Borderline Personality Disorder – Intentional Interventions & Ah-Ha Moments

Introduction to This Blog Series

I was 27 years old when I entered into the realization that there was something wrong with me and one of the original diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD. 

I say something wrong with me because I was just not able to manage my life on my own and somehow knew there was something wrong with my mind.

Back then, not a lot was known about this horribly stigmatized disorder because BPD patients were considered impossible to treat or wrongly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. 

Along with BPD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS) were also added to my diagnostic mix.

ADHD was quickly debunked and over the past two decades most professionals leaned towards my having PTSD or a Dissociative Disorder – but something about these disorders never seemed to fit.

Add menopause to the mix and the confusion became even more confusing.

Anxiety

Here are past blogs I’ve written about my struggles with anxiety and what felt like PTSD or DDNOS:

Alcohol Addiction

As well, I have a history of alcohol addiction.

On February 17th, 2020 I began living an alcohol-free life.

My Struggles With Alcohol Can be Read in These Blogs:

Present Day

At 52 years old, and after a thorough assessment by a seasoned psychiatrist – I was finally properly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

This blog series called Owning and Unraveling Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder is my way of processing and understanding these complex personality disorders and how they manifest, interfere with and enhance my life.

And, as it has been said to me from friends who have family members with Borderline Personality Disorder, perhaps I can help dispel misconceptions and stigmas associated with these mental illnesses.

As well, perhaps I can shed some light and more personal information on what living with Histrionic Personality Disorder is like, for those who are also walking this path.

With hope,

Stephanie, 💛

2019 - Qatar - Al Wakrah - Dune Bashing
2019 – Qatar – Al Wakrah – Taking a break from dune bashing

Feeling the World

Having BPD means I emotionally feel the world at a rate higher than the general population.

To me, this is a super power and a curse.

Before I was properly diagnosed, I did not know what was causing my over-the-top emotional reaction to the world.

I felt cursed as I could not understand why life consistently felt so overwhelmingly hard for me, while I’ve been trying so hard for it not to be.

I continually struggle to settle into life.

Now, with this proper diagnosis, I understand why I feel the world so much more than most.

I understand why I struggle.

Now, I can start to feel more at ease with the positive side of this ability.

This ability is my ability to emotionally read a room.

collage photo of woman
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Empathic

I guess this can also be called an empathic ability.

According to Borderline Personality for Dummies by Charles H. Elliott and Laura L. Smith,

Sometimes people with BPD appear surprisingly able to read cues from other people. They seem almost able to enter other people’s psyches and become one in the same. However, most of the time, people with BPD fail to grasp the reasons behind and the implications of what people are thinking and feeling. In other words, they know what other people are feeling, but they don’t understand why they’re feeling that way or what their feelings mean.

Borderline Personality for Dummies by Charles H. Elliott and Laura L. Smith, – Page 108-109

I’ve always known I have the ability to sense other people’s thoughts and emotions.

The problem was/is is I don’t trust what I am sensing.

I’ve always assumed negative intent, worst case scenario, or something very black and white in my general ability to translate what my senses are picking up in others.

I foresee Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) will help teach me to “trust” my inner voice that speaks from my wise mind.

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DBT – Three States of Mind

This week, a therapy goal is to visual the below DBT’s three minds before I start to go sideways and spiral down into emotional intensity that does not match the reason for my reaction.

By doing this, I remind myself I am heading too far into emotional mind and have to make my way to wise mind.

This is an intentional intervention to move me from emotional mind into wise mind.

DBT Wise Mind

Photo Credit – Cam’s Kids

Intentional Intervention

My therapist explained this term as a way of stopping the tsunami sized wave of Borderline emotional intensity before it hits.

An intentional intervention is used when a situation presents itself and I struggle to manage it.

As well as visualizing the 3 States of Minds, another intentional intervention is Mindfulness.

Mindfulness

I can usually feel in my body when an emotion Borderline Style begins.

I am presently capable to feel in my body when an emotion Borderline Style begins, for two very important reasons:

  1. For the past two years I’ve been taking medically prescribed CBD and THC for anxiety.
    1. This has calmed my body and my mind with the added benefit of clarity of thought combined with…
  2. For the past two years I’ve been listening to meditation teachers Jeff Warren and Tamara Levitt on Calm.
    1. I can, with ease now, recall their voices in my head to guide my breathing to come back into my body and observe the feelings in it.

It is at that moment, when an emotion Borderline Style begins, that I use the intentional intervention of mindfulness.

I practice “noticing” and “observing” the emotion, then acknowledge and accept it without judgement, while watching it go by rather than jumping on board with it; I’m putting on the brakes, so to speak.

It is here, I remind myself I do not want to make things worse.

If there is a valid reason for my strong emotion (like anger or fear) – I cannot hear it right now.

I need to do things that are helpful in the situation so I can eventually hear the reason (or no reason) for my emotional reaction.

And again, I do not want to make the situation worse.

I have a DBT mindfulness workbook chapter to read, that gives specific mindfulness techniques for BPD.

I look forward to reading it.

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AH-HA Moment – Three Sentences

Over the years, we read quotes or slogans or axioms, then one day – BAM – you get the Universal truth the words are trying to teach you.

Examples are:

  • Live and Let Live
  • One Day at a Time
  • Just Be
  • Progress Not Perfection
  • This Too Shall Pass
  • To Thine Own Self Be True

You probably get my drift now.

There were three sentences my therapist spoke in our last session that rocked my world.

It was like she gave me the secret to my success!

Here they are:

  1. I do not want to make things worse.
  2. Perhaps, there is a valid reason for my strong emotion.
  3. I need to do things that are helpful in the situation

Not rocket science.

I’ve probably been told this before.

But, this time I understand I have a preventative strategy to help me make my life better, because I know using this will work.

Before, when I thought the strong emotional response was possibly PTSD, I was on constant edge – hyper-vigilant – waiting for a traumatic repressed memory to rock my world in a horrible way.

But, PTSD is not what is happening to me.

Borderline Personality Disorder is happening to me.

Now, I have tools specifically designed for BPD!

I will also add that intentional intervention is also an “Ah-Ha” moment, as a defining term to use for the starting place when going to my BPD Management “tool box”.

I am STOKED!!! WOOHOO!!

That is it for today!

Lots to process as I read and re-read this blog to help me get clarity on these thoughts in a coherent way.

S, ☀️

Owning and Unraveling Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder

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