Knowledge is Power

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The more research and reading I did on my mental health condition, the better I understood how it all works. Awareness is key! I have a better control over my emotions than ever before thanks to DBT, research and recovery. I’ll admit, once I was diagnosed four years ago and started reading, it was scary to see how complex the disorder was but I was determined to not let fear get in the way of my recovery. I can’t tell you how many times I put this book down in tears wanting to give up. It wasn’t easy but four years later, I can confidently say I no longer meet the criteria in the DSM for Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD is recoverable. Recovery is possible and help is out there. Stay strong and keep pushing forward!

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Recovery

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Recovery is something you practice – just like yoga. You can’t perfect a handstand after one class {trust me, I’ve tried}. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s something you focus on every day until it becomes your natural way of thinking, and living.

Past Quote

“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.”

-Steve Maraboli


 

I’ll be the first to admit, I have made so many big mistakes in my past but those mistakes DO NOT define who I am, just like mental illness doesn’t define who we are either.

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Borderline Types

Understanding

During the initial years after my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, I thought that all other Borderlines were like me: introverted, shy, low self-esteem, hot tempered, angry, hollow, etc. For the most part, I assumed that the “constellation” of Borderline Personality, as described by the DSM-IV and my first clinician, was the same for all afflicted with this condition. In reality, it is just the opposite. Though you may fall into the BPD diagnosis constellation, there are many different ways in which your BPD affects you, your life, and those around you.

Before I go any further, let me preface the following list of BPD variations by stating that I am not a mental health professional, nor qualified in any way to offer a BPD diagnosis. My thoughts are my own opinion gleaned from casual research on the internet and any commentary and feedback I get from blog readers.

That said, here are 5 different types of Borderline Personality manifestations:

  • Low Functioning Borderline – The “Low Functioning” borderline is what most people think of when they are first introduced to the condition. Low functioning BPDs are a living train wreck. They have intense difficulties taking care of their basic needs, are constantly experiencing mood swings. They also have an extremely hard time managing any sort of relationship with another human being. Low Functioning BPDs are often hospitalized more than other BPD types, for the very reason that they can’t live productively without constant coaching and supervision. These patients are challenging for all but the most experienced psychiatrists. Unless otherwise treated, low functioning borderlines lead self destructive lives and attempt to manipulate those around them with desperate acts, including self harm (cutting, etc.).
  • High Functioning Borderline – The High Functioning Borderline Personality shares many core aspects of the low functioning borderline personality, except for the fact that they can manage their lives, appear to be productive, and generally keep their relationships civil (even diplomatic in nature). High Functioning borderlines can appear to be normal, driven people one moment; then moody, inconsolable, and manipulative the next. Somehow, there is a mechanism within the minds of High Functioning Borderlines that allows them to lead somewhat “competent” lives, despite the fact that they are in a constant battle with BPD. High functioning BPDs are no better than low functioning: it’s basically the same face wearing a different mask.
  • Extroverted Borderline – Anyone familiar with the Meyer-Briggs personality tests will understand the psychological differences between extroversion and introversion. When these characteristics are mixed with BPD, there are two different results. The Extroverted Borderline typically pushes all their feelings, fears, manipulation, rage, and moodiness outward to the people around them. In essence, if you are around an extroverted BPD, you feel like you’re living through their emotions while coping with your own at the same time. Further, extroverted BPDs will attempt self abusive acts in plain view of others in order to avoid abandonment or to express their rage. For example, an Extroverted BPD might cut themselves and then immediately share it with family and friends around them, hoping to gain sympathy or attention. In most cases, these types of behaviors frighten non-Borderlines, and they wonder whether or not the Extroverted BPD should be committed to a psych ward.
  • Introverted Borderline – Contrary to popular belief, “introverted” doesn’t necessarily describe someone who is a recluse (agoraphobic). Instead, introversion is characterized by experiencing life in a self-reflective, private, and at times distant manner. To others, introverts may appear shy or lacking in people skills. This might be true, however, introverts make up for their lack of social skills with rich inner lives, thoughts, and deep thinking. As a result, the introverted Borderline primarily focuses all their BPD emotions and reactions inward. Instead of having a rage episode in public, they might retreat to their rooms and cry for hours on end, perhaps even cutting themselves for their own amusement or as stress relief. Introverted Borderlines live in an odd world: on one hand, they spend most of their time in personal thought and reflection, looking to fill themselves with a viable sense of self; but on the other, they are conflicted by emptiness and the bottomless emotional pit that BPD produces. Introverted BPDs might be harder to “spot” unless you happen to know one personally, in which case you might notice occasional depressive symptoms and evidence of self harm.
  • Transparent Borderline – The Transparent Borderline is a bit of a mix between a high functioning borderline and either extroverted or introverted tendencies. In plain terms, Transparent Borderlines live double lives: on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different. As a result, they may or may not be high functioning due to this conflicted state of mind. Transparent Borderlines spend most of their emotional energy trying to balance the personality demands of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the both of which experience strong BPD emotions like anyone else with the disorder. Like Introverted Borderlines, Transparent Borderlines are harder to spot, and often only confess their true disposition after a harrowing rage, major break up, or other severely traumatic event that brings all their BPD feelings to the fore.

