Hope for those with Borderline Personality Disorder? ... yes, I think so.
Good news... we don’t think you have bi-polar.
Not so good news... we are adjusting your diagnosis to a mixture of borderline and histrionic personality disorder
Good news... there is an effective treatment for BPD called DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)
Bad news... this trust doesn’t offer it.
And so went the conversation with the Consultant Psychiatrist in one of my care review meetings while an in-patient at the beginning of this year. In the space of those few minutes I went through every extreme of emotion: from relief to shame, hope to despair. To be told such news, which I found devastating, but then to be told that I couldn’t access the very help needed, was a bitter pill to swallow.
However, sometimes when we have nothing left in us to fight, we just have to.
The new diagnosis was difficult for me. Personality Disorder is such a pejorative term. It is not as kind as ‘illness’... it infers something defective... I found it very shaming. But as I researched BPD I saw that in many ways I did have some of those traits, and I began to find some comfort from being understood.
I also researched Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, pioneered by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the US and my hope GREW... I knew this could really help me... and I wanted that help- just quite how I was going to access it was another matter.
DBT is a skills-based treatment derived from CBT. It consists of 4 core modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Emotional Regulation. It is practical yet emotionally validating. Manageable but challenging. And it is for people like me who struggle with living. However, it is not widely available on the NHS and that is such a shame.
So what do we do if we don’t live in a trust that offers it?
I am remarkably fortunate as I am indebted to close friends who clubbed together to enable me to have DBT privately. I am acutely aware that many fellow sufferers may not have that option. But I have also used the resources listed above and they have been tremendously helpful.
When I was diagnosed with Borderline, I felt that life really was over, but one of the goals of DBT is to build a ‘life worth living’. I am not there yet by any means, but I am definitely further down that process, one difficult step at a time.
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