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Sarah's lived experience

Sarah is 30 years old, lives in VIC and identifies as a person living with BPD


What was your experience of receiving a diagnosis of BPD?

It was very invalidating; I was basically told to take medication and keep busy.

What would you like people newly experienced with BPD to know?

You are worthy of treatment and understanding no matter what. Never give up and never let people think you are less worthy; you are human and deserve respect and dignity.

What did clinicians and mental health professionals do well to support you?

I found a clinician who made sure I was safe, and then supported me to work through my unhelpful behaviours. I learnt about self-validation and wise mind which has turned my life around.

What could clinicians and mental health professionals have done better to help you?

They should have focused on my strengths, avoided stereotyping and stigmatising. Validating my experiences was essential and avoiding judgement. I needed understanding about my needs.

What kind of psychological treatments worked well for you?

After many years of seeing a psychiatrist weekly, I decided to see an individual psychologist that was DBT trained. We work through the skills with me individually, which has changed my life. I find the DBT “middle path” theory helpful. At the moment I have found that I personally don’t need to complete the full DBT program for me to see the benefits. I am hoping to do the full program one day.

What other things have supported you to live well?

Journaling and music ensure I am meeting all my needs. I have time to collect myself and listen to myself, however that might be.

Do you have any tips or tricks for managing distress or strong emotions you would like to share?

Checking in and being accountable for actions, asking how you can get your needs meet in helpful ways and having a written plan for when things are too much.

What advice would you give to friends/family supporting someone with a diagnosis of BPD?

Treatment is not simple for everyone and I am not able to change my patterns overnight. I need understanding and encouragement. When I stopped trying to complete change myself, and just took one step at a time, my support people saw huge accomplishments. Start basic and increase.

What are a few things you thought you might not have been able to do but you did anyway?!

I am learning to understand myself and feel worthy which helps me accomplish things. I am practicing wise mind, and changing things slowly.

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