Jade S.’s BPD Story

I am slowly learning that Borderline Personality Disorder is not as bad as I thought it was…and I believe BPD is one of the worst illnesses to exist.  It has affected my life in so many ways I hardly know where to begin.  Beginning at the beginning, my experience with BPD began at age 17, after a psychological examination gave a doctor my diagnosis of BPD, ODD, and other disorders.  However, my experience had really begun years before when my relationship with my family began to fall apart, depression hit, and my habit of self-injury began to manifest itself.  When the doctor gave my parents the long list of problems with me, BPD was just one of many.  We didn’t know anything about it, had never heard of it, and the doctor didn’t explain any of it to us.  He was the first, but not the only, doctor to ignore my diagnoses, thereby threatening my health and my safety.  This didn’t bother him at the time, apparently.  I wish he could see me now.

My symptoms simply increased from there.  After dozens of visits to therapists, a long residential stay at a program for teenagers, and years of cutting and emotional turmoil in college, my parents took a second look at this BPD diagnosis and decided it was the perfect fit for me.  I resisted at first.  I didn’t want to be labeled as anything.  I was rebellious.  Yet after reading the paperwork they had printed from the internet explaining the disorder, I began to realize: this was me.  There was finally a title to my problem.  So began a long and close relationship with BPD that unfortunately may never end.

The ending isn’t so grim.  After graduating from college and having yet another emotional breakdown, my family sent me to see Dr. Leland Heller in Okeechobee, Florida.  He was unlike any doctor I had ever seen or met, and he seemed to know exactly what was wrong with me and how to fix it.  I started on new medications and started down the road to recovery.  Since then, I have improved dramatically enough to be able to take on intense therapy, an internship, and blogging for a magazine, just to name a few of the responsibilities I have been able to take on.  The medicine and Dr. Heller and the therapist he works with have given me a new hope and a new life with Borderline Personality Disorder, one which I don’t have to end with suicide or treat with drugs or self-harm.

Dr. Heller’s treatment is based on a model of BPD as a form of epilepsy in the limbic system of the brain.  Inappropriate firing of neurons requires a treatment of anti-seizure medication (Tegretol) and Prozac, a drug he has worked closely with and swears by, along with antipsychotics for dysphoria.  Dr. Heller also agreed to treat all of the co-morbid disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and OCPD, which often accompany BPD.  He convinced me that it was important to treat the worst symptoms first, before I tackled therapy to retrain my brain to think positively and to regain some of the self-confidence I had lost from years of living with this disease.

I began group therapy and recovery came in leaps and bounds.  Mindfulness, anger management skills, positive self-talk, repetitive affirmations, self-monitoring skills, etc. have all served to help in my recovery.  I am now free from the worst symptoms of BPD, such as rage and terrible mood swings.  I am able to function relatively normally and I can handle relationships and responsibilities and stress with my medications and skills.  My recovery has truly been a miracle.

And….that’s my story!


Jade S.

“The Unliving”

By Jason Punko

Have you ever wondered what it means when someone says that they are the
unliving? Well, for me this is what it means:

The Unliving

Death without death,
Life without life,
That is the unliving

Empty and hollow,
Of purpose, value and meaning
That is the unliving

A black void all encompassing,
Nothing but darkness to be seen
That is the unliving.

Not living in the shadows,
Being the shadows
That is the unliving.

Pain, suffering, hurt – not enemies to be defeated,
Rather lovers to be embraced – just to feel SOMETHING
That is the unliving

To drift through life,
A ghost unseen by any
That is the unliving

To scream at the top of your lungs
Into a tornado unheard
That is the unliving

No identity
No hope
No feeling
No existence
No value
No self-worth
An outcast

Your main goals for any given day:
1. Getting out of bed
2. Functioing
3. Not dying

Welcome to the world– not of undeath, which is the world between the worlds of
the living and the dead– but the world of the unliving. The world detached
from them all. Cold, dark, lonely, isolated.

So the next time you hear someone say they are struggling, that they are
dead and hollow inside, that they are dead but their body just hasn’t
figured it out yet, or any of a host of other things, do not tell them to
“suck it up” or “to stop wallowing.” Instead show them compassion,
understanding, and just plain listen. At these times, just knowing someone is
listening, someone “sees” them can make all the difference in the world. Do
not turn a blind eye and deaf ear to them, especially when it is someone
that you mean the world to. Even when you can’t solve their problems, even
when you can’t “do” anything, listen. When you listen, you do more than you

Trust me, I know from both sides.

