Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Struggles with Self Therapy

Yesterday I posted about how I use self help therapy to help with the symptoms of my BPD. It's been a very long 2 year struggle and I'm guessing I have many years of the same to look forward to. This is literally the hardest thing I've ever done. But it's also one of the most rewarding. When I started this, I was on the verge of losing everything I loved. I was miserable and crazy and in turn, I was making every one around me miserable and crazy. But now I lead a semi-normal life. I have a semi-normal marriage. And I even feel semi-normal! For someone with BPD, that's a big achievement!

But it almost didn't happen. The problem with self therapy is the fact that I'm doing this alone. I have no one to support me when I'm struggling, encourage me when I feel like giving up, or celebrate when I hit a milestone. It's just me. The hardest part was getting started. Knowing what was ahead of me made me put it off. And once I finally did start, I ended up sabotaging myself and almost quit.

Like I said before, the book I chose was The Angry Heart by Joseph Santoro. When I got it, I spent two days reading it from cover to cover. As I read through it, I kept alternating between feelings of discouragement and encouragement. I mean, I could actually see myself following the book and getting better. But one of the things it stressed was the need to drag up old childhood memories and work through my feelings about them. To be quite honest, that scared the crap out of me. So I set it aside for a couple weeks.When I picked it up again, I read that I would need a notebook with different sections to use as a journal. So in an effort to put it off a little longer, I opted to make a journal from scratch instead of buying one. Although it really was just an attempt at procrastination, today I'm glad I made it myself. I look at it as a reflection of me. It contains my whole life inside and out.

It was hard at first. I don't know if it's my OCPD or the BPD, but one of them makes me a stickler for rules. I tried to do everything the book said word for word, but I kept worrying that I wasn't doing it right. Was I going too fast? Too slow? Was I doing the exercises correctly? How was I supposed to know when I was ready to move on? There were things I wanted to write in my journal, things in my early adult life that I thought were important, but each section was for specific thoughts or exercises and there wasn't a section for what I wanted to write. So I held it in. Plus I was scared that my husband would read it, so I refused to write the truly awful memories of my childhood (I did this for him. He has a good relationship with my family and I was afraid that would change if he knew the worst of it). I was making improvements, but they were tiny because my fear was holding me back. Then one day I decided there was no point in even trying if I couldn't give it my full effort. I knew I had to either do something to make it work or I had to quit. So I made it work.

I got a lock box to keep my journal private. I really don't think John would have read it, but I had to be sure.
I decided since it was my therapy, I would make the rules. On the front page of my journal I wrote:

"This is my journal. This is my story. I can write whatever I want in it. I'm not going to get into trouble. Nobody will be mad. I will take my time and work at my own pace. I will trust in myself to know when to move on. I can and will do whatever it takes to make myself better"

It may seem silly, but it worked. To me, writing that in my journal made it feel like a rule. It was a rule that gave me permission to do what I needed to do in order to keep going forward. And it was a lot easier once I stopped struggling against myself..

Although I'm proud of how far I've come, I still wish I could attend regular therapy. I wish I could go to group therapy and see with my own eyes that I'm not alone in this struggle. I wish I could go to one on one therapy and be able to open up to someone that could help me. I wish I could get some sort of medication to help regulate the ups and downs. For now that's not possible. But that might change when I move back home. Oh, I wish, I wish!


  1. Why can't you move back home?
    I got a heck of a lot out of group therapy, and wish I could find a group again.
    You're doing some tough work and I think it's great you are making the rules rather than totally following someone else.

  2. Actually, I'll be moving back home to take care of my Dad in 3 months. I got so excited thinking that I might actually be able to get the right help, but then I did some research this morning and found out there's no DBT anywhere near there. I did find one guy who does CBT so I guess that'll have to be good enough.
    I wish it were easier to find help for BPD. I don't understand why there's ample help available for every other mental illness except this one.

  3. RYC: (re-your comment)Blessedly, the doctor didn't brush off my concern and on the 29th we'll be talking about it along with his eval for getting therapy. Thank goodness! She says he may be ADHD. FINALLY someone didn't blow me off!