Mental Health Araweness Week; Day 7: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) & Recovery

It’s Day 7 of Mental Health Awareness Week. That means it is the last day and I struggled with what I wanted to discuss today. I really wanted to discuss another diagnosis as well as recovery. With much discussion and consideration with different people in my life, I have chosen to not only talk about Recovery but Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as well. I chose these two topics because I at one time was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and because I have worked so hard in recovery I no longer meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). So you can see the topics of Recovery and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can go hand and hand for me.

I will discuss Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) first. From here on out for the remainder of this blog, Borderline Personality Disorder will be written as BPD. The following information on BPD I got from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that can be challenging for everyone involved, including the individuals with the illness, as well their friends and family members. BPD is characterized by impulsivity and instability in mood, self-image, and personal relationships. The treatments and longer-term studies of BPD offer hope for good outcomes for most individuals who live with BPD. Ideas to name the condition in a manner that better describes the patter of concerns (e.g., Emotion Dysregulation Disorder) have been advanced but no name change to the condition is planned for the release of DSM-5.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and how is it diagnosed?

Borderline Personality Disorder is diagnosed by mental health professionals following a comprehensive psychiatric interview that may include talking with a person’s previous clinicians, review of prior records, a medical evaluation, and when appropriate, interviews with friends and family. There is no specific single medical test (e.g., blood test) to diagnose BPD and a diagnosis is not based on  a single sign or symptom. Rather, BPD is diagnosed by a mental health professional based on patterns of thinking and behavior in an individual. Some people may have “borderline personality traits” which means that they do not meet the criteria for diagnosis with BPD but have some of the symptoms associated with this illness.

Individuals with BPD usually have several of the following symptoms, many which are detailed in the DSM-IV-TR:

  • Marked mood swings with periods of intense depressed mood, irritability and/or anxiety last a few hours to a few days (but not in the context of full-blown episode of major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder).
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger.
  • Impulsive behaviors that result in adverse outcomes and psychological distress, such as excessive spending, sexual encounters, substance use, shoplifting, reckless driving or binge eating.
  • Recurring suicidal threats or non-suicidal self-injurious behavior such as cutting on one’s self.
  • Unstable, intense personal relationships, sometimes alternating between “all good,” idealization, and “all bad,” devaluation.
  • Persistent uncertainty about self-image, long-term goals, friendships and values.
  • Chronic boredom or feelings of emptiness.
  • Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment.

Borderline Personality Disorder is relatively common – about 1 in 20 or 25 individuals will live with this condition. Historically, BPD has been thought to be significantly more common in females, however recent research suggest that males may almost as frequently affect by BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder is diagnosed in people from each race, ethnicity and economic status.

What is the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The exact causes of BPD remain unknown, although the roles of both environmental and biological factors are though to play a role in people who develop this illness. While no specific gene has been shown to directly cause BPD, a number of different genes have been identified as playing a role in its development. The brain’s functioning, as seen in MRI testing, is often different in people with BPD, suggesting that there is a neurological basis for some of the symptoms associated with BPD.

Neuroimaging studies are not clinically helpful at this time to make the diagnosis and are research tools. A number of hormones (including oxytocin) and signaling molecules within the brain (e.g., neurotransmitters including serotonin) have been shown to potentially play a role in BPD. People who experience traumatic life events (e.g., physical or sexual abuse during childhood) are at increased risk of developing BPD, as are people with certain chronic medical illnesses in childhood.

The connection between BPD and other mental illnesses is well established. People with BPD are at increased risk for anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse. BPD is often misdiagnosed and many people find they wait years to get a proper diagnosis, which leads to a better care plan.

Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder have a first-degree relative with a serious mental illness (e.g., bipolar or schizophrenia). This is likely due to both genetic and environmental factors.

Now that I have bored you about BPD, I want to thank you for reading to this point. Again, I got the following information from NAMI’s website at nami.org.  I will now continue on with the next part of my blog.

The next part of the discussion is Recovery. According to the Webster’s dictionary Recovery is defined as following: noun: The process of combating a disorder (such as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem. Now that you know the definition of Recovery, I can tell you how recovery looks to me especially when it comes to BPD.

Recovery has been a long and difficult process for me. In fact recovery is a lifelong process for people with any mental health diagnosis. For me, my recovery process in regards to my mental illness (not the eating disorders I struggled with) started 11 years ago this month (October or 2003) when I went into a two year intensive outpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. When I was in DBT I learned on ways to learn how to deal with my intense emotions. Most of the emotions I was dealing with and still deal with on occasion, I learn as a child to hold them in. So, holding in my emotions I ended up self-harming by cutting myself. I’m getting a little off topic, when I was in the DBT program I learned the proper skills or tools I needed to express my emotions appropriately. Because I learned how to express my emotions in an appropriate manner I was able to hold down a job at the same employer for 9 1/2 year as well take the training and examination to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist (aka Peer Counselor). Not only was I employed at the same employer for 9 1/2 years I was able to quit that job and become  Consumer Aide with Peer Counselor responsibilities at a mental health agency.

