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.

Independence

Asking for help has become a norm for me. That’s a good thing. When I’m unable to do something myself or when I need support, I reach out for help. I much more comfortable with it now, and I don’t feel like a burden as often.

Even though this is a good thing, it has also made it easy for me to be dependent in ways. This, mixed with my struggle to leave my house alone, means I do a lot less independently than I once had.

I want to grow my independence and set goals for myself.

I’m starting this by spending the weekend alone. In the past, this has sent me into crisis. Since then, I’ve learned to cope and tolerate my emotions and distress. Now, I want more. I want to be able to enjoy my time alone and thrive.

I’m going to leave my house more. Maybe I get myself coffee or plants as a reward for my accomplishment. I will likely go thrifting for my reselling business. And I will continue to drive myself to my occasional babysitting job.

These may seem like small goals, but for me, they’re a big deal, a huge deal. I need to remind myself of this and validate my successes.

I’m growing my independence because it’s beneficial for my health, my confidence, my relationships, and my growth. It will be difficult, but I have the strength and skills to accomplish my goals.

Choose Recovery

I’ve been reflecting on my progress recently. Recognizing how far I’ve come and what I have overcome. A year ago I thought I was in a good place, but seeing where I am now I understand that I continue to grow and flourish in ways I don’t even recognize at the time.


This is recovery.


I can look back on three points of major change. First, when I chose recovery. Second, when I chose myself. And lastly, when I chose fulfillment.


I chose recovery after my second suicide attempt. I was done with the list of medications I could no longer keep track of and had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. I was done with ignoring my therapist’s suggestions, and the skills presented to me. I was done letting my mind win. So, I tried. It may seem simple now, but this shift in mindset was the start of my recovery.


I started listening to my providers and being honest when my medication was not working properly. I began to try the suggestions and skills, even when I thought they were worthless. I tried my best to create a lifestyle that supported recovery and let things go that were detrimental to my health.


After this initial change, things did get better. Slowly and just a little, but it got better.
The second major change occurred when I left graduate school. I realized I had put other’s needs before my own, and I was working myself to the bone. I began to understand that I couldn’t manage my health and the career I had planned for myself. At the time, it felt like a failure, but now I recognize my strength and how important it was for me to choose myself.


The last major point of change occurred more recently. I looked at my life and I recognized what fulfilled me. It wasn’t the work I was currently doing, and it wasn’t how I was spending my free time. So, I made some changes.


Words, activism, supporting nature, and creating are what fulfill me.


I began to read more, write more, create more. I let go of expectations for perfection and really even an end goal. I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time, but I can see how I was choosing my passions.


I want to invest in my passions because my life is worth it. I chose recovery so I could do amazing things, and that’s what I intend on doing.


I feel content, and I think at times, that feeling is more fulfilling than happiness. I have goals for my future and things I want to do. My work fulfills me and inspires me to help others.


Recovery has been worth the blood, sweat, and many many tears. But I wouldn’t change a thing, because if I hadn’t tried to get better, I would not be here today.

Outgrowing Relationships

Whenever I meet someone new, I immediately believe I will always feel the same way about them and they will forever be a part of my life. I have big feelings, so I often accept quickly and love hard. I also struggle to be around others, and I require a lot in my relationship. Often my needs change first and my feelings follow.

In my heart, I never let go of people. If I’ve cared about you in the past, I will forever care about you, no matter the circumstances.

I now understand that it is normal to go apart in relationships, specifically friendships. It is also normal to grow closer to some friends and grow distant from others, for no other reason than life or distance.

I’m currently in a stage of transition in my life. I’ve grown comfortable with after college life, but things continue to change, and I wonder- what’s next? As my life circumstances begin to change, I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly grown closer to some friends, have made unexpected new friends, but overall have distanced myself from others; spending more time with myself and family.

This change is something I used to fear, but now I find it cleansing. I know it’s okay to outgrow relationships, even when it’s hard. It’s also okay to stay close with others but see them less often. I’m enjoying more alone time in my life, something I used to be unable to have. So I want the time I do spend with others to be meaningful and uplifting.

