Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a very serious mental illness that is characterized by a lack of stability in moods, behaviours, and relationships. The name of this disorder was given because it was thought to “border” many different types of mental illness, which has now been found to be quite inaccurate. Though each case is different, there are commonly occurring symptoms that are used to diagnose. (Please keep in mind that a trained professional should be making a diagnosis, as they are equipped to do so.) These symptoms include:

  • Impulsive behaviours: These behaviours are often harmful to themselves and/or others. These behaviours may include promiscuity/unsafe sex, drug abuse, or self-harming behaviours (i.e. Cutting). Spending sprees and binge eating are also known to occur. It is important to note that not all of those who suffer from borderline personality disorder engage in all of these behaviours. It is also important to note that their self-harming behaviours are not usually intended to cause death, but are in an attempt to express their pain, have some control over their bodies, or to punish themselves for their choices/behaviours.
  • Low self-worth: Low self-worth can manifest itself in many different ways. They may speak very critically of themselves (i.e. They are ugly, or unintelligent, or worthless, etc.), or have distorted beliefs of what others think of them (i.e. No one likes them, no one loves them, no one likes spending time with them, etc.). Their low self-worth may also cause them to very rapidly change plans for their future, showing in an unexpected change in career, goals, and romantic partners.
  • Aggressive behaviours: Controlling anger is something that those suffering with borderline personality disorder struggle with. They will often times yell and scream when they are angry, and they may also lash out physically at those around them. Their anger can be incredibly frightening and dangerous.
  • Intense emotions and mood swings: The emotions and moods of a person struggling with borderline personality disorder fluctuate quite quickly and intensely. It is not uncommon for someone to be experiencing a very happy period to only hit a very intense angry and upset period a few hours later. The way that they treat those around them changes along with how they are feeling as well. They can be very loving and caring, switching very quickly to hateful and angry when they are feeling upset.
  • Intense fear of being abandoned: Those suffering from borderline personality disorder constantly worry about those around them leaving them completely. This intense fear manifests itself in “clingy” behaviours towards those around them (i.e. Repeatedly asking them not to leave, attempting to guilt trip people into being around, other manipulative behaviours) when their relationship feels threatened or close to breaking.
  • Tumultuous relationships: Relationships that a person with borderline personality disorder are involved in are incredibly chaotic. Relationships can go from being incredibly close and loving to incredibly distant and hateful in a very short amount of time. Romantic relationships can be especially so, and are often short lived as their partners have a hard time dealing with the mood swings and impulsive behaviours.

Borderline personality disorder is not a death sentence. If your loved one is struggling with borderline personality disorder, it is very important that you help to support them through treatment and encourage them to continue to work through it. Treatment for a personality disorder is often times a combination of therapy as well as medication, which can be very difficult for your loved one to handle, especially on their own. It is important that they stay hopeful and focused on the future. It is also a good idea to educate yourself on their illness. Know what the signs and symptoms are, especially when they are in crisis. Understand that you will need to recognize their signs and symptoms for crisis, not just the ones that are listed in a website or book. It is also essential that you yourself seek treatment. Their illness does affect you, whether you see it or not. Having your own safe place to discuss your feelings and emotions is the best way to be an effective part of their support system.

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Concurrent Disorders

Addiction and mental health problems are often seen as two completely separate entities. However, in quite a significant amount of cases, co-occurring addiction and mental health problems can be seen in clients. Does this happen with all mental health problems or addictions? What does this mean for the client’s symptoms? How does it affect treatment? All of these are important questions we will answer. But first we need take a look at the basic concept of concurrent disorders.

CD-webConcurrent disorder is an umbrella term that is used to describe a diagnosed mental health problem co-occurring with an addiction. Diagnosis is difficult, as addiction and mental health symptoms may not be occurring at the same time or in the same intensity as the addiction, and vice versa. This can make treatment very difficult and determining which came first (the addiction or the mental health problem) nearly impossible. This is why it is very important to consider the addiction and the mental health problem two separate entities that interact with each other.

