Can BPD make you a better person in the future?

As someone who is recovering from BPD and has come a long way, I have to tell you that not everything about BPD is negative.

I believe that going through it, enduring the symptoms and the consequences of your actions, can make you a better person.

It definitely feels like it for several reasons that I will explain in the coming section.

This isn’t a generalization of all people with BPD, it’s just my experience and some people relate to it, while others don’t.

Romantic relationships

Relationships are hard for everyone: being vulnerable, sharing everything, disagreements, etc. Before I started recovering it was a complete and utter chaos. Toxic relationships, sudden breakups for petty reasons, conflict, etc. I had almost no sense of commitment and I would get into relationships too quick, without analyzing the person first. Impulsivity was something that interfered with my relationships. Little thing you told me that I didn’t like? Might break up with you tomorrow. Terrible thing you did to me but you’re my FP? I’ll stick around and add fire to the flame.

As I started healing, I noticed that I had a sense of commitment. I communicated better and didn’t get angry. There was so much abuse and drama in my past that I did my best not to live through the same thing. Started fighting more for relationships, even a little too much but I believe that I will attain balance. I had very little arguments and lots of harmony. Never cheated on him, as I know how it hurts (not by experience because I never found out that a boyfriend was cheating on me), how disrespectful it is and how bad I feel after cheating. It’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. There are many steps before you cheat. Ultimately, going down that road is up to you and you only. You can stop at any time.

The “I hate you/ Don’t leave me” relationships started disappearing from my life. I don’t go back and forth with someone, with arguments and animosity, drama. I cut or dramatically reduce contact. Can’t stand it. It feels good in a twisted way but it also feels like a prison where I’ve been before. I just don’t want to stay in toxic relationships, because of how traumatic they were in the past. Even after 15 years of dating a narcissist and especially because I recently dated another briefly, it was like my heart was burned. It is burnt flesh that hurts like hell when people do and say certain things. Which in turn made me more mindful of what I say to people, I don’t want to hurt anyone.

Friendship

The “I hate you/Don’t leave me” model of relationship also refers to friendship. It was frequent for me to have toxic friendships. It could happen that someone was my FP and I would take turns in loving and hating them. One day, they were my whole life, the other day they were terrible and would abandon me, so I better abandon them first. It hurts less that way, not that it doesn’t hurt a lot because it does. An FP is like a drug to us. It’s a kind of passion.

Sometimes, I wasn’t the most loyal because I was a people pleaser. As I started growing older and healing, I learned how to say no and say things people might not like to hear (without being rude, of course). Learning to say no is a fundamental skill for someone with BPD, as our boundaries are so poorly defined in the beginning of our struggle. We learn by reading, DBT and watching others.

Friendships are also less tense and dramatic when you are recovering. I would have fits and do huge scenes, in my worst times. I must’ve embarrassed quite a few people with my anger and impulsivity. It was probably one of the factors that contributed to being abandoned by several people. Today, I get it. On one hand, I was severely sick. On the other, people were entitled not to feel embarrassed by friends, not to want to deal with certain situations. There were a few serious situations that could’ve ended badly but luckily nothing happened. I think I scared people with my instability.

We learn that lots of people can’t deal with us but some can. I learned to cherish those people. Help them in any way I can. Now, I can love them to death and that is a somewhat stable feeling. Minor things don’t influence my opinion of the person. With time, DBT, medication and observation, we learn about nuance: how someone can be simultaneously flawed and lovable. We are the first ones to recognize that people are flawed, as we are, but we can deal with certain flaws and character defects.

To grow, we need to surround ourselves mostly with people who are kind and validating but are not enablers. We live in a world of our own, like everyone else, but in our case it can be a quite distorted world, due to our poor coping mechanisms. It’s important to have friends that remind us of what’s right or wrong and help us make better decisions.

Boundaries

Oh, boundaries. How we need them. Boundaries fail us when we are experiencing more symptoms. We let people walk over us, we let people do things to us that we don’t want, we do what we can to keep certain relationships, be it romantic or friendships. We also tend to not respect other people’s boundaries, as we don’t have strong ones. We need to have boundaries in order to understand and respect other people’s boundaries. We have our own reality tunnels, shaped by our experience, personality and BPD. If our “walls” are weak and too flexible, we will think that others are like us. At least, that’s what happens in the beginning. If we grow and change, every time we cross the line is a lesson learned.

Family

I can only speak about my parents and other relatives. I’m not a mother,so that won’t be included in my story.

My relationship with my family changed a lot over time and became stronger.

My psychiatrist once told me that it was easier for me to change than my parents. That I should adapt and tanke charge of my choices. At the time, I was already taking a good combo of medication so it was easier to have self-control. That gradually changed the dynamics of the relationship. We had reached a breaking point many years before that and they didn’t know how to act around me. They have strong personalities so they simultaneously walked on eggshells and went off on me. To be honest, I wouldn’t wish this on any parent and neither do I wish that they suffer from BPD. Because I felt miserable. I needed my parents’ love and attention. But I also pushed them away. There were reasons for me to react the way I did but there was a lot of overreacting going on.