Coping Skills: The Cornerstone of Sustainable Recovery

By Rachel Reiland

It’s one of the most difficult questions I’ve gotten since I’ve been touring for my book, “Get Me out of Here:  My Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder”.
“So…are you cured?”

A part of me wants to knock on wood every time I’m asked this, as if my answer could jinx my recovery.

I’m not a big fan, by the way, of the word “cured”.  It makes it sound as if someone waved a magic wand and suddenly, poof, all my self-doubts, insecurities and irrational thoughts disappeared forever.  Recovery, however, is a different story.

Perhaps this is why I waited so long to come out and speak publicly about the book–I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t some vestige of BPD that would metasticize like a cancer cell and swallow me whole.

It has, in fact, been 16 years since I successfully terminated my therapy with my psychiatrist, Dr. Padgett.   That’s plenty of time to face all sorts of challenges inherent in life, the kind that could have capsized me.  I can now say with all honesty that, in fact, my recovery has been sustained.  The coping skills that were so foreign and seemingly impossible to me so many years ago are now ingrained in me.  While I am still subject to intense emotions at times, I know they are simply that–emotions.  Emotions do not equate to actions unless I make a choice to let them do so.  I also know that emotions are transient, like the waves of the sea.  If I ride them and do not try to fight them, they will subside into calm.

Even though my therapy opened my mind to a completely different framework of thinking and exposed a lot of the irrational fears that drove my self-destructive behavior, I am still inherently a passionate, feeling person.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing–depending on how I cope.  Over the years, I have relied upon coping strategies that have enabled me to live a truly satisfying life filled with love.

The moral of the story is not only that there can be light at the end of the tunnel, but I have been blessed with the coping skills to have been able to keep that light burning, regardless of the circumstances.

Here are a few things that have helped me maintain the gift of new life recovered from the ravages of the worst of BPD.

SIT WITH YOUR FEELINGS:  It doesn’t matter how intense or frightening the feeling or fear may be, so long as it is not acted upon, it remains only a feeling.   I’ve found that if I am harboring feelings that are hard to handle, I can go to a safe place–for me it is the bedroom–and park myself there until the feelings have subsided a bit.  I also use this time to explore the emotions in a rational light.

ACCEPT IMPERFECTION: Certainly, Borderline Personality Disorder is very stigmatized.  A lot of therapists don’t want to treat it. The term itself implies there is something wrong with the sufferer–and that is true!  There is something wrong.  The thing is, though, there is something wrong with all of us.  Once I reached what would be considered recovery, there was a long time I feared that one little episode could send me right back into a full-blown case of the disorder.  The reality is far more grey than that.  The thing is, every one walking around has imperfections–it is the nature of our existence. To borrow a term from alcohol and drug recovery, just because you fall off the wagon, doesn’t mean you have to stay off.

NATURE AS GROUNDING:  One of the best therapies for me is to connect with nature, which touches my soul without words or analysis.  I love to go hiking and walk along trails beside the river, anything that puts me in touch with the fact that I am just a part of something that is so much more vast than I am.  I’m a particular fan of sunrises and sunsets, the slowly evolving portrait of ever-changing colors.   I think of the scriptural reference to God taking care even of the birds and all the tiny creatures–I am part of that vast universe. There is something inherently calming in nature–it slows the churning currents of the feelings inside of me and brings me peace.  Sometimes I get “too busy” to take the time to experience the beauty around me–that is when I have to make sure I find the time.  If I find myself feeling a bit out of sorts, it’s amazing what a difference a trip to the park or to the middle of nowhere can make.

MAINTAIN SPIRITUAL CONNECTION:  My therapy and recovery journey started out on two tracks–psychotherapy and spirituality.  Just as I can begin to feel negative effects if I don’t connect with nature as much as I need, the same holds true with my spiritual journey.  I am a particular fan of silent retreats and quiet meditative prayer, as well as sung prayer.  So many times I feel like I want to tell my story of how my day is going and how it feels, I realize that I don’t have to relive it all.  I don’t have to pursue a spiritual journey intellectually.  All I have to do is be there, be present, and God will do the rest.  In my own Catholic faith tradition, I have found solace in Eucharistic Adoration.  If I sit quietly long enough, my emotions calm and I find answers within.  It doesn’t tak training to be able to do this; just a willingness to sit down anywhere–be it a church, a river bank, wherevver–and stay there for long enough to reconnect.

These coping strategies could rightly apply to just about anyone, regardless of whether or not they have a mental illness diagnosis.  The difference is, at least for me, that these things are not optional.  They aren’t “it would be nice ifs…”.  They are necessary to maintain my recovery, and in doing so, they also have the positive benefit of enriching my life.


