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What Helps Me Get Through a 'Borderline Crisis'

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OK, so I’m borderline. What that means is I have a psychological disorder called borderline personality disorder (BPD).

I’m not going to delve into what that feels like or what the typical symptoms are. There are some pretty cool posts online that can tell you more about that. Instead, I’m here to talk about borderline crises.

So, I’m currently in what someone with BPD would describe as a borderline crisis. It’s an extreme feeling where everything seems out of control and you simply don’t know what to do, even though you know you want to and have to get out of the rut.

And yesterday, when I was feeling my worst, I wanted to find some ideas on what to do when in a borderline crisis — but I simply couldn’t find anything that spoke to me… which prompted me to list out things that really helped me out (yesterday and in the past):

The main thing is trying to control those desperate, exaggerated thoughts and emotions. And the best way, I’ve found, is to distract. Do anything that takes your mind off those thoughts. It might help to have a goal. For example, take your laptop and start typing. Type what you feel until three pages are filled. Then go back and re-read it and correct it. Or watch a hilarious comedy you love. I personally can always go for “Friends” or “That 70’s Show.” It’ll take your mind off of your feelings and give time for your emotions to get back to “normal” levels.

The other thing you can do is connect. Connect with anyone. Have a friend ? Call her. If she’s busy or doesn’t answer, try the next one. It’s not directed at you, but you need to find a person to help take your mind off things. Don’t think about whether they would want to listen to you (they most likely would, but it’s your negativity that’s making you think otherwise). Try and make a plan. You’ll feel good knowing you have somewhere to go. Don’t have a person you can call? Go to the next point:

Use your senses.

SEE. Anything calming. A candle flame. The ocean. The people passing by. The horizon.

HEAR. Something that invigorates you. Loud music. Soft music. The sound of rain. The buzz in the coffee shop. Birds chirping.

TASTE. Something sour. Something sweet. Something tangy. Your favorite candy that comforts you. 

SMELL. The soil in your freshly watered plant pot. Your favorite perfume. Your favorite food. A scented candle you love.

FEEL. Hug your pet. Or a friend. Or even yourself. Take a shower. Just get under the water and keep it running. Cry your heart out and hear/taste/feel yourself as you do it. Better still, play some music and dance. Get into it.

To expand on that last point above, when you get out of the shower, change into your outside clothes and get outside. It’s fine if you’re crying while you walk. Go to the coffee shop in your neighborhood, grab a tea or hot chocolate, grab a seat and watch people around you. Make up stories about what they’re doing, who they’re with. The point is to think of other things besides what is currently making you swing on the BPD spectrum.

For those who can’t feel themselves or their emotions (a very real BPD phenomenon), and are thinking of self-hurting, get an ice cube, and hold it against your skin until it feels really cold. If it melts, get another one, an another and another. Dip your feet in ice cold or warm water. Keep at it until you’re no longer feeling as bad as you did before.

If you live near a dog-park or any park for that matter, go there, grab a bench and watch the kids and dogs playing. You’ll feel your emotions calm down and your heart soar.

That’s all I could think of, but they all helped me time and again. I purposely didn’t include things like reading a book, solving a crossword, doing a puzzle, going to a place of worship; primarily because I usually find they don’t take my mind off my emotions and thoughts fast enough. But if it works for you, give it a shot. You know yourself and your coping mechanisms best.

Finally, things not to do. I repeat, not to do.

  • DO NOT drink alcohol
  • DO NOT go for a drive, unless you can think clearly.
  • DO NOT call someone from the past you had a bad relationship with.
  • DO NOT make any major decisions — buying a ticket to go on  a holiday, accepting or rejecting any offer (job, house, divorce), breaking-up, etc.

If anything, simply running through the list above should help you find something that strikes a chord. You can adjust so it resonates with you.

If you’re reading this looking to feel better, I really, really hope this helps you find your sweet spot! Remember, you are loved!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Originally published: November 23, 2016
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