There are two groups of mental health problems that are most commonly co-occurring with addiction; anxiety disorders and mood disorders. Anxiety disorders (i.e. generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder) more commonly co-occur with an alcohol addiction. Mood disorders (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) more commonly co-occur with an addiction other than alcohol (i.e. cocaine, heroin, etc.). The addictions do vary from client to client, but the fact of the matter is that a significant number of those diagnosed with mental health problems will also struggle with an addiction or substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. It is important to keep in mind that your loved one is not their mental health problem or addiction, they are still your loved one. Those struggling with concurrent disorders still require love and support, especially through the recovery process. It is important to remain steadfast in your hope for them, while maintaining healthy and appropriate boundaries.

There is a noticeable connection between mental health problems and addiction. Substances are often used to cope with mental health problems when left undiagnosed or unmedicated. An addiction can also mask or mimic the symptoms of a mental health problem, making it significantly harder to diagnose without proper client history. Mental health problems can also be exacerbated by an addiction. Those who choose to self-medicate on top of their prescribed medication run the risk of making their psychiatric medication less effective. They also run the risk of going off of their prescribed medications and having a relapse of mental health symptoms. These interactions between addiction and mental health problems is incredibly problematic. Symptoms can vary greatly for mental health problems when someone is abusing substances. It is also possible for relapse with substance abuse if mental health problems are not being properly treated. It can lead to a vicious cycle of relapse and recovery until the right balance is found.

Part of the reason that diagnosed concurrent disorders are so difficult to treat is that it requires a great deal of coordination within the professional support system for the client. The choice often needs to be made as to what should be treated first, or if treatments should be received at the same time. This can vary greatly from person to person as the severity of both the addiction and the mental health problems needs to be properly assessed and taken into account. What works best for most clients is what is referred to Options-for-the-treatment-of-addiction-imageas integrated treatment. Integrated treatment works on emotional, cognitive, social, and addiction problems all at once. While treatment for these problems can often be provided under one roof, it is important that the client is receiving the best treatment possible. This often involves coordinating agencies and professionals into a care team. The care team leader would be a professional the client trusts who will make plans based on the successes and areas of greatest struggle for their client. By coordinating all those involved in the care process, the client has a much higher chance of having success in treatment of both mental health problems and addiction.

Hope is a very important part of the recovery process. With a diagnosis of a mental health problem coupled with an addiction, it can seem like your loved one will only get worse. However, recovery is more than possible if they are willing to seek treatment and work with people who can help them learn new ways to cope with their struggles. With the research in new medications and methods of therapies, there is a lot of hope for those who are struggling with concurrent disorders. Family and friends can be a great asset in instilling hope. You can help your loved one rediscover the hope in their future. Providing them with support and a safe place to express themselves without judgement is instrumental in a transition from their former instability into the stability of recovery.

I Come First: Healthy Boundaries and Avoiding Burn Out

Expectations are a part of everyday life. We have expectations of others and them of us. There are times where there is so much pressure and so much to do, that it may feel like we are running in circles trying to get things done. The constant bombardment with new tasks and added responsibilities can weigh us down. If we are constantly putting ourselves behind others, we get burnt out. There is this constant drained feeling that just overtakes our emotions and our bodies.

shutterstock_62127079  So why do we feel the need to make everyone else happy? The biggest reason may be fear; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, and even fear of being alone. These fears can cause us to do crazy and unreasonable things for those around us, while we need to be thinking of ourselves as well. Finding a healthy balance in between what we need to do for others and what we need to do for ourselves can be a daily struggle. How can you find the balance between yourself and others?

Maintain healthy boundaries. Know when to say no and let others know what you are willing to do. There is no reason for you to be bending over backwards to make everyone happy all of the time. There should be boundaries for the amount of responsibility that other people can put onto you and you onto them. It is important to shutterstock_89030563know that saying no to things is okay.

Take time out for yourself daily. Turn off your phone, stay away from the computer, and just disconnect. Having time by yourself is one of the most important parts of the day. It is a time to reflect and heal and replenish your energy. It can be 15 minutes, or it can be 3 hours. But it is important to have that bit of time alone with yourself each and every day.

