I've passed a milestone - well, probably more than one, but this one crept up on me. It is over a year since I was discharged from services. In the past, this would be about the point, when having immediately launched myself into another new life, I would be finding that life unravelling.
It is perhaps, a good thing that I have not kept a close eye on this milestone. Perhaps, I have learned to let go, at last of unrealistic expectations, particularly of myself and my ability to sustain a stable emotional life. Apart from this overall change in my attitude to life there have been one or two other factors which I believe have been helpful in getting me to this point in my recovery.
1) I have been able to sustain my commitment to the important spiritual and emotional disciplines which give me a foundation on which to build a life which has meaning and purpose. So my faith has been integral to my practice of keeping myself in the here and now. When my feelings tell me everything is wrong with my life, my belief in a purpose and in something bigger to belong to keeps me anchored. Sometimes this belief and faith can be as thin as a spider thread, but it has been enough to hold on to.
2) I have adapted DBT skills which I have found effective, so that I can use them in my everyday life. I have access to self soothing exercises, or activities on my IPod, home, in my handbag, and, when unable to connect through gadgets, that I can practise by simply finding a quiet space for a moment to be mindful.
3) I have managed to move from acknowledging the value of physical wellness to integrating it into my management of BPD symptoms. As suicidal thoughts and self harm urges have become less of a battle for me, my PLEASE skills have become more essential to my ongoing well being, than my Distress Tolerance and Crisis Management skills.
4) I have the support of a GP who actively encourages me to follow my Relapse Prevention plan and has taken on board responsibility for her part in it. Having the regular reviews advocated in my Plan has allowed me to cope well with one or two 'bumps' in my emotional road, without fear of being re-referred to mental health services.
5) Almost imperceptibly, my social circle has both widened and deepened. As I have chosen to engage with the world outside me, I have actively become involved in making (and keeping) new friendships. I have learned by trusting, first one or two close friends, then learning about different types and functions of friends, to set boundaries for myself which mean that I can sustain healthy support networks. No longer am I in danger of burning out my friends.
6) I have stopped measuring my worth according to my status and the level of job I do. Rather I am learning to pace myself emotionally in what I engage in. I am accepting that it is difficult for me to sustain 9-5, five days a week commitment to paid work. Human relationships exhaust me due to the level of effort required to manage them. I therefore, need time to be alone and recharge my batteries. It is an acceptance of the reality of my struggles. I am finding ways to engage in meaningful work, both voluntary and some with limited payment. This is helping to rebuild my confidence without forcing me to over-reach my emotional resilience.
7) My past is no longer an intrusive visitor in my present and future.