Help me develop a DBT-based parenting program!

This program will be based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If proven successful there is a high possibility it will be moved online to support moms from around the world!

Here is the link for the survey! Thank you for your help and support ūüôā

Experiences of Mom’s with Borderline Personality Disorder/Borderline Traits

 

What would you want out of a BPD Mom program?

My boss has given me permission to begin research in the hopes of creating a program for Mom’s with BPD improve their relationship with their children and themselves. I am preparing a survey and in the meantime, I wanted to reach out here!¬†If you do not already know me, I am a Mom who experiences borderline traits.

There is a lot of research out there that bashes Moms who experience BPD. Resources for Moms with BPD are scarce and I want to change that! If you feel comfortable, please leave a response in the comments below or you can wait for the survey as it is anonymous.

Who am I looking to hear from:

  • Moms who have BPD, borderline traits or believe they have BPD and have never been officially diagnosed.
  • Moms (of any age child)
  • Pregnant, first-time moms
  • Women who would like to be moms

What I would like to know is: if you signed up for a program on Mothering and BPD, what would you want in it? What would help you the most improve your relationship with your children? What would make you feel confident in your mothering as a first-time mom or someone who wants to be a mom?

 

New Book on BPD

I have not read this book yet but it was recommended by Debbie Corso, one of the amazing women that taught me DBT. Beyond Borderline is a collection of stories about recovering from BPD. You can read an excerpt here.

It is so easy to get caught up in the emotional turmoil that we experience as emotionally sensitive people. I feel that having a book to refer to that is filled with stories by different people about how they have healed will be extremely helpful. There is bound to be bits of each story that we can relate to and solutions we can apply to our own lives.

 

My Most Pressing BPD Issue

Image reads: “What issue is most pressing for you as a person with BPD or traits? What do you struggle with the most and really want to work on? How do you imagine your life might be improved if you improve in this area? Ready? Set? Share!”

Thanks, to Debbie from Healing from BPD and DBT Path for this post!

Diagnosis aside, all of us have an issue in our lives that needs to be worked on and doing so would improve our lives for the better. I have always felt that one of my best qualities is  my willingness to learn more about myself and continuously improve who I am. I have never seen this need to change parts of myself as a bad thing so long as they are parts I want to change, not what others think I should change.

What issue is most pressing for you as a person with BPD or traits?

My most pressing issue is how I function within my relationship with B.

What do you struggle with the most and really want to work on?

I struggle with feeling confident in my relationship with B. No matter what happens that proves our relationship is strong and we love each other, I always tell myself that I am doing something wrong, will always do something wrong, that he doesn’t love me and he will leave me. These are very distressing thoughts that are made more distressing when he does something that reinforces it such as when he stays over a friend’s place and leaves me with no way of paying for transit to get to work….like today….this is, of course an accident and he is apologizing and I know he feels horrible. My first thoughts are that he doesn’t care about my work, my work is not valued and that he doesn’t care about me. This emotionally hurts and also sometimes physically hurts as the emotions I feel (sadness, guilt, shame, anger, fear etc. ) caused physical reactions in my body such as chest pain and nausea. I want to work on making the thoughts go away or, at least having the intensity lessen.

How do you imagine your life might be improved if you improve in this area?

My life WILL be improved WHEN I tackle this issue (which I am always working on). I will have confidence in my relationship, in myself and in B. I will react with less intensity which will decrease the emotional and physical pain I feel. My relationship will be healthier because there is no doubt or any doubt does not stay long as it is dealt with appropriately through the use of skills, such as expressing when and why I am upset in a calm manner instead of yelling it in his face. I feel like I will be able to look at what I have and just feel warm and fuzzing inside, knowing it is here to stay.

I am getting to this point. Nothing will take this from me.

What is yours?

It’s Not Me, It’s You!

Image reads: “Yes I have BPD, but I do not have a BPD relationship with everyone I meet. I have disordered relationships with those who feed into my disorder.” Image from BPD-Pieces of Me.

I found this image on Facebook and I believe it has a very important message. Those of us who are labeled with a mental health issue are often thought to ALWAYS be experiencing the issue or, as I call it, being”on”. I frequently tell people in my mental health presentations that we are not “on” all the time. I am not always raging, having abandonment issues or hating myself. Others are not always sad, manic, hearing voices or having a panic attack.¬†Probably all of us need to have something happen in order for these experiences to occur. Even when they seem to come out of the blue, there is most likely something we just haven’t noticed that has triggered us.

