Some people are born readers, and I’m one of them. I almost always have a book (or two, or three) that I’m reading. Much of my learning comes from reading books and adapting their ideas in my real life. As a result of this process, I’ve found three books I recommend everyone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) read.
I Can’t Get Over It
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ve seen me quote generously from this book by Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis, an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some experts believe that BPD is a form of PTSD, and I’m inclined to agree. Even if it isn’t, however, a high percentage of people with BPD are trauma survivors, and this is the best book on coping with trauma that I’ve ever read.
Matsakis identifies “self-mutilation or the desire to self-mutilate” as one possible risk of facing trauma, which pretty much anyone with BPD can attest to. She also identifies other symptoms of BPD, such as dissociation and self-destructive behavior. As we say in Indiana, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander–what works in treating these problems for a person with PTSD will more than likely work for a person with BPD.
This book also identifies and explains many of trauma’s mysteries. Not sure if you have trouble with victim thinking? Read Chapter Four for an explanation of what it is, examples of it and how to address it. Wondering why you’re acting the way you are? Check out Chapter 5 for an explanation of triggers and how to fight them. Whether your trauma is a crime committed by a stranger, rape and sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual abuse, suicide of a loved one, a natural disaster, a vehicle accident, or war and combat, Matsakis addresses it. You owe it to yourself to read this book.
How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying To Kill Me
This book, while containing some strong profanity, is by Susan Rose Blauner, a person with BPD. This is from someone who has “been there”. Blauner writes for those of us with frequent suicidal ideation. She takes the interesting approach of looking at suicidal ideation as an addiction, which in itself makes you think. Is our suicidal ideation and gestures something we have to have in order to function, even when we know it’s not healthy?
Blauner’s book teaches us to outthink our brains. After explaining why a brain becomes suicidal as a result of a chemical imbalance, Blauner teaches coping skills. They include talking back to your brain, keeping emergency contact handy, asking for help, creating a crisis plan beforehand and following it when the crisis comes, meditating, journaling (which I also recommend) and attending support groups.
REPAIR Your Life
Since so many people with BPD are survivors of child sexual abuse, I recommend this book by Marjorie McKinnon. Like Blauner, McKinnon is a trauma survivor, which results in the book having the perspective of someone who’s “been there.”
According to a review on Amazon.com, REPAIR stands for:
“Recognize and accept your adult problems stemming from childhood sexual abuse.
“Enter into a commitment to transform your life.
“Process your issues with tools and techniques that will enable you to become healthy.
“Awareness to discover reality as you gather and assemble the pieces of the broken puzzle your life became.
“Insight into the complete picture helps you begin to return to what you were prior to being sexually violated.
“Rhythm recovers the natural rhythm you had before the incest happened, the blueprint that is the essence of your true nature, becoming who you really are.”
These are good steps for anyone to follow. The book can easily be adapted for survivors of trauma other than childhood sexual abuse. Recognize the hurt, commit to heal, work on it in therapy, discover a new reality, have insight into your condition, and become who you truly are in spite of your wounds.
All three books are must-reads for people with BPD, but they should not take the place of a competent therapist. These books should be read as supplements to therapy, not substitutes. That said, they are powerful tools in the struggle of life with BPD. And we need all the help we can get.