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.
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 massive 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 skill. Then when you’re having a difficult time figuring things out, the people you know may decide they’ve had enough of you, put you down, mock you, invalidate you, or threaten to leave you.
It requires great courage and determination to keep looking for solutions and trying different ways of functioning when all you have ever known is dysfunction and drama. 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 correcting self-defeating thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. As if living with BPD in the first place wasn’t hard enough; now there is the necessity of working through the shame and embarrassment of not knowing how to live with yourself and in your own body.
“2 in 3 people suffer in silence with BPD fearing judgement and rejection” – Canadian Medical Association
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, with self-defence mechanisms firmly fixed in place. This is often a time of adult life when a person is required to keep up with a range of adult responsibilities and obligations, despite having 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 the challenge on. And why you might ask? What other choice do they have?
But even though a person with BPD is faced with this daunting challenge, the people in their life may not believe anything is really wrong. Since it isn’t possible to see what’s happening inside the brain of a struggling person, such as overactivation of the amygdala (the brain’s emotional area) it is common for outsiders to believe there is only a behaviour or attitude problem happening. Of course, this is when some of the worst moments of relational difficulty can occur since the invalidating responses of others will tend to inflict greater and greater emotional suffering. But even so, a person with BPD must learn how to live with both their self-induced suffering, plus the unhelpful actions of others that surround them.
Without question, it is a massive accomplishment to develop a set of skills to relearn how to live in your body, and in a world that has a habit of insensitively undermining the great efforts required to make progress. If you are reading this article and can relate, then I salute you and hope you are starting to recognize yourself for the warrior that you truly are. Your efforts to make improvements to your life do not go entirely unnoticed. I hear you, and no doubt there are many others facing the same gauntlet of obstacles and learning challenges, and with no other choice but to proceed and bravely endure.
Warrior to warrior, I encourage you to keep learning and to persevere. No matter who you are you are a treasure to the world, even if you or others haven’t yet realised this truth.
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