued success. As many know when dealing with a life involving mental illness, things are often dealt with best in small attainable steps, and with the understanding that there will be occasional setbacks along the way, as well as a focus on the end goals of each individual. Helping give people the skills to be the person they want to be, to live the life they want to live, to reach the goals they have set out for themselves, that is the key.
When I look at myself, my struggles, my accomplishments, and all the aspects of my own life as a whole, I think that I am a competent, successful individual. My personal feelings are that I am not yet completely satisfied, and perhaps I never will be, and that’s ok. However, I also know I can attain my goals in time, and my ability to see that is another example of something I couldn’t do in the past. In many ways, with a desire to change, with work, with education, and support in many forms, I have come to a place where I feel like I am someone I can be proud of. Another huge accomplishment is that I believe that I deserve to be happy, and most of the time I truly am. Ultimately I feel that for the most part many suffering with mental illness want to see some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and I feel like that is more than probable, I feel that it is completely possible, but only with the right kind of help and support by others.
This post was written by Clair Happer and is a personal view of BPD and Recovery and in no way should be considered professional advice.