Please Note: The ideas contained in this FAQ are the opinions of the writer and are communicated without reference to supporting documentation in most cases. Other inspiration and influence for the writing came through consultation with other mental health professionals but the writer “Peter Quintano” is also fully qualified in DBT making him qualified to talk about the things discussed in this article.
“The warrior lifestyle involves much more than the ability to fight and defend yourself and those you love. It involves developing your character, living a life of honour and integrity, defending those who can’t defend themselves, taking care of the elderly and your family, in short, it involves service to others along with perfecting your character ” – Bohdi Sanders, PhD.
It is very understandable that a person dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) might identify with a word like “warrior.” Bar none, BPD is one of the most challenging mental health problems to understand and manage. It can be like being lost in a maze and having few if any helpful hints or guides to find your way out. It can be like having to surf a massive ocean wave, but not having a good surfboard and little-to-no surfing skills. Then when you’re having a difficult time figuring things out, the people you know may decide they’ve had enough of “your issues,” put you down, mock you, invalidate you, or threaten to leave you.
Borderline Personality Disorder, therefore, requires great courage and determination to keep looking for solutions when all you have ever known is the difficulty, dysfunction, and drama. It is a most potent test of character that makes an appearance in ordinary life, day after day, over and over and over. I have written another article that makes an analogy of this test of character if you need more perspective to understand the life challenge that BPD is.
Consider for a moment that a person with BPD has to repeatedly perform one of the most challenging human tasks of all to get well… that being to self-reflect and humbly submit to noticing and adjusting self-defeating thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, and oversized emotions. Then as if living with this challenge wasn’t hard enough, there is also the necessity of working through the shame and embarrassment of not knowing how to live with yourself and in your own body.
For many that have finally realized they are living with Borderline Personality Disorder, the news comes later in life after they have been thoroughly conditioned to live in a certain way, for instance with self-defence mechanisms and unhealthy/impulsive reactions. It is a time of adult life when a person is required to keep up with adult responsibilities and obligations despite having these functioning deficits, and so figuring out how to reconfigure emotions, thoughts, and behaviours (to correct BPD) can be a tall and overwhelming order. Nonetheless, people take on the challenge.
But even though a person with BPD is faced with this daunting challenge, the people in his life may not believe anything is wrong. Since it isn’t possible to see what’s happening inside the brain of a person struggling with BPD (such as over-activation of the amygdala – the brain’s emotional area), it is common for outsiders to believe there is only behaviour or attitude problems happening. Of course, this is when some of the worst moments of relational difficulty can occur since the invalidating responses of others tend to inflict greater and greater emotional suffering for the person with BPD.
Even so, a person with BPD must learn how to live with both his self-induced suffering, plus the unhelpful actions of others that surround him. And so without question, it is a considerable accomplishment to develop a set of skills and relearn how to live in your own body, especially in a world that has a habit of regularly and insensitively undermining the efforts required to make progress. Are you starting to see how “awesome” the challenge of mastering BPD is?
If you are reading this article and can relate, then I salute you and hope you are starting to recognise yourself as the warrior that you indeed are. Your efforts to make improvements in your life do not go entirely unnoticed. I see you and understand you because in a way I am you, and we are joined by many millions of others facing the same gauntlet of obstacles and learning challenges to function better. Nonetheless, we choose to bravely endure every day because it is in our character to do so.
Warrior to warrior, I encourage you to persevere to discover who you are and all that you have to offer. Through your trials, you are gaining a wealth of knowledge and compassion that qualify you to help and heal the world in ways unimaginable. You are a treasure to the world no matter how contrary things may seem in times of difficulty. You have value, real and true!
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