The End of the Road

Think back to a moment where you’ve come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you closed the door on that chapter in your life.

This writing prompt is difficult as I can come up with a lot of end of road stories that have influenced me to where I am at in the moment in time. If it wasn’t for end of road experiences I wouldn’t be in recovery. In recovery with an eating disorder or mental health. I wouldn’t be working on my recovery with self-harm.

Its the end of the road experiences that I have experienced has been what Oprah called Awe-Ha moments. Moments that have changed my life and hope that the experiences I have had can help change the lives of others so they can go on and help others themselves.

Thinking about the end of the road not only has me thinking about my recovery but my grandma and her currently being in home hospice care. For her its the end of the road yet she still has her sense of humor. The same sense of humor that I have to help me through her dying. I hope as I deal with my grandma dying I hope I can laugh at life like she has.

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Tattoo of Hope

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Good Morning!! I hope everyone is having a good weekend. If you regularly read my blog you know that I got a new tattoo yesterday. In fact the tattoo I got yesterday evening is pictured above.

I have wanted to get a butterfly tattoo for several years now for several reasons. The main reason is that a butterfly is a sign of hope. Hope that all the struggles one goes through that beauty is on the other side. Think of the caterpillar and the darkness it goes through when it is in a cocoon and out from the cocoon the beauty of the butterfly emerges.

This is how I view recovery. Not just my recovery but other’s recovery. Knowing that the beauty of recovery looks differently  to each person and each person is in recovery from different issues.

For me my recovery is from a mental illness and cutting as well as eating disorders. Granted I have been in recovery from the eating disorders longer than my mental health issues but it is still recovery. I also am in recovery from cutting.

As you can see in the picture, I have scars from the cutting and that the butterfly covers up some of those scars. Scars that may look fresh but are not.  I purposely had the butterfly placed where it is because I wanted to show the beauty of what recovery looks like despite the scars I have, both visible and invisible to the eye.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate each and everyone of you and hope that what I blog about has meaning to someone just like my both my tattoos have meaning to me. Have a great weekend and peace out.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Happy Friday!!! It being Friday, that means it is time for me to do my educational feature. I have decided to do the topic of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The reason being is because I did the topic of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I got the following information off of the  Linehan Institute; Behavior Tech at:   http://behavioraltech.org/resources/whatisdbt.cfm

What is DBT?

Overview

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.

What are the components of DBT?

In its standard form, there are four components of DBT: skills training group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and consultation team.

  1. DBT skills training group is focused on enhancing clients’ capabilities by teaching them behavioral skills. The group is run like a class where the group leader teaches the skills and assigns homework for clients to practice using the skills in their everyday lives. Groups meet on a weekly basis for approximately 2.5 hours and it takes 24 weeks to get through the full skills curriculum, which is often repeated to create a 1-year program. Briefer schedules that teach only a subset of the skills have also been developed for particular populations and settings.
  2. DBT individual therapy is focused on enhancing client motivation and helping clients to apply the skills to specific challenges and events in their lives. In the standard DBT model, individual therapy takes place once a week for as long as the client is in therapy and runs concurrently with skills groups.
  3. DBT phone coaching is focused on providing clients with in-the-moment coaching on how to use skills to effectively cope with difficult situations that arise in their everyday lives. Clients can call their individual therapist between sessions to receive coaching at the times when they need help the most.
  4. DBT therapist consultation team is intended to be therapy for the therapists and to support DBT providers in their work with people who often have severe, complex, difficult-to-treat disorders. The consultation team is designed to help therapists stay motivated and competent so they can provide the best treatment possible. Teams typically meet weekly and are composed of individual therapists and group leaders who share responsibility for each client’s care.

What skills are taught in DBT?

DBT includes four sets of behavioral skills.

  • Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
  • Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
  • Emotion Regulation: how to change emotions that you want to change

There is increasing evidence that DBT skills training alone is a promising intervention for a wide variety of both clinical and nonclinical populations and across settings.

What does “dialectical” mean?

The term “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals. In addition, all of the skills and strategies taught in DBT are balanced in terms of acceptance and change. For example, the four skills modules include two sets of acceptance-oriented skills (mindfulness and distress tolerance) and two sets of change-oriented skills (emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness).

How does DBT prioritize treatment targets?

Clients who receive DBT typically have multiple problems that require treatment. DBT uses a hierarchy of treatment targets to help the therapist determine the order in which problems should be addressed. The treatment targets in order of priority are:

  1. Life-threatening behaviors: First and foremost, behaviors that could lead to the client’s death are targeted, including all forms of suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury, suicidal ideation, suicide communications, and other behaviors engaged in for the purpose of causing bodily harm.
  2. Therapy-interfering behaviors: This includes any behavior that interferes with the client receiving effective treatment. These behaviors can be on the part of the client and/or the therapist, such as coming late to sessions, cancelling appointments, and being non-collaborative in working towards treatment goals.
  3. Quality of life behaviors: This category includes any other type of behavior that interferes with clients having a reasonable quality of life, such as mental disorders, relationship problems, and financial or housing crises.
  4. Skills acquisition: This refers to the need for clients to learn new skillful behaviors to replace ineffective behaviors and help them achieve their goals.

