Am I grateful for my borderline personality disorder (BPD)? Yes. Years after my initial diagnosis, I can honestly say I am grateful to have received the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and for the life I've lived with both the difficult moments and the beautiful ones. It might seem counterintuitive, but there have been unexpected gifts of receiving a diagnosis of BPD. Today, as I close out one year since I started writing this blog, I wanted to share a few of the unexpected gifts of living with BPD and why I'm grateful for my borderline personality disorder.
Spirituality and BPD
There was one fatal flaw in my plan to wake up screaming--I wasn't asleep. This was not a nightmare, at least not in the literal sense. Although surreal, this was real—I was really pinned to my apartment floor, three people from Waco’s Antioch Community Church really were yelling at Satan and said people really were attempting to perform an exorcism without my consent. Later, I would take the incident up the church’s chain of command: the burden of proof never on me to prove it happened, but to prove that I was not “manifesting demons.” This is an extreme example of the mental illness stigma often seen in the Church.
I've written about my abuse at the hands of the Antioch movement and my escape. It took a long time before I could attend church again, and the abuse did much to exacerbate my symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). I had to find what the Bible calls "beauty for ashes." I had to find peace amidst the pain.
I recently read an article about a new class of mental health professionals in Kentucky--licensed pastoral counselors. Due to my negative experience with Christian counseling, I am hesitant, but cautiously optimistic. I can understand both sides of the argument, but here's why I think it's a good idea.
I'm taking an online course in Kabbalah, which is a form of Jewish mysticism. Last night I learned something that was a Copernican shift in my worldview--God wants us to be happy. God wants to give us endless fulfillment. Then the professor said that we were asking ourselves, "What went wrong?" God wants us to be happy--so why aren't we?
Sometimes houses of worship are not the sanctuaries we need them to be. Many people of faith believe that mental illness is a spiritual problem, which hurts everyone involved. More Than Borderline's, Becky Oberg, endured two exorcisms at the hands of a charismatic non-denominational church, eventually leaving when she realized they would not accept her mental illness or her.
Last week, I wrote about my experiences with an abusive church. To be honest, I don't know how I survived the mass abandonment that happened when I left. But I do know that it is possible to recover from the pain of religious and spiritual abuse. Here are some steps toward healing.
A new documentary, "Kidnapped for Christ", was recently released. Although I haven't seen anything other than the promo, the movie made my must-see list. The movie is about a dysfunctional Christian behavioral modification school and the teenagers who were sent there involuntarily. It brought back memories. While my parents thankfully never sent me off to the Dominican Republic because of my psychiatric disorder, I feared that they would. Some kids, including a high school friend of mine, weren't that lucky. I was, however, abused in the name of God, just like these folks were, as a form of mental health treatment.
One-third of all Americans believe mental illness can be cured by prayer and Bible study alone, but among evangelical Christians, the number jumps to one-half. In the video, More Than Borderline blog author, Becky Oberg, discusses the need for education about the realities of mental illness.
Good news--my friend Ann from AA is okay. Her house was burglarized around 5 p.m. yesterday, but fortunately she was not at home. Her neighbors noticed a car parked the wrong way in the driveway and a 15-year-old boy running around the house carrying a flat-screen TV, and called the police with a description of the perpetrators and their vehicle. The suspects were caught near a Ruby Tuesday, where they reportedly held a person up with a sawed-off shotgun--during the dinner rush. Thankfully, a deputy sheriff was close by, so they were caught and Ann got most of her belongings back. She surprised me, however, when she said that the perpetrators were probably desperate for drug money. Who robs a house in broad daylight? Who holds up a person in a crowded parking lot? She said she hoped they got help. The power of grace and forgiveness kept her sober. As people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), we have a lot to learn from Ann.