The misunderstandings surrounding BPD…

When I say to someone that I have Borderline Personality Disorder, then I will normally get either, “Ooooh, what’s that then?” or “Is that like bipolar?” Either that, or a person will shuffle off with their head down and say nothing.

People with BPD are amongst the most misunderstood in the whole lexicon of mental health issues. Although there are effective treatments for BPD, they can be so difficult to get access to, which leaves sufferers feeling a sense of abandonment and confusion as to where they stand.

A serious mental health concern, BPD is a “personality disorder,” which is a pattern of thoughts, feelings and actions that tends to persist over time and leads to distress and problems in functioning (e.g., in relationships, jobs). BPD involves instability in several areas of life, including relationships, emotions, identity, thinking patterns and mental state (i.e., suspicious thoughts about others, dissociation), and behaviour.

People with BPD often engage in self-destructive behaviours such as suicide attempts (up to 75% have attempted at least once), self-injury (up to 80% have self-injured) and death by suicide (approximately 9%) Many people with BPD struggle with intense self-hate, shame and feelings of inadequacy/failure. They have difficulty navigating relationships both at work and with loved ones, and difficulty understanding and managing their emotions.

In order to get a diagnosis of BPD, a person has to have five out of nine total criteria, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). These criteria include the following: problems with relationships (fears of abandonment; unstable relationships) unstable emotions (frequent emotional ups and downs; high emotional sensitivity) unstable identity (unclear sense of self; chronic feelings of emptiness) impulsive and self-damaging behaviours (impulsive behaviour; self-injury or suicidal behaviour) unstable thinking/cognition (suspiciousness; tendency to dissociate when under stress)
Although it may seem easy to “self-diagnose,” it is important to know that a valid diagnosis of BPD involves a fairly extensive assessment. This should be done by a professional trained to make valid psychiatric diagnoses, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. All too often, I have seen people receive a diagnosis of BPD (sometimes in error) based on a clinician’s impressions after a very brief meeting.

Diagnosing BPD takes time and effort and must be done using methods with scientific support, such as structured diagnostic interviews, during which the clinician asks the patient a set of standardized questions about symptoms and experiences in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Examples of these include the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SCID-II), or the Diagnostic Interview for Personality Disorders (DIPD). It is important for patients to know that the gold standard way to diagnose BPD includes these structured interviews and that they are much more reliable than the clinician simply asking questions that occur to him/her or using informal impressions to make a diagnosis.
BPD is not a life sentence
One of the most harmful misconceptions about BPD is that it is a life sentence—that people with BPD will struggle with the disorder for their entire lives, and that little can be done about it. The term “personality disorder” does not help the situation, as it implies that there is something fundamentally flawed with an individual’s personality, or who they are as a person.

In fact, there are many reasons for hope. First and foremost, studies have found that rates of recovery from BPD are much higher than previously thought. In one of the longest studies on BPD, Dr. Mary Zanarini and colleagues found that, over 10 years following hospitalization:
86% of people with BPD stopped meeting criteria for BPD for at least four years
50% of people recovered completely (as shown by no longer meeting BPD criteria and having good social and work functioning)
Many of these people were receiving some kind of treatment, but some were not. Although many people with BPD clearly struggle for a long time, BPD is not a hopeless diagnosis, and many people recover.
A second reason for hope is that treatment works. The most extensively researched treatment for BPD is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington in Seattle. DBT involves the following:
Weekly individual therapy sessions aimed at helping clients reach their goals, reduce self-destructive behaviours and move forward on a path toward a more fulfilling life
A weekly training group that teaches skills in the areas of mindfulness (paying attention to the present), emotion regulation (understanding and managing emotions), interpersonal effectiveness (dealing with relationships and acting assertively), and distress tolerance (surviving crises, and accepting yourself for who you are)
Availability of the therapist by phone, e-mail, or other means in between sessions when help is needed.
Several rigorous clinical trials have shown that DBT works.
Aside from DBT, other promising psychological treatments have emerged in recent years, further showing that there is hope for recovery from BPD: mentalization-based therapy (MBT), schema-focused therapy (SFT) and transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP).
Medication also can be helpful for people with BPD (especially mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotic medications, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs). Experts caution, however, that treatment by medication alone, without any psychological treatment or therapy, is not advisable.
The bottom line is that BPD is not a life sentence: Many people recover and sustain their recovery, and effective treatments exist.
One major challenge: finding effective treatment. Despite these reasons for hope, one major challenge facing BPD sufferers and their loved ones is that effective treatments are often hard to find and access. DBT has been around since the early 1990s, and yet, waiting times to access treatment are horrendous.