Within a session, presenting problems are addressed in the above order. For example, if the client is expressing a wish to commit suicide and reports recurrent binge eating, the therapist will target the suicidal behaviors first. The underlying assumption is that DBT will be ineffective if the client is dead or refuses to attend treatment sessions.

What are the stages of treatment in DBT?

DBT is divided into four stages of treatment. Stages are defined by the severity of the client’s behaviors, and therapists work with their clients to reach the goals of each stage in their progress toward having a life that they experience as worth living.

  1. In Stage 1, the client is miserable and their behavior is out of control: they may be trying to kill themselves, self-harming, using drugs and alcohol, and/or engaging in other types of self-destructive behaviors. When clients first start DBT treatment, they often describe their experience of their mental illness as “being in hell.” The goal of Stage 1 is for the client to move from being out of control to achieving behavioral control.
  2. In Stage 2, they’re living a life of quiet desperation: their behavior is under control but they continue to suffer, often due to past trauma and invalidation. Their emotional experience is inhibited. The goal of Stage 2 is to help the client move from a state of quiet desperation to one of full emotional experiencing. This is the stage in which post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would be treated.
  3. In Stage 3, the challenge is to learn to live: to define life goals, build self-respect, and find peace and happiness. The goal is that the client leads a life of ordinary happiness and unhappiness.
  4. For some people, a fourth stage is needed: finding a deeper meaning through a spiritual existence. Linehan has posited a Stage 4 specifically for those clients for whom a life of ordinary happiness and unhappiness fails to meet a further goal of spiritual fulfillment or a sense of connectedness of a greater whole. In this stage, the goal of treatment is for the client to move from a sense of incompleteness towards a life that involves an ongoing capacity for experiences of joy and freedom.

How effective is DBT?

Research has shown DBT to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, non-suicidal self-injury, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance use, anger, and depression and improving social and global functioning. For a review of the research on DBT, click here. In this video, DBT Developer and Behavioral Tech founder Dr. Marsha Linehan describes the amazing changes she’s seen in people who have received DBT and gotten out of hell.

Dive Deeper

Philosophy and Principles of DBT

DBT is based on three philosophical positions. Behavioral science underpins the DBT bio-social model of the development of BPD, as well as the DBT behavioral change strategies and protocols. Zen and contemplative practices underpin DBT mindfulness skills and acceptance practices for both therapists and clients. DBT was the first psychotherapy to incorporate mindfulness as a core component, and the Mindfulness skills in DBT are a behavioral translation of Zen practice. The dialectical synthesis of a “technology” of acceptance with a “technology” of change was what distinguished DBT from the behavioral interventions of the 1970s and 1980s. Dialectics furthermore keeps the entire treatment focused on a synthesis of opposites, primarily on acceptance and change, but also on the whole as well as the parts, and maintains an emphasis on flexibility, movement, speed, and flow in the treatment.

True to dialectics, DBT strategies are designed in pairs representing acceptance (validation, reciprocal communication, environmental intervention on behalf of the client) and change (problem solving, irreverence, consultation-to-the-patients about how they can change their own environment). Strategies are further divided into procedures; a set of principles guides the selection of strategies and procedures depending on the needs of the individual client. Clients are also taught a series of behavioral skills designed to promote both acceptance and change. A focus on replacing dysfunctional behaviors with skillful behaviors is woven throughout DBT.

DBT is a principle-based treatment that includes protocols. As a principle-based treatment, DBT is quite flexible due to its modular construction. Not only are strategies and procedures individualized, but various aspects of the treatment, such as disorder-specific protocols, can be included or withdrawn from the treatment as needed. To guide therapists in individualizing priorities for targeting disorders and behavioral problems, DBT incorporates a concept of levels of disorder (based on severity, risk, disability, pervasiveness, and complexity) that in turn guides stages of treatment and provides a hierarchy of what to treat when for a particular patient. In contrast, skills training is protocol based. Once a skills curriculum is determined, what is taught in a session is guided by the curriculum, not by the needs of a single client during that session.