Ask for help. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, ask for help. If nothing else, talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you are taking on. Just getting it out can make a world of difference.

shutterstock_80333077Communicate your feelings to those around you. If you are feeling burnt out and under too much pressure, let those around you know. Communication is vital to every relationship and letting others know what you are feeling can open up doors to solutions you may not have thought possible. Just shutting yourself off from the world will not relieve any pressure, but it will create more problems for you in the long run.

There are times when we all feel overwhelmed and burnt out. However, it is how you handle these times that says the most about you. Take charge, find ways to feel empowered, and take care of yourself. At the end of the day, life is much too short to spend it being anything but happy.

 

 

Expectations in Therapy

shutterstock_114450547  The reasons why people seek help in therapy varies widely, but the expectations are the same; change and insight. So why does it sometimes feel like there is little to no change? Why do we feel worse, and not always better? Why do we feel like we are still stuck in the same place as when we started therapy? These are all frequently asked questions for those in therapy. This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the therapist in therapy, as well as a misunderstanding of the client’s role in the relationship. Let’s take a look at the therapeutic relationship, and the roles of both the counsellor and client to better understand it.

The therapeutic relationship seems simple at first glance. It is a relationship that involves a deep trust and understanding, however these are two things that are very hard to develop with a stranger. Feeling unsure of how much to reveal about yourself is completely normal early on in the therapeutic relationship, but going forward it is important that the trust level is increased. Not being able to open up to your therapist slows down or brings the process to a hault. A lack of trust will lead to a lack of open communication, and expecting to get help without taking a look at yourself is completely impossible. It is fair to expect your therapist to facilitate a space in which you feel safe and secure, but it is your responsibility to open up.

Therapists are equipped with tools and strategies to help you work through just about shutterstock_117868852anything, but not every therapist is equipped to handle everything. Depending on their style of therapy and training, one may be well-suited for your needs and another may not be. This is why it is important to be clear about what you are hoping to get out of therapy. This will let your therapist know if they will be able to meet your expectations, or if they will need to refer you to another clinician. Do not take a referral as a sign of a therapist giving up on you. Take it for what it is, their attempt to put the help that you require within your reach.

One assumption about your therapist that may not be a conscious one, is that they are going to be able to solve all of your problems. This could not be any further from the truth. In person-centred therapy (which is what the majority of therapy is), your therapist acts as a guide. Your therapist will ask you questions in an attempt to reach your deeper feelings and thoughts, and guide you to the realization of these thoughts and feelings. Your therapist does not have all of the answers. Inside you are the answers that you are looking for, your therapist just helps to shed a different light on these answers.

shutterstock_120187948So what is your role as the client in all of this? Well, put simply, your role is to put in the work that is required in order for you to move forward. This means learning to trust your therapist, having open honest conversations with them (and yourself), and doing the homework that they ask you to do. In order for your therapy to be successful, you need to be open to the experience and willing to take a good hard look at who you are. It is important to keep in mind that your life will not improve instantaneously, and neither will your mood. Often times bringing up the past can be very painful and difficult to deal with. This pain should not be discouraging. It is an important part of the entire process.

A really good question to ask yourself is, what are my goals?  Write them down and work with your therapist towards your goals without any expectations of a time frame.  Failed expectations bring disappointment.  Better to allow the therapeutic process to happen organically rather then trying to control the outcome.

Therapy is challenging, but it is a good way to help you sort yourself out. A therapist can be a good foundation of support and well-being in your life that you may not have otherwise. When discouraged by the process, remember this: it is not the path we take that matters, but the things we learn about ourselves.

Transform-Motivate-Awaken: What is Recovery and How Do I Know That I Am Ready?

There are many different definitions for recovery. In a general sense, recovery is a lifelong process in which you abstain from using/abusing your drug of choice. Lapses/relapses are also considered part of this process. They are a chance for growth and making a plan with which you can succeed.shutterstock_107588312

When suffering from an addiction, it is hard to see yourself that you have a problem. Often times the consequences will not stop you from feeding your addiction. So how do you know that you are ready to start the recovery process?

Everyone is different. Maybe your family has given you an intervention. Maybe you have some serious health consequences because of your addiction. Or maybe you are just sick and tired of chasing your fix. Whatever the reason is, you need to want to make the change for yourself. No one else can force you into recovery. You need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to work hard and stay clean.