I still briefly bicker with my father on a regular basis but it never escalates. Retreat is a good option for me. Return to headquarters haha. My relationship with my mother is much better and we rarely fight. I think she’s happier now that I’m better. She just wished that I could have a better life, while she helps me get there.

Never forget, if your parents raised you with love, they probably still love you now and are on your side. A psychologist can help you immensely (and maybe medication but that is your call) to help you see from your parents’ point of view. It’s easy to get caught up in feelings and overanalyzing and not see obvious things, though we pay attention to everything. It can also help you learn how to communicate better with the people in your life. I’ve learned so much about myself and others with my psychologists. It’s really eye-opening and helpful. If you are curious about yourself and want to evolve in a healthy way, it’s one of the bets things to do. However, not everyone can do it and I respect that. Trauma is a like a thorn in your soul. It’s not palpable but it stings and sometimes therapy is the only way to deal with it. Doing trauma work is very hard but it’s worth it. Understanding how we can find new and better coping mechanisms, that are constructive and healthy. Find ways to soothe ourselves that won’t hurt us in the long run.

There are other aspects but these were the ones who stood out to me. Everyone grows in a different way and maybe your experience wasn’t quite like mine. There isn’t a fixed road for someone with BPD, nor is there for anyone. If you would like to add something that you think BPD helped you with, feel free to comment below.

Conclusion

Can you imagine what it’s like to have a somewhat normal childhood and troubled teens but your mental health was okay. You start to have these symptoms when you’re a young adult (at least that’s what happened to me). Everything changes. You are overwhelmed and hurting. Things are going downhill and you don’t even know how to explain to your doctor how you feel. Most people never go through this. They have their own aches but such a shift in your personality is not very common. Your personality is a mask that you wear and your identity. Everyone has an idea of who they are (an idea only because no one knows that for sure, if you go to the root of it) but you don’t. And you have this chronic feeling of emptiness that you desperately want to fill. People seem to know what they’re doing and you are just trying to survive. Trying to feel okay, try to not feel so much, trying not to see so much, not to catch all those details that you later overanalyze.

With age, you also learn that things aren’t always what they seem. The face that your friend made, what he said. It can be a misunderstanding. Overreacting is only going to blow things out of proportion and create problems. But it’s a fairly normal response for someone with BPD. We are scared, confused, we need some control over things, since we lost control.

If you have BPD, believe me, wanting to change is the first step in an incredible journey of growth. A journey that only you can make. You’ll be wiser, stronger. DBT or therapy will help you cope better and re-learn how to live in a healthy way.

Maybe today you had a terrible day, full of emotions and anger and whatever else you’re dealing with but a better tomorrow is possible.

Much love to you all.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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Why Language Matters When We Talk About Mental Health

 

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You should never be defined by your condition. You have some symptoms but you are much, much more than that. It happens that sometimes people with mental health conditions are seen like that label by others. You are identified by your condition: the schizophrenic guy, the bipolar girl, etc. It’s easy to confuse the condition with the person but we should never forget that behind that label is a very complex person that deserves respect.

Details matter and the fact that we say “Joan is Bipolar” instead of “Joan has Bipolar Disorder”. You are not your condition. You are still an individual, with its idiosyncrasies. Language matters a lot because it shapes our perception or is it the other way around? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that language stigmatizes people and that has real effects like refusal to seek treatment and anxiety when interacting with people.

People with mental health conditions expect to be stigmatized and discriminated against. The media is responsible in part for the bad reputation of mental illness. When violence occurs and there is no obvious cause, it is immediately speculated that the perpetrator has some sort of mental condition. On the other hand, there is no real effort to talk openly about mental health conditions, see real people that are still successful despite the diagnostic. When it comes to violence, the truth is that people suffering from mental disorders are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of violence.

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Mental illness becomes a diagnosis that people try to hide due to its negative labels, stigmatization and possible discrimination. We still have a backward mentality when it comes to mental health conditions. People always saw the insane, the unstable ones as weak or deficient. It’s pretty much like that now, though people are raising awareness more and more. It’s not faceless conditions anymore: people talk about mental health, expose their identities (or not) but we are out there, spreading the word.

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We should advocate for language that reduces stigma, using empathy to choose our words. Understanding the power of negative labels and names is very important. We could use language that doesn’t enforce negative stereotypes and never name or label someone for his/her condition.

“In the context of mental illness, mental health, and wellbeing, negative words can be experienced as condescending, isolating, and stigmatizing, whereas positive words can convey dignity, empathy, and hope.”

-Veryan Richards

 

“In 2017, The Royal College of Psychiatrists outlined eight core attributes of good psychiatrists, which include communication, humility, respect, and trust. According to Richards, this “reinforces a stronger, values-based climate which should influence the principles that shape the language and terminology used in person-centered mental health care.” Richards is a proponent of first-person language, which first acknowledges a person and then identifies a condition (e.g., ‘a person with psychosis’ versus ‘a psychotic person’).