The Development of DBT

In the late 1970s, Marsha M. Linehan attempted to apply standard Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to the problems of adult women with histories of chronic suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal injury. Trained as a behaviorist, she was interested in treating these and other discrete behaviors. Through consultation with colleagues, however, she concluded that she was treating women who met criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In the late 1970s, CBT had gained prominence as an effective psychotherapy for a range of serious problems. Dr. Linehan was keenly interested in investigating whether or not it would prove helpful for individuals whose suicidality was in response to extremely painful problems. As she and her research team applied standard CBT, they encountered numerous problems with its use. Three were particularly troublesome:

  1. Clients receiving CBT found the unrelenting focus on change inherent to CBT to be invalidating. Clients responded by withdrawing from treatment, by becoming angry, or by vacillating between the two. This resulted in a high drop-out rate. If clients do not attend treatment, they cannot benefit from treatment.
  2. Clients unintentionally positively reinforced their therapists for ineffective treatment while punishing their therapists for effective therapy. For example, the research team noticed through its review of taped sessions that therapists would “back off” pushing for change of behavior when the client’s response was one of anger, emotional withdrawal, shame, or threats of self-harm. Similarly, clients would reward the therapist with interpersonal warmth or engagement if the therapist allowed them to change the topic of the session from one they did not want to discuss to one they did want to discuss.
  3. The sheer volume and severity of problems presented by clients made it impossible to use the standard CBT format. Individual therapists simply did not have time to both address the problems presented by clients (suicide attempts, self-harm, urges to quit treatment, noncompliance with homework assignments, untreated depression, anxiety disorders, and more) and have session time devoted to helping the client learn and apply more adaptive skills.

In response to these key problems with standard CBT, Linehan and her research team made significant modifications to standard CBT.

They added acceptance-based or validation strategies to the change-based strategies of CBT. Adding these communicated to the clients that they were both acceptable as they were and that their behaviors, including those that were self-harming, made real sense in some way. Further, therapists learned to highlight for clients when their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors were “perfectly normal,” helping clients discover that they had sound judgment and that they were capable of learning how and when to trust themselves. The new emphasis on acceptance did not occur to the exclusion of the emphasis on change: clients must change if they want to build a life worth living.

In the course of weaving in acceptance with change, Linehan noticed that another set of strategies – dialectics – came into play. Dialectical strategies give the therapist a means to balance acceptance and change in each session. They also serve to prevent both therapist and client from becoming stuck in the rigid thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can occur when emotions run high, as they often do in the treatment of clients diagnosed with BPD. Dialectical strategies and a dialectical world view, with its emphasis on holism and synthesis, enable the therapist to blend acceptance and change in a manner that results in movement, speed, and flow in individual sessions and across the entire treatment. This counters the tendency, found in treatment with clients diagnosed with BPD, to become entrenched in arguments and polarizing or extreme positions.

Significant changes were also made to the structure of treatment in order to solve the problems encountered in the application of standard CBT.

In her original treatment manual, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (1993), Linehan hypothesizes that any comprehensive psychotherapy must meet five critical functions. The therapy must:

  1. Enhance and maintain the client’s motivation to change
  2. Enhance the client’s capabilities
  3. Ensure that the client’s new capabilities are generalized to all relevant environments
  4. Enhance the therapist’s motivation to treat clients while also enhancing the therapist’s capabilities
  5. Structure the environment so that treatment can take place

As already described, the structure of DBT includes four components: skills group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and consultation team. These components meet the five critical functions of a comprehensive psychotherapy in the following ways:

  1. It is typically the individual therapist who maintains the client’s motivation for treatment, since the individual therapist is the most prominent individual working with the client.
  2. Skills are acquired and strengthened, and generalized through the combination of skills groups and homework assignments.
  3. Clients capabilities are generalized through phone coaching (clients are instructed to call therapists for coaching prior to engaging in self harm), in vivo coaching, and homework assignments.
  4. Therapists’ capabilities are enhanced and burnout is prevented through weekly consultation team meetings. The consultation team helps the therapist stay balanced in his or her approach to the client, while supporting and cheerleading the therapist in applying effective interventions.
  5. The environment can be structured in a variety of ways. For example, the home environment could be structured by the client and therapist meeting with family members to ensure that the client is not being reinforced for maladaptive behaviors or punished for effective behaviors in the home

True to dialectics, DBT strategies are designed in pairs representing acceptance (validation, reciprocal communication, environmental intervention on behalf of the client) and change (problem solving, irreverence, consultation-to-the-patients about how they can change their own environment). Strategies are further divided into procedures; a set of principles guides the selection of strategies and procedures depending on the needs of the individual client. Clients are also taught a series of behavioral skills designed to promote both acceptance and change. A focus on replacing dysfunctional behaviors with skillful behaviors is woven throughout DBT.