Let’s Donate!

Hey everyone,

As some of you know, I was planning on raising enough money to make On The Borderline an official (501(c)(3)) non-profit organization. However, I’m too busy at this point to make that happen. We have had several donations from people and have made a couple hundred dollars. Since I won’t be using that money for this organization anymore, I thought that I could donate the money to another cause– but I want your input! Here are the options:

  • www.tara4bpd.org : “The Treatment and Research Advancements Association for Personality Disorder, TARA APD, is a 501 C3 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to foster education and research in the field of personality disorder, specifically but not exclusively Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD); to support research into the causes, psychobiology and treatment of personality disorders; to support and I encourage educational programs and endeavors targeting mental health professionals, consumers of mental health services, families and/or the community at large in order to reduce stigma and increase awareness of personality disorder, to disseminate available information on etiology and treatment and to lawfully advocate for accomplishments of these goals.”
  • www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com : “Formed in 2001, the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD), is a non-profit organization staffed by volunteering consumers, family members, and professionals. NEA-BPD seeks to “Advance the BPD Agenda” by raising public awareness of BPD, providing education, and promoting research about borderline personality disorder through a variety of programs. For example, with partial funding from a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), NEA-BPD has hosted over 30 conferences worldwide, featuring internationally recognized BPD researchers and scientists. All NEA-BPD conferences encourage attendance by professionals, family members and consumers alike.”
  • www.buddhaandborderline.com : “The Buddha and the Borderline is the first ever  memoir to describe the recovery process utilizing these new, cutting edge treatments and Buddhism.  Kiera Van Gelder’s finely-honed literary talent  offers us a stunning and intimate look into a  life-threatening condition that has been a shameful secret even among those with mental illness.”
The next option is not a BPD organization, but I think it’s a great cause to donate to. I know they’re trying to raise money to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and I’d love to help them out:
  • www.facebook.com/defeatdepression (new website, ddepression.org coming soon!) : “Helping teens and young adults with mental illness since 2007. Defeat Depression was started to help teens and young adults who struggle with depression/mental illness overcome the everyday obstacles.”
Which organization would you like to see the money donated to? Please take our survey here.
“Voting” will be open until Friday, May 13th, 2011.

Change Your Thoughts

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” -Norman Vincent Peale

I found this quote the other day, and immediately fell in love with it because I believe it to be absolutely true! I recently posted the quote on our Facebook page, and here’s what one of our page’s members had to say:

“It doesn’t matter what thought you start with. As to how I challenge mine– for example, one thing I’m always having to challenge is the idea that if someone’s mad at me, it means they’re going to walk out of my life and that they don’t like me. So I challenge myself by reminding myself that this isn’t fact (even if it has been my experience in the past, it’s not a predetermined fact of what will happen in the future). And then, if I can, I find examples of people who’ve been mad at me before and are still in my life, or times I’ve been angry at someone I love (and haven’t left).”

After I found the quote, I knew that I wanted to write a blog post on the topic of changing your thoughts. As I was searching the internet for possible points to add, I found a good article by Steven Aitchison called “8 Destructive Thinking Patterns and How to Change Them.” In the article, he describes the eight limiting patterns of thinking, which are:

  • “Life is shit” thinking pattern
  • “Unsubstantiated conclusive” thinking pattern
  • “Never to me” thinking pattern
  • “The negative psychic” thinking pattern
  • “Should, would, could” thinking pattern
  • “Emotion based” thinking pattern
  • “It’s all my fault” thinking pattern
  • “They’re all wrong” thinking pattern

I won’t go into detail describing them here, so definitely check out the article to learn about them!

The article goes on to tell you the stages to change the destructive thinking patterns:

  1. Recognize the problem
  2. Be aware of when you are using destructive thinking patterns
  3. Replace the bad with the good

I highly recommend this article, so check it out! I know that changing the way that I thought helped me out a lot in life, and I hope it helps you, too!

Let’s Discuss:

How does the quote above pertain to your life? Have you changed any of your thoughts in a positive way? If so, how did you do it?

Body Image

I’ve been a little nervous to put this up, but I have to speak my peace after being inspired by a recent event where I was surrounded by girls bragging about their dangerous diets in order to become thin. These are my thoughts on the beauty revolution.

