Marsha Linehan (Left) Rachel Gill (right) mindfulness training, Vancouver, Wa. 04/22/2013
When Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), recently came out about her struggles in youth with suicide and psychiatric institutionalization, having similar experiences in my life, it caused me to realize that just as my mental health problems could destroy me, so could they be my redemption. Thus, I was inspired to follow Dr. Linehan’s vow to help others find a way out of hell by becoming a DBT researcher/practitioner so that I may learn and teach others how to build lives worth living through DBT just as Dr. Linehan has done for me. This is one step in my journey.
Currently, I am in phase 3 of DBT at Portland Dialectical Behavior Therapy Institute, coaching my peers in DBT skills and building a community of hope through my closed Facebook group Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Connections, am a junior in college with honors, have attended a training with Marsha Linehan, and am already well into planning for graduate school.
Why is BPD awareness and DBT so important? Consider this. It took ten years of misdiagnoses before I became aware of and properly diagnosed with BPD, which ultimately led me to DBT , saved my life, and taught me how to manage the turbulent emotions that are a hallmark of BPD. In fact, awareness and DBT have affected my life so profoundly that in the years since being properly diagnosed and becoming involved in DBT, I went from being chronically suicidal, homeless, and estranged from family and friends to becoming a college student with honors, re-connected to loved ones, secretary of a board of directors for a non-profit that provides peer support services to persons with mental health problems, a member of various mental health advocacy organizations, and a dedicated mental health activist who single-handed sued the state of Oregon pro se for denying Medicaid recipients access to DBT.
Some may think that having the label of borderline personality disorder is a mark of shame, disparaging those who bear the diagnosis by the implicative nature of the term borderline itself, but I can honestly say that receiving the diagnosis of BPD was one of the best things that ever happened to me because the label provided me an explanation for my debilitating myriad of emotional and interpersonal problems that allowed my understanding of myself as being a selfish, attention-seeking drama queen to transform into a proactive realization that not only did I have a legitimate problem that was not my fault but a serious one that needed supportive treatment, which led me to DBT.
For this reason, I want the world to know that I have borderline personality disorder; borderline personality disorder does not have me, and above all, I am not ashamed. Join me in transforming shame into empowerment and share your own personal BPD/DBT story of hope, compassion, and recovery by commenting on this page, talking with friends, family, co-workers, anyone and everyone. Where there is an awareness there is hope. I am living proof.
Love and kindness,