Positive Aspects of BPD

Borderline Personality Disorder is highly stigmatized due to the intense symptoms presented. Conversations around the disorder are often negative, and understandably, as the symptoms are overwhelming at times, painful, and can be destructive to the individual, those around them, and their relationships. Yet, from referencing DBT, we understand that all things can be both good and bad. Meaning, BPD can be horribly awful AND it can be empowering. And we need to accept things as they are because there is no other option.

Those of us with BPD are extremely empathic. We feel deeply, experience a wide range of emotions every day, and understand intense internal pain. This allows us to better connect with people. We can relate to all emotions, and truly understand the importance of validation. We are often supportive and easy to talk to.

Similar to intense emotions is our sense of intuition. Learning how to live with BPD requires a lot of mindfulness and observation of our environment and triggers. Due to this awareness, we are often very intuitive. Sensing when something is wrong with others, noticing things that are often overlooked, and thinking about things from an interconnected perspective. This may help us: connect with others more deeply, help others through emotional distress, and feel a deep connection to the world. We know the importance of the ‘little things’ that can go a long way. Whether this means appreciating nature, smiling at a stranger, taking in peaceful moments, or supporting a friend. Our intuition helps us connect.

We are often creative and expressive through art. There is no doubt that we experience extreme emotional pain that is invisible to others, and there is no way to change that, but we can channel it. Many of us want to share our experiences so that we feel less misunderstood. High and sometimes manic moods can give us energy, motivation, and ideas. The overload of emotions means we are always feeling something very strongly, and when we find the right way to channel our voice, we can shine bright.

Intense emotions are difficult when those emotions are sadness, anger, or fear. At the same time, when the emotions are more positive, such as happiness or excitement, they are experienced to an extreme as well. So, even though we go through very dark episodes of depression, we can also experience unbelievable joy and excitement. Because with BPD, everything is extreme.

Impulsivity can also translate into bravery or boldness. When we feel good, we often want to speak our mind and be unapologetically ourselves. We may be more willing to try new things and our impulsive actions can sometimes have beneficial results. Like cutting off a toxic relationship or quitting an unhealthy job, we can rip off the bandaid. Yes, we will frequently self-destruct and most impulsive actions hurt us, but we may also push ourselves further on impulse alone.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it 90% of the time, we are so resilient. Looking at the trauma we are working through, how we experience the world, the pain we feel each day, the stigma of our invisible illness, the jobs and/or relationships we’ve lost, and the fact that we’re still alive and breathing despite the statistics of our illness shows just how resilient we are. Our lives are anything but easy, but we continue on. That is incredible in itself.

Living with BPD is awful at times, but it can also be good. When we create a life that is healthy and fulfilling, we can not only survive but also thrive. We are resilient, capable, emotional, creative, intuitive, strong, empathic people. We did not choose this path, but we can make the most of it.

Reframing Thoughts


Initially, most of my thoughts are negative. I can thank the chemicals in my brain for that. I spent most of my life believing these thoughts, and the awful things I told myself.

This process impaired my health and functioning in a few ways. First, I always thought very little of myself. I had no confidence, I was unstable, and I could not experience joy. I took my negative thoughts as truths, and it almost killed me.

These thoughts affected my relationships as well. I viewed distant friends as intentionally ignoring me, and I took their actions personally. I believed that if I hated myself so much, others likely did too. So I distanced myself before others could first.

The thoughts lead to fear of abandonment within my relationship. I couldn’t be alone because of my negative thoughts. They ate away at my mind and spirit, and I felt trapped inside my own dark mind.

I continued to listen and believe these thoughts, and I questioned why my mental health still was not improving.

Slowly, I began to challenge these thoughts. At first, it was very intentional and it took a lot of willpower to reframe what my mind told me. Over time it became more natural, and I no longer had to work through each thought I had.

Now, I will talk to friends and family and they comment on how I am the voice of reason or how I always find the positive of the situation. I don’t do this to be that bright bubbly person we might associate with positivity. I do this to save and protect myself. Negativity is one of my worst enemies. I’ve had to distance myself and cut off relationships due to negativity, so I try very hard to stay positive.

I always thought I was being a realist by acknowledging and listening to negative thoughts. In reality, though, I didn’t believe in myself and what I could overcome and accomplish. I couldn’t recognize the strength and light that was hidden underneath these thoughts.

I will continue to reframe my negative thoughts. It is essential to my recovery and my health. It might seem impossible at first, but thoughts are just that, thoughts.

With Love

This will be Tyler and I’s first Christmas together as a married couple, and I can’t help but reflect on our relationship.


When Tyler and I got married this past October, I felt many emotions. Excitement, joy, love, strength, and a strong sense of peace. And as I stood at the altar, looking at my best friend, I thought to myself- we did it.


From the outside, most relationships appear perfect and straightforward. Others can see love and devotion, but others cannot see many aspects of a relationship.


The odds have been against us, and we have worked incredibly hard to stay together.
The beginning is always easy. You find that perfect match, and you believe things will continue to be blissful—That’s how I felt when I met Tyler.


Then life happened. My illnesses worsened, I developed a personality disorder, I questioned my future, and I fought to stay alive. Tyler attempted to juggle supporting my mental health, being in a relationship, and transiting from college to career. We both tried to survive the world and simultaneously love and grow with each other.


I struggled with maintaining expectations and communicating my thoughts and feelings with Tyler. I also worked to grow individually and found myself unhappily stuck in an unhealthy life.


Tyler struggled to balance, supporting me as a partner and as an individual with severe mental illnesses. He also found it challenging to balance his own life with our life.


We both needed to learn how to be our own people, and at points, we were holding each other back.


At times our future seemed uncertain, but in my heart, I knew I would never stop trying. That’s really what matters most. We find love, and we never stop trying to keep it.


Tyler, I love you with all my heart. I am so proud of you, us, and what we have overcome and accomplished together. I cannot wait to keep learning, growing, and being happy with you.


With love,
Ashley

Therapy

I have a love-hate relationship with therapy. Honestly, I hate going; I dread it. The reason why is it makes me uncomfortable. For one hour every other week, my life is put under a microscope. I have to talk about myself and admit my struggles and weaknesses. Yet, that discomfort is precisely why I go. That discomfort is insight and growth.


Therapy teaches me to be the best possible version of myself. I am forced to be honest about my health and current lifestyle. The more truthful I am to myself and my therapist, the better support I can receive. In other words, you get out of it what you put into it.


Therapy has taught me how to take care of myself, understand my needs, interact with others, and ask for help and support.


I wish therapy was normalized. I honestly believe everyone should go to therapy. Mental illness or not. I go to therapy to survive in a world where others are unaware of their actions, how their actions impact others, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I believe we all need that insight into our lives and that having insight truly makes us better people.


I’ve seen my fair share of therapists. Some were very skilled, and others no so much. Some were the right fit for me as a person, and others showed me what I didn’t want out of therapy and how I didn’t want to be supported. I’ve also grown out of a therapist. They may have been a good fit for where I was, but I discovered I needed more target support as I grew. So, in reality, what I learned from one therapist taught me it was time to find a new provider. What I’m getting at is there is a therapist for each and every person. If someone has tried therapy and didn’t like it, find a new therapist, there are options. One wouldn’t see the first person off the street and claim them as a best friend. We try out people like we try on clothes, and when something fits, you’ll know it.


I will continue to go to therapy, even though I am stable. I will continue to go because it’s good for me and those in my life. I know that I dread going because of the spotlight it shines on my weaknesses, but that same spotlight leads to awareness and, later, change. I’m just trying to be the best possible version of myself.