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How DBT Changed My Life With Borderline Personality Disorder

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) has changed a lot for me in the last year. I got into an inpatient dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program and I stayed in the program for ten months. It changed almost everything.

A year ago, I was in more emotional and psychological pain than I can explain in words. I was constantly self-destructing. For a long time, almost all of my teen years, we weren’t sure I would survive, or if I’d ever have a good quality of life. Now my family says I’m “Kayla 2.0.” Because I’m so different.

DBT taught me how to take each moment as it comes and how to control my thoughts instead of having them control me. I used to be ruled by obsessive, intrusive thoughts so badly it was as though they were personas that took over at different times. I still have intrusive thoughts, but I’ve learned thoughts aren’t facts, they only have the power we give them. I control my thoughts. And I’ll tell you now, that wasn’t a fast or easy thing to learn. It took time and practice, but it was more than worth the effort it took.

I used to push away people I loved or overwhelm them with how needy I was. Now, I still get obsessive about people in my life, terrified they’ll abandon me. But I’ve learned how to check the facts on those thoughts and walk myself back to reality and reasoning. Again, not easy or fast to achieve, but definitely worth it. I’m able to have relationships and maintain healthy boundaries.

I’ve learned I have worth. I may never be as pretty as I want to be or as smart as I want to be, but I am a good person. I am a person who cares more than it seems humanly possible to care and I will loyally stand by your side through anything, if you want me there. I am a person who loves and cares and wants to be a better person. That realization took a lot of therapy, self-reflection and loving-kindness practices, but when I go to bed at night, I no longer think I’m a “monster.”

That’s the difference DBT makes. Well, DBT and a lot of hard work! I had to put in the work. I used to lash out at my family, over really small things because I’d let my anger build up and I’d just push it down instead of dealing with it. DBT taught me how to feel my emotions in a healthy way, how to feel an emotion without giving it power to take over. I learned emotions have a purpose and we can learn a lot from them.

I also learned how to curb my self-harm tendencies with DBT. I learned how to deal with what causes the urge, instead of just immediately acting on the urge. And now, I’m almost eight months clean — and hopefully on track to be free from self-harm for much longer.

I can tell you the wonders of DBT all day, but I also have to tell you it isn’t a magic cure. I’ve seen this change people’s lives, but I’ve also seen people walk away from it, still struggling like they were at the beginning. Because DBT isn’t a magic wand, it’s nothing that can be done to you, it’s something that you have to put the work into. You have to make the decisions to change and leave your old life behind. Or else you’ll stay where you are. So, if you’re able to learn DBT, I highly suggest it! Be ready to work your butt off because it will change your life … if you let it.

Getty image by Alexandr Muşuc

Originally published: December 3, 2019
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