My Life with Borderline Personality Disorder
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at the age of 27 following a suicide attempt in Toronto. I did not learn about the diagnosis until I was about 30 and I was sitting in my doctor’s office and starting looking through my chart. There was it, three little words that would change my life forever. I did not understand what the diagnosis entailed so later in the week I dropped the kids off with the babysitter and headed to my local library. To say the least, I wash shocked and stunned beyond belief when I started reading the DSM-III. The prognosis was even grim: incurable, intractable. This literally chilled me to the core and thus began an even more aggressivedownward spiral into a chronic depression that lasted for decades.
For the next twenty years I lived with unbelievable rage and despair and anguish because I felt trapped in an unhappy marriage with a man I did not love but with whom I was financially dependant. I felt trapped by my children because I felt my husband’s desire to have a family had forced me into having more children than I truly wanted or was capable of raising well. I felt like a chameleon and a phony because every time I went out into the public sphere I plastered a big smile on my face and became the life of the party as a way to disguise the inner turmoil I was really feeling on an almost constant basis.
I was finally able to get treatment at a place called the Institute for Living in Hartford, Connecticut. I entered as a voluntary patient and it was there that I met my nemesis, my therapist who completely turned my life upside down and changed my life forever. I spent a year there receiving in-patient treatment which I railed against, fought against and raged against for months despite having signed in on my own.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
While I was there my therapy consisted of dialectical behavioural therapy, a treatment pioneered by Dr. Marsha Linehan in 1967. Her treatment has helped thousands of patients over the years. The ironic thing about her transformative DBT therapy is that she later came out as having BPD herself. This revelation shocked the psychiatric and patient communities around the world. If you ask a hundred people suffering with BPD if DBT really works they will almost all say absolutely, hands down. DBT changed my life, too.