Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder – The Start of EMDR – Creating New Pathways to Calm

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, 💛

September 16th, 2016 - Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka - Visiting a local family farm - this worker uses a loud horn to scare away and prevent wild elephants from walking over crops.
September 16th, 2016 – Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka – Visiting a local family farm – this worker uses a loud horn to scare away and prevent wild elephants from walking over crops.

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

First, I am not going to spend a lot of time telling you specifically how EMDR works.

My reasoning for this is that I can spend a lot of time trying to understand a process rather than letting the process happen.

For me, this can be an avoidance tactic rather than just diving in and letting the process happen.

That said, I will come to understand EMDR – as the process unfolds.

Here is what I know:

Over my lifetime, when a situation unfolds and a strong emotional reaction happens like fear and anger, my brain immediately goes to intense and unreasonable anger and fear.

That is because my brain is hardwired that way, to go to these VERY WELL WORN AND HIGHLY USED PATHWAYS of intense and unreasonable anger and fear.

EMDR creates BRAND NEW PATHWAYS of peace and calm – to replace the very well worn and highly used pathways of intense and unreasonable anger and fear.

EMDR in a Nutshell
Photo Credit – lorirussellsiemer.com

Imagine Having a Tool to Build and You Cannot Access It

Here’s the thing – I am at the beginning of learning all these amazing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) techniques and tools – but imagine being so overwhelmed with strong emotions – that these emotions get in the way of reaching for DBT techniques and tools when I need them.

It’s like this – you’ve been given a hammer to build something, some nails and the step-by-step directions on how to build.

BUT – you can’t quite reach these tools and the specific directions.

You know you can use the tools and follow the directions – but they are always just out of reach.

EMDR, I believe – will eventually bring these tools and directions into reach.

When I am caught in an intense emotion like anger or fear – I can intellectualize the DBT techniques and tools I need (mindfulness and observing) but I can’t stay there for long because the emotional reactions are SO strong.

EMDR will help me go to a calm place pathway to then be able to step successfully into using DBT techniques and tools, on a consistent basis.

I think that is it for today.

I am still processing my first EMDR session.

I’m noticing my struggles (with visualization and how my brain just won’t let me find a calm place – it wants to attach anxiety to the calm place) and the successes (picking a color and a word to associate with the calm place – I think that is what I’m suppose to do?).

I’m going to physically develop a picture of a calm place for me (kayaking – on the water) to look at during my next session when I have to visualize a calm place.

I’m hoping this will help me focus on it and keep the anxiety away.

I also had a manicure and pedicure of the color I chose (purple) – to help remind me to visualize the color purple and the word (peaceful) – when I start feeling an intense emotion coming on.

Baby steps!

Baby steps!

Baby steps!

S, 🧘🏼‍♀️

Update

My therapist and I have agreed to postpone EMDR because it brings up a lot and I’m not living in my own space right now. Once we are in our own space I will have the safety to process what comes up for me.

This may seem contradictory to everything I’ve written in this blog – but since I’ve written this, I have settled some and have started to read up on DBT with a step-by-step DBT plan with my therapist.

Owning and Unraveling Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder

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