Richards argues that the phrase ‘mental health problems’ is often too vague. She suggests this phrase could be problematic when used for common experiences, stating “we should remain alert to overmedicalizing experiences and challenges that would be better understood as a response to social or economic factors and normal human experiences.”

At the same time, she proposes that using ‘mental health problems’ as a euphemism for more serious illness or crisis is also unhelpful. She writes, “some current terminology should be adjusted if parity is to be achieved within the language used in health care.” Richards gives the example of times when ‘patient’ may be the preferred language over ‘service user’ in medical settings.

Richards believes that a language shift can improve shared decision making. She states, “the quality of communication can facilitate a ‘doing with, not doing to’ clinical approach.” She also cites the 2015 UK Supreme Court judgment, Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board, which “raises the status of shared decision making from guidance to a legal requirement and concludes that all doctors need the communication skills required to support this process.” Therefore, she recommends medical schools require students to be trained in communication skills.”

Source:https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/03/words-matter-importance-language-choice-mental-health-care/

Psychiatrists and mental professionals are very important for this fight. They must use more empathetic language. That can educate both the patient and his/her family. Most people have some unlearning to do.

It’s much better now, though it’s still not enough. More and more people are seeking mental health treatment and more people talk about it, be it in social media or real life. That is progress and I see that millennials are much more open about it.

This needs to be spread and taught. It’s in our hands to change what we think is wrong with the language about mental health.

I have to be clear on something: I don’t support censorship of any kind and I believe that the change should be natural because it is a cycle: society’s view of mental health conditions change, people become more aware of them and language naturally changes. But changing our language is also a good way to help achieve the goal of people having more mental health awareness.

“Policing language is never popular and rarely easy. But it is perfectly possible to be both frank and polite. Words around mental health are not so much being banned as recommendations made so we can be sensitive. With that in mind, chatting to friends and colleagues, will I have another “manic” day at work? In all honestly, probably. But it’s hardly a chore for me to replace that with “super busy”.”

Source:https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2014/feb/28/mind-your-language-mental-health

If we are non-judgemental, use more neutral or positive language, as opposed as words with negative conotation; we can make our friends and family more comfortable in sharing their struggles with mental illness. You can provide incentive for their treatment, be a shoulder to cry on and whatever you can do to help that person. If you have the ability that is. I don’t think I could help or take care of anyone right now. I’m only capable of listening and giving advice. I commend the people that have the ability to help others in many ways. Hopefully, I can do that one day to someone. Paying forward what was done to us is a very altruistic gesture. I don’t want to do it because it looks nice and then I’ll post a picture on Facebook. On the contrary, I want to help without any kind of publicity.

I don’t like the terms “mental illness”, “mental disorder”, and so on. Normally, I say “mental health condition”. I think it’s a much softer way to say it. Try no to use the word crazy, insane, psycho, etc, as they are very negative and very stigmatizing.

“Mad Pride, held each year on Bastille Day (because the people released from the Bastille were deemed “insane”) seeks to “reclaim terms like ‘mad’, ‘nutter’, and ‘psycho’ from misuse, such as in tabloid newspapers, celebrate mental health survivor culture and explore the positives of madness”. Susannah Wilson is keen to highlight the positives: “My illness has taught me compassion and empathy for others who are suffering in ways I wouldn’t perhaps have achieved. It has also tested my strength and courage allowed me to make peace with the parts of myself I’ve disliked.”

Source:https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2014/feb/28/mind-your-language-mental-health

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About the media and mental health coverage:

 “The media is extremely powerful and is consumed by millions of people every day. Therefore, we would encourage journalists to recognise the influence they have when reporting on mental health so as not to reinforce damaging stereotypes or create sensationalist articles which can cause huge distress and offence to the one in four people who will experience mental health problems.”

-Kate Nightingale

The media must be more responsible in the way they write their stories and present mental illness. For example, if they said that a certain individual was psychotic and killed someone, they should also say that most people who are psychotic are not aggressive, can lead normal lives with medication and are more prone to suffer from violence than to perpretate. Both sides of the issue should be covered.

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Another thing that is also sensitive in the media, is the coverage of suicides. “Committing suicide” is loaded with archaic and criminal baggage. It doesn’t have a good conotation. “Sucessful suicide” is also not very accurate, as it should be an oxymoron. Sometimes the media doesn’t mention suicides at all, in order not to encourage other people to do the same thing. However, there should be a debate about this issue. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that one of my best friends died by suicide last June. He was depressed but refused to take medication. It was the stigma, plain and simple. He was also stubborn and didn’t like medication. It isn’t the end of the world to take one or two pills. If it helps you, go for it. No need to feel bad about it or thinking that it will ruin your health. Just avoid drinking alcohol, so you don’t overwhelm your liver. Alcohol is terrible for you anyway so you might as well stop drinking or just drink on special occasions.

All in all, all we ask is for you to be mindful of your words and the effect that they have on others. It’s not hard to avoid some words and phrases. It creates a more harmonious communication between people, without dehumanization or stigma.