Progress is happening, but many people with BPD still suffer and cannot find adequate help. I am hoping that this blog post will highlight some of the existing resources for people with BPD and get the word out that people with BPD need more available, accessible services. That first and formost, BPD sufferers are people!
Another major challenge: the problem of stigma
Another major problem to solve is that of stigma. People with BPD often suffer from stigma from the community at large, people in their social networks or professional settings, and even from the treatment providers who are supposed to be helping them.

People jump to many conclusions about people with BPD, assuming that they are difficult to deal with, angry, clingy, out of control, likely to be violent, untreatable, down-and-out and/or unable to hold a job. Most of these assumptions are simply incorrect. Some of the people with BPD that I’ve known are among the most courageous, passionate, interesting and compassionate people I have met. If we are blinded by our stereotypes and assumptions about people with BPD (or any other mental illness), we might not even notice the many strengths and positive assets they have to build upon.
People with BPD are among the most intensely suffering groups in the mental health community. They need compassion, understanding and help. Therefore, I urge readers to put aside biases and assumptions about those with BPD, figure out how you can help, listen and react to people with BPD with an open mind, and reach out to do what you can.

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There are times…

There are times when I really do hate the human race. We (as a people) have never grasped that if we just back up off the planet a little bit then it might just repair itself. But no.

What happens instead is that the vast majority of people just plough on ahead with their selfish little lives and expect Mother Nature not to get really pissed off with us for treating this incredible gift she has given us with such cavalier disregard. The people that I’m ranting about expect to be able to carry on with their disrespectful lifestyle and for the planet to still be here ad infinitum.

Well guess what assholes? It doesn’t work that way. So open up your ears and listen. I’ve been so horrified by the cavalier and totally fucked up attitude that I’ve come across during my environmental campaigning. I’ve heard people arguing that we don’t need trees and we can just mow them down for profit and concrete over their remains and build. Erm, no. Living trees remove carbon from the atmosphere, dead ones don’t. As humans continue to increase the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere every day. It makes sense to change our rituals to promote tree growth. Some make the argument that the current destructive rituals promote tree farming, this is the case. However, for a tree to have a long term effect on carbon removal it must live a full and long life. Trees must be left alone! I saw an image the other day that was so powerful, it really doesn’t need any words.

Man breathing from the last tree on earth: one picture, 1000 words.


Now look at that long and hard. There’s every chance that this could come to pass.

Then there are ridiculous health and safety cockwombles who claim that trees must be cut down for children’s safety. This article from last year following an incident in Canada discusses this.

Calm down dear, it’s only a tree!

I’ve been called a ridiculous tree hugger. That’s absolutely fine. I’d rather be a card carrying tree hugger than a naive idiot. Not only do we have to contend with the environmental damage that the illegal logging company does, but we have to protect the animals who need those trees to survive.

When will we wake up and see? When will we learn?

I Stand With Maya — and With the Family Seeking Justice for Her

Justice for Maya!!!

mom2nomads

Maya, a tiny slip of a dog, and a family who loves her may just be the ones finally able to shed light into the darkness of PETA. Just over a year ago Maya was stolen off her porch and killed. Not by dog fighters or a person who enjoys harming animals, or any other of the usual suspects, but by the largest animal rights group in the world — PETA. And now Maya’s family is suing PETA, and the two women who stole and killed Maya, for upwards of $9.7 million dollars.

