I was in a detox for alcohol abuse in Melbourne when I first heard of borderline personality disorder. I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist and put in touch with the resident psychologist. I was 30 years old and in bad shape. My job was on the line and my friendships were becoming fragmented.
At the time I didn’t give my new diagnosis much thought. I was wrapped up with my external problems like work and my now exposed drink problem. It was my first detox experience. One that I didn’t take too seriously, I was far from done with alcohol.
I already had a history of depression and anxiety disorders. I self harmed but for the most kept my scars well hid. In short I had emotional problems that I had no real interest in addressing. To me, I felt in control of my mental health issues and drinking. I had no reason to pay mind to others concerns about me. I treated that first detox as a way to keep my job. It was after all my bosses that got me in there. Certainly took no notice of the BPD diagnosis.
Needless to say I quickly lost my job after leaving detox and getting back on the booze. My mental health went on a rapid decline after leaving Australia and it was another three years before borderline personality disorder was raised as an issue. This time it was harder to ignore.
BPD is also known as unstable emotion disorder. With those diagnosed mostly having a history of childhood trauma. As a result we don’t develop emotionally and are ruled by unstable emotions like anger and fear. We have no real concept of love and can become quickly obbsesed with personal relationships. Usually with people with simular emotional disturbances.
I was put on a dialectical behavioural therapy course, DBT. It was 18 months of intense group and one-on-one therapy based around, wait for it – meditation! (You didn’t You would get away with a post that didn’t mention meditation did you?)
On the course I learned in depth about my illness and how it affected me. It was like joining the dot’s of all my previous mental health problems. I already knew I had anger issues as my self harming behaviour was just anger internalised. I would punish myself out of guilt and rage. Self harming is part of the diagnostic criteria. And for BPD i ticked all the boxes.
As for the therapy I learned about the place between emotions and rational thinking. They called it ‘wise mind’. A place where I was not driven by emotions or logical thinking. It was all about balance in the middle of the two. In short it was the end of my self harming after decades of self abuse. It also set me on a path of seeking a meditation that would promote separation from the pull of emotions, which was my biggest problem, I was quick to anger and self judgement. My thinking was always negative.
The stress of living with BPD sparked other symptoms such as auditory and visual hallucinations. It was a horrible illness to live with. One that I thought I would never fully recover from.
Once I recovered from alcoholism at the age of 36 my main objective was to find a meditation that would help me deal with the emotional problems I suffered from. The erratic, obsessive thinking that ruled my head. It was in finding non contemplative meditation that I discovered the answer to my emotional problems. It was a practice like no other that had me separating from thoughts and the emotions that fed through them. I was to become an observer of what passed through my mind from a place of conscious awareness. No longer being dragged into the barriage of negativity within.
I discovered freedom. A real solution to a lifelong disorder. My life is now one of stability and peace, my mind that is, there’s little peace in my house with triplets but even in that respect I am able to practice patience. From sickness I became a free man. One that has found not just the answer to BPD, but the answer to life.