Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder – EMDR and Inner Resources

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.

My Struggles With Alcohol Can be Read in These Blogs:

Present Day

When I was 52 years old I had a thorough psychological assessment by a seasoned psychiatrist. At long last, I was 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, 💛

May 19th, 2017 - Zallaq, Bahrain - Gravity Wind Tunnel
May 19th, 2017 – Zallaq, Bahrain – Gravity Wind Tunnel

EMDR – Wasn’t Ready

A while back my therapist and I tried an EMDR session, but I wasn’t ready.

I spoke about this in my blog:

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

Now

A lot has changed since then.

I am on Effexor for anxiety. This is working for me as my body feels a lot calmer.

I attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for my alcohol addiction. I have a sponsor, am at the inception of working the AA 12-Step program and am active in finding a meeting that fits to call my home group.

I feel so much more emotionally supported with a return to the AA rooms. There is a kinship there.

Recently, at a powerful meeting, a member perfectly described this kinship.

She said, “We are with our people”.

Self-Care Priorities & Balance

I realize I have two priorities in my self care:

  • Managing my BPD and HPD
  • Managing my alcoholism

Both are equally important because one affects the other.

I work a full-time, Monday – Friday job. Therefore, time management is key.

I am on the journey of finding balance between going to an AA meeting during the week to support my sobriety and not going to an AA meeting during the week to get to bed early. I need to get enough sleep so I do not get run down and cannot manage my BPD and HPD.

During the week, AA meetings in my area mostly start at 7:30pm and last an hour. Typically, after a meeting it is close to 10:00pm before sleep welcomes me because once I am home I get ready for the next day then transition into bed with meditation.

During the week, I am up at 4:30am to make a healthy lunch, enjoy a wee bit of quiet time, exercise with my husband, run on the treadmill, roll my IT bands, do a small yoga practice, have a shower, get ready for work then leave for work.

Managing my alcoholism is attending meetings, getting phone numbers to reach out to members, staying in contact with my sponsor and working the AA 12-Step program. There is a saying in the rooms – HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired – and any combination of these can make an alcoholic vulnerable. Therefore, managing my alcoholism also includes a healthy diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep.

Thankfully, my doctor recommends five meetings a week, therefore the weekends allow for at least two meetings.

Managing my BPD and HPD includes exercise, a healthy diet and enough sleep so that I am cognizant enough to practice Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills out there in the real world.

BPD and HPD management also includes regular therapy sessions where I am taught DBT skills and now engage in EMDR therapy.

EMDR – Ready

EMDR in a Nutshell
Photo Credit – lorirussellsiemer.com

EMDR Stands For: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

According to Dictionary.com desensitization means:

desensitization

[ dee-sen-si-tuhzey-shuhn ]SHOW IPA🎓 College Level


noun

  1. the act or process of desensitizing
  2. PhysiologyMedicine/Medical. the elimination or reduction of natural or acquired reactivity or sensitivity to an external stimulus, as an allergen.
  3. Psychiatry. a behavior modification technique, used especially in treating phobias, in which panic or other undesirable emotional response to a given stimulus is reduced or extinguished, especially by repeated exposure to that stimulus.
According to a Google search reprocessing means:

re·proc·ess

[rēˈpräˌses, rēˈprōˌses]

VERB

reprocessing (present participle)

  1. process (something, especially spent nuclear fuel) again or differently, typically in order to reuse it:“the costs of reprocessing radioactive waste”synonyms:reuse · convert into something · reclaim · recover · salvage · save

I’m Not Spent Nuclear Fuel…

However, as I understand EMDR it will make me less sensitive to an undesirable emotional response and I will be able to process this undesirable emotional response differently.

This blog is not to explain specifically how EMDR works. This blog is my experience of experiencing it and how it worked for me.

Inner Resources

Inner resources, if I understand correctly, is a past experience where I felt good about myself in a situation and had feelings such as joy, confidence, contentment, etc. as a result of this situation, then being able to call on these good feelings as a resource in the present moment.

When I wasn’t ready for EMDR – looking back, one of the reasons I struggled was because I truly did not believe in any of my inner resources.

