I write this post with a heavy heart. For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of being About.com's Guide to borderline personality disorder. I have met so many wonderful people through this site, and have enjoyed interacting with my readers and providing what I hope has been reliable, encouraging information about BPD. Recently, new personal and professional responsibilities have reduced the amount of time that I have been able to devote to the site, and it has become clear to me that it is time to leave and make way for a new guide to give their fresh perspective.
Thank you, my readers, for all of the support over the years. I have truly cherished the feedback I've gotten from you -- I feel honored that so many of you have shared your experiences with me.
I wish you all health and peace.
Late last month, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall became the second major figure to disclose a borderline personality disorder diagnosis this summer. The disclosure came on the heels of Dr. Marsha Linehan's revelation in late June. But, does this mark a turning point in the fight against stigma?
Marshall does seem intent on educating the public about BPD. He told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that he is trying to become an advocate for greater awareness and medical coverage for the disorder (Marshall recently completed a treatment program at McLean Hospital outside of Boston that cost upwards of $60,000).
What do you think? Does Marshall's disclosure change the "face of BPD?"
This is one of my favorite quotes by Pema Chodron -- "To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest."
What do I love about this quote? I think it speaks to the fact that life is inherently scary. It speaks to our very human desire to stay in a safe place, protected. And it speaks to our need to confront reality to be truly alive. In my work with patients, we often tackle these issues. People with BPD have every reason to seek security -- many have been deprived of security in their childhood, or, because of the nature of their symptoms, feel insecure even when they are in a safe place. But, by seeking security all the time, they can miss out on life's big opportunities; the chance to try something new, to fall in love, to pursue their goals.
Of course, this doesn't just apply to people with BPD. We all sometimes choose the comfort of security over the endless possibilities of living. Do you do this too often though? Are you limiting your life in favor of feeling protected?
There are several ways in which borderline personality disorder can alter the way you think. Some of the symptoms of BPD can alter the content of your thoughts (i.e., the way that you interpret the environment, other people's behavior, your own actions), while other symptoms can alter the process of thinking (as in dissociation).
Learn more about the impact of BPD on cognition or thinking in this article: "Borderline Personality and Problems in Thinking"
Dr. Marsha Linehan's disclosure in the national media that she had borderline personality disorder in her late adolescence and early adulthood has a lot of people talking. One of the big topics of conversation: does this mean that more people with BPD will disclose their diagnosis? Will Dr. Linehan's disclosure reduce some of the stigma about the disorder? Who is it safe to disclose to, and under what circumstances?
My readers share some of their own opinions: Readers Respond - Should You Disclose?
I have always had immense respect for Dr. Marsha Linehan's work (she is the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for borderline personality disorder), but my respect and admiration for her has just grown tremendously. This week, in a talk at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, Dr. Linehan revealed to an audience that she struggled with symptoms of BPD herself for many years (and continues to struggle with some symptoms to this day).
Dr. Linehan, this was an incredibly brave and wonderful thing to do. Thank you.
Read more about Dr. Linehan's journey of recovery in this New York Times article.
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." Gautama Siddharta
As many of you know, very intense anger is a symptom of borderline personality disorder (BPD). But, unlike some other symptoms of BPD (i.e., feelings of emptiness, or fear of abandonment), many people with BPD feel the need to hold on to anger. For example, I have had readers and clients say things like, "Everyone is always telling me to let go of my anger. But when someone hurts me, don't I deserve to feel angry? Why should I let it go?"
Here is one of the real sticky spots with BPD - many people with BPD have been hurt very badly by others, and feel righteous anger about that. Of course, when you are hurt by another person, you do deserve to feel angry. But, when you hold on to that anger, going over the misdeeds over and over again, it hurts only you.
This is something I struggle with as a therapist. How much anger is enough anger? At what point does anger become "too much?" How can you balance having righteous anger, but not allowing it to take over your life? For the answers, I keep coming back to the practice of mindfulness. Just as we tend to try to judge or push away some emotions, anger is one of those emotions that sometimes we try to control by hanging on to it. Mindfulness skills teach us to acknowledge the anger but allow it to flow naturally, without letting it control us, without trying to control it, just letting it be what it is.
What do you do with your righteous anger? Do you hold on to it? Does it hurt you, or get in your way?
Lots of spouses and partners tell stories of their BPD loved one's infidelity. But, is there any evidence that people with BPD are more likely to cheat? Do some of the symptoms of BPD lead people to be at greater risk of infidelity?
On this Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. I am full of gratitude. I am thinking about all those who have served or are currently serving, and all those who have lost their lives in service. I'm also thinking about the individuals and families who have been affected by their loved ones' service; those who have had to cope on the home front, and those who have lost their parent, spouse, partner, child, family member or friend.
Please take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday, and the grave sacrifices that others have made. Wishing you all a peaceful weekend.
You're probably thinking that you already have a pretty good grasp on breathing, right?
Yes, if you are reading this you are probably breathing. But, are your breathing in a way that activates your sympathetic nervous system (the flight-or-fight response)? Or, are you breathing to maximize the effect of the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest-and-digest response)?
Humor me, check out this article on deep breathing. This is the one skill that can alter your physiology with just a few minutes of practice. It doesn't work for everyone, but when it does the results can be dramatic.