DBT is a principle-based treatment that includes protocols. As a principle-based treatment, DBT is quite flexible due to its modular construction. Not only are strategies and procedures individualized, but various aspects of the treatment, such as disorder-specific protocols, can be included or withdrawn from the treatment as needed. To guide therapists in individualizing priorities for targeting disorders and behavioral problems, DBT incorporates a concept of levels of disorder (based on severity, risk, disability, pervasiveness, and complexity) that in turn guides stages of treatment and provides a hierarchy of what to treat when for a particular patient. In contrast, skills training is protocol based. Once a skills curriculum is determined, what is taught in a session is guided by the curriculum, not by the needs of a single client during that session.

  1. Clients receiving CBT found the unrelenting focus on change inherent to CBT to be invalidating. Clients responded by withdrawing from treatment, by becoming angry, or by vacillating between the two. This resulted in a high drop-out rate. If clients do not attend treatment, they cannot benefit from treatment.
  2. Clients unintentionally positively reinforced their therapists for ineffective treatment while punishing their therapists for effective therapy. For example, the research team noticed through its review of taped sessions that therapists would “back off” pushing for change of behavior when the client’s response was one of anger, emotional withdrawal, shame, or threats of self-harm. Similarly, clients would reward the therapist with interpersonal warmth or engagement if the therapist allowed them to change the topic of the session from one they did not want to discuss to one they did want to discuss.
  3. The sheer volume and severity of problems presented by clients made it impossible to use the standard CBT format. Individual therapists simply did not have time to both address the problems presented by clients (suicide attempts, self-harm, urges to quit treatment, noncompliance with homework assignments, untreated depression, anxiety disorders, and more) and have session time devoted to helping the client learn and apply more adaptive skills.
  4. In response to these key problems with standard CBT, Linehan and her research team made significant modifications to standard CBT.

They added acceptance-based or validation strategies to the change-based strategies of CBT. Adding these communicated to the clients that they were both acceptable as they were and that their behaviors, including those that were self-harming, made real sense in some way. Further, therapists learned to highlight for clients when their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors were “perfectly normal,” helping clients discover that they had sound judgment and that they were capable of learning how and when to trust themselves. The new emphasis on acceptance did not occur to the exclusion of the emphasis on change: clients must change if they want to build a life worth living.

In the course of weaving in acceptance with change, Linehan noticed that another set of strategies – dialectics – came into play. Dialectical strategies give the therapist a means to balance acceptance and change in each session. They also serve to prevent both therapist and client from becoming stuck in the rigid thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can occur when emotions run high, as they often do in the treatment of clients diagnosed with BPD. Dialectical strategies and a dialectical world view, with its emphasis on holism and synthesis, enable the therapist to blend acceptance and change in a manner that results in movement, speed, and flow in individual sessions and across the entire treatment. This counters the tendency, found in treatment with clients diagnosed with BPD, to become entrenched in arguments and polarizing or extreme positions.

Significant changes were also made to the structure of treatment in order to solve the problems encountered in the application of standard CBT.

In her original treatment manual, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (1993), Linehan hypothesizes that any comprehensive psychotherapy must meet five critical functions. The therapy must:

  1. Enhance and maintain the client’s motivation to change
  2. Enhance the client’s capabilities
  3. Ensure that the client’s new capabilities are generalized to all relevant environments
  4. Enhance the therapist’s motivation to treat clients while also enhancing the therapist’s capabilities
  5. Structure the environment so that treatment can take place

As already described, the structure of DBT includes four components: skills group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and consultation team. These components meet the five critical functions of a comprehensive psychotherapy in the following ways:

  1. It is typically the individual therapist who maintains the client’s motivation for treatment, since the individual therapist is the most prominent individual working with the client.
  2. Skills are acquired and strengthened, and generalized through the combination of skills groups and homework assignments.
  3. Clients capabilities are generalized through phone coaching (clients are instructed to call therapists for coaching prior to engaging in self harm), in vivo coaching, and homework assignments.
  4. Therapists’ capabilities are enhanced and burnout is prevented through weekly consultation team meetings. The consultation team helps the therapist stay balanced in his or her approach to the client, while supporting and cheerleading the therapist in applying effective interventions.
  5. The environment can be structured in a variety of ways. For example, the home environment could be structured by the client and therapist meeting with family members to ensure that the client is not being reinforced for maladaptive behaviors or punished for effective behaviors in the home.

DBT has personally saved my life and am grateful to have had the opportunity to take an intensive outpatient DBT program. DBT is awesome and it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Have an awesome Friday and Peace Out!!

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Happy Friday everyone. It is another Friday and that means it is time for my educational blogging feature. Today’s topic is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I got the following information from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) listed BPD as a diagnosable illness for the first time. Most psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use the DSM to diagnose mental illnesses.

Because some people with severe BPD have brief psychotic episodes, experts originally thought of this illness as atypical, or borderline, versions of other mental disorders. While mental health experts now generally agree that the name “borderline personality disorder” is misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.

Most people who have BPD suffer from:

  • Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior
  • Unstable relationships with other people.

