There’s no two ways about it, having BPD is tough. We are filled with anxiety and rage, filled with self-doubt and self-loathing. So how do you be courageous when you are dealing with things like this on a daily basis? It’s hard.

Some days it’s a victory to just get out of bed let alone have a shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. I lived like that for many years. There was a long period of time where I didn’t venture much outside my house because I was so fearful. I went out to go to the grocery store and the bank and that was pretty much it.

Here is how I learned to be more courageous

I started small. I started by taking a walk every day. Just around the block. Why did I decide to do that? Because I adopted a little dog and he needed to go out. So we went out. Once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Just around the block. After a little while he stopped doing his business on those “just around the block” walks so I added another block and then another and another until one day I realized I was walking about sixteen blocks with him each day. It happened slowly. What I discovered was that I felt so much better. My diabetes and blood sugar levels got much better. This was a great boost for myself esteem. I discovered that I enjoyed walking with him and came to anticipate it and look forward to it. This was a big surprise to me because I had never enjoyed walking before. Today we walk between six and eight miles every day and it feels wonderful. I meet many new people each day on our perambulations and that has also helped me become more courageous. I am no longer afraid to engage in superficial conversation with strangers.

I decided to say yes

decided that if anyone asked me to do something with them no matter what it was, I would say yes. There weren’t many invitations at first because I had lost contact with my entire social network after my husband died but after I joined a meet-up group I started to get asked to do things. Many of these invitations were for things that definitely fell outside my comfort zone but I always said yes. So I went zip-lining and hiking and joined a book club and a cooking group. Gradually over time I began to feel comfortable in all these settings.

I cleaned my house

I cleaned my house. Why was that important? Because I had accumulated a lifetime of stuff and needed to purge myself of it. That was extremely difficult because even though I don’t like to think of myself as an overly sentimental person, I found it very difficult to let most of it go. But after my husband died, I looked around my house and thought, “Where did all this STUFF come from?” Only then did I realize the extent to which I had been engaging in retail therapy during his illness because doing so was one thing that comforted me.

I reconnected with my adult children

I reconnected with my adult children. They had all become extremely alienated from me over the years because of my illness. As I began to get better and recover and put my BPD into remission, I began the work of rebuilding those relationships. That started with being accountable to them and acknowledging how I had hurt them and apologizing for all my bad behavior over the years. They were highly receptive to it but it still took years for our relationships to really get back on track.

And finally, I decided to stop pushing people away and out of my life

I decided to make an effort not to push people away and out of my life anymore. That was very challenging for me because I had lived a life of relative solitude because it was easier that way. I didn’t have to invest in other people. But doing that also caused me to be very lonely. I knew I wanted to change that. I decided that it was time for me to be more open and honest with the new people I was going to welcome into my life and take a chance that they would accept me. Most of them did but not all.

I began to really work on my DBT skills — practicing mindfulness and meditation and working on reducing my anxiety. These practices also took time but eventually I was able to put my BPD into complete remission.