  • It’s okay to be who you are. You don’t HAVE to be anything to be beautiful. You don’t NEED to change. Changing won’t make you happy. Happiness starts from the inside out.
  • Change if you want, change is good, we are our own canvas. Just make sure it’s on YOUR terms, it’s for YOU, not because you think other people will like you more or other people will think you are beautiful, do it because YOU think it’d be a good change or more flattering. Just be safe and healthy and love yourself every step of the way.
  • You CAN be over-weight and be healthy.
  • We come in all shapes and sizes, there is no perfect.
  • Love every imperfection, if you can open your eyes to all that you are, have faith that others will too. Someone WILL love the parts of you that are imperfect.

Love yourself, be happy, you deserve it, join the revolution

Love, annieelainey


I came across this post written by fevers-n-mirrors, and I thought I’d share it with you:

Why are people so obsessed with putting labels on themselves??

Don’t we complain and get angry whenever someone, or society in general, attempts to label us as ‘this’ or ‘that’?
Then why do we do it to ourselves?!?!?!

I mean, I truly can understand how giving a name, a classification, to whatever ‘symptoms’ you’re suffering from, can help you understand what you’re going through better, and in turn, it can help you treat it.

BUT, can such extreme emotions and behaviors really be fully contained under a ‘label?’

As a human being, I know I don’t fit perfectly into any box… you can’t contain me, my life, my emotions, under a label. That’s freaking ridiculous. For every symptom, every emotion I experience, that can be explained by my diagnosis’, or a label someone slaps on me…there’s always something else that just doesn’t fit.

Why? Because I am not that label!!! I’m me… a living and breathing human being… the specifics and driving forces behind my struggles are unique to me… only I exist as me, and that is my label. I am ME!!!!!!

People end up clinging to their labels, to these diagnoses’ that are supposed to explain them, and too often it keeps them from getting better. They won’t seem to let it go. If you only identify yourself with your sickness, or if you identify too strongly with it, you let it become your identity, or too big a part of it. What are you without your identity? NOTHING. You’re nothing. So you keep clinging to it, because if you let it go, when you open your clenched fists, you’re left with nothing to show. NOTHING.

So, you cut… you’re not ‘a cutter’…
So, you have a mental illness… you’re not that mental illness…
So, you have an eating disorder… you are not the eating disorder…

These are labels that describe your struggle… and labels are vague. They are not all-encompassing.

You are not these things. You are not these things. You are not these things.

You are not confined to an existence with them. You are not living a life that will ineviatbly lead to the projected course of whatever you’re struggling with.

Stop looking at yourselves through the filter of these labels.
Start viewing yourselves as an individual who has power over these things.
They are not you, and they do not get to decide the course of your life.
They don’t get to decide on your happiness.
They don’t get to decide your fate.


It’s your choice whether or not you dwell on your disorder.
It’s your choice to immerse yourself in it.
It’s your choice on whether you let it consume you completely.

It’s your choice.
You decide!

Me? I refuse to accept any of these labels.

You’re The Bad Guy

I’ve had a lot of problems in relationships: friends, boyfriends, acquaintances, etc. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, I experience narrow judgement on the opposing person, based on the last thing they did. My impression of them is always based on my last memory of them, rather than the whole ‘first impressions last forever’ saying. Someone offered me lunch, they were good. Someone else got into an argument with me, they were bad. There is no middle. It’s one or the other. Opposite ends of the pole.

Someone could be my best friend. We could have talked for hours on the phone, borrowed and lent out money with each other, gone clubbing together. But if we get into an argument, I immediately become scarred. I constantly remind myself of the last event. And everything else just looks like a very distant past that was forever lost.

I can’t be hurt by someone I was attached to and see them as a ‘good’ person. Even if I’m aware of my feelings being irrational and distorted from my BPD, I can’t change the way I feel about it. It kills me. I become scared. Literally, like a small animal, bewildered at a bunch of humans trapping it in a corner. I fear for myself, and I see them as the ‘bad guy.’ Maybe it is part of regression to get stuck in such a undeveloped thought process, but thats how it is with me.

This is a good YouTube animation on BPD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iraGmA7-9FA

BPD Videos

I’m looking for videos made by people who are living with Borderline Personality Disorder, or even someone who has a loved one with BPD. I will be uploading these videos to On The Borderline’s youtube channel.

You can either make the video with a webcam or use images and words.

Please upload your video to megaupload.com and then email the uploaded video’s link to contact@ontheborderline.org, and I will add your video to our channel!

Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂

Mental Health Hero: Hannah

My name is Hannah and I started Defeat Depression. I created Defeat Depression after my own experiences with depression as a teen and as a young adult. DD is all about raising awareness about teen and young adult depression, while helping those in need. We talk to everyone that sends us a message via Myspace or Facebook. DD’s slogan is, “We will overcome it,” and together I believe we can overcome the daily obstacles depression puts into our lives.


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