People with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, along with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides.

Causes

Research on the possible causes and risk factors for BPD is still at a very early stage. However, scientists generally agree that genetic and environmental factors are likely to be involved.

Studies on twins with BPD suggest that the illness is strongly inherited. Another study shows that a person can inherit his or her temperament and specific personality traits, particularly impulsiveness and aggression. Scientists are studying genes that help regulate emotions and impulse control for possible links to the disorder.

Social or cultural factors may increase the risk for BPD. For example, being part of a community or culture in which unstable family relationships are common may increase a person’s risk for the disorder. Impulsiveness, poor judgment in lifestyle choices, and other consequences of BPD may lead individuals to risky situations. Adults with borderline personality disorder are considerably more likely to be the victim of violence, including rape and other crimes.

Signs & Symptoms

According to the DSM, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a person must show an enduring pattern of behavior that includes at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme reactions—including panic, depression, rage, or frantic actions—to abandonment, whether real or perceived
  • A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.

Seemingly mundane events may trigger symptoms. For example, people with BPD may feel angry and distressed over minor separations—such as vacations, business trips, or sudden changes of plans—from people to whom they feel close. Studies show that people with this disorder may see anger in an emotionally neutral face and have a stronger reaction to words with negative meanings than people who do not have the disorder.

Suicide and Self-harm

Self-injurious behavior includes suicide and suicide attempts, as well as self-harming behaviors, described below. As many as 80 percent of people with BPD have suicidal behaviors, and about 4 to 9 percent commit suicide.

Suicide is one of the most tragic outcomes of any mental illness. Some treatments can help reduce suicidal behaviors in people with BPD. For example, one study showed that dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) reduced suicide attempts in women by half compared with other types of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. DBT also reduced use of emergency room and inpatient services and retained more participants in therapy, compared to other approaches to treatment.

Unlike suicide attempts, self-harming behaviors do not stem from a desire to die. However, some self-harming behaviors may be life threatening. Self-harming behaviors linked with BPD include cutting, burning, hitting, head banging, hair pulling, and other harmful acts. People with BPD may self-harm to help regulate their emotions, to punish themselves, or to express their pain. They do not always see these behaviors as harmful.

Who Is At Risk?

According to data from a subsample of participants in a national survey on mental disorders, about 1.6 percent of adults in the United States have BPD in a given year.  BPD usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood. Some studies suggest that early symptoms of the illness may occur during childhood.

Diagnosis

Unfortunately, BPD is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

A mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or psychiatric nurse—can detect BPD based on a thorough interview and a discussion about symptoms. A careful and thorough medical exam can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

The mental health professional may ask about symptoms and personal and family medical histories, including any history of mental illnesses. This information can help the mental health professional decide on the best treatment. In some cases, co-occurring mental illnesses may have symptoms that overlap with BPD, making it difficult to distinguish borderline personality disorder from other mental illnesses. For example, a person may describe feelings of depression but may not bring other symptoms to the mental health professional’s attention.

Women with BPD are more likely to have co-occurring disorders such as major depression, anxiety disorders, or eating disorders. In men, BPD is more likely to co-occur with disorders such as substance abuse or antisocial personality disorder. According to the NIMH-funded National Comorbidity Survey Replication—the largest national study to date of mental disorders in U.S. adults—about 85 percent of people with BPD also meet the diagnostic criteria for another mental illness. Other illnesses that often occur with BPD include diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. These conditions are associated with obesity, which is a common side effect of the medications prescribed to treat BPD and other mental disorders.

No single test can diagnose BPD. Scientists funded by NIMH are looking for ways to improve diagnosis of this disorder. One study found that adults with BPD showed excessive emotional reactions when looking at words with unpleasant meanings, compared with healthy people. People with more severe BPD showed a more intense emotional response than people who had less severe BPD.

Treatments

BPD is often viewed as difficult to treat. However, recent research shows that BPD can be treated effectively, and that many people with this illness improve over time.

BPD can be treated with psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy. In some cases, a mental health professional may also recommend medications to treat specific symptoms. When a person is under more than one professional’s care, it is essential for the professionals to coordinate with one another on the treatment plan.

The treatments described below are just some of the options that may be available to a person with BPD. However, the research on treatments is still in very early stages. More studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of these treatments, who may benefit the most, and how best to deliver treatments.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is usually the first treatment for people with BPD. Current research suggests psychotherapy can relieve some symptoms, but further studies are needed to better understand how well psychotherapy works.

It is important that people in therapy get along with and trust their therapist. The very nature of BPD can make it difficult for people with this disorder to maintain this type of bond with their therapist.

Types of psychotherapy used to treat BPD include the following: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help people with BPD identify and change core beliefs and/or behaviors that underlie inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others and problems interacting with others. CBT may help reduce a range of mood and anxiety symptoms and reduce the number of suicidal or self-harming behaviors.

