Sarah is 30 years old, lives in WA and identifies as a person in recovery from BPD
What was your experience of receiving a diagnosis of BPD?
Receiving a diagnosis was a relief. I was finally able to understand why I was experiencing life the way I was. It was hard to share with others at first because of all the negative stigma BPD has associated with it.
What would you like people newly experienced with BPD to know?
Don’t be scared. It does not define you, but it can help you to understand yourself better and fill in the blanks. In terms of therapists, it should be a working relationship and it takes time to build a rapport, trust and feel comfortable. ‘Shop around’ to find one who works for you, my first 3 or 4 different therapists were actually not the right fit, but I did find one who was perfect for me and it changed my life.
What did clinicians and mental health professionals do well to support you?
My therapist was amazing at supporting me by being non-judgemental, letting me talk about what I wanted to talk about, and also having firm boundaries with me at times when I needed that.
What could clinicians and mental health professionals have done better to help you?
Avoid using negative stereotypes and applying stigma when talking to people about their experiences of BPD. Accessibility is an issue, the option to change therapists may not be available to everyone due to financial constraints, and this needs to be addressed
What kind of psychological treatments worked well for you?
Schema therapy changed my life. DBT, especially mindful practice and CBT helped as well.
What other things have supported you to live well?
Caring for a pet and studying. I have also been volunteering for over 2 years and it is something I find to be very fulfilling and rewarding. I have gained valuable personal and professional skills and recommend volunteering to everyone.
Do you have any tips or tricks for managing distress or strong emotions you would like to share?
Acknowledge what you are feeling. It is okay to feel. Then, if it helps, explore those feelings and try to identify where that feeling is coming from. I think just being able to identify what is causing the strong emotion and reconcile with it is powerful.
What advice would you give to friends/family supporting someone with a diagnosis of BPD?
Listen. Be patient and supportive. When appropriate give a gentle nudge for encouragement. I needed to be pushed sometimes and I am grateful for those who cared enough to push me.
What are a few things you thought you might not have been able to do but you did anyway?!
Make friends. Go back to school. Work. Recover.