Borderline Personality Disorder: Stories of Hope

An illness I had no idea about a year ago happens to be a topic that draws many to this blog as they search for information.  NAMI has posted the following article that gives a brief synopsis of BPD and tells the story of three individuals who have recovered and are now leaders in the fight to educate the public and fight the stigma that is still so prevalent in our society.

To read an excellent article I ran last month please visit here. Allan

Reproduced with permission from NAMI.

by Diane and Jim Hall

Boderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an illness that centers on the struggle to manage emotions: the symptoms include chaotic relationships, rage, self harm, fears of abandonment and substance abuse. In 2006, NAMI voted to include this highly stigmatized and misunderstood disorder as one if its five mental health priority populations. Two years later, in 2008, the U.S. Congress resolved that May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. Today we know that with correct diagnosis and intervening effective treatment, people with BPD do recover.

Through awareness, persons diagnosed and in treatment for BPD are leading an active mission of hope.

There are now many outstanding individuals in BPD recovery leading organizations and movements to educate the public and dispel the stigma and biases about this illness based on decades of misinformation.  Here are the stories of Tami Green, Kiera Van Gelder, Amanda Wang and Amanda Smith:

While addressing a Congressional briefing about her illness, Tami Green of Houston said, “Twenty years ago, I walked these very halls, lobbying and educating Congress.” The illness ravaged her career, her health, her family. “Why am I here?” she asked. “I am here because you don’t know about this illness. I would not be here, alive, if I had not been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and received the treatment I have been undergoing. This illness is highly treatable, and those of us who have it can have a life worth living.” Tami has since resumed her career as a life coach, become a NAMI Peer-to-Peer educator, a NAMI Connections Peer Recovery and Support Group facilitator and a national spokesperson for BPD.

Kiera Van Gelder of Boston, featured in the BPD documentary Back from the Edge, advocates and educates about the disorder through speaking engagements and publications. Her first book, The Buddha and the Borderline, will be released by New Harbinger Publications in June 2010. Kiera strongly advocates active collaboration between treating professionals and those who have been successfully treated. “As the patient leaves the role of ‘disabled’ and comes to shed the BPD label, he or she can then become an educator,” Kiera aptly states. “BPD recovery ultimately comes to the transition from believing one is broken and bad to that of being whole and good—from being incapable to capable. The need for evidence in the form of lived recovery is critical.”

Amanda Wang of New York, organizer of a peer-led support group for BPD consumers, spoke at a National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) conference at Yale in May of 2008. She recounted her frightening journey of 13 years in treatment before her BPD diagnosis: “It made sense. It was like a breath of fresh air.” Through treatment, she learned to ”think pro-actively, pragmatically, concretely; to stay in the here and now instead of the past; to assess, to learn, to build, to track, to prioritize.” Amanda agrees with Kiera that those with the disorder “must realize our potential to become enlightened leaders. We have the opportunity to challenge the bold and subtle biases, prevailing stigma and misunderstandings. We have the opportunity to find solidarity in each other and not be ashamed of who we are and what we are diagnosed with. We become the very hope we are looking for.”

Amanda Smith is the executive director of the Florida Borderline Personality Disorder Association. Amanda and her organization are serving professionals, families, consumers and the general public with regularly scheduled programs, activities, workshops, social events and a newsletter.

This summer, NAMI has invited Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., a leading expert on BPD and designer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), to present the Research Plenary at the NAMI National Convention in San Francisco on July 8, 2009. The NEA-BPD Web site offers a discussion on the evidence-based treatment of DBT designed by Dr. Linehan, as well as numerous other BPD-related resources, videos, conferences, family guidelines and the Congressional Resolution.

NAMI has also created a new brochure on BPD, available for purchase in the NAMI Store.

An electronic version in PDF format is also available for download.

With the growing partnership of NAMI, NEA-BPD, active consumers and other public and private supporters, advocacy and awareness will expand beyond the month of May. Come join us in July in San Francisco. Together, our awareness and action will lead to hope.

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10 Responses

  1. I am currently suffering with this illness and would appreciate hope hope hope and feedback. My life depends on it.

  2. Kylie, According to this article being diagnosed with BPD is a big part of the battle. This blog is intended to be a place of safety. You are free to share knowing you won’t be mocked or stigmatized.

    This blog is a place of hope. Many come and have been here who have been living without hope or are people who have lost hope along the way.

    There are resources here for you to utilize. They are educational and you are free to browse through them.

    Finally, this blog welcomes everyone but there is a focus on God as I believe He is our ultimate answer for every problem in life. I believe He can choose to work through any number of ways to help the hurting.

    I can’t tell you why some suffer more than others or why some of us have suffered with a mental illness to begin with. I am a lay person and I won’t seek to offer you professional opinions I don’t begin to understand.

    There is a prayer thread I post each Friday. If you would like you can post there and you are free to share your story and we will know how to pray for you.

