Some struggles are so solitary that they drown in words.
-Martha Manning


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When Hope is Not Enough
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Be mindful of transitions with BPD

Transitions, especially as they relate to identity, can wreck havoc in a relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

The last few months have been very difficult in my household with my wife with BPD. Over the weekend, she engaged in self-injury for the first time in eight years.


Because my household is going through a very significant transition. My girls have applied to and gone to college, leaving only my wife, my last child (a middle schooler) and myself in the house.

My wife identifies herself as primarily a mother. She is greatly attached to our girls and now that they have “left the nest,” my wife’s role as a guiding mother to them has been greatly diminished. At some level, she’s lost her purpose and it threatens her identity.

I have been blogging on the subject of being a supporter/family member of someone with BPD for almost 10 years now. Except at the very beginning, when I was still learning about the dynamics of BPD and the tools/skills to make things easier, this time in our lives has been the most difficult, as manifested by the self-harm.

I have a few suggestions regarding impending transitions in your life, as a loved one of a person with BPD:

  1. Be mindful of such transitions before they occur. Large life transitions, particularly those that involve identity, can wreck havoc on the emotions of someone with BPD. If you’re going to be in the “blast radius” be ready and aware.
  2. Show compassion for the person with BPD. While it can be very difficult when your emotions are involved, or when they attack you for seemingly no reason, the person with BPD is suffering greatly as his/her identity is threatened.
  3. Use validation and emotional skills to deal with the emotions as they arise. These are not intended to solve anything. They merely help cool the emotional temperature and can help build a sense that the person with BPD is heard.
  4. If needed, step back from or out of the situation for a short time, particularly if the other person is abusing substances or is in a rage. That said, make sure children are safe. Don’t allow “adult” decisions of an emotionally dysregulated (and therefore irrational) person put children at risk.
  5. Use mentalization skills to reframe the issues, yet do so when the emotional dysregulation is gone. “Strike while the iron is cool.”

Like kids at bedtime or going to school or getting up or whatever, transitions can be difficult for those with BPD.

8 Genetically Distinct Disorders Linked to Schizophrenia

Recent findings conducted by a team of researchers at Washington University of School of Medicine now suggest that schizophrenia can be linked to eight genetically distinct disorders that have their own unique symptoms.

“Genes don’t operate by themselves. They function in concert much like an orchestra, and to understand how they’re working, you have to know not just who the members of the orchestra are but how they interact,” said C. Robert Cloninger, MD, PhD, one of the study’s senior investigators, in a news release. “What we’ve done here, after a decade of frustration in the field of psychiatric genetics, is identify the way genes interact with each other, how the ‘orchestra’ is either harmonious and leads to health, or disorganized in ways that lead to distinct classes of schizophrenia.”
Continue reading 8 Genetically Distinct Disorders Linked to Schizophrenia

The Surprising Key Element in Happy Couples – Emotional Intelligence

Bon: I like to call this emotional agility…

The Surprising Key Element in Happy Couples

Have you ever wondered if you and the guy you just started dating will make it long term? Or are you about to get married, and wish you could really predict if it will last? Do you ever wonder if you and your wife’s relationship is as happy as it can be? What do you think accounts for those who seem madly in love, versus couples who don’t make it or seem miserable together?

Most of us can think of all sorts of elements that might make a happy couple. But there’s one key factor that almost everyone overlooks: Emotional Intelligence (EI). In fact, a new research meta-analysis shows a significant association between Emotional Intelligence and relationship satisfaction. This means that couples with high Emotional Intelligence tend to be happier in their love life together. This finding was true for both men and women.

What is Emotional Intelligence, exactly? Your level of EI is defined by how effectively you perceive and relate to your emotions. With high EI, there are four main components at play:

  1. Emotional Awareness: You’re consciously aware of your own emotions, and are able to monitor and understand your own feelings. Rather than push your emotions away, you experience and examine them.
  2. Regulating Emotions: You have the ability to manage your emotions, such as being able to calm down quickly or self soothe when you’re upset. Emotions don’t overwhelm you, even the more difficult emotions such as fear, sadness, anxiety or anger.
  3. Harnessing Emotions: You’re able to harness your emotions in a helpful way: to achieve goals, solve problems or generally better your situation.
  4. Highly Perceptive: You’re sensitive to the feelings of others. You’re able to tune into how others are feeling, and are engaged in the process of listening, showing empathy, and attending to other’s emotional states.

We know that couples where both people have high levels of Emotional Intelligence are closer, are more committed to one another, and are more satisfied in their relationships.

Read the rest of the Article

The Paradoxical Commandments

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
― Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

The Many Faces of Being Borderline

People with BPD are highly tuned into their environment. Hypervigilance is another hallmark of BPD.

The Many Faces of Being Borderline

Misreading neutral facial expressions as hostile is reported to be what distinguishes BPD from other mental illness disorders according to this article from US News Health

Rolling the eyes, the extended blink, the nose wrinkle, the eyebrow rise, the lip twitch; all these can be erroneously interpreted as provocative, insulting and combative and cause huge ruptures in relationships. However, sometimes these interpretations are spot on. We can display our deepest prejudices in our facial expressions and not even know it.

The eyebrow rise can display surprise, the nose wrinkle can portray disgust and the extended blink, an indication that the person is either bored to death or that you have tapped into some shameful secret or synchronous event or both. I’ve been eerily accurate on several occasions with my therapist through the extended blink and the nose wrinkle; all confirmed by subsequent personal interrogation, just short of thumb screws, to extract a confession. But the hotter my mood, the less accurate I am