Is it possible to treat BPD differently?

I’ve often wondered if it is possible to self-treat BPD, perhaps with the help of a good book or some initial counseling from a therapist.

As a whole, BPD treatment isn’t cheap. I’ve been involuntarily committed to pysch wards twice, saw a therapist every week for two and half years (now just once yearly for meds), and still take medication every day. Those pharmacy copays add up to a ton of cash, making BPD a rather profitable “industry” (used loosely) for those that resell anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and mood stabilizers. What if I was less fortunate or out of work? How on earth would I pay for treatment? I’m 32 now and can’t get a rider on my parents’ insurance policy. Therefore, I’m solely responsible for my own treatment. Could I rely on self treatment for BPD if times get tough financially?

I was killing time the other day on, watching some life coaching gurus, specifically Tony Robbins. There’s no doubt that he’s effective for some people, and much of his material is available free thanks to the internet if you know where to look. Is Tony Robbins, however, up to the challenge of treating someone with BPD, or is he better suited to “normal” people experiencing a rough patch in their life? Could I really watch enough Tony Robbins on Youtube to tame my BPD, effectively reducing – or eliminating completely – my need for occasional therapy and constant meds? Somehow I’m not sure Tony Robbins could coach me out of BPD, unless I was actually working with him one on one for months, which would cost an extraordinary amount of money.

What about alternative religions? This weekend I watched a show called “30 Days” that was on FX (USA) at 2 AM in the morning. The show profiles people who set aside a month of their life to live in new environments that are sometimes the polar opposite of their own. The show I watched followed a guy who wanted to live on a Navajo reservation for a month, to get better idea of how Native Americans live. Along the way, he was introduced to several Navajo religious customs and ceremonies. He ultimately concluded that [paraphrased] “the Navajo are definitely in tune to something else…more deeply rooted in the Earth”. This is probably true, but could a sweat lodge ceremony involving vomiting and immense loss of water from the body really purge the BPD demons inside me?

What about living as a Buddhist priest? Sometimes I think part of my BPD is due to American society, it’s rapid pace, social pressures, and expectations. Maybe holing up in a monastery somewhere in parts unknown and meditating every day might cure my BPD, putting me in touch with my inner self? Would a life composed of constant prayer, manual labor, and introspection do the trick? Could I really live without the help of Effexor, Welbutrin, Zyprexa, and Clonezpam? Being off any one of these medications for more than 3 days is extremely uncomfortable, let alone going cold turkey from all of them at once.

To be clear, I’m not trying be to snide about different lifestyles, or cynical about religions that are very holistic and productive for both the individuals involved and society at large. When was the last time a Buddhist priest made a shady deal on Wall Street, or a Navajo medicine man over-medicated his patients in order to get a kickback from a big pharmaceutical company? In reality this has probably NEVER happened, and that’s why these religions, in many ways, are the most purest forms of living a productive, healthy, and psychologically sound earthly existence.

I do think, though, that the line gets drawn at mental illness. I’m more than just “bummed out” over a girl breaking up with me; “down in the dumps” because life has taken a difficult turn; or “has a hot temper” when things don’t go as planned. My mind – as far as I can tell – doesn’t always operate correctly, meaning there might be something chemically wrong with my brain, in addition to environmental factors (upbringing, family, etc.) that are conducive to creating BPD.

There’s a reason Psychiatrists go to medical school for years and must obtain terminal degrees as both a medical doctor and psychologist: treating mental illness is NOT for mainstream religion or self-help gurus. BPD takes a certain measure of skill to treat. In many cases, psychiatrists fresh out of residency won’t treat people with BPD, simply because BPD patients are known to be cantankerous, manipulative, and difficult. The fact that some psychiatrists refuse to treat BPD patients surely means that self help, alternative religions, or other radical life changes would not “cut the mustard” when it comes to being efficacious against the evil nature of BPD and its comorbid conditions. Even Dr. Marsha Linehan’s DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) strikes out against the worst cases of BPD.

Conclusion: if there’s a panacea for BPD, we’re still waiting for it. Until then, take all steps necessary to get better, even if it means going to therapy AND taking psychotropic medications. So far, these measures are the best weapons we have against a formidable enemy like BPD.

9 Replies to “Is it possible to treat BPD differently?”

  1. have you considered applying for ssdi? BPD has made me unemployable and i applied at age 52 and was approved on the first try.

