“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” Warren Buffett
The other day, my husband posted this quote by Warren Buffett on his Facebook page. Later I was scrolling and drinking my morning coffee, I about spit it out when I saw the posting. I reread the quote and then I burst into tears. I realized there and then, that Mr. Buffett had hit upon the very core of what we lack living with Borderline Personality Disorder. There it was, staring me in the face and my husband had posted it. Seeing how triggered I was by it, he deleted the posting. I am not proud of that. It prompted me to write this blog.
Another quote from Marsha Linehan, the creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which is used specifically to treat those who suffer with BPD, however it is now currently used for many other mental illnesses. She herself has lived and suffered with BPD.
“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
― Marsha Linehan
Compare the words of Mr. Buffet with Marsha Linehan:
Buffett: “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you.”
Linehan: “Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
How do those of us living with Borderline reconcile these two comments? The fact is we don’t and we cannot as we are not capable of processing as Mr. Buffett says “True power is sitting back and observing things with logic.” The reason being, with Borderline, our brain does something called “splitting”, defined by the Mayo Clinic as “black-and-white thinking”. The Mayo Clinic further explains that people with BPD have “Intense or uncontrollable emotional reactions that often seem disproportionate to the event or situation”. In reading that (and living it), a person with BPD would ask Mr. Buffett how to obtain this power of ‘observing things with logic’. He further states “Breathe and allow things to pass.” Raise your hand if you live with BPD, and want to smack Mr. Buffett upside the head now, or later? I jest, but I am also dead serious. What this quote from Mr. Buffett represents, would be a summation of all we living with BPD, strive to do, wish to do, scream out to God for the ability to do, and is the very crux of the nature of Hell and complexity that we deal with on a daily basis. By the way, I happen to have much respect for Mr. Buffett. I also want to add the fact that the majority of the population is quite capable of achieving this goal he sets forth in the quote. A logical, analytical computer software designer like my husband not only has the ability, he actually does this on a daily basis. ALL DAY LONG. Thus, the reason for his posting the quote in the first place.
Back to the conundrum for those of us living with BPD. What I have learned, through observation, repercussion from my responses, intensive talk therapy for more than 20 years, Dialectical Behavioral Training for three intensive years, Cognitive Therapy training for many years, reading, researching and LIVING with this incapacity is this: Sometimes we can achieve this and sometimes we cannot with BPD. Factors considered in the equation are, in my opinion and observation:
- Age and/or stage of development of the symptoms of BPD (teenager vs. middle aged). The younger the person with BPD, the less ability they will have to achieve this goal.
- The amount of therapy and education the person with BPD has acquired, especially in the realm of DBT and Cognitive Therapy training.
- Whether or not the person with BPD is currently stabilized with psychiatric medication and therefore their symptoms are being managed better.
- The support system that surrounds the sufferer of BPD and the ability of the person with BPD to reach out and utilize that support system.
- The current status of health of the person with BPD. This includes diet, exercise, sleep, and management of any physical symptoms they may possess (I have fibromyalgia. On a day when my fibro symptoms are out of control, would not be a time I could exercise this capability as well).
- The sincere want of the person with BPD to achieve this state of mind and not allow the “splitting” to take over. We have to actually WANT to achieve this state of mind. I know those with BPD who refuse, or lack in the desire to do this. They feel justified in allowing themselves to express symptoms and just “screw you if you don’t get my symptoms”. This attitude is extremely difficult to deal with, even BPD to BPD, as the person who does not seek wellness is not the person I want in my space. Not only do they serve to trigger me, but also I have an attitude towards that unwillingness to seek well-being that prevents me from wanting to maintain or foster a relationship with that attitude.
- The weather; as I just thought I would add that one in, as I mean to say anything else that might serve to set us off that day, such as a trigger. Literally the weather, the person who is saying the statement to us that we are not able to process because we don’t “like” them...just about anything and everything else can factor in to trying to achieve this state of mind Mr. Buffett describes in his quote.
In conclusion, this is the “Quest of The Borderline” person; as it is our “Holy Grail”, the “Golden Ring” we seek throughout our entire lifetime here on earth. The intense physical, mental and emotional pain we get from not being able to achieve it can drive us to take our lives. This is the truth of the matter, point blank. The PAIN is real, tangible, all encompassing, it prevents us from reaching out, trying to form relationships with others who are “well”, leaves us feeling misunderstood, alienated and brings us into a state of self-loathing as to our incapacity to just DO IT! I get it. Trust me; it can control so many things on a daily basis that it can immobilize us.
Things to do to help achieve this mindset:
- Talk therapy, to include DBT, Cognitive and EMDR (this is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been proven effective for the treatment of trauma victims).
- Educate yourself, every day in some facet, by reading, researching and learning how to overcome and manage the symptoms of BPD.
- Get a solid, caring, educated support system in your life.
- Get a good Psychiatrist that will be proactive in helping with medication management for your symptoms.
- Stay away from toxic things like alcohol, recreational drugs, toxic places or people.
- Learn ways of self-soothing, and how to manage incidents of self-harming (if you have this as a symptom).
- Get in a support group such as provided by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and attend on a weekly basis.
- Get healthy through exercise, diet, sleep patterns, and doing enjoyable things and hobbies that bring joy to your soul.
- Reach out if you are in CRISIS.
- The proverbial saying is that “tomorrow is another day”. Don’t give up in your quest to achieve the GREY area in your life. It will not always be present, but at least you are trying to MAKE IT PRESENT.
My sincere hope for all of us who suffer with Borderline is that we can have days of achieving “Grey” and we will never give up the quest to sit back and breath, allowing the feelings to wash over us and pass. To give up the impulse to attack or fight back, explain ourselves or try to make EVERYONE understand our symptoms. It is not possible to achieve that goal and this I know. Most in your life will never understand what we go through. That’s okay. They do not have to, but YOU do!
With you on the Journey,