Be around people who make you feel good about yourself, the world, other people, your beliefs and values, and everything that makes you, you.

Confidence

I’ve been struggling with my self-confidence recently. I know it is a symptom of my depression, a period that I am currently going through. Even though I understand the source, I still feel the effects. So I will recognize each feeling of self-doubt, but I refuse to accept and internalize these doubts and fears

I fear my time is not as valuable as others.

I worry my writing is a waste of time.

I fear I am not enough.

I worry I won’t be able to handle future challenges.

I fear others won’t accept me if I put myself out there.

All these negative thoughts and self-doubts have been damaging my confidence. It leads me to a dark place I’ve been to before. A year or two ago this would have made me stuck. Now, I know the pattern, and I recognize what can get me through it.

While depression lingers, I’m still experiencing self-doubt. I’m hearing the thoughts and then pushing them awaybecause these unhelpful beliefs are not going to control me. I am filling my time with things that do increase my confidence: reading, writing, yoga, running, being around kids, talking with someone who understands me, and organizing my space. The thoughts may continue, but I’m going to keep living and fighting.

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.

New Year, Same Me

Another year has passed, and I’m looking forward to a fresh start. But each year, I’m reminded of how most people view a new year.


Most New Years’ resolutions relate to change. We analyze our life and pick out all the things we don’t like about our lives. There are a couple of issues with this method of growth.


First, a New Year’s resolution tells us that who we are currently, isn’t good enough. To become a better person, we need to change what we don’t like about ourselves. If we do this each year, we will never be accepting ourselves for who we are currently. We will always see what needs to be changed, instead of learning to love who we are.


Secondly, making a positive change in one’s life does not need to occur only once a year. I am all for making positive changes: eating healthier, exercising more, or incorporating healthier habits in our lives. But as we know, most resolutions don’t last. So, if we want to change something, just do it, and don’t wait till a new year to help ourselves. If something is truly important, stick with it and make the change.


This year, I’m going to be the exact same me as I was last year, and the year before, and the year before that. I will continue to be worthy, unique, kind, and strong. I will continue to be honest with myself and my needs. I will keep making positive changes when they arise, and I won’t wait till a new year to change something about my life that I’m unhappy with.


For me, this fresh start of a new year is simply an opportunity to let go of all the negativity and stress that I’ve been holding onto this year. I am not becoming a new or improved version of myself, because I don’t need to. Who I am right now, is more than enough.

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.

Welcoming Change

I’m incredibly stubborn and often fear change. I feel comfortable in a routine and am hesitant to try new things. Yet, welcoming change has only made my life healthier and better suited for me.


I often think about the future, so I’ve had many thoughts about what my life would be like. The thing is, my life is nothing like how I imagined, but I’m also happier than I ever had been or could have imagined.


I used to view change as a failure. Things don’t work, and I try something new, but instead of accepting that it wasn’t the right fit, I told myself I failed. My internal dialogue matters, and how I view changed affects how I view the situation.


My dream job was to be a therapist, but I now understand that allowing myself to do that would likely kill me. Instead, I chose my health and caring for myself. Since then, I’ve tried many things: nannying, dog walking, and blogging on Instagram about my mental health. None of them was a good fit. I quickly got burnt out, and my day to day was not suitable for maintaining my health.


Now I see my dream job as being the best daughter, friend, wife, and someday mother I can be. Because if I don’t put my health first, I cannot fully be present in my relationships.


I still work because it keeps me busy and allows me to somewhat feel like a functioning member of society. I resell clothing that is either donated to me or I have rescued from the thrift store. It may not be what I envisioned for my life, but I see the importance of what I do. Reselling keeps me productive, gets me out of the house, and brings me joy. I feel good about my work because it reduces waste and extends the lifetime of clothing. How I’m currently living fits, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s what I thought id be doing or not.


I wish I’ve reached the point in life where I can readily welcome change, but I understand it’s a lifelong process. Change feels uncomfortable, but what comes from it is often right.