paul is 46 years old, lives in vic and identifies as a person in recovery from BPD.
What was your experience of receiving a diagnosis of BPD?
Diagnosis changed everything for me – for the first time I knew what I was dealing with. After years of misdiagnosis it gave me an opportunity to fully understand and address my illness.
What would you like people newly experienced with BPD to know?
That recovery and freedom from the rollercoaster of emotions and behaviours is possible and that BPD does not define them. Recovering from BPD takes time, patience and discipline and it is critical to have support and accountability around you. It’s ok to make mistakes and you will, the important thing is to keep leaning in and being consistent around therapy and using the tools.
What did clinicians and mental health professionals do well to support you?
My health professional helped me to understand what was happening to me - and why. This was achieved through therapy as well as providing me with the tools and resources to support me in my day to day life. They also provided me with immediate support if and when I needed it and built accountability mechanisms which were important for me.
What could clinicians and mental health professionals have done better to help you?
My current therapist has done an amazing job. In the past it would have been beneficial for mental health professionals to be more holistic in their approach and look beyond one or two symptoms and base a diagnosis or assessment on those.
What kind of psychological treatments worked well for you?
DBT, mindfulness, breath-work, cold exposure. I educated myself on how the brain works to give myself a depth of knowledge and awareness.
What other things have supported you to live well?
My wife has been an incredible source of strength through my recovery. She has provided me with the time and space I need as well as someone who has been clear on boundaries and held me accountable. My dog has also been an amazing therapy tool, someone that loves me with all of his heart with no judgement and is there for a cuddle any time of the day.
Do you have any tips or tricks for managing distress or strong emotions you would like to share?
My recovery has been all about understanding and identifying challenges and emotions and their responses. I have focussed on creating awareness of my triggers, reducing or eliminating them from my life and put in place clear boundaries for challenging situations. I learned to breathe properly and use breathing techniques to manage difficult moments, which enables me to short circuit or minimise the emotional reaction to a situation.
What advice would you give to friends/family supporting someone with a diagnosis of BPD?
Hang in there - what you see is not the person you love. Be empathic but also hold firm on your boundaries and hold the person with BPD accountable as hard as that is at times.
What are a few things you thought you might not have been able to do but you did anyway?!
I learned to sit in the discomfort and let go of negative behaviours. My recovery will always be a work in progress but I have walked into the light of realizing that I can live a good life. I can live a life where I can love with all of my heart and a life where I can allow myself to be loved and be truly happy. With the support of my therapist, my wife and family not to mention my dog Buddy recovery became possible and I flicked the switch.