  1. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). This type of therapy focuses on the concept of mindfulness, or being aware of and attentive to the current situation. DBT teaches skills to control intense emotions, reduces self-destructive behaviors, and improves relationships. This therapy differs from CBT in that it seeks a balance between changing and accepting beliefs and behaviors.
  2. Schema-focused therapy. This type of therapy combines elements of CBT with other forms of psychotherapy that focus on reframing schemas, or the ways people view themselves. This approach is based on the idea that BPD stems from a dysfunctional self-image—possibly brought on by negative childhood experiences—that affects how people react to their environment, interact with others, and cope with problems or stress.

Therapy can be provided one-on-one between the therapist and the patient or in a group setting. Therapist-led group sessions may help teach people with BPD how to interact with others and how to express themselves effectively.

One type of group therapy, Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS), is designed as a relatively brief treatment consisting of 20 two-hour sessions led by an experienced social worker. Scientists funded by NIMH reported that STEPPS, when used with other types of treatment (medications or individual psychotherapy), can help reduce symptoms and problem behaviors of BPD, relieve symptoms of depression, and improve quality of life. The effectiveness of this type of therapy has not been extensively studied.

Families of people with BPD may also benefit from therapy. The challenges of dealing with an ill relative on a daily basis can be very stressful, and family members may unknowingly act in ways that worsen their relative’s symptoms.

Some therapies, such as DBT-family skills training (DBT-FST), include family members in treatment sessions. These types of programs help families develop skills to better understand and support a relative with BPD. Other therapies, such as Family Connections, focus on the needs of family members. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of family therapy in BPD. Studies with other mental disorders suggest that including family members can help in a person’s treatment.

Other types of therapy not listed in this booklet may be helpful for some people with BPD. Therapists often adapt psychotherapy to better meet a person’s needs. Therapists may switch from one type of therapy to another, mix techniques from different therapies, or use a combination therapy. For more information see the NIMH website section on psychotherapy.

Some symptoms of BPD may come and go, but the core symptoms of highly changeable moods, intense anger, and impulsiveness tend to be more persistent. People whose symptoms improve may continue to face issues related to co-occurring disorders, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, encouraging research suggests that relapse, or the recurrence of full-blown symptoms after remission, is rare. In one study, 6 percent of people with BPD had a relapse after remission.

Medications

No medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat BPD. Only a few studies show that medications are necessary or effective for people with this illness. However, many people with BPD are treated with medications in addition to psychotherapy. While medications do not cure BPD, some medications may be helpful in managing specific symptoms. For some people, medications can help reduce symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or aggression. Often, people are treated with several medications at the same time, but there is little evidence that this practice is necessary or effective.

Medications can cause different side effects in different people. People who have BPD should talk with their prescribing doctor about what to expect from a particular medication.

Other Treatments

Omega-3 fatty acids. One study done on 30 women with BPD showed that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce symptoms of aggression and depression. The treatment seemed to be as well tolerated as commonly prescribed mood stabilizers and had few side effects. Fewer women who took omega-3 fatty acids dropped out of the study, compared to women who took a placebo (sugar pill).

With proper treatment, many people experience fewer or less severe symptoms. However, many factors affect the amount of time it takes for symptoms to improve, so it is important for people with BPD to be patient and to receive appropriate support during treatment.

Living With

Some people with BPD experience severe symptoms and require intensive, often inpatient, care. Others may use some outpatient treatments but never need hospitalization or emergency care. Some people who develop this disorder may improve without any treatment.
How can I help a friend or relative who has BPD?
If you know someone who has BPD, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do is help your friend or relative get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment and go with your friend or relative to see the doctor. Encourage him or her to stay in treatment or to seek different treatment if symptoms do not appear to improve with the current treatment.
To help a friend or relative you can:
Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement—change can be difficult and frightening to people with BPD, but it is possible for them to get better over time
  • Learn about mental disorders, including BPD, so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing
  • With permission from your friend or relative, talk with his or her therapist to learn about therapies that may involve family members, such as DBT-FST.

Never ignore comments about someone’s intent or plan to harm himself or herself or someone else. Report such comments to the person’s therapist or doctor. In urgent or potentially life-threatening situations, you may need to call the police.

How can I help myself if I have BPD?

Taking that first step to help yourself may be hard. It is important to realize that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment.

To help yourself:

  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options and stick with treatment
  • Try to maintain a stable schedule of meals and sleep times
  • Engage in mild activity or exercise to help reduce stress
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can, as you can
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or family member
  • Tell others about events or situations that may trigger symptoms
  • Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people
  • Continue to educate yourself about this disorder.

Thank you for reading this long post. Again the above information is from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml Have an awesome weekend. Happy Friday. Peace out!!