Even as much as I know about Maya and what happened to her I learned new things from reading the suit, which you can read here.

  • On the same day PETA stole and killed Maya, who belonged to the Zarate family, they also appear to have stolen and killed a dog who belonged to…

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PETA Can Shove Its Fruit Basket Up Its Walk-In Dead Pet Freezer

A very well written take on the farcical efforts of PETA to get out of being punished for murdering Maya the chihuahua.

YesBiscuit!


When PETA got caught on surveillance camera trying – and failing – to lure an owned Chihuahua named Maya off her porch last year, ultimately stealing and killing the beloved pet, the group sent the cranks back to the scene of the crime.  They knocked on the door, told the family they had killed their dog and gave them a fruit basket.

As it turns out, the heartbroken owners didn’t feel PETA’s basket of crazy was fair compensation for killing a member of their family.  Wilber Zarate and his daughter Cynthia are now suing PETA and the two screwballs, seeking more than $9 million:

Cynthia was distraught after Maya was killed, Zarate said of his daughter in the lawsuit.

“She cried for weeks, became lethargic, lost sleep, refrained from eating and lost weight,” he said. “Maya was irreplaceable.”

Apparently a fruit basket did not make it all better.  So weird.

Before anyone…

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What it’s like being me…

I’ve lain awake for most of the night. Every time that I nodded off, I would move in my sleep and the pain would flare again, searing through me and igniting every single receptor in my body as it journeyed through.

I’ve been asked before what the pain feels like. It fucking hurts, that’s what it feels like!

I’m being unfair. The pain changes and shifts. It mutates as it travels through my body. It can feel different in the same part of my body after five minutes. It ups and downs. It travels to different areas of my body at a moments notice. Right now it is in my hips and shooting all the way down my thighs and into my calves. It is in my back. It is in my arms and my shoulders. I’ve even got nerve pain in my face. I think my hair is probably the only part of me that doesn’t hurt right now. It sucks donkey balls. Yet you can guarantee in ten minutes time, the nature of the pain will morph and it will change where it wants to be again. As always.

This insidious pain rules my life. It has made me dependant on medication to function on the sub-normal level that I function at. It takes over. Hyperalgesia has taken up residence and it does not seem to want to leave. Allodynia has made things really difficult. The slightest touch from anything hurts way more than it should. Hyperasthesia and parasthesia have also taken up residence with me. I hate wearing clothes. They hurt. I’m not ashamed to admit that when I don’t have to go out, I spend my time naked. Anything that makes things hurt a little less.

I’m exhausted. That feeling never goes away. My head is constantly fuzzy and I have to fight through the mental cotton wool to achieve any kind of clarity. Some days, that fog is stronger than I am and I struggle to make even basic sense of things. I feel as if a headache is lurking around the corner constantly and it will spring on me at a moment’s notice.

I am rocking a bloated Buddha look at the moment, thanks to my IBS. That makes me play poo roulette. Spin the wheel… is today going to be the day I get to go?

As I’m writing this, my legs are twitching and moving. This drives me crazy. Restless leg syndrome is a pain in the ass.

I bruise so easily. The slightest knock and I end up with a livid purple blob that takes ages to bugger off!

My joints are so freakin’ bendy, I feel like a stretchy doll at times. Yet as bendy as they are, there are certain joints (mainly fingers, knees and shoulders) that will pop out of place. Oh boy, what fun. My skin is dry and stretchy too. I swear I keep Lush in business the amount of body moisturiser I use!

Lest we forget, there is also my POTs. That is a special joy all of its own, as anyone who has it will tell you. Damn, I could go on for ages about the problems I have and how they make me feel. 

