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  • Writer's picturefollowingflamingos

Thank you, next.

I have just finished 100 weeks of quite grueling therapy. Get me. What next, did you say?

My course was called DBT which is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and I was referred to it as I have been diagnosed finally with EUPD. The beautifully titled Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It used to be known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) , but EUPD is now preferred as it can help us avoid the stigma associated with BPD.

The stigma appears most often from mental health professionals sadly. I am lucky that my only experience of this has been when my GP told me I had 'achieved too much' to fit the diagnosis; despite ticking a few of the boxes I did not qualify for further support. I have heard from other people with BPD diagnosis that they have been dismissed, ignored and in some cases refused treatment because of these three letters on their medical record and the assumption that as they have BPD they are overreacting, difficult or manipulative in some way..

The view used to be that people with personality disorders would never 'get better'. Thankfully effort has been put in to understand the nuances of personality development. I am no expert here, but it is worth noting that most symptom criteria of mental illness are man-made labels. Many of us have multiple acronyms as a result (I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder too). The difficulties of the medical system is that only when you are considered to fulfill enough of the man-made criteria for a particular disorder or illness, and only if you are deemed 'ill enough' are you referred to the right treatment.

I recently read a quote that I paraphrase here, as it stuck with me- life should not be purely about survival unless you live under the threat to your life, your mortality. Then it makes sense - being hyper-aware to threat, ready to fight, flight or freeze in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.

For many of us in the UK , those who live in a safe home - life needs to be more than survival. Survival mode as your baseline is not helpful, no wonder it leads to overwhelming anxiety and depression. Living with our internal alarm systems continually dictating our thoughts, emotions and behaviour is no way to live.

Some of us grew up with the combination of neurobiology and experiencing an invalidating environment that has left us:

1) struggling with everyday life as we experience emotions intensely and have difficulty regulating them, survival mode as a baseline

2) unaware that not everyone else lives in survival mode and that comparing with others only adds to self-stigma and shame

3) without enough psycho-education to identify that it's possible to feel 'better' - there is help out there to do more than cope.

My version and benchmark of me able able to do more than cope is being able to do something to help others, to be able to use what I have learned from dealing with EUPD and whatever other acronyms fit. And to transform this into something I can leave behind ultimately as a resource for others.

For me DBT was the best treatment for me at this stage in my life. It is aimed to help me develop skills to cope, and do more than cope. They call it dialectic as it shows how we can both accept ourselves as we are now AND that we want to change. Two things that seem mutually exclusive, like acceptance and change, can both be true and there is benefit considering both.

We use mindfulness to access our 'Wise Mind' which can help us negotiate our lives, dealing with challenges and difficulties and work towards our goals. It really is a journey requiring a lot of work on myself and I am in the process of rebuilding my life. More on Wise Mind and how I use the DBT skills to do more than cope another time.

Now I need to spend some time revisiting the DBT skills on my own and continue to improve my understanding of how best I can help myself so I can be there for my loved ones and myself too.

It is a little weird not having the weekly sounding board of the group, from whom I learned so much. Ultimately I found out I was not alone with how I was feeling, despite how personal my crisis felt. And that hearing from others who were also struggling but willing and ready to learn to do more than cope was an essential element of why DBT has been so life-changing.

Resources are majorly stretched but help is out there. I have included a link to some crisis services and helplines should you need them.

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