Mental Illness Basics

Happy Friday!! I am happy to announce that today is my first blogging feature. It is hope that when I do my blogging feature every Friday, that I not only educate people without a mental illness to lessen the stigma that goes along with having one but hopefully to gain a bigger blog following. My primary goal is to educate people on mental illness. The stigma needs to stop which is why I am doing an “educational” piece every Friday.

Now that I have told you about my blogging feature; lets get going. Today’s blogging feature is about mental illness basics. I got the following information from http://www.webmd.com/. Here is that information:

Mental illness is any disease or condition that abnormally influences the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, or relates to others and to his or her surroundings. Although the symptoms of mental illness can range from mild to severe and are different depending on the type of mental illness, a person with an untreated mental illness often has difficulty coping with life’s daily routines and demands.

What Causes Mental Illness?

The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known. It is, though, becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors — not personal weakness or a character defect — and recovery from a mental illness is not simply a matter of will and self-discipline.

  • Heredity (genetics): Many mental illnesses run in families, suggesting they may be passed on from parents to children through genes. Genes contain instructions for the function of each cell in the body and are responsible for how we look, act, think, etc. However, just because your mother or father may have or had a mental illness doesn’t mean you will have one. Hereditary just means that you are more likely to get the condition than if you didn’t have an affected family member. Experts believe that many mental conditions are linked to problems in multiple genes — not just one, as with many diseases — which is why a person inherits a susceptibility to a mental disorder but doesn’t always develop the condition. The disorder itself occurs from the interaction of these genes and other factors — such as psychological trauma and environmental stressors — which can influence, or trigger, the illness in a person who has inherited a susceptibility to it.
  • Biology: Some mental illnesses have been linked to an abnormal functioning of brain circuits that connect different brain regions that control thinking, mood, and behavior. Nerve cells within those brain circuits pass information along from one cell to the next through brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Scientists think that by altering the activity of certain neurotransmitters (through medicines, psychotherapy, brain stimulation, or other treatments), those faulty brain circuits may work more efficiently, thereby controlling symptoms. In addition, defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain also have been linked to some mental conditions. Also, recent studies show inflammation may have a role in the development of mental illness.
  • Psychological trauma: Some mental illnesses may be triggered by psychological trauma suffered as a child or teenager, such as
    • Severe emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
    • A significant early loss, such as the loss of a parent
    • Neglect
  • Environmental stressors: Certain stressors — such as a death or divorce, a dysfunctional family life, changing jobs or schools, and substance abuse — can trigger a disorder in a person who may be at risk for developing a mental illness. This effect is not the same as and goes beyond the grief and other normal emotional responses such events cause.

Can Mental Illness Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, most mental illnesses are caused by a combination of factors and cannot be prevented.

How Common Is Mental Illness?

Mental illnesses are very common. In fact, they are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25% of American adults (those ages 18 and older) and about 13% of American children (those ages 8 to 15) are diagnosed with a mental disorder during a given year.

Major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are among the U.S.’s top 10 leading causes of disability.

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can affect people of any age, income or educational level, and cultural background. Although mental illness affects both males and females, certain conditions — such as eating disorders or depression — tend to occur more often in females, and other disorders — such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — more commonly occur in male children.

How Is Mental Illness Treated?

A mental illness, like many chronic illnesses, requires ongoing treatment to control symptoms. Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in treating mental illnesses. As a result, many mental conditions can be effectively treated with one or a combination of the following therapies:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy, such as individual or group therapy
  • Day treatment or partial hospital treatment
  • Specific therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior modification

Other treatments available include:

  • Alternative therapies, such as water therapy, massage, and biofeedback
  • Creative therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy, or play therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

What Is the Outlook for People With Mental Illness?

When diagnosed early and treated properly, many people fully recover from their mental illness or are able to successfully control their symptoms. Although some people become disabled because of a chronic or severe mental illness, many others are able to live full and productive lives. In fact, as many as eight in 10 people suffering from a mental illness can effectively return to their normal activities if they receive appropriate treatment.

I am grateful for the information I used from http://www.webmd.com/. I hope that the information I shared was hopeful. We need to start educating ourselves as well as others about mental illness. Then that way ignorance and naivety can not play a role in the stigmatizing of people with mental illness. For those of us who struggle with a mental illness will no longer tolerate the stigma with having a mental illness.

Now that I have completed my first blogging feature, I am going to end this post. It is an extremely long post and hope that I have “educated” people some. Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!! Peace Out!!!

Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Come Fly with Me.” Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home.

When I saw this particular (past) daily prompt, I automatically thought about my experience when I went to Nashville, Tennessee. This was the first time I had traveled from home when I was not with family or going to see family. In fact it was a much needed travel so I could get much needed help with the eating disorders I was struggling with at the time.