  2. I think that change must come from within. I know that sounds like an cop-out, Hallmark response, but after all I’ve dealt with in regards to BPD, I find that there really isn’t much help for us out there. You find someone who is completely loving and understanding, and fear of engulfment sets in. You find someone who doesn’t understand, and your grasping for approval. God forbid you find someone who reminds you of your mother (or whoever hurt you growing up)…then anger sets in. Therapists can guide us, but ultimately those with BPD have to find awareness and strength within themselves. Unfortunately, the disorder itself makes that incredibly difficult…and the fact that the vast majority of the population is ignorant to BPD only perpetuates our problems as we face judgment and rejection at every turn.

    I figure that the main reason I, personally, have BPD is because my mother abused me (she has BPD, too). Her emotional abuse has permeated into me, and the hate surfaces in every action and thought. One of my treatments for myself is reminding myself of the things I “know”, and hopefully after repeating it over and over and over, time and time again, it’ll slowly replace the years of disgust my mother embedded in me.

    Recovery from BPD is a long, slow, and painful road. I just try not to think about it, because then hopelessness takes me over.

    Thanks for blogging, it’s nice to read someone competent discussing BPD…

  3. I too have been diagnosed with BPD. I am currently receiving no treatment of any kind for it and it’s a hard slog day in and day out. I am really not sure if I could afford the expenditure (both financial and time) of treatment at this point, even though there are times when I need help very badly.

    I think, perhaps, exploring alternative religions could be used in conjunction with modern therapies, not in place of them. (Isn’t Mindfulness a very Eastern (Zen, perhaps?) philosophy?)

  4. BTB, I just have to say how thrilled I am to see a Borderline blog! In the few months, I’ve been hunting for one through all the supposed Mental Health community pages out there, but BPD is typically overlooked or “undercontributed” to.

    Thank you!

  5. I wouldn’t discount self help books without trying them first. I’m one of those unemployed, uninsured people who can’t afford therapy, much less medication. But I knew that if I didn’t do something, my BPD would just keep getting worse. So I ordered 2 BPD self-help books. That was two years ago and since I started with those books, my life has gotten so much better. I know it’s way slower than regular therapy, but it’s working. I haven’t self harmed, attempted suicide or flew into a rage at all in the last 2 years.
    If I had a choice, I would definitely choose therapy. But for those who don’t have that option, self help is better than nothing.

  6. I enjoy your honesty and humor. I have flirted with some of the same thoughts especially with youtube. Rhoda Hahn describes various mental illnesses including BPD. I wonder how I’m going to survive this.

  7. My Answer: I doubt someone as loving as him would put that kind of label on you.

    Watch all of David Wolfes videos reads his 5-6 books he was an Anthony Robins student as a child, please be careful, buy a Nutrabullet and some superfoods.

    Explore the Baha’i Faith or as I prefer to put it ‘the independent investigation of truth’ develop an anti-suicidal personality. Cross at the crosswalk 😉 g/l

  8. I was diagnosed with BPD two years ago at the age of 53 I’ve search for years going to counseling taking different medication looking for a diagnosis you have to know what’s wrong before you can work on it. The past two years I’ve been in therapy especially designed for BPD it hasn’t helped much. I have work books and books it is an extremely slow process especially when you didn’t know what was wrong for so many years it’s deeply in bedded in your personality. Though I’m aware that being mindful is a big part of making changes I have managed to regulate my emotions some. I can describe my symptoms and struggles to someone and I can explain how to correct it but sadly implementing it is much more difficult. Recently my daughter pointed out that I am manipulative I create things twist stories throw tantrums so I feel like there’s no progress it’s extremely hard. Having BPD makes life so much harder than it needs to be.

  9. Im ay a Tony robinns event and I have BPd . I would say that applying what he says would be the first step. Example: if he says that to change states you have to move , change your language and focus and you do it , you change the state .

    I know this because before tje excersise I had an argument with my partner where normally I would be crying snd self sabotaging but in that moment we did the excersice snd the state changed therefore the actions too

    Im not saying my life is solved . Obviously this is a muscle to be trained but all I’m saying the more you use the skills the better

    For BPd the dialectic behavioral therapy is tje solution. And is created by someone with BPd . A lot of people get better with that . But It’s basically tje same things but more detailed oriented for BPd .

    I’ll recommend going to his events !

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