Personality Disorders Community

Transforming Borderline Personality Disorder Into A Healing Experience

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hp-laura_paxton_2.jpgLaura Paxton, counselor and author of "Borderline and Beyond: A Program of Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder, is our guest. She discusses BPD symptoms and diagnosis, recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, and her own experiences living with BPD for over 10 years.

David Roberts is the HealthyPlace.com moderator.

The people in blue are audience members.


David: Good evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Transforming Borderline Personality Disorder Into A Healing Experience." Our guest is Laura Paxton. Ms. Paxton has a Masters in Psychology and Counseling, and is author of "Borderline and Beyond: A Program of Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder," which is a workbook she designed based on her own experiences of living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

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Good evening Laura, and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being our guest tonight. To put what we are going to talk about tonight in context, could you start by sharing your experience with Borderline Personality Disorder? What did it stem from and what BPD symptoms did you experience?

Laura Paxton: I suffered from borderline personality disorder between the ages of 15 and 26. In my case, the disorder manifested as a major disturbance in mood, identity and relationships. Learning to live with the disorder, healing from the wounds and responding to its challenges, has given me incredible strength and has given my life incredible meaning.

Borderline Personality Disorder has a variety of causes, from biological to environmental. In my case, a combination of factors played roles. Most importantly was the failure to bond with a caregiver, as well as childhood abuse. Through my healing process, I learned about trust.

David: And you are how old, now?

Laura Paxton: 32 in two weeks.

David: What was life like living with BPD?

Laura Paxton: Stormy, intense and crazy. It was a roller coaster. My personal experience consisted of eleven hospitalizations over that eleven year period. I self-mutilated at different times and made a serious suicide attempt. I couldn't maintain a non-abusive relationship and I lived literally in hell. All of that time, I struggled to function as a professional and my ability to function unraveled until the healing process began.

David: Some professionals in the medical and psychological community believe that you can control some of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, but you can never get over it; completely recover. What do you think about that?

Laura Paxton: I know for a fact, based on my personal experience, that that is not true. I believe that since, in my case, I am living a happy, contented life (and without drugs for the past nine months) that more people could recover as I have. I have also worked with clients who are taking back control of their lives and learning to live symptom free. So, I believe full recovery is possible.

David: I'm wondering if you are the exception to the rule when it comes to recovery, or are you of the belief that everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder has an equal chance of recovery?

Laura Paxton: I don't think there is anything special about me. I have seen recovery in the clients I work with when they begin to accept responsibility for their recovery and practice coping skills daily.

David: We have a few audience questions that I want to get to, then we'll continue with our conversation:

TS: Is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) a biochemical disorder or does it stem from trauma, or both?

Laura Paxton: I believe that both are true. Exposure to severe trauma often causes complete biochemical changes. Some cases of BPD have been reported in people with no abuse history, or who have suffered physical trauma only.

weaverwoman: I have both borderline personality disorder and multiple personality disorder. Have you run into this dual diagnosis before?

Laura Paxton: Sometimes these disorders are diagnosed simultaneously.

gracee124: Laura mentioned she has been "without drugs for the past nine months." What kind of drugs? Legal or illegal?

Laura Paxton: I have not taken any psychiatric drugs for nine months. Prior to that, I took Zoloft for about four years, Prozac before that, and Effexor before that.

ELIMAE: When Borderline Personality Disorder runs in your family, how do you know if you have it? I am having the same trouble as my sister, who has been diagnosed with BPD.

Laura Paxton: You need to consult with a mental health professional to receive a reliable diagnosis of BPD. If you are experiencing intense emotional experiences and instability in relationships, self-image and career, then you need to seek the counsel of a mental health professional.

David: Here is the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder.

Laura, I want to address the treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. What is available today and considered the "first-line" treatment?