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“We aim to highlight mental health conditions that affect people’s day-to-day lives, and what products, apps, and services they use to make their every day easier in the You’re Not Alone: Mental Health series. We hear from a communications associate who has borderline personality disorder.”

Content warning

Depression, suicide ideation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis are mentioned in the article.

If you’re thinking of hurting yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

You can also call 911 in the case of a mental health emergency.

“I thought I would be the woman I am now. I am calm and chirpy. I live in the English countryside with my wife and a flock of chickens. I work in communications, which isn’t quite fulfilling the dream I had of being a famous poet, but it’s close enough.”

“I had a dream that I wouldn’t make it to 30. I will turn 31 on June 30. I had already experienced higher emotions than most of my friends by the time I was 13. I contemplated suicide a lot. I was pretty sure I would never see my 30th birthday because of these suicidal thoughts.”

These were the early signs of borderline personality disorder. I hid the worst of my feelings from the people around me. I was subjected to a traumatic sexual assault at the age of 14 and was relentlessly bullied at school, but I kept a high-performing facade and was not noticed.

I received a diagnosis of BPD after a mental health crisis in my early 20s. I began to get professional support that I needed to begin to understand myself.

I was on a high dose of antidepressants for most of my 20s. It has taken 2 years, but I have been able to slowly wean off of them. I mostly manage my moods and symptoms well, though certain anniversaries tend to cause Flare-ups.

I am better equipped to cope with the symptoms of dissociation and derealization that are included in these Flare-ups.

I am surprised that I am where I am today.

People with a personality disorder called BPD have difficulty managing their emotions. It is characterized by mood, identity, and relationship instabilities.

People living with a mental illness often have a hard time with themselves. It could be a sense of chronic emptiness or a distorted self- image. This can lead to risky behavior.

The instability associated with BPD means that it can be a problem for people living with it. It can be difficult to maintain a stable, long lasting relationship and friendship with the condition.

For me, it feels that BPD is one of the more stigmatized mental health conditions. Even some mental health professionals view patients with BPD in a negative light, and some even refuse to treat patients with the condition.

But there are various treatment options available that are very effective for those who have BPD, including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), an approach that helps people develop key coping skills like:

  • “It’s not all about being aware.”
  • Distress tolerance.
  • emotional regulation
  • Relationship skills

“I am thankful that my life is not affected by my BPD in the way it used to. That doesn’t mean it’s gone completely. I often say I live with the disorder.”

At its worst, though, BPD was my day-to-day. It was all-consuming. My relationship with my wife (my then-girlfriend) was often dominated by my emotions. If she came home late, she’d find me sobbing myself to sleep, convinced she’d decided to leave without telling me.

“She asked me if I was obsessed with minimalist and decluttering because it reflected how I felt about myself. I felt like I didn’t know who I was the entire day and I spent the entire day in tears.”

I had a deep, abiding sense of emptiness as if I was fundamentally hollow. It’s very hard to explain, but I felt like I was a shell of a human, not really real.

I felt like a chocolate Easter egg when I saw it, because they looked solid from the outside but when you crack the surface there is nothing underneath. It is a very alienating thing to experience.

I used to joke that being asked how are you was difficult. I had to figure out who you were.

“I knew something wasn’t right when I was young. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety while I was in university, but I thought I had post-traumatic stress disorder after the trauma I experienced in my early teens.”

I started to seriously think that I might have something else besides clinical depression after a second traumatic event when I was 22.

I went through a brief but dramatic decline in my mental health after this event. I felt like I was being controlled by giant robots and I experienced disturbing visual hallucinations.

I was admitted to the mental health unit. I was finally diagnosed by a psychiatrist after this.

Many people with the label reject the diagnosis. Being told that you are adisordered can feel shocking. It was a relief when I read about it. I was able to get help because I had an explanation for what was happening to me.

The biggest key to helping me manage my condition was when I started a program called Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS). This is a ‘psycho-educational’ approach that helps participants recognize the underlying triggers behind flare-ups and outbursts. The goal is that you identify the warning signs much quicker and can act on them before you reach a “boiling point.”

I started to adopt a more active approach to managing my symptoms after starting STEPPS. I would still describe myself as highly strung. I feel things very intensely, but I am also fiercer about protecting my own emotional needs and boundaries.

“I always have my symptoms in the back of my mind. They exist with me, but they don’t rule me. I try to keep an eye on my emotional state so that I can stay in control. My life is much more stable now than it used to be.”

Some of my favorite products and apps help reduce symptoms associated with BPD.

Price guide

  • $ = under $13
  • $$ = $13—$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Lumie Bodyclock Rise 100

Price: $$$

This alarm clock helps you wake up more naturally by increasing the amount of light in the room, mimicking sunrise. It can help you wind down before bed with the sunset function, where the light will gradually decrease over a period of about 30 minutes.

