The struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder is the extreme shift in mood without any notice. A borderline can go from feeling inspired and motivated to feeling an emptiness and sadness all in the space of a minute. There is no warning, or if there is a trigger it is to quick to catch. But learning about the illness itself is so important because at least it allows you to try and work out what has happened and what you can do to combat the feeling.
BPD is by far one of the most complex mental health issues, severely under-researched until the past 10-15 years yet is more common than you would think. Due to the complexities, each individuals presentation of the illness itself has lead to BPD becoming one of the worst stigmatised Mental Health illnesses.
This lead patients feeling confused about their own emotions and scared to talk about for fear of rejection from either a loved one or a medical professional. So the patient may go either undiagnosed or incorrectly diagnosed with something like Bipolar Disorder.
So when I think about the tactics I need to deploy to combat BPD, I also have to take into account the co-morbid illnesses that come along with it, like Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety. You need to have a pretty extensive toolkit in order to wade through all of that if they come together at the same time, but for now we are just going to focus on BPD .
1. Grounding youself – This is basically forcing your brain to come back to the present and in the moment. So you will describe in great detail what you can see, smell, touch and hear. And when you say in great detail you really mean it, the more you push yourself to focus on what you are doing, the distress level automatically goes down because you are directing attention away from it.
2. Acknowledge that this will pass – Sometimes as I mentioned, your mood can shift in a minute, and it’s important to not let that shift scare me into any self-harming behaviours. Try as hard as YOU can to tell yourself that this is just an emotion and like all emotions, they will come and they will eventually leave.
3. Put it in a box – If you are strong enough at the time, you will tell yopurself that this is going in a box and getting locked, not forever, just for now until you are in a better place to address it or deal with it depending on what the trigger was.
4. Take a break – allow yourself to switch off if you can. So you take a nap because there is every chance you could wake up feeling calmer. you don’t criticise yourself for being “lazy”, give yourself permission to take a break and do it without judgement.
5. Mindfulness – We don’t live mindfully anymore, we are so consumed with the material world around us, that we don’t stop to just be in the moment. Do 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises, the brain automatically sends messages to the nervous system to calm down.
Now I will 100% admit that when a full-blown BPD episode crashes with depression and anxiety these 5 things feel impossible. The overwhelming emotions and distress that you feel during those times is truly terrifying and when it is happening all hope of a happy future seems to evaporate in an instant. What I have found though, is if you try to do your tactics when you are not feeling as bad, you can at least try to deploy them when you do feel like it is all too much.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, BPD is so incredibly different and complex in its own way for all sufferers of the condition, so what works for some people may not work for someone else. There are many resources on Dialectical Behavioural Therapy where there are a great number of techniques to try, which is the core therapy for BPD. If you work hard during the times that you can, then I believe the really horrible times can be less devastating than if you have no go-to guide whatsoever.
The more you learn and understand your own triggers, the more you can think of ways to either avoid them altogether or work out what to try when they do arise. I think the most insidious part of Borderline Personality Disorder is the extreme shifts in mood that happen in the blink of an eye. I would definitely say that would be your biggest challenge and something you need to work on every day.
Try these 5 tips and try your own. Every BPD sufferer needs a toolbox of their own, my best advice to you is to learn as much as possible as you can about the illness itself and journalling is also very helpful in identifying small things you may miss that trigger a mood change or distress. Good luck with your journey and always remember that you are not alone in your fight.
To book an appointment with Lazzaro at the International Healing Clinic call: 604 202 7938