Surviving – continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.
This will serve as a bit of a guide to surviving with BPD… it’s really about finding what works for you and sticking with it. Remember, as I said in my previous post, that you are amazing regardless or whether you’re just surviving or managing to thrive and flourish. Show yourself kindness, you are not worthless because you are struggling. Maybe you can’t leave the house or work or see people but that happens and beating yourself up about what you haven’t managed to do is not conducive to survival. Achieving goals, fulfilling your potential and all that goes with it will come later, the most vital thing is getting you through this awful day.
My emotions are changing rapidly. Within the space of half an hour, I go from feeling on top of the world to feeling as though I’m in complete darkness and no light will ever get in. All of my thoughts are geared away from survival. I don’t want to continue to exist, it’s too much. I’m pushing away everyone who cares before they decide to leave me.
There’s been plenty of times when all I have been capable of is trying to survive each day. BPD means that my emotions can be incredibly intense. If this is sadness, for example, it can feel like there will be no end to the misery. One small thing happens, a pin prick, you feel like you’re going to bleed out. How do you get through this level of pain? Well firstly, remember that it will end. This emotion does not last forever, remind yourself of this. You will survive it. Think of all the times that you have pulled through it before, you can do it again.
Talk to people about how you’re feeling and what is happening. If you’re not in a position to have therapy, if you’re not ready for therapy, this is okay but you still need to talk. To anyone that you trust, to anyone that will listen – friends, family, people on the internet. It will give you some relief and might even help you understand the thoughts a little better. If talking feels like too much, write out what is going on in your head. It might look like a mess on the page but it reflects your thoughts and it will help to get them out somewhere.
Perform simple acts of self care if you can manage. Now, I know that when your emotions are a rollercoaster or you’re feeling like nothing will help, self care seems like the last thing you want to put energy into. But, it is vital that you try and do something. Whether it’s drinking a glass of water or going for a walk – every little thing will make the world seem more bearable. It’s useful to put together a list of small self care acts that make you feel better (do this when you’re more stable) and you can use this for ideas. In the times when life is beating you down, cherish the small things you can manage. Focus on your achievements, not your perceived failings. Think about what you have done – eaten some fruit, washed your hair, went outside for 2 minutes… just do something.
Relationships with others can take a back seat in these days of fighting for survival. Let people know if you need space. It’s often better to take the space because of how difficult relationships are to manage for someone with BPD. It’s in the difficult times that we often push people away or say things that we do not necessarily mean as a defence mechanism, to fight that intense fear of abandonment. Make sure those close to you know when to expect this behaviour. Your relationship with yourself is the main focus here. Maybe you can’t manage to socialise but you will be with your own company. Don’t pressure yourself to be the best friend or partner, those who care will be understanding of this. Be kind to yourself, accept your limits. We are limited in what we can do sometimes and you need to know that this is okay. You are still loved, you are still worthy and valuable even when you cannot get out of bed.
While accepting your limitations and knowing it’s okay to do nothing is helpful for some people, for others staying busy is key. It gives you less time to worry and think, being busy shifts your focus away from your situation and onto another task. If that means working over time or studying more or anything else then do it. Having a distraction so that you don’t get caught up in the chaos can be a huge positive for some of us, it can make it easier to face each day.
If you’re fortunate enough to have found a suitable prescribed medication which improves your mental health then keep taking it. The temptation to just throw it away can be strong when things are tough and you become convinced it’s not helping. Please reconsider this. Anti depressants, for example, should never be stopped suddenly without medical advice. I know from experience that doing this can mess things up even more. I’ll be honest and say that on my really bad days, the only thing I can do to stop myself from spiralling is taking a sedative and sleeping through it. I’m okay with that.
It’s easy to fall to self destruction to get you through the excruciating emotions. Drugs, alcohol, self harm – they can provide instant relief from whatever you’re feeling. But remember that the relief is fleeting. I’m not about to tell you that you should never cut yourself, for example, when you’re struggling. However, you should look for alternatives wherever possible because you know as well as I do that those acts are not going to fix anything. I think it’s okay to accept that self destructive acts can sometimes help us to survive, just be careful and gentle with yourself.
If things get to the point of feeling suicidal, contact a crisis service. Whether this is the NHS crisis service, visiting A&E or the calling the Samaritans – do it. Sometimes we need the extra support because we can’t survive on our own, we can’t keep ourselves safe and that’s okay. Unfortunately, not all crisis services are necessarily helpful but give them a chance in those times.
Any thoughts on this? What helps you survive in the tough periods?