One of the most overlooked methods of treating BPD, or any disorder, is that which we can do for ourselves. Self-Help for Borderline Personality Disorder is something I would recommend in addition to therapy.
I ‘managed’ my BPD, my depression, my anxiety, my everything, by myself, for most of my life. Some days it was better than others. Some days it was far from enough. Self-Help is not what I would consider the absolute best option of treatment. However, I do believe that it’s an important step in addition to therapy. I’m still on the fence about trying to medicate BPD, however, psychotherapy is essential. I believe this. However you can’t live in therapy 24/7. The rest of the time we have to work on ourselves. Some of the things that I find to be very helpful:
Increase your awareness. Increase your awareness of the disorder. Increase your awareness of Self. Read, research, and obtain as much information as you can about this problem so that you can gain an understanding of what it is you’re going through [like say, reading my blog =) ]. You might say, I’m living it, I already know what I’m going through. It’s badness. Well, that badness probably has a name, and you’re probably not alone in how you feel. Putting a name to the feeling will help you gain a better ability to deal with it. Reach out, find some support, let others know you’re there. Your voice is important, just as the voices of others may be important to you. Your voices are important to me.
Create a support network. This could be as simple as friends and family. Allow the people you trust into your world. Share with them the knowledge you’ve gathered and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Voicing your issues, allows you take constructive action to work through them instead of Acting Out or Acting In. There are also a multitude of on-line support groups, forums, message boards, blogs… my blog =) Say hi, let us know you’re out there and maybe we can be of assistance to each other before all else fails. Sometimes just knowing that you’re not alone is enough to get through a really rough moment.
Asking for help is hard. Trust me, I know this. It feels like admitting weakness. It’s not. Asking for help takes courage. Recognizing that you’re human and looking for support will only make you stronger. Sometimes you don’t need to ask for help explicitly. If you’re having a hard time being alone you don’t need to say, “Being alone is terrifying please help me”… just call a friend and ask to go grab some coffee. Small things make a world of difference.
Prevention is important, not just clean up after things fall apart.
How I deal when I’m not medicated? Call me old fashioned but I’m a fan of diet and exercise. No, not dieting. Diet. As in what you put in it, is important. Greasy, high fat, fast food garbage is going to make you look and feel exactly like the things which you take into yourself. Be kind to yourself and nourish your body. What you eat and drink affects your entire body, including your mind. A healthy diet leads to a healthier mind. I’m not just spewing new age-y vegan hippy crap here. It’s scientifically proven that the nutrients (or lack of) that your body metabolizes effect you in various ways. Good food = feeling energized and healthy. Bad food = feeling sluggish, slow, and unhealthy.
I’m strict vegetarian (which I would never impose on anyone) and it works well for me though it also very easy to be healthy while still consuming animal products. I do still worry about getting proper nutrients though so I take my vitamins too. Here’s my miracle combination: Multi-vitamin, B-complex, Calcium, Iron, and occasionally Biotin. This has worked better for me than any of the medication I’ve been on thus far. Don’t believe me? Try it for a month.
Next. Exercise. Get your body moving. You don’t have to run a marathon or be a tri-athlete to be healthy and in good shape. And don’t give me any of this ‘round is a shape’ business. Take care of you. Regular exercise increases energy, improves concentration & focus, lowers stress, boosts your immune system and a multitude of other mental and physical benefits. If there’s one thing in your day that you really should make time for it’s at least 30 minutes of movement, more if you can manage it.
My confession is that since I started my Abilify I just haven’t had the energy or will to move like I normally do and as a result I can feel the fatigue seeping into my bones. I hate it. Normally: I’m a runner, I weight train, I do yoga/pilates, and I’m a dancer (traditional Middle Eastern dance). When I’m physically active I am so much more mentally healthy it’s astounding.
So even if you’re not medicated and not in therapy, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself out. I can’t make medication recommendations, nor would I even if I could. I absolutely recommend therapy. In the meantime, and in addition to, I recommend everything I’ve just mentioned. I KNOW it helps because it’s always how I’ve managed. I won’t lie and say that it’s always enough. I’ve already mentioned that it’s not always enough, but it’s something. And that something can be the difference between being functional and being hospitalized or worse.