Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I started writing A Glass Half Shattered because I wanted to humanize mental illness and help shatter the stigma that surrounds it. That is why I chose to use my real name and face on my blog, even though my sister and mother don’t always like what I have to say.
Writing is a way to help me cope with having borderline personality disorder (BPD). Putting my thoughts down in my blog helps keep them from getting lost inside my head. When I am anxious or my mind is racing, writing always helps to calm me down. I believe everyone needs a positive outlet when it comes to managing this disorder. Writing definitely helps to keep me away from the negative ones.
I was diagnosed with BPD this year, following years of misdiagnosis and repeated hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts. I spent years self-harming, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, and trapped in the cycles of anorexia and bulimia. I often dissociated and was disconnected from my feelings. I would rather feel nothing than deal with the traumas from my past. Unfortunately, that meant I was shut off from the good feelings as well.
I had no stable sense of identity, which left me empty inside. Since I had no idea who I was, other people became my mirror on how to be. My relationships were often co-dependent, as I feared abandonment and being alone.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a new treatment for BPD developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, has changed all that. DBT helps me learn to tolerate distress, regulate my emotions, and have healthier interactions with other people. So far, it’s working. The urges to self-sabotage through drinking, self-harm, and eating disorders have lessened and been replaced with skills to help me manage my life.
I am now a wife and mother and have a stable marriage and career as a paralegal. While I still have days where I dissociate and want nothing to do with myself, things are getting better. I believe recovery is a process, not a place. I am slowly re-connecting to my feelings and myself, which is helping me better connect to my family. Attachment, which has always been hard for me, is a risk I am starting to take. I am also starting to form my own identity and am becoming more assertive in expressing my true self.
I believe that a BPD diagnosis does not have to ruin your life. Sure there are the Glen-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction stereotypes, the Girl, Interrupted craze, and doctors who throw up their hands at hearing the word “borderline.” But we can overcome these stigmas by telling the truth about what it is really like to have BPD. I believe all of us have a story about what it is like to develop, live with, and recover from mental illness, and those stories need to be told. It is the only way to shatter the stigma often associated with these illnesses, and it just may help inspire some people along the way.