Hi Kayleigh thank you for your lovely comment. And I hope the article does indeed help you.

‘Recovery’ is a difficult concept to describe but I’ll give it a go. Apologies for the length

The change I first noticed was self-destructive behaviours became less frequent. Whether it was self harm drinking or even overdosing I one day realised just because I felt an urge didn’t mean I had to act on it. More so I allowed myself to feel these emotions without attempting to destroy them. That meant allowing myself to feel sad, to cry, to be scared or ashamed, without resorting to impulsivity. These behaviours kept me in a state of crisis, they fed my emotional instability, just as much as the emotions fed the behaviours. Once I restrained myself other changes started to take place

Secondly my emotions calmed down. I became less angry, sad and anxious. This happened not just on account of avoiding maladaptive behaviours but because I took myself away from triggers. (I didn’t speak to my mum and dad for about six months and still keep contact minimal) I also tried to nourish more positive feelings (simple things like going for a walk, drinking a cup of tea mindfully created a foundation on which to build upon). Without a doubt I still struggle with strong emotions offset by emptiness only now I try to embrace all these feelings with compassion. It was an important insight for me to realise I am not the emotion, this emotion is not me, Therefore I can get through this.

Thirdly I changed my outlook and decided to accept my life and my story. Before I had effectively declared war on reality. I thought if I can’t destroy reality I’d rather destroy myself. Anything less felt like giving in and a sign of weakness. Now I still believe my life has been a battle, only now I’ve put down the sword and stopped fighting. After spending the best part of 20 years wanting to die, I am now happy to live. I want to live because I know now that once the painful emotions disappear, everything feels so much better! (a little secret is, when you recover from BPD the good times will be that much more special) Acceptance made this possible

So ‘recovery’ right now is being married (celebrating 1 year on 31 August) looking for a job I can manage in light of my emotional sensitivity, and finally finding happiness in the simple ordinary things. I still have bad days and mess up but I try not to judge myself harshly as I’m doing my best. It wasn’t the life I wished for as a child but it’s still an amazing life and I’ve found a happiness that I didn’t think was possible or even knew existed for the likes of me.

Finally worth mentioning after my ‘crisis years’ I had about three years of living alone, in almost complete solitude, not interacting with anyone and not doing anything. It was partly a self imposed exile partly because I scared everyone away! Nevertheless, I’m grateful for it, while depressing it gave me time and space to heal. Once I was sufficiently feeling better I began the task of rebuilding my life: I went on dates, did some volunteering, joined a book group, took up art. I started meditating and listening to Dhamma talks about the mind and body at a Buddhist monastery. I tried to see the few friends I more frequently. This process of rebuilding could only happen after getting away from bad environments.

It’s definetly a work in progress but it’s worth it. I found when in the most severe stage of BPD life really was unlivable. If this was destined to be the same forever I really would have killed myself. The good news is it does change, life can get better. There’s still a hurt traumatised part of me that will always be there. I’ll always feel a bit empty a bit burnt out a bit lost. The difference is I’ve found a life worth living, so I’m now a passionate believer others can too

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Freelance journalist writing on mental health and disability. Words have the power to shine a light on realities otherwise missed.

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