Hi Leigh

thanks for your message, and sorry to hear about your daughter struggles. Seventeen is an age when BPD is at its absolute worst. It may be disheartening but time heals, and as she gets older the symptoms will calm down.

My recovery went through several stages, which took about 15 years overall. I was pretty much alone in childhood and adolescence — I didn’t like my parents, and didn’t attend school, so had no support network. I turned to art and literature, and found amidst the artists, poets and writers and general ‘creative types’ there were many like me. They taught me that I wasn’t alone, and I should be proud of being different— writers like Hermann Hesse, Dostoevsky, Carl Jung really helped me discover the meaning of my own life, and gave me hope for the future.

The second stage, was on a conventional level of therapy. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, helped me control symptoms, by giving me systematic skills-training to develop self-mastery. I also tried a variety of medications, some worked in “numbing” symptoms — such as clomipramine (an anti-anxiety tryciclic). However, they also damaged my physical health so I’m ambivalent about how effective drugs are. Sometimes it was very hard to access treatment, so I started to educate myself on the condition. The more I found out, the more I felt a sense of control, because I understood what I was dealing with.

Thirdly, I starting practising Buddhism. It sounds cliche, to turn to religion but Buddhism places a great emphasis on conquering psychological suffering through understanding the mind. After many years trapped in an unrelenting crisis, — many hospital admissions, and suicide attempts — that I finally had to accept reality. Buddhism helped me develop patience, acceptance, even kindness towards my own mind states. By being ‘non-attached’ and not desperately seeking recovery, but rather allowing it to unfurl naturally I was able to calm down. Practising meditation speeds this process up. “Mindfullness” is now a key concept in therapy, because it advocates vigilant awareness. If you aware of your mind — it’s tricks, conceits, predilections— it’s easy to reach a state peace and equilibrium.

Life certainly isn’t perfect, and I have some physical health problems I’m dealing with, which mean I’ll always have some limitations. Nevertheless, I’m more accepting.

Sorry can’t be more help, there’s no quick fix, or special skill. More like struggling through hell until you reach the other side. These things take time though, at seventeen I was very sick — if you’re daughter can hold on through these difficult years, practise, learn and grow, even using pain as the teacher, life will eventually get better. Understanding is key.

Best

Kevin

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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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