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Mindfulness, Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), Buddhism, BPD and Recovery

A few years back when I started my journey into learning about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and continued my reading of the Dalai Lama’s teachings my life took a huge turn for the better. It was also at this time that I first learned about Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It was during this time, that all the pieces of the puzzle of my life started coming together in a tightly woven net. You see, all these things fit together neatly.
Let me explain, I had already been reading and trying to incorporate the teachings of the Dalai Lama into my life. While I am not a Buddhist, my family raised me as a Roman Catholic; I found that his teachings brought about a large degree of calming to me. Even more, I saw that his teachings melded nicely with my Christian background.

How does this fit in with any of the other things? Be patient, I am getting there. In 2007, an amazing young woman came into my life, a woman that would change my life forever and in a very positive way. Not long after we met, she was diagnosed with BPD. I will not go into any details beyond that on that, but because of the diagnosis I threw myself head first into learning about BPD. I started reading about it, attending conferences, talking to my friends about I (who just loved me for it) and talking to my own therapist about it. I had to learn everything I could about it.

As I continued to learn about it, and its treatments, I came across a treatment type called DBT. Here is the first place that things start to entwine. You see, one of the core components of the teachings of the Dalai Lama, and Buddhism as a whole, as well as the foundation of DBT are mindfulness.

What does mindfulness do? It allows a person to self-regulate their awareness of their thoughts, feelings and surroundings. This in turn allows a person to take control of their life. When we are aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can develop and learn techniques that allow us to control them rather than let them control us. It can help us ground ourselves during times that our emotions start to try to control us.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool, and to think, two roads led me to this place. Two roads at the same time led me to mindfulness, two roads from very different worlds, one the world of science, psychology, and the other from the world of spirituality.

Now, that is how I got to mindfulness, but why does it help me any when DBT was originally designed to help with the treatments of people with BPD, not with people who are bi-polar. Well you see, as I read more about BPD, I started to see so much of myself in it as well. I came to realize that had my past been a little different, that maybe I would have fallen into the category of having BPD instead of being bi-polar. I was able to see how I could apply these things to myself, how they could help me as well.

One of the things that were key was that I finally found my purpose in life. I had long known that I had more purpose to life than just living, working and loving someone. I knew that there was something I needed to do, but for years, I never knew what it was. The more I learned about BPD, the more I knew I had to do something to try to help raise awareness. The more I learned, the more it tore me apart understanding the kind of things that people with BPD face in their lives.

These things let me start working with my therapist in a new way to guide me to the places I needed to go with my treatment. They let me work on building the skills necessary to gain control over my life.
So ultimately, it was my study of BPD and my study of the Dalai Lama’s teachings that helped me regain my life and recover.

Posted: May 6th, 2011 under Thoughts on Mental Health.

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