“I found this on my own. My sleep cycle feels empty when I am in crisis. I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling wired and anxious, and I couldn’t sleep because of my racing thoughts.”

Lumie lamps help to prepare the body for sleep by stimulating melatonin. They claim to help you wake up naturally. I feel like I wake up more gently with the sunrise alarm, but that can definitely vary.

Lumie models have different noise settings. I deal with negative thoughts when I try to fall asleep. I would purchase one of the more updated ones if you did, I love my current one so much that I would want to switch. It will help me shut my mind off more gently than the true crime podcasts I listen to at night.


Price: $—$$$

Headspace is a “It’s not all about being aware.” and meditation app. it has a range of guided programs and meditation courses on all kinds of topics to help you embrace “It’s not all about being aware.”. In addition to guided meditations, the app now includes focus tracks for working or studying, guided workouts, and meditations for exercise and housework, as well as other routine tasks.

“I know that meditation can be hit or miss. I have found it to be very rewarding. Even when I am not focused, the act of sitting down for 3, 5, or 10 minutes gives me a chance to check in with myself. Guided meditations can still provide a sense of calm if I can’t concentrate because of my emotions or mind racing.”

Many therapeutic programs for BPD incorporate some element of “It’s not all about being aware.”, even if that’s just trying to gently increase your awareness of your emotional state. I find that when I’m in a bad patch, I don’t notice the intensity of my feelings increasing until I reach a point of overwhelm. When I regularly practice “It’s not all about being aware.”, I’m often aware of the warning signs much earlier.

With all that being said, it should be noted that “It’s not all about being aware.” doesn’t work for everyone. People with a history of trauma can experience distressing symptoms when they explore meditation. If you have any concerns, it may be worth discussing these with a mental health professional before exploring “It’s not all about being aware.”.

Kummel Fitness Tracker

Price: $$

“This is a step counter that is easy to understand. It tracks how much you walk during the day. I don’t use the other features. The function pedometer is my favorite.”

My therapist recommended that I keep active to help regulate my moods. I try to walk 10,000 steps a day. It keeps me moving and makes me want to go out and get some fresh air.

Early on in my journey, I decided to take up running as well, so I used the Couch to 5K program from the U.K. National Health Service. I used to find that I was regularly dissociating and felt disconnected from my body, but walking and running forced me to pay attention to how I physically felt. It’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re trying to get through a 3-mile run.

Running is a way to come back to myself. If I start to feel like I am not being active enough, I can get out the door and put on my trainers. It was important to me when I was struggling to get over my symptoms, and it is even more important now that I use running to help me.

Cross stitch kit

Price: $$

“I struggle with the way I use social media. I use it to deal with low moods and feelings of emptiness by being aggressive with people online. I wish I could say I don’t do that anymore, but that’s not the case.”

I have found that having some displacement activities can be helpful. I like to have a distraction on hand.

It can be fun to pick up a simple craft like cross-stitch, knitting, or another simple craft once you know how to do it. I have to concentrate on what I am making so I find that my mind wanders and I focus on what I am trying to complete.

If I take 10 minutes to pause and knit a few rows or stitches, I will be calmer and more focused on the task at hand. That can be a good way to prevent me from saying something I might regret later.

“People with BPD are often assumed to be abusive or manipulative. People with the condition can act out in ways that are harmful, but not every person will act like that. It doesn’t help its reputation that some of its characters are revealed to have borderline personality disorder in horror films.”

There is more to this condition than just problematic and harmful behavior coming from people with it. People with BPD are often in distress.

If you have a loved one with a mental illness, it can be difficult to deal with their behavior. I encourage you to be aware of your own boundaries when approaching the person.

It is not an excuse for treating others poorly if you have a symptom of the disease. I am grateful that my wife was firm with me about what was appropriate.

I would advise people to be patient and de-escalate when things are most intense. When my emotional intensity was at a 10 out of 10, it was not the time to discuss my reaction. I was able to reflect and have deeper conversations with my wife about what triggered my emotions, and that was a good time.

If you are having trouble with a loved one who has BPD, it might be best to wait until they are calm. You can talk about what they might find most helpful when they are in an intense state. It is important to let your loved one know that you are frustrated or hurt, so they can find a way to handle their own distress without hurting you.

I hope this article and some of the recommendations I have made are helpful if you are living with the disorder. For years, borderline personality disorder has been seen as being uncontrollable.

There are programs and tools that can help with the symptoms. The programs are hard work and can feel draining, but the tools and lessons learned from them are priceless.

In the worst of times, I found the best answer was to try and find small things that I could do to feel better.

If I could keep myself feeling better and more in control of my daily routine, I could find the energy and resilience to cope with the tougher struggles.