When I was 19, three months before I turned 20, my regular physician at the time told me that if I didn’t seek help for the eating disorders I was struggling with, I would be lucky if I “made it till 21.” Most people cringe and/or tell me that what physician told me was “unprofessional.” I personally don’t think it was “unprofessional” of my doctor at the time because if she didn’t tell me that I personally think I would be dead. That’s why I made the decision I did.

At that age, I considered myself a “Christian” and was a huge fan of “Christian” music. So with that being said, few weeks after my physician told me I needed to seek help for my eating disorders, I went to a Christian concert where the group Point of Grace was performing. Point of Grace is known in the Christian community to support those who may be struggling in some way. At that time (and even present day) Point of Grace was (and is) a big supporter of Mercy Ministries. During their concert they spoke of Mercy Ministries and even had a graduate give her testimony. Listening to the graduates testimony is what got me intrigued. At remission, I talked with graduate and she was able to provide me with more information. In fact she had extra applications to hand out for Mercy Ministries, which I filled out asap.

The thing that appealed to me in regards to Mercy Ministries was that it was Christian and free so of course I sent in the application after I filled it out.  After sending in the application and an intake interview over the phone, I was finally told that, I was accepted into the program. At that time Mercy Ministries had two homes, one in Monroe, Louisiana and the other in Nashville, Tennessee and was happy that I was “assigned” to the Nashville home.

I flew to Nashville and spent eleven months at Mercy Ministries. The average stay was (and think it still is) six months. It may have taken me five extra months to get through the program but it was something I needed. It was needed because, having so much time away from my family is what was best for me. I realized that they were hindering me in getting healthy in regards to my eating disorder. (Side note: I realized a few years later when I was in DBT that my family was also hindering me in my recovery with my mental illness.) I would be lying if I wasn’t scared about being so far from home and family because I was. Being so far from is what ultimately helped me get the help I needed with the eating disorders I was struggling with.

Now that I have told about how far I flew from home, I will end this blog entry for now. I hope that I will be able to continue to do daily prompts every Tuesday like I had discussed in my weekly goals yesterday. Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day and Peace Out!!!

Daily Prompt: Grand Slam

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grand Slam.” In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)

It being the middle of the baseball season, this particular (past) daily prompt grabbed my attention and rightfully so. I love analogies especially ones that involve sports. This particular analogy, if its what you call it, strikes close to home from. (Pardon, the pun in regards to baseball.)

I have had my share of walk-off home runs that have lead to victory, even if I don’t necessarily want to admit it.  It is difficult for me to pick one so I will choose one if its not a long post and I’m not tired, I might share a second one.

The walk-off home run that led to a victory that comes to mind is when I entered the two year intensive outpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. My back was literally getting against the wall with being able to get the proper treatment I needed because, I was starting to wear out some pretty good clinicians with my behavior, frequent self-harm and multiple suicide attempts. I was not the easiest of clients and new that if I didn’t accept the fact that, I needed to go into DBT, I would either be a lifer at the state hospital or six feet under (dead). I have the Peer Counselor to thank for sharing their recovery story with me because if it wasn’t for that, I honestly, don’t think  would have gone into the DBT program. The victory of all this is when I not only graduated from the first year but the second year as well.

I will share with you another walk-off home run that led to victory. This one was of the most difficult decisions I had to make in my life and am beyond grateful that I did. This one victory happened a few years before the DBT program I was in. I was nineteen years old and barely out of high school when I was told by my doctor at the time that if I didn’t seek treatment for the eating disorders I was struggling with I would be dead by my 21st birthday. Considering that my 20th birthday was three months away when I was told this, it hit extremely close to home. I didn’t know where to begin to look. I ended up going to a Christian concert where the group who was performing supported a program that helped young women with any number of problems. The program appealed to be for two reasons, it was free and it was Christian. At that point in time in my life I considered myself a Christian. I applied to the program and was in it a month after my 20th birthday. This decision was difficult for me because, at that time they only had to homes, I could go to, one in Nashville, Tennessee and the other Monroe, Louisiana. I had not been so far from home or family. I ended up going to the Nashville home where I graduated in ten months. The average stay is six months. Granted it took me longer to graduate from the program than most of the other girls and women but it was well worth it. It was worth it because, I knew I made the first “real” adult decision in my life and it was a great decision at that. Graduating was the first victory, I felt like I accomplished myself and with out the help of my family.

As you can tell, the two above stories were walk-off home runs that were both victories that ultimately saved my life. I am grateful that, I was able to make these choices because, I wouldn’t have been able to be enjoying life and sharing it with you fine folks. Recovery is a choice and in both examples, I chose recovery.

Now that I told you about my back-against-the-wall victories, I best be going. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of you Saturday. Good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Peace Out!!