When you have Borderline Personality Disorder you live from crisis to crisis
A friend once commented to me that I lived my life from “crisis to crisis.” I was taken aback by this because I did not understand the statement — and I also did not see it. But after my husband died, I began to take a very serious look at my life. I actually say it was my husband’s death which propelled me on my road to recovery. If he walked into the house today, he would not recognize me because I have become a totally different person.
What does it mean to live your life from crisis to crisis? Well, for me, it meant always being hyped on adrenaline and always letting my emotions be in the driver’s seat. It meant never being able to relax or “chill out.” It meant always being ready for the next battle, always being pumped for the next confrontation. When I finally started to look at this pattern, it quickly became apparent to me what he was talking about.
I decided I wanted to address this issue and try to figure out how to, if not put a stop to it, at least pump the brakes a little bit. So, I started keeping a journal of incidents that happened and my reactions to them. And slowly, I began to see patterns emerge. I first decided to take control of my physical environment and clean up my house. During my husband’s illness, the house had become extremely cluttered because of all the recreational, retail therapy I was doing to try to cope with my distress. There were hundreds of things lining the shelves in the living room and various bedrooms. I began to divest myself of these things and that had a great calming effect on my emotions. I began to see the physical clutter was not just a symptom of my emotional clutter, it was also a physical manifestation of it — it was how I had expressed all the chaos going on in my life.
I started by cleaning up my house
So, how did I do it? I looked at websites such as HGTV which offered 50 different ways to deal with clutter. The key for me was to become ruthless. If I had not used it in the past 12 months, no matter how sentimental I felt about it, out it went. I ended up throwing most of it away because dragging it off to the local second-hand store was just too much of a challenge. Going through this process was very liberating. Being able to see the surface of shelves in my living room was extremely satisfying. Next, I attacked my closets. It was very difficult to get rid of an entire closet full of jackets which I had worn when I was working, but once I realized they symbolized my professional achievements and that I was never going back to that world, it became easy to pack them all up and take them to the local Goodwill.
Next, I began to look at the way I interacted with people
The patterns which emerged were fascinating to me and the patterns which emerged there were both frightening and fascinating. As I came to appreciate the way I was “always primed for a fight” I started to find ways to stop doing that. I began to figure out how to practice more patience and, over time, it worked. I am, today, a much more patient person than I ever was before and I am grateful for that.
Since DBT, my my life is much less chaotic
My life today is much calmer. I attribute this to learning how to be mindful in most things and that has also taught me how to be more patient. Today I live what I describe to my friends as a “boring” life, but it is an existence I have chosen. I am much happier having this boring life because it means the constant adrenaline rushes of the past no longer plague me. It means I can stop and smell the roses of a calmer day-to-day lifestyle and I am grateful every single time I was able to make this choice.