This is a copy of a recent guest blog I did for Black Dog Tribe. Thought it might interest some of my readers as well- I hope it might help someone.
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?
- Don’t give in.
- Visit your GP and ask them to consider making a ‘special case’ application to get funding for a referral to another trust.
- Get others (if we can’t do it for ourselves) to lobby the Commissioners… make a fuss. People with Borderline deserve the correct treatment.
- There is an abundance of DBT skills available on the internet for free. Of course, nothing can really substitute working with a therapist, but many of the skills are easily applied by ourselves, and I have found them really helpful.
- Put DBT self help into google… some excellent sites come up
- Join peer support blogs/websites…
- DBT skills books are available for purchase- I looked on Amazon.
- Mindfulness- (one of the core modules) is available in abundance on the web and evening classes are available throughout the country
- Consider joining a local group based on the 12-steps. These groups can be a safe way to explore relationships and gain support from people who understand. You may not have issues with alcohol or drugs but there are different types of groups for different issues… it’s worth an explore.
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.