If I were to characterize myself, I would have fallen in the “Transparent” category, with “High Functioning and Introverted” tendencies. To qualify that statement further, I would have describe myself as self reliant and capable of meeting all my basic necessities, but deeply conflicted with misguided BPD emotional energy. Friends might have describe me as “hard working but sometimes shy”, when in reality the hard work was just a cover for my inner persona that is constantly at war with itself. Co-workers had no idea I struggled with this disorder.

All things considered, I really don’t think any one type of BPD is better than another. The bottom line is that each type of person is troubled by BPD, and this wreaks havoc on their lives based on the “rest” of the personality traits that comprise them. No matter what category you fall into, I would suggest educating yourself, getting treatment, and taking medication if necessary. Life is hard enough without having the BPD demon inside you.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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I recently concluded my first ground campus course with University of Phoenix in Sacramento, CA this week. It was one of my biggest fears to be in a classroom setting. I faced that fear head on and overcame it almost immediately. It was an awesome and by far the best learning experience for me. I met some fun people, an incredible instructor and learned more than I ever did during online classes.

For those of you who do not know, I am working towards earning my Bachelors degree in Psychology for this is my true passion; mental health. My first course was an elective course and I wasn’t all that thrilled about taking Sociology – Cultural Diversity. I didn’t think I would get anything mental health related out of the course, but let me tell you!!! I learned A LOT about mental health in this class. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was my first presentation {since high school} on mental health but as someone who has a mental health condition, I gained a lot of insight and resources that will help me tremendously in the workplace and in school.

Not only did I learn about discrimination in the workplace {as I currently am experiencing} but I learned about how to apply for protection with the ADA, not just for work but for school as well. For those of you who do not know about the ADA, or are being discriminated because of your mental health condition, read up. This is helpful.

What is ADA? 
Americans with Disability Act also known as ADA, was enacted in 1990 and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.
– ADA applies to all employers with 15 or more staff members.
– Requires reasonable accommodation if needed in order to perform essential job functions.
– The ADA is enforced by a federal government agency, the EEOC (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
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TO QUALIFY FOR PROTECTION UNDER THE ADA, the law states that you must identify that you have a disability.
What is considered a disability?
ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. This includes having a history or record of such impairment or a person perceived by others as having such an impairment. Some of these activities may include:
– Caring for oneself
– Seeing
– Hearing
– Eating
– Sleeping
– Walking
– Standing
– Concentrating
– Communicating
– And learning
The two most Important things I personally want in my work place are 1. to be treated fairly and given the same opportunities as everyone else and 2. to have flexibility to focus on self care and recovery when needed.
The ADA can give that to every individual with a disability.
If someone has faced discrimination within the last 180 days in their workplace, they can contact the EEOC and file a complaint here.
It took me 7 years to finally complete my Associates Degree in Business, SEVEN. I struggled mentally for years on top of my personal and financial hardships. I wanted to give up so many times, but I LOVE to learn. I was always eager to learn and grow no matter how hard it was for me. I always knew that school shouldn’t have been that difficult for me, but it was and majority of it had to do with my mental health condition. It’s okay to ask for help and protect yourself in situations like this. If only I had known about the ADA and how it could protect me in school- giving me more flexibility and understanding with my assignments, I probably would have graduated a lot sooner.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!! I will be creating a page on my blog, titled EDUCATION, where I will be sharing anything mental health related based on what I learn in this program. Stay tuned.
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“I Jumped Off the Golden Gate Bridge”

I found this amazing story about a man, named Kevin Hines, that shared his story with mental illness and a suicide attempt. He was one of few survivors to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived to tell his story.

I love how he made a point to say he felt like a burden. I don’t think that people who don’t have a mental illness understand that piece of it. Recovery is possible and this man is living proof.

Parenting and Mental Illness

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One of the most difficult challenges I face is being a single mother in recovery from BPD, aka emotionally sensitive. I often struggle with managing my emotions and leading by good example to my two little ones, ages 8 and 6, not to mention helping manage their own emotions too. I used to have mental break downs over the thought of my kids getting the same emotional struggles that I do. Prior to recovery, I prayed and hoped my kids didn’t end up like me but over the course of my recovery I see my strength, my resiliency, my positivity, and my optimistic perspective and then I realized that my kids will see all of that. They see the calmness in me, the mindfulness, the mom who focuses on self-care and the person that doesn’t give up.
My kids have pushed me to better myself; they are the reason I get out of bed and fight this battle everyday. We go on adventures together, hop in the car and drive somewhere, sit outside enjoying nature. We talk about our emotions together, knowing full well that emotions are not bad and we can talk about how we feel, calmly. I truly believe that our children’s behavior is driven by their emotions. So the best way to help our children to behave is to teach them how to manage their feelings. With that being said, anyone that knows my kids knows they don’t have temper tantrums or break downs. Sure, they get upset, mad, sad, cry but their emotions aren’t out of control and they are learning how to manage those feelings in a healthy way, like I do and that alone inspires me to keep going. Being a single parent is difficult. Being a single parent facing a mental health condition is a far greater challenge. If you struggle with this and want someone to talk to, DM me.
I’m going to be adding a huge portion to my blog on parenting with a mental illness for all those single parents out there that struggle like I do. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how I help teach my children how to manage their feelings.
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Friendships In Recovery

