Now to business.
The other day I had an amazing conversation over Facebook with an old college roommate. I felt that it was worth sharing. So, here we go:
FRIEND: I was reading your blog. Do you like DBT?
I work at [redacted] with the criminally insane. We use DBT.
BREANNA: DBT was very useful. I graduated back in December. I still use the skills daily.
FRIEND: It's a pretty extensive learning tool. Do you still do the paper part where you log things and such? Do you have a coach? Do the supplement with meds too?
BREANNA: I don't actively log which skill that used in a day. I do tend to note them and tell my husband about it. I do a lot of writing on my blog or just in my journal, which I guess is kind of similar but not as intentional. I'm supposed to still have a one on one meeting but financially that's just not feasible right now. I have been off meds for about 9 months. The whole point of my going through DBT was to get to the point where I could drop the seroquel.
FRIEND: Seroquel... did it make you drowsy? We had a dr who gave a pt 5mg of zyprexa. It made an ASTOUNDING difference. I really have a bad taste in my mouth for personality disorders as they have a bad reputation at my work. They are axis 2 so harder to treat. It is so interesting to know you then and hear about your life changes now. How did you get diagnosed? Also, brea... I'm super happy you are doing well!
BREANNA: Seroquel made me drowsy for the first week or two then it wasn't so bad. The worst part about it for me was the weight gain. I gained 60 pounds in 3 months. The first 3 months I went off of it I lost 10 pounds like it was nothing. In the last year I've gone from a 16 to a 10. My mom and I and a lot of my family always knew I had a problem, we kind of figured it was bipolar disorder. After I had my kids I had a total breakdown and drove frantically to my mothers and told her to call somebody and make me an appointment because I couldn't do it myself but if I didn't I was going to check myself in to the hospital for fear of hurting my children. That's where I got my diagnosis of BPD and ADHD. Although, I knew about the ADHD, I've always just coped with that. I've done a lot of research and from my understanding BPD is harder to treat than schizophrenia. It's really scary to live with. The hardest part for me is not having a clear picture of who I am on my own and so, having this irrational fear of being alone because I don't even know how to think if I am by myself because I have no one else cluing me how to act to fit in. I've gotten really good at being who I need to be to be liked. Which makes me really good at customer service.
FRIEND: It seems to be a way of training the brain. I am glad that you sought help when you knew you needed to. That in itself is a good indicator that you are capable of changing your thought process. Do you have the tendency to want to self harm? It seems that with BPD a lot of people will self harm for attention and accidentally go to far and kill themselves.
BREANNA: Not recently. When I first started treatment I would, after a fight with my husband. I was too scared to draw blood, but I would definitely scratch at myself trying to get him to see things my way . It was definitely a manipulation tactic. Also, before I was married it wasn't traditional self harm but heavy drinking and promiscuous activity to be considered self harm because it was definitely not good for me and it was also to fit in and seek attention.
FRIEND: Absolutely. BPD is really just a way of thinking to manipulate in anyway. You have to do a lot of brain retraining. Which can be very difficult as you know. But it makes sense that it is difficult because your whole life is spent thinking and behaving 1 way. Is it difficult to raise children and maintain a relationship with the disorder? Do you see any traits in your children?
BREANNA: Yes yes and yes. Reading children is hard because my emotions are so hair trigger and so extreme that sometimes I yell at my kids in a way that is totally unproportional to their behavior. I think I scared my children. Maintaining a relationship is difficult because when my husband and I fight, I hear him saying I'm not good enough, "I'm going to leave" when that's not anywhere close to what he means. However, I am very lucky to have a husband who is very understanding and patient with me. I wish I didn't see traits in my children, at least one of them has hair-trigger, extreme, emotional reactions. I'm already trying to teach them emotion regulation skills from DBT right now so maybe they can avoid diagnosis and not have to relearn later.
BREANNA: Hey...If I change names...can I publish this conversation on my blog. I think it would be really interesting given that you work with the mentally ill and you're the one asking questions. It will be a new perspective I haven't seen on any other blogs.
FRIEND: Yes of course. I love to dissect the brains of my patients but a lot of times they are too far into the manipulation it's not honest. Or, they won't engage. It's super cool to talk to someone who is positive and succeeding in their recovery that is able to maintain relationships and children. I'm never ashamed to ask. We can never learn enough!
Plus, I was in the thick of it with you. Living in the dorm when you were in your peak. Remember?
BREANNA: Yes absolutely. Your half of the conversation will be completely anonymous. I do remember. It got worse the next year. I failed out of NIC. IN the time I was failing out of college I met my husband and married him 6 months later. Which means he fell in love with me when I was at my worst. Which honestly, could also be said to be my most fun because, since we've gotten married and had kids, I do not party like I did and I am not nearly as spontaneous. But I also don't scream my head off at him every other day
FRIEND: That is amazing that he able to see past that. Also a blessing that you didn't harm anybody physically or emotionally. We see a lot of things like self harm or harm to children and spouses.
BREANNA: Yes definitely
Although any emotional damage to my kids may not show up for years yet
FRIEND: Yes. That's the scary/difficult part.
And then we both got busy doing other stuff. But I found that the more I talked about it the more comfortable I got. Almost three years in from my diagnosis, I feel that this is maybe the most honest I've been able to be about Borderline Personality Disorder. At least in writing.