I firmly believe that it was therapy that helped me “recover” from BPD, not medication. Without 4 years of one-on-one with a psychologist (covering everything from CBT to Schema-Focussed Therapy, via Perfectionism), 2 years of DBT (dialectic behaviour therapy) and a year of Behavioural Activation I can, hand-on-heart, say that I probably wouldn’t be alive.
I wouldn’t have hope but, more importantly, I wouldn’t understand and accept myself the way I do today. Understanding how I think and why I behave the way I do is key in my day-to-day life.
And it’s not just those of us with BPD who benefit from therapy. I was talking to a good friend of mine this week about his recovery through AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). He agreed that learning about himself was (and still is) the best thing he could have done. It’s difficult for a non-alcoholic to understand (just as BPD is difficult for a non-borderline to understand) but the gist of it is: DO something to fix yourself; exactly what I believe.
What was more interesting was what he told me about Al-Anon, a group set up for friends/family of alcoholics. It sounds like a support group, where you compare stories, but it’s not. It’s a 12-step therapy programme because, in order to have put up with someone being an alcoholic, you can’t be right in the head either. Sounds harsh, but is absolutely true. Some people don’t like the thought of getting therapy for what they perceive to be someone else’s problem, but think about it…
Support groups, where you sit around discussing how bad you feel about something, don’t work particularly well if you actually want to get better and get on with life. Same with counselling (in my opinion). In that sort of set-up, where you’re simply talking about your behaviours but not working out why you behave that way or how to stop it, you’re only making yourself feel more of a victim. Sure, we’re victims of our own minds and their screwed up physiology, but that doesn’t mean we should be happy to feel victimised.
I can only speak from my own experiences, but it’s my belief that people who speak to a counsellor about their problems end up feeling more of a victim than before. Their feelings are, in a way, being validated, but little work is done to fix the root cause of the problem. Perhaps talking makes some people see a way out of the situation but I, personally, have never found that to work. I attended a support group (actually, 2 of them), but the emphasis was on the illness and how bad it made you feel; it wasn’t pro-active enough for me. It made me feel worse, not better.
If it works for you, that’s great. But I heartily recommend giving some sort of structured therapy a shot. If you learn about your condition and how it affects your thoughts and behaviours, I can guarantee you’ll start to feel better about life and, more importantly, yourself.