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 started looking through my chart. There it was, three little words that would change my life forever.
I did not understand what the diagnosis meant, so later in the week I dropped the kids off with the babysitter and headed to my local library. To say the least, I was shocked and stunned beyond belief when I started reading the DSM-III. The prognosis was very grim: incurable, intractable. This literally took my breath away and I started on a downward 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 by my diagnosis, trapped in an unhappy marriage with a man I did not love but on whom I was financially dependent. 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.
After another very serious suicide attempt, I was finally able to get treatment in a psychiatric hospital in the United States where I entered as a voluntary patient. There I met my nemesis, my therapist who completely turned my life upside down and ultimately changed it 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 BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
While I was there, my therapy consisted of dialectical behavioral 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 one hundred people suffering from BPD if DBT really works, they will almost all say absolutely, hands down. DBT changed my life, too.
WHY I AM QUALIFIED TO HELP YOU
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 1986 just after the birth of my third child.
That was back in the bad old days when the disorder was not well understood, even by psychiatrists. I’ve had years of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and I know the ropes of what is involved with learning new coping mechanisms and anxiety-busting techniques. I can teach you these and your life will dramatically improve.
I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, a trained counselor or even a certified life coach. So, why am I qualified to be a BPD life coach? Because after more than 35 years of living with it, I have lived experience and my recovery has taught me how to co-exist with it, overcome it and thrive with it.
I AM A DBT-INFORMED COUNSELOR
After my hospitalization, my therapist had a very difficult time finding a new therapist back in my hometown because I was, essentially, radioactive. Too many in-patient psychiatrists there had encountered me and knew how resistant I was to treatment. Eventually, he was successful and I entered into a therapeutic relationship that lasted for thirty years. Many years ago, however, my psychiatrist told me that I no longer met the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. Was I happy? Ecstatic.
Fast forward to today, and I am living a happy, normal and fulfilled life. I am involved in a wonderful relationship with a man who loves me beyond measure. I feel fulfilled in so many ways that I could never have imagined possible. Does this mean that my life is merry and gay? No, my life is, in many ways boring and unexciting. But, I choose that rather than the life I used to live which entailed constant adrenaline rushes because I literally lived from one crisis to the next. I am happy that my life is predictable and stable and without the constant stress of my disrupted relationship with my spouse and constant anger.
Change is never easy. How much you can change and how quickly you can achieve that will depend on how willing you are to take an enormous risk and learn new skills and coping techniques.
I will only work with you if you are currently in therapy or have been in therapy long enough to have made some serious strides and developed some serious insight.
I take a no-nonsense approach to coaching. I will confront you and I do not pull my punches. I will give you homework and tasks to complete between meetings. If you are not able to tolerate this or are unwilling to participate fully, please keep looking.
In order for the two of us to work together you must be willing to work on setting goals and being confronted — in essence, you must be willing to “kill all your darlings” of negative behavior, the things which no longer serve you.
Before we can begin working together, you must purchase two books; John Kabatt-Zinn’s book Full Catastrophe Living and Dr. Marsha Linehan’s book, DBT Skills Training and Worksheets. Both are available from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com. I do not have an affiliate link with either of those companies so I make no money from your purchase. These are your course manuals. Zinn’s book is usually available at a public library.