News & views Members blogs BPD blog My head was doing summersaults and I found that not being able to express my feelings frustrated me. In my anger I threw an empty box of medication across the room. I could feel my anger rising and I felt frightened as I didn’t know what was coming, how I might respond or even where I might end up because of trying to manage my emotions. My younger self was on the rampage and I was frightened. I thought very hard about what I could do instead of being self-destructive. I battled with my mind to think of a healthy way to cope and wrestled with my emotions to win control. The battle of rationality against impulsivity was on and I was trapped whilst this all played out within me. Whilst I fought the good fight my anger continued to bubble up and I felt like I was about to explode like a volcano. Then something happened that I never expected but it somehow bought peace to the battle within me and reduced my anger to a simmer. Without thinking about it, I placed the second finger of my right hand into my mouth and started to suck frantically. ‘What on earth is going on’, I thought. Here I am, a thirty-year-old woman sucking my finger and gaining comfort from it. I sucked my finger a lot when I was a child, usually for comfort or when I was going to sleep. Calm washed over me, but I could not make sense of why. Had I just stumbled on a coping strategy? All I knew in that moment was that whilst I was sucking my finger, my younger self sat quietly. I pushed my luck and for a second, I took my finger from my mouth. In an instant, I felt my anger rise. I wasted no time at all and popped my finger back in. I didn’t want to give my younger self anything to kick off about. I sat for at least an hour sucking intently and thinking hard about what the hell was happening to me. I am sure that many of you can identify with the inner battle that comes with having to manage the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. The above was written during a crisis over eight years ago and I am pleased to tell you that life improved dramatically following this episode. I was diagnosed with BPD in my early 20’s (I am now 39). On hearing that I had BPD, like many who receive this label, I believed it to be a life sentence; that I would always suffer with intense, fluctuating emotions; that I would never be able to hold down a job and maintain healthy relationship. I spent over 8 years receiving support from the local mental health services, including a range of therapies, psychiatric intervention and in-patient care. I am aware that these treatments are harder to come by these days due to the cuts. Life was always an uphill struggle with having to manage unhealthy attachments to my care givers and thoughts that would challenge me to take risks that would endanger my life. Like many who have learnt the mental health system like the back of their hand and seen the inside of ambulances more times then I care to remember, I find myself in a very different place today. I have learnt that BPD doesn’t have to be a life sentence and it really is possible to live a life where you are pleased to wake up in the mornings instead of being hit by anxiety and dread the minute you open your eyes. If you suffer with BPD, you will be familiar with hearing how terrible the disorder is, how destructive and damaging it is to relationships and to a healthy functioning life. But what about the good news? The good news tells us that it really is possible to move away from the symptoms of the disorder and gain a life that is unaffected by self-destructive behaviours. It is possible to get to a place where self-loathing becomes a thing of the past and paranoia no longer sits waiting to ruin your day. Along with many others out there who have been diagnosed with BPD and now live happy functioning lives, I too am proof that BPD does not have to be the be all and end all. At the beginning of this year, I qualified as a talking therapist which complements my role as a self-employed Peer Support Worker. The blood, sweat and tears shed over the years in my darkest moments were not wasted as I am now providing professionals with the training they need to work effectively with those they meet with BPD. If you find yourself in a place where you feel like you can’t take any more and BPD has you in a tight grip, I want you to know that there really is life beyond this disorder and that it is possible to pull through to a place where there is hope for the future. You may have not had the chance to study, go to uni or you may have had to drop out of reaching your goals due to the BPD but remember that your experiences are invaluable and can be used to effectively reach others who maybe experiencing similar to yourself. Your experiences are never wasted!!! Surviving a disorder like BPD is truly admirable, I believe and am proof that you can do more than survive: you can thrive!!!