There Is Hope--My Scare at the Bus Stop

October 26, 2010 Becky Oberg

Last night, I realized the progress I'd made in therapy for my borderline personality disorder--even if I still had to call a crisis line.

I'd left a meeting in downtown Indianapolis, and was waiting at the bus stop. Only another woman was with me. Suddenly, a man walking alongside a bicycle came up to us and asked for money. When we refused, he told us he'd been beaten by the police.

I offered to call for help, but he turned aggressive. He cursed at me, then grabbed my hand and kissed it.

An Assertive Ultimatum

Line crossed.

I was out of "just ignore it". I told him to leave. He refused and began cursing at me. I realized he was drunk, and started walking away. In response, he turned his attention to the other woman, and began holding her hand and touching her--without her consent. Just as he began kissing her, I grabbed my cell phone, dialed 911 and signaled the woman help was on the way.

The police arrived after a few extremely tense minutes and immediately arrested the guy for public intoxication--which may be upgraded to felony assault since he spit on an officer. The woman thanked me and the cops told me I'd done the right thing. I returned home and began replaying the situation.

The Choice: Dissociate or Debrief

therapyThe DSM-IV describes one of the criteria for BPD as "transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms". Other borderline personality disorder symptoms include difficulty controlling anger; and this situation was obviously stressful. But as I replayed it, each time coming to the conclusion that I was right to call the police, I realized that therapy was working.

When I was in college, I majored in paranoia. I literally slept with at least one sword by my bed--with another sword, two ninja stars, four throwing blades and several knives in the bedroom. Paranoia would have been an understandable reaction to last night's events. But instead of sleeping with a small armory nearby, I simply locked my door and went to bed--no extra precautions.

Early in my treatment for borderline personality disorder, anyone cursing at me could have caused me to fly into a rage. That also would have been understandable last night, and I'll admit it was tempting to hit him. However, I reminded myself of my pacifist religious beliefs and my promise renouncing violence. I asked myself "Is it worth it? Is it worth punching him, violating your beliefs and risking arrest when there are other options?"

As recently as two years ago, a scare like that would have caused me to dissociate, which would have resulted in self-injury at the very least and probably a stay in the psychiatric emergency room. That didn't happen last night. I left a message for my therapist to call me in the morning, then spoke briefly to a crisis line counselor. Although I had nightmares once I fell asleep, I spent the night in my apartment unharmed--not with bandages in the hospital.

For People with Borderline Personality Disorder: Don't Give Up On Yourself

Mental health professionals once told my mother: "She'll drift in and out of hospitals until they get tired of treating her." I was a "hopeless" case. Maybe they've said the same about you.

Prove them wrong. Therapy may feel like running a marathon in high heels and a mini-skirt, but it will help. You may not realize it, but you are healing and growing. There is hope to get better.

But don't rely on a drunk guy at an Indianapolis bus stop to show you that.

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2010, October 26). There Is Hope--My Scare at the Bus Stop, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Becky Oberg

November, 10 2010 at 9:00 pm

Hi Becky
Thanks for this very inspiring blog. What a terrifying experience you went through and how amazing that you coped so robustly.
I'm in England and am very fortunate to have mentalisation based therapy. Like DBT (which I also have), MBT was created to treat people with BPD. It's strongly researched and has been found to have excellent results. I've set up a website which provides information about mentalising -

November, 9 2010 at 1:27 pm

Thank you for your is appreciated and these are things are will be looking into. Thank you so much again. and please let me know of any other things you may find helpful in the future, as related to

October, 29 2010 at 12:25 pm

Your story inspired me since I also have BPD and often find my behaviors been the same over and over, and feeling the same augish repeatadly. I liked how you were so in control in your situation and I commend you for it.
Can I ask, what therapy are you in that you find has helped you this much? I have tried DBT, but can no longer attend that since where I live they will not allow a patient to take any mental health drugs and be in the program, although my drugs treat something else. Also, the DBT seems a short-term program where I live, and I feel I need a longer term therapy since I get "lost" easily. Any ideas?
I would appreciate any feedback you have...
Thank you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Becky Oberg
November, 1 2010 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for your post. You are not alone in your lack of luck with DBT--in fact, I can almost guarantee that a DBT provider will become enraged if you point out that studies showing its effectiveness are inconclusive at best, and one recent one even shows it may be no more effective than treatment as usual. I had absolutely no luck with DBT.
The program I went through is called schema therapy, and the web site is Sadly, this highly effective program is more well-known outside of the United States than inside--I don't know why that is. The web site may help you find a provider who can help. I wish you well.

Brigid du Bois
October, 29 2010 at 8:43 am

Thanks for sharing that Becky. inspiring! Give yourself a pat on the back. It's great to be making the kind of progress that you are.

Carol O'Neill
October, 28 2010 at 8:30 am

"There is no hopeless case" was a basic belief of Dr. Abraham Low, founder of Recovery International. Dr. Low was one of the first psychiatrists to develop a cognitive/behavioral training system. He believed that anyone could use their muscles to "re-train" the brain and when the brain was not functioning properly the muscles could be used to "pitch hit for the cringing cerebral manager." He also believed in changing insecure thoughts to more secure thoughts and endorsing for the effort rather than the outcome. There are over 600 self-help groups led by leaders trained in the Recovery Method and authorized by Low Self-Help Systems. There are also phone meetings and on-line meetings as well as an on-line forum. Please visit a meeting to see if Recovery International can help as an adjunct to the professional help you are receiving.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Becky Oberg
October, 29 2010 at 4:07 am

I did not know that--thanks for telling me. I'll read up on that and see what I can find.

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