This image reminded me of a turning point in my life last year when I realized the impact my previous relationship had on my mental health. During my 5 year relationship I was a mess. I was physically and emotionally violent towards my ex and myself, I was frequently in distress, desperate and was suicidal and self-harming. I spent all 5 of those years trying to fix myself and nothing was working. I was ready to give up and accept that I would always feel pain and always make those around me feel pain.

Then I left the relationship.

I entered into a relationship with B and very quickly, I began to change. My gut reactions to fight with great aggression became unnecessary, my urge to fight lessened, my desire to hurt myself and die became rare, my distress and desperation became easier to manage, my physical violence disappeared and my emotional violence brief. I began to successfully make changes in my life through self-help books, workbooks, peer support and DBT. I saw that I didn’t have to live in pain or cause others pain.

What really made the difference were the people. My ex and B are two very different people. My ex belittled, controlled and manipulated me. B encourages, supports and loves me. Given that I am an emotional person, to be with someone who cannot understand, appreciate or respect me means that I will be completely unable to be in control. When I am with someone who does understand, appreciate and respect me I am able to be in control.

When I realized this I gained a whole new appreciation for environmental factors in our mental health. My relationship was making me more BPD than when I’m on my own. When I am happy and in a good place externally, surrounded by good people, I really have no problems. This speaks volumes, I believe, about our mental health in general. It makes sense that when our lives are happy, with happy people in them and we are happy with our life then we are happy overall. ¬†I am grateful for this knowledge and while I wish I had known this sooner, better late than never.

Good Morning Discrimination!

Yesterday morning, I posted on a Facebook page I admin a BuzzFeed article called, “23 Things People with Borderline Personality Want You to Know.” I agree with what is written in the article such as,

1. BPD can make it incredibly difficult to regulate your emotions.

12. BPD can make it really hard to maintain relationships.

17. Some forms of therapy work better than others ‚ÄĒ it depends on the patient¬†and the practitioner.

23. People with BPD are stronger than you know.

I love BPD humour! Image reads: I prefer to not think of myself as having BPD. I prefer to think of it as being really awesome and letting know through outbursts of emotion.

I posted my own comment along with the article on the Facebook page saying, “People with BPD need and want love. It can be difficult for people with BPD is express themselves appropriately because they are sensitive people in a very invalidating world. People with BPD can improve themselves by learning skills (such as through DBT) and by having supportive people in their life who are patient, understanding, trusting and loving.”

The post was Liked and shared and then received a comment that would be the first comment I have ever deleted off of the Facebook page.

Interesting but having lived with someone I am 100% sure was borderline I would say you need to be a freaking incredible person to pull off an intimate relationship with a borderline. I did it for 16 years and had to get out.

I toyed with responding with validation and education (“It can be difficult to be in a relationship with someone who is experiencing emotion dysregulation. Learning about their experience can help both people find a way to be together and there is nothing wrong with needing to end the relationship if it is not working.”) and eventually decided to just delete the comment. This is the first comment I have ever deleted from the page!

I deleted the comment because it is phrased in such a way that I got the impression that education wasn’t wanted. I thought that this person is more concerned with how difficult it can be to be in a relationship with someone who has BPD than how to support a BPD person and how to support themselves in that relationship. It is discriminatory and it had to go!

I have written many times on this blog about BPD discrimination (see links below) and I am fortunate that I do not frequently experience discrimination specifically related to BPD. When I do it cuts me pretty deep as much of it is meant to be mean. What bothers me with the above comment is the idea that only certain types of people can be with BPD individuals and that person must be a god to put up with us.

One of my deep rooted fears is that I am unlovable and unworthy of love. To hear that people think people with BPD cannot be in relationships or can only be in relationships with “special” people is very upsetting and also a lie. Are there some people with BPD that make relationships impossible and maybe even abusive? Yes. Are there some people with BPD who have fun and loving relationships? Yes. You know why both and everything in between can be true? Because people with BPD are like everyone else in terms of having unique personalities, values, experiences, strengths and challenges. Many of us with BPD, myself included, have been in abusive relationships and blamed for the abuse. I wouldn’t say that my abusers are “freaking incredible”.

