Ask A.J. Mahari, the BPD Coach, what you most want to know more about Borderline Personality Disorder. A woman with Borderline Personality Disorder asks A.J. about her recovery and whether or not she was on medication and if she still is now. How long did A.J.'s recovery take? How long did it take to find her authentic self and start to recover?
"I'm writing you to ask a couple of very simple questions. How long did it take for you to find your authentic self and start your recovery from BPD? Also, did you take medication and are you still on it?
I was diagnosed over a year ago with BPD and thought that I would be well on my way to leading a much more stable life. Much to my chagrin I feel like I'm going backwards instead of forward. My doctor has me on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. They help with my severe mood swings but I still cannot control my many emotions.
Just as background; as a child I wasn't allowed to have any feelings whatsoever. If I was happy my parents would chastise me for my euphoria. If I was upset they would give me something to be upset about. At no time was I allowed to "feel" anything. Now when emotions surface I cannot identify what they are unless they are: anger, happy or sad. The smallest of upsets set me into frenzy. Sometimes I wish I was strong enough to just end it all but unfortunately about 20 yrs ago I met the most wonderful man and decided to start a family. I have two beautiful children that I cannot selfishly abandon like my parents did to me. (metaphorically speaking). So here I am trapped with a wounded inner child who continuously rears her ugly head and demands to be heard. When I was younger I silenced her with alcohol but 9 yrs ago I got help for that particular addiction.
I'm willing to do the work. I want to get well. I just need to know that I won't be doing this for the rest of my life because I know that I can't continue to feel this emptiness and loneliness for the rest of my life. I have the most fabulous family, a wonderful job, a great home and I'm miserable. Please I need to know that there is hope. That 2 or 3 years of hard work I will start to love me for me, not keep loathing who I am on a daily basis. You are the only person I have read about that has recovered from this form of mental illness so your words would be of utmost importance."
Thank you for your time -- Janet B
Thank you for your questions, Janet. Firstly, I began my recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder some time before I found my authentic self - finding your authentic self is a part of the process of recovery as is re-parenting and nuturing the newly found authentic self. In the process of therapy I became aware that I was in search of a lost self and identity. It took me about 4 months (out of total of 7 months of that therapy program) in a concentrated group therapy program to begin to be in touch with, connected to, and understanding more about my (at that time) burgeoning authentic self.
I had been in therapy for some years prior to this group therapy program where I found my lost authentic self. My entire process of recovery was close to 8 years. By the time I entered the group therapy program where I actually recovered I had been in therapy in earnest, working very hard, for close to 7 years. Once aware of and connected to previously lost self my recovery picked up speed. I gained a tremendous amount of insight. However, at that point, there was still the taking a few steps forward, to take a couple of steps back, to move further forward and so on. I was also learning how to cope more effectively with my emotions and relate in healthier ways with others. This too, though, for the first little while, still meant being triggered at times into dyregulated emotion that I didn't cope with as well as I would have like to right away. In recovery as insight and awareness is strengthened one becomes more aware of acting or behaving in ways that he or she no longer wants to act or behave. It is important to be patient and kind and gentle with that emerging authentic self - with yourself - and to not get drawn back into feeling shame or negative polarized patterns of thinking.
I was not on any psychiatric anti-depressant medication in my process of recovery. I am not on any psychiatric or anti-depressant medication now either. I learned to master my emotions. In my Emotional Mastery Coaching I am helping others to do master their emotions in ways that mean living a healthy and balanced emotional life.
Please keep in mind many people do require certain medication at different stages of the process of recovery to help manage and cope with their emotions so that they can continue to do the work required in therapy.
The work in and process of therapy often has as a side-effect, if you will, for some time, an increase in emotions and emotional pain that has to be coped with. To put it plainly it does have to get worse to get better. So what you are describing isn't out of the ordinary in the process of recovery from BPD. It is part of that process. And things do take time. That amount of time is different for each person.
I can relate to how you describe not being able to feel or express your emotions as a child. I had the same experience. I wasn't allowed to be happy because my parents weren't happy (they both had BPD). This is a prime example of how an invalidating environment contributes to the difficulties in emotional regulation that exists in the experience of Borderline Personality Disorder.
For some people there may be some management that goes on throughout their lives. However, that said, they certainly can and do improve the quality of their lives and relationships. In my life coaching, I have many clients with BPD who are various stages, phases, levels, of management versus finding freedom from having to manage their emotions. In my own case and recovery almost 15 years ago now, it was the first 1-2 years wherein I was still vigilant about my emotional management. Following that, I had changed my ways of thinking, actually creating new neuro-pathways in my brain, that mean that I changed, recovered, past tense, to the point where I just live my life and don't have extreme emotions or emotional dysregulation to deal with anymore.
Being willing to do the work is what it takes to get the work done. I would encourage you to focus on the work and not on how long that work takes. You are in your own process. It is human to feel like things aren't changing fast enough, from time to time. In those times, however, it is important to pay attention to what your inner-dialogue is. Important to be kind to yourself. To focus on the positive gains in a way that they are in balance with the work that still needs to be accomplished.
Being in recovery from BPD is a process. It is different for each person with BPD. Dedication to that process is what is most closely related to degree of success. You will also benefit from focusing on the ways in which your emotions are becoming more manageable, even if, at first, it is only in small increments of time.
Recovery from BPD is possible. It takes time. There are no miracle cures. Each person will progress thorugh their own recovery process in their own way and at their own rate. As you discover and become more aware of your lost authentic self - as you find that precious self - show that young self, patience, love, understanding, and the validation that it needs to continue to emerge.
If you would like to ask the BPD Coach, A.J. Mahari, a question, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your question. Please also indicate if you would be okay with your name being used if A.J. responds to your question here. If not, please suggest a pseudonym that you would like your question attributed to.
All responses given by The BPD Coach, A.J. Mahari, are meant to convey general information and are not intended to be in anyway a specific recommendation or commentary on any personal life situation. Coaching is not therapy. It is also not a replacement for professional therapy. Coaching can be an effective adjunct to professional therapy for those with Borderline Personality Disorder and/or their loved ones.