Yes, after I graduated the DBT program I continued with my previous job as well as sought out a new therapist. I have had my current therapist for 6 years this December. My current therapist Diana (pseudonym) and have worked endlessly with the pain of my past. She is the one that encouraged me to get my peer certification as well getting my new job as a Consumer Aide. Diana and the DBT program I graduated from in November of 2005 have played a key role in my recovery. In fact I have come to rely on myself as well as my friends and a select family members as well as people I consider family more than I do my own treatment team. Diana, my current therapist, is the one who declared me a recovered Borderline. As of the summer of last year (2013) I know longer meet the criteria of Borderline. My natural support system will see to that I will never get the diagnosis of BPD back. In fact my natural supports are a key to my recovery.

The reason why they are key to my recover is because like I said earlier recovery is a life long process. See I deal with other mental health diagnoses like the ones I have shared with you this past week. In fact I struggle with a few other diagnoses and will continue to educate you on those tomorrow. Going back to the topic, most mental illness’s are life long. Most of the personality disorders are the only mental health diagnoses you can eventually no longer meet the criteria for and Borderline is one of them. Yes, I will most likely struggle from time to time with my other mental health diagnosis however I have great friends and family as well as a therapist that are all invested in my recovery. They wont give up on me nor will they allow me to give up on myself.

Now that I have practically written a chapter or two of a book I better let you all go. I will continue to keep educating you on different diagnosis’s. I will continue with the ones that deal with. Have a great rest of your weekend I hope that I have educated you all on mental illness during Mental Health Awareness Week. I hope you all will continue to read and/or follow my blog. I hope I was able to convey to you this week that I was hoping to and hope to be able to convey more to you all in other blogs. Thanks for reading. Please do not hesitate to share my blog on social media site just as long as it is done in a respectful manner. Again thank you for reading. It means a great deal to me that you read my blog.

I should really let you go. I will blog again tomorrow and yes I will be blogging about another mental health diagnosis. It will be one that I have been diagnosed with. Again, thank you for reading. Peace out and enjoy your weekend.

Love Is A Beautiful Thing

     Love is a beautiful thing. Today, I was the Best Woman (instead of the Best Man) in one of my closest friends wedding. She got married to her long time girlfriend. They are now Wife and Wife. My friend wore a white tux with a purple vest and bowtie while her now wife wore a white wedding dress. They were both beautiful. I was in a black tux with a purple comber bun and bowtie. Even though wearing black in 86 F degree weather is quite hot, its better than wearing a dress. I’m not a big dress fan. I’m a “tom boy.” Anyway it was a beautiful wedding. The reason why my friend and her now wife chose to get married today was because of the date, 7/7/14. They not only think its lucky but they are both math teachers. They chose today because 7+7=14 or if you look at it date wise 7/7/14. They said their I dos at 7:07pm and 14 seconds. I am so happy my friend was able to get married to the woman of her dreams.

     Well, I worked this morning and it wasn’t a very good day at work. It wasn’t a good at work because I found out that one of my favorite elderly customers passed away. Her daughter came into the store this morning and told me and my co-workers. In fact I went to her 91st birthday back in May. I was told by this customer that I’m part of her family. That’s why her daughter and other children want me to give the eulogy at the funeral. I said yes. It’s going to be tough on me. Let’s get on a happier topic. I may not like my current job and it has nothing to do with death. I don’t like it because its not a career that I want to be in. Since I feel like I am in a dead in job, I’m going to review my resume’ tomorrow as well as look at jobs in the field that I want to be in. If I find a job opportunity to apply to I will not only apply but write a cover letter for that particular job.

     Speaking of a job opportunity I finally heard back for an organization I applied to, to become a volunteer. That particular organization is American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). I’m hoping things go well with becoming a Field Advocate for them. Not sure what’s in store. I’m still waiting on more information. They do a lot of work regarding suicide prevention as well as try to get laws passed to help those who struggle with mental illness. I’m now waiting to hear back from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I’m wanting to volunteer for them as well. In a couple of weeks I’m suppose to start training for a local Peer Support Warm Line. In all honesty, I fear that I might me taking too much on too quickly. I just want to not work a grocery store anymore. Nine years just seems way too long to be working at one and I feel like if volunteer in the mental health field then I’m more than likely to get a job as a Peer Counselor. You would think that volunteering at homeless shelter that specializes in mental illness is enough but I don’t think so. I’m hoping that I will be able to give of my time because I don’t have money to give. Plus giving of your time means much more than giving money a great deal of the time.

