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!