    Just by seeing your post will cause people to pray for you.

    Finally you mentioned your life depends on having hope and getting some feedback. If you would care to share a little more, hopefully we can be a source of both for you. You won’t find professional help here. You will find a place of hope and safety though.

    If you are entertaining thoughts of suicide you can go to this site and talk with someone immediately. God bless you Kylie. Allan

    http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/default.aspx

  3. Hoping to utilize this blog- to help others and find help from others.
    I see a psychologist and psych nurse at least twice a month and have been living with the bi-polar and the Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis for over 5 years now.

    God is real. I just don’t know how and when He fit into all this.
    I’m a preacher’s kid and have been several places in the world as a missionary. I truly know God. I just don’t understand how He fits into all this.

    Thanks
    Jen

  4. Thanks for dropping by Jen.

    A few things that have helped me…. My condition is not God’s punishment on a sinful man. I am not being punished for some secret and unknown sin. God has not abandoned me.God loves me perfectly. Because others are ignorant about mental illness means I have and will hear things from them that are not true about my standing with God.

    For reasons He alone knows God has allowed you to be diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and BPD.

    I pray that God would do mighty things in and through you Jen. God bless. Allan

  5. I was diagnosed with borderline traits as well as psychotic depression. I’ve just had a conversation with a christian who i have respected, but she seems to think i have been attention seeking and not living in the real world and that i have had enough prayer and ministry – that i should stop offloading onto people – and just stand up and be the woman that God wants me to be. She is very respected in the community – she says she loves me – but i feel misunderstood. I guess I am unhappy at what she has said although i did not say anything at the time and just listened – i did not know what to think. I think that both her and another Christian believe that I am not willing to change – but i have tried to change in the past and i don’t seem to be able to make enduring changes without falling back into the same old patterns.

  6. rachel, Thanks for dropping by. I experienced a very similar situation a number of years ago. I was told that I chose to be the way I was and on top of that, I was in sin. This came from a very close friend (pastor) who was quite sincere.

    In my case I became very angry. So you responded much better than I did.

    There are many in the church who don’t see mental illness as being legitimate. They see it more as a character flaw, a sin problem, or some lack in your personal Christian life. That is wrong.

    It seems you have taken a positive step in seeking help via the doctor and I would encourage you to follow up on that. I pray that God would give you wisdom as you move forward. God bless! Allan

  7. Hi my name is Laura Iam 43 yrs of age and i am suffering inside and out. At the age of 26 i began to have Grand Mal Seizures. After undergoing every test you can imagine the doctors were unable to come up with a diagnosis and said they were due to stress. Ive been treated with every medication available but i am still experiencing these seizures. I may have 1 a month or i may have 5 it just depends. These medications are all mind altering and at times make me feel as though i would be better off dead. I have been married 3 times and experienced a lifetime of terrible things. Recently someone suggested i may have BPD and that i may have it so severly that it causes me to have seizures. I have been invesigating on the internet and i do have every symtom of BPD. To my suprise no pychatrist has ever even suggested this to me. I am a beleiver and i have stopped all medication and just began to trust God the seizures dont come as often but every time i have one it causes more brain damage ive been having these seizures now for 16yrs imagine the damage that has already occured. I have 3 children who live in fear because they have to care for me and apparently put up with the BPD as well. I cant drive, keep a job, and their lives have been filled with chaos because i have no medical insurance and basically i have to trust God to get us through each day. Ive only known about BPD for a few days and at first it was like a weight was lifted now its like the devil is attacking me every second of everyday. Ive had to hide alot of things from my childhood and my parents do not want to admitt theres anything wrong because i do beleive they were the cause. I have forgiven them but they are the only support i have. Please PRAY for me. I would never committ suicide but the devil puts it in my head everyday. If you have any advise about getting help please let me know. Thank YOU and GOD BLESS

  8. Laura, My heart and prayers go out to you. I have never heard that BPD is linked to Grand Mal seizures.

    I would suggest you get a professional diagnosis regarding the BPD and if it is a reality for you then hopefully you could get proper treatment.

    Stopping all medication outside of orders from your doctor(s) can be a very dangerous thing Laura. Many times when we stop a med we do so gradually so we avoid the effects of doing so cold turkey.

    I believe in trusting God for everything while at the same time realizing He can and does work through doctors and medicine.

    Laura, I pray that God would give you hope in the midst of your trials and that He would direct your steps. Here is one link you may want to look through. God bless. Allan

    http://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com/

  9. Dear Laura, praying for you and just wondered if there were any charitable organisations or churches – that might be able to offer some kind of help or support to you and your children?

  10. Laura, also i just realised that you may not be aware that there is a very helpful forum called Christian Survivors that can be supportive. Also there is another website called talkJesus where you can post prayer requests and be in touch with other Christians. God bless and take care.

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