A good indicator of readiness for recovery is a commitment to change. If you want to change and are sincerely willing to do whatever it will take to get there, you may be ready for recovery. Another good indicator is a reduction in use. Maybe you are skipping out on getting high and trying to keep yourself preoccupied. Maybe you are just choosing to abstain from use, despite withdrawal symptoms. If this is the case, you may be ready for recovery.

Now maybe you are just thinking about changing. You want to reach out for help but you aren’t sure if sober living is for you just yet. The best thing that you can do is explore your options and keep your mind open. Seeking support not only within your family and friends, but from trained professionals and agencies is a great idea to explore your options.

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Recovery is ultimately your decision. It is something that you have to be prepared and committed to. You have to want to recover for yourself, not just because you feel that other people want you to. Recovery is not easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and self-discovery to have a successful recovery. Transform, Motivate, and Awaken. Live the life that you want, addiction free.

Learning Disabilities

It is hard to watch someone you love struggle. It is especially hard to watch someone you love struggle with something that many others find easy. A learning disability is something that will last a life time, however, with the right interventions and assistance it does not have to be debilitating.

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So what is a learning disability? A learning disability is a classification that covers severe learning problems. These include: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia.

It is difficult to produce the exact number of cases of those with learning disabilities as some cases go undiagnosed for several years. An undiagnosed learning disability can present in more than one way. It can include:

·         Being unable to adequately participate in class

·         Being unable to adequately complete assignments

·         Frustration with reading and/or writing

·         Difficulties completing specific tasks

·         Inadequate development of language, speech, and other academic skills

It is important that these are not always tell-tale signs that a learning disability is present. It is important that a correct diagnosis is made by a professional. It is also important to keep in mind that no two cases are the same. So how it presents in your loved one may be completely different from another person.

Those who struggle with a learning disability often times also struggle with another co-occurring disorder. These disorders include (but are not limited to) ADHD, anxiety, as well as depression.  It is important that your loved one also receives treatment and support for these disorders as well.

So what can we do? Well, often times there is support for those who are struggling with a learning disability. Checking in with your child’s school may be a good place to start. It could give you a better idea of what kind of resources their school has and what kind of resources you will have to seek out on your own.

There are so many different things that you can do as a parent to help your child succeed. Keeping them goal-focused is so important. Making sure that they know they are loved and supported will allow them to feel confident and thrive. Educating them about their learning disability and helping them accept it is an important step in the right direction. And making sure that they are prepared with the right tools to cope emotionally with their learning disability in a healthy way is essential to molding  a successful young person.shutterstock_112519676

Many parents and educators struggle with the stigma that is attached to a learning disability. Keep in mind that the attitude you model will affect how the young minds around you model their attitude. Positivity and acceptance are the keys to learning and living with a learning disability.

Emotions and Addiction

When dealing with addiction and recovery, the emotions that come along with it are an important thing to look at. By becoming aware of the emotions that are part of your addiction, you can become more self-aware and more able to participate in your recovery.

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There are many emotions that can be a part of your addiction. It may be anger, sadness, or anxiety. How these emotions play into your addiction is a key piece of coming to terms with your addiction. Now these emotions play a big part in your bio-psycho-social and spiritual functioning.

So what does bio-psycho-social and spiritual mean when dealing with addciction? Bio-psycho-social and spiritual refers to the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors that affect your ability to function within your addiction.

The biological aspect may include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry
  • Brain behaviour and functioning

The psychological aspect may include:

  • Social learning
  • Motivations
  • Behaviours
  • Emotions
  • Personality development

The social aspect may include:

  • Availability of your substance
  • Economic status
  • Addiction in a family member or close friend
  • Culture
  • Community

The spiritual aspect may include:

  • Beliefs
  • Morals
  • Connectedness

This isn’t to say that all of these factors are present or the same in every person that is addicted. How each of these factors affects you may differ greatly from the next person. However, it is important to recognize the factors that have influenced your addiction in order for you to better understand the steps that you need to take in order to live a life that is addiction free.

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Recovery is a life-long process. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it possible for yourself. By becoming more self-aware and connected to who you are, the more effective you will become in leading the life that you want for yourself.