This is just the physical issues. My mental health? Now that’s a whole other blog post…

Having healing hands…

Whether you believe in healing hands or not is totally irrelevant here. I do believe in healing. I am a proud, card carrying Pagan. I have a very spiritual outlook and have always had the desire to heal in my blood. Ever since I was a little girl and I would put bandages on my teddies and put my poor mum through hours of being my “patient”, I knew that this was more than just a game for me. It was what I was. Then my mum became ill for real. My ‘father’ was too busy screwing his whore. He had no thought for us at all. I was left to nurse my dying mum with no help or support at the age of 15. It was a hellish time of my life. Yet despite that, I felt proud to nurse her. I did not want anyone else to do it. It felt like my duty. Then she became worse, and was taken into hospital, where she died three days later. I was broken. What kept me from going under was knowing that I had given her love and care to the best of my ability. She deserved to be honoured as her life drew towards its close.

This was when I knew that I was going to be a nurse. Healing was in my blood already, but my decision on nursing came about as my mum was dying. The support that I was given by the staff looking after my mum was just appalling. I was never  noticed. Hell, my mum wasn’t noticed and she was supposed to be their patient! My mum’s death was not a pleasant one. She died in agony and not knowing who I was. The morphine claimed her mind, but not her pain. Once my mum had died, I was basically ignored by the staff on the ward. One even went as far as to say, “Oh, are you still here?” I was devastated. I felt that if I could prevent even just one person from having a lousy experience like that then I had to do it. Hence the motivation to become a nurse. The fire in my belly was lit.

Yet as I went through my nurse training, I began to notice certain things. When I gave injections, I would be told that I was the only person who didn’t hurt them. When I held a patient’s hand when they were distressed, they would calm within seconds. When I spoke to irate relatives, they would calm quickly. This all made me feel that I was doing my job to the absolute best of my ability. All these things made me feel like I had been right to trust my instincts. I was a healer. I had chosen the right path.

I decided that I was going to persue other aspects of healing besides my nursing. I undertook a massage diploma and also a reiki course. I would channel reiki whilst massaging and without fail my clients would fall asleep every time and wake feeling so much better. I enjoyed the complementary side of healing more than I enjoyed nursing. I started to think about opening my own clinic offering holistic complementary healing. I just knew I was born for it.

Then something happened to stop me in my tracks. My illnesses. By February of 2009 I was not able to walk more than ten paces. My dreams were crushed.

Yet I found something out. I may not be able to stand up and deliver massages, but I could still put my hands on people  and I could still send distance healing. So why the hell shouldn’t I make use of what I have to help others?

I know that I and others like me have done good things with our gifts. Yet we are mocked and laughed at and disrespected. It’s funny how the Christians forget that they evangelise over the laying on of hands (hypocrisy much?) Surely it shouldn’t be all about making people feel guilty for their spiritual pathway? It should be about what is in our hearts and our ability to make another human being feel better. It should be about wanting to help others and not a sense of making one’s self feel better by mocking others. If one has the gift of being able to heal, then one should be able to do that without the fear of being mocked or belittled. Healing is healing after all. It should be respected and not not mocked. Namaste.

  

Trans Day of Remembrance: even one death is too many

This post perfectly illustrates the anger and disgust I feel about not only Vicky Thompson’s death, but the death of every trans person.

Another angry woman

Content warning: this post discusses transmisogyny, suicide, murder and prison

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, and this year we are remembering 271 trans people who were murdered. Read the list of their names.

Of the victims, the overwhelming majority were trans women of colour. They were killed in brutal, vicious ways: stabbings, stonings, beheadings. We live in a violent world, and trans women of colour are more at risk of visceral violences than many others.

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn them, and each year we hope that the list will be shorter in the future.

The list only counts those who were directly murdered by the hand of another. This means that many other deaths are not counted: trans people are at a high risk of suicide, as well as HIV, addiction, and many other factors which cause one to die young, far far too young. It…

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Positivity for today…

It is sometimes hard, when writing a post like this, to focus on the positive. I’ve been awake for most of the night with pain. I’m sore and I’m tired. But that is all. I can think of so many people, all over the globe, who would look at me complaining and say, “Bitch please! You don’t know how lucky you are!” That is what snaps me back to the now and makes it so easy to be positive. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. We must hug those we love. We must treat the planet with respect. We must aim for peace.