     Any way another thing I did was go and see my therapist. I of course got there an hour early like I do a lot of the time. While waiting to see my therapist I read A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. I’m enjoying the book immensely. Diana (my therapist) and I talked about the 5 year anniversary of the trauma I experienced. We talked about the increase PTSD symptoms and the self harm urges I’ve been having. We also discussed the minor urges regarding the eating disorders. Diana is a little concerned about the self harm urges as well as the eating disorder urges and we discussed ways on how I can continue to NOT harm myself my cutting or starving myself or binging and purging. We discussed on what skills I could do. We discussed what could help in conjunction with my DBT skills. I told her I can look over my WRAP. WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan.  Thankfully she has enough confidence in me that I wont relapse with the cutting or the eating disorders that we didn’t have to do a safety contract. Diana says that I am making “Wise mind” decisions and that I don’t have to worry about becoming Borderline again. She says I’m still a recovered Borderline because I’m far from meeting the criteria again. She tells me just as long as I am doing what I am suppose to be doing in my recovery I don’t have to worry. Plus I am far from being Borderline again or least that’s what she tells me. I am extremely fearful of becoming Borderline again. Diana keeps reassuring me that I don’t have to worry about it. She also told me that she was proud of me for all the hard work I am doing with my recovery process. Its difficult to hear someone tell me that they are proud of me but its cool to hear at the same time.(Side Note: Diana is a pseudonym for her protection and the protection of her other clients.) Oh boy its 11:00pm pacific time.

    Speaking of what time it is I better end this blog entry for now. I am a little tired. I’ve been up since 4am pacific time because of work. I hope I didn’t bore you all with this extremely long blog. Enjoy the last hour of your Monday. Oh yeah Happy 7/7/14. Goodnight and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Peace out everyone.

Happy 4th Of July!!!

     Happy 4th of July!!! Today is Independence Day here in the United States of America. I am grateful for our Military Personal because if it wasn’t for them fighting for my freedom’s I wouldn’t be living in one of the best countries in the world. Thank you all for your service!!! 

     I worked today. Yes, that’s the unfortunate thing about working at a grocery store, having to work holidays, even Christmas and Thanksgiving. At least I get paid double time for working today. Today at work we weren’t just busy with our regular customers and customers preparing for their holiday celebrations but busy with a Jehovah Witness convention at a near by college/university football stadium. I guess it is a 3 day event. I didn’t realize this until I wished one of them a Happy 4th of July and it offended them. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone. Sometimes I get frustrated with Political Correctness. See Jehovah Witness’s don’t celebrate holidays or birthdays and I can respect that because its a part of their religious beliefs. In fact I told on myself to my manager when I was told that I offend the person I was helping. My manager told me not to worry about it because we cant make everyone happy and that we cant know everyone’s religious beliefs unless they tell us or they wear a sign someone on their person.

     Yes, I will be celebrating the 4th of July. In fact I’m at my boyfriends parents house for a 4th of July party they are putting on. Their a lot of people here. Lots of food, fun, games and swimming. In fact my boyfriends parents house has a great view of where the fireworks are going to be shot off. My favorite part is always the fireworks. I do have to say that the firework show in the city I currently reside in is not as good as Disneyland’s fireworks. I grew up in Anaheim and was able to watch the Disneyland fireworks from my backyard, roof and even my front yard. I miss being able to watch the Disneyland fireworks every weekend. Disneyland’s firework show for the 4th of July is always their best firework show. Like I said I’m at my boyfriends parents house at the moment. I’m just taking a break from the crowd. It gets overwhelming at times especially since the symptoms of my PTSD are acting up. I figure that blogging will help ease the overwhelming feeling I am having at the moment. I am enjoying the food. I’m all about being All American when it comes to food on the 4th of July. Just give me a hot dog and I am happy. I had 3 hot dogs and plan on having a steak later on. I cant wait for the fireworks.

     Enough about the 4th of July for moment. I want to discuss the Co-Occurring Disorders training I attended for 3 days. We (me and the other trainee’s) learned about the science of the effects of addiction on the body and brain. I found the science part of it interesting. We also learned a new skill in the training called OPA. OPA stands for Organize. Prioritize. Act. It was created and copyrighted by Martin K. Abdo. To learn more about OPA I encourage you to go to his website http://www.opamentalhealth.com. I  have to say a disclaimer and that is if  that you want to do an OPA group in your practice or mental health agency that you contact Martin K. Abdo yourselves so he can train you to do it properly. In fact I can see myself doing the OPA skill in my everyday life. I learned so much from the training that I’m still trying to process everything I have learned. I guess you can say that I’m still on information overload. I’m grateful that now I can put the training on my resume’.

     Now that I have bored you with my day at work and celebration of the 4th of July as well as the 3 day training I attended, I’m going to end this blog for now. I hope I didn’t bore you with the events of my day and week. I am going to apologize for not blogging yesterday. I feel bad when I don’t blog everyday because I feel like if I don’t then I’m not helping fight the stigma of mental illness nor am I helping those who I struggling with a mental illness. I want to show those who struggle with a mental illness that there is hope and recovery is possible. I also want to show “normies” (normies is just term that means normal people) that people with mental illness live productive lives and are people just like them. I want to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Well I better end this blog entry for now because I need to go show my face at the party again. Happy 4th of July everyone. Peace out and enjoy the fireworks.