Perhaps you may be wondering why this is so for me. BPD in particular and alcohol addiction is very difficult to manage. The deep shame within me, no matter how much good is happening around me, tints the lenses of how I see myself.

It was only last year I was properly diagnosed with BPD and HPD, therefore I spent decades misdiagnosed and floundering in the BPD and HPD symptoms that accumulated (to me and how I view my past) a lot of shame.

Similarly with alcohol addiction and the shame of the label of being an alcoholic. I have been in and out of the rooms of AA for 25 years. Over those years I have had short and long periods of not drinking/sobriety. It’s not easy to not drink when society makes drinking the social norm on how to cope with life and is included in most social events. As well, I am envious of those who can enjoy drinking because of my love of wine. I do not have an off button with alcohol and envy those who do.

This therapy session, I was able to feel an authentic good feeling connected to a recent past experience where I felt good about myself and how I handled it. This was significant for me because this reflected the Effexor working, my using DBT’s wise mind, the supportive result of the emotional support gained in AA meetings, getting honest with myself and doing the right thing.

I did struggle to connect a visual with the authentic good feeling (a part of the EMDR process).

However, I did feel this authentic good feeling in my body.

I believe this above example of feeling the good feeling in my body and truly believing it is an example of recalling and connecting to an inner resources within me.

Next, I find a descriptive word(s) and/or short phrase to describe this good feeling in my body.

Then, I held the EMDR hand buzzers as my therapist guided me through the session.

The end goal is (I think) to (long term and at any time) recall this descriptive word(s) and/or short phrase and then I would feel that authentic good feeling associated with it in my body – to use at any time, especially when triggered.

After the session, it was remarkable how this authentic good feeling hummed throughout my entire body; strongest in my core.

I felt like a new person!

However, my ability to recall this authentic good feeling in my body when I said (in my head) the descriptive word(s) and/or short phrase only lasted that evening and briefly into the next day.

Even as I write this and I say the descriptive word(s) and/or short phrase – the authentic good feeling associated with it feels very far away in my body.

Bushwhacking

My stepdaughter Patricia is a trauma therapist who is certified in EMDR therapy and has explained to me that EMDR is similar to bushwhacking.

My understanding of bushwhacking is clearing a new pathway in the jungle, typically with a machete.

The freedictionary.com defines bushwhacking as:

To force one’s way through a forested or overgrown area where no path exists….

So, how is EMDR similar to bushwhacking?

It goes like this. Hopefully, I communicate this analog properly.

When my brain is triggered in the here and now, it is traveling specific fear based neural pathways because it thinks I am in danger and wants to protect me. Therefore, I respond to a neutral or safe situation in fight, flight or freeze.

My brain created these specific fear based neural pathways a long time ago (activating my sympathetic nervous system) and has used them ever since as a way to keep me safe. These fear based neural pathways are very well-traveled pathways, used for decades.

EMDR is the process of bushwhacking new neural pathways for my brain to travel on, in the here and now, in situations that trigger me. Instead of fear neural pathways, my brain travels down newly created calm and confidence pathways in the triggering situation that I can then navigate from my DBT wise mind.

Something like that.

However, it takes a bit of time to clear all the trees and overgrown bushes that crowd the new neural pathways EMDR is bushwhacking.

That is why those feelings I mentioned above didn’t last very long.

Because I will need more therapy session with the EMDR hand buzzer “machetes” to clear all the trees and overgrown bushes along the new “feelings” pathway EMDR is creating.

Phew!

I think that is how the analog goes…

I feel so very hopeful and excited about EMDR and connecting to my inner resources!

This new ability to connect to my inner resources feels so authentically empowering, in so many healing and wonderful ways…

S, 🌼

Owning and Unraveling Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder

2 Comments Add yours

  1. mama says:

    We are so pleased that you have made the decision to go back to AA. Your courage and determination are quite remarkable. We wish you all good things towards achieving your goal. mama & DV ….BRAVO!!!!👍❤️

    1. Much love and thank you mama and DV…. 💛💛💛💛

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