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Especially when you’re in recovery. It’s important to have a solid support group around you. If your “friends” don’t support you or help you through the hard times then maybe consider taking a step back like I did and continue to do. Maybe they don’t understand your journey or difficult times. They don’t need to. Just be you and continue on with those who do support you and understand. Surround yourself around people who inspire you and motivate you through recovery.

I recently went through my personal Instagram and Facebook and deleted a few hundred people. Not because they are bad people or I don’t get along with them, but simply because it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality of those friendships. Not to mention the amount of negativity out there on social media, I have to keep my environment positive. I keep those around me who are there for me, motivate me, inspire me and support me. Thank you to all that do.

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Emotional Neglect

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“Our children’s behavior is driven by their emotions. So the best way to help our children to behave is to teach them how to manage their feelings.”

This blog couldn’t be more true. I’ll be the first to admit, I often said the things in column one when my kids were little without realizing. It’s common and goes from one generation to the next. End the vicious cycle and make a conscious effort to change for our babies mental health. I have been working on this for a long time now and column two works beautifully on my babies.

I grew up believing that emotions are bad and wrong but they aren’t. Most people are taught to hide their emotions but I think expressing them, man or woman, in a positive way is a sign of strength. We can’t stop our emotions but we can manage them.

As a single mother with BPD, aka emotionally sensitive, I often struggle with managing my own emotions and leading by good example to my two little ones. When I have a tough time emotionally, I often turn to my DBT skills and it has helped tremendously! You can read the entire blog here.


 

The Three Goals of the Emotionally Attuned Parent:

  1. Your child feels a part of something. He knows he’s not alone. You’re always on his team.
  2. Your child knows that whatever she feels, it’s OK, and it matters to you. She will be held accountable for her behavior, but not for her emotions.
  3. Your child learns how to tolerate, manage, and express his feelings.

Any parent who accomplishes these skills well enough is raising an emotionally healthy child and an emotionally intelligent child. You don’t have to do it perfectly. You just have to do it well enough.

WHAT WE ALL SAY WHAT THE IDEAL PARENT SAYS
Stop Crying Why are you crying?
Let me know when you’re done with your fit That’s OK. Get it all out. Then we’ll talk.
Alright, enough! I’m done with this. Let’s take a break so we can both calm down.
Fix the attitude! You sound angry or upset. Are you?
You need to think before you act! How’d this go wrong? Let’s think it through.
Go to your room until you can behave better. I see you’re angry. Is it because…?
OK, OK, stop crying now so we can go in the store. Look at me. Take a deep breath. Let’s count to five.
There’s nothing to be nervous about. Everyone gets nervous. It’s OK.
Don’t talk to me with that tone. Try saying that again, but nicer so I can hear it.

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Locus of Control

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I just learned what locus of control is in my therapy session tonight. In personality psychology, locus of control refers to the extent in which individuals believe they can control events affecting them.

Internal vs. External Locus of Control

Individuals, such as myself, with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions: for example, when receiving exam results, people with an internal locus of control tend to praise or blame themselves and their abilities. Where as people with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors such as the teacher or the exam.

I didn’t always have internal locus of control. Several years ago, I blamed everything else in my surrounding for my self-inflicting pain as a borderline and I used to praise others for their help in getting me promoted at work. During my recovery and personal development, I am changing and can feel it.

As someone with BPD, I have always struggled with unstable interpersonal relationships. I used to think that the person I was dating or the friends that I had were causing the pain in my life or I would praise them for my success, “without them I would be nowhere”. It was a sense of external LOC. I’m not saying that everyone with BPD has external LOC, I just know this to be true for me based on my personal experience.

Over the last year of my recovery I have learned that when I have an episode, or when I get issued a verbal warning at work for example, that it’s all me. Nobody else. My boss isn’t an asshole (although he may be at times), he’s just essentially doing his job. If I get promoted at work, it’s because of all MY hard work. I’ve switched my focus from external to internal LOC and I didn’t even realize it until my therapist said something. I am accountable for my actions and mistakes. I thought this was really interesting.

Do you have BPD? If so, would you consider yourself to have internal or external locus of control? Do you hold yourself accountable for things that are in your control?