Let me give credit though to B. He is a “freaking incredible person” BUT not for “pulling off” a relationship with me. He is incredible because he is kind, affectionate, positive, loving, caring, hard working, smart, attractive and MINE! I can only speak for myself when I say that there is no trick to being with me. There is nothing to “pull off”. I ask for respect, love, trust, understanding and support. Is this not what many ask for in their relationships?

Relationships are not easy. I  know that I am not easy. I know that B is not easy. If we want to make it work, if we are both willing to admit our faults, improve ourselves and accept each other then we can make it. BPD has nothing to do with it.

It was a morning of discrimination and hopefully, today can be an evening of education.

Related posts

BPD, Sexual Behaviour & Long-Term Relationships

Bashing Borderlines: Helping Professional Discrimination

New Diagnosis, New Discrimination

The “Science” of Evil

Don’t Stereotype My Anger

 

DBT Skills: How does a Distress Tolerance Box work?

I recently wrote a post about my new and improved Distress Tolerance Box. I shared a picture and a list of what I had inside. It occurred to me, after I received a comment from a fellow blogger, that explaining how the box works and why it works is and an important component of this skill (dur!).

IMG_20151103_114932_edit_edit

My Distress Tolerance Box

A Distress Tolerance Box (DTB) is a box filled with objects that help you distract and calm yourself when you are in distress. These boxes may also be known as a Self-Soothe Box/Kit, Safety Box/Kit, Distraction Box/Kit and Recovery Box/Kit. The objects but into a DTB compliment many of the Distress Tolerance skills taught in DBT but also make sense when not in a DBT context. Every object in a DTB is unique to the box owner. This is because everyone finds different things distracting and calming. A DTB is kept in a place that is easily accessible by you. This means that it is in a memorable and visible location to act as a reminder that it is there for you in your moments of distress.¬†The only rule with DTB is that the objects you put in it must support positive coping. Including items that could promote self-harm, substance use or negative thoughts should not be included as this is counter productive. DTB’s are not only supposed to distract and calm you but also act as a replacement to negative coping behaviours.

The theory behind a DTB and distress tolerance, in general, is that distracting your mind from physical or emotional pain makes the pain more bearable. The pain DOES NOT go away but it becomes less intense. When your body and mind are calm you are able to think more clearly which allows you to engage in problem-solving and you are more receptive to hearing about concerns and possible solutions.

A DTB is great to use when you notice the early signs of distress (ie: racing thoughts, chest tightening, heavy breathing etc.), when you are moderately distressed (upset but are still moderately in control) or even as a preventative measure (ie: if you know that taking exams gives you anxiety so you use something from the box before you write an exam). A DTB probably will not be effective if you are in deep in crisis. This is most likely when your prefrontal cortext (which controls emotion regulation, reality testing etc.) has shut off and a different approach needs to be taken. There is still no harm in trying! This might be a good time, if you are not alone at that moment, for someone to bring you your DTB and help you engage with the materials.

When I put together my box I thought a lot about the significance of each item, including the box.

The Box: I chose a pink box because it is a colour that makes me feel happy and hopeful.

ACCEPTS Skill Items:  Activities I put in my box include, string for making bracelets, a colouring book and Wreck This Journal, nail polish. Objects that support other Thoughts include a word search, The Happy Book, affirmations from a friend, personal love notes and snowflake building blocks. Objects that include Sensations are War Head candy, shea butter lip balm and anti-stress hand lotion.

Soothing with the 5 Senses: Vision objects include, the colouring book, nail polish, bracelet making, personal love notes, glitter silly putty candle (the flame). War Heads candy support Taste and silly putty is great for Touch. Smell objects include the candle (my favourite scent, Apple Cinnamon), shea lip balm and anti-stress eucalyptus spearmint scent. My Hearing object which is not in the picture and is my cell phone which has music on it.

A DTB can constantly evolve. When you find a new item that helps you, add it! If an object stops working then remove it! I really do find the personalization part of this box to be it’s best feature. For example, I recognise that have use of all 5 of my sense and that not everyone does. If you have low or no vision then skip those objects and add more of another! Only include tactile items that feel good to your skin!

Have fun with your DTB! If you have one, what has been your experience with it? If you make one, share what you put in it! If you need more inspiration go to YouTube and type in distress tolerance box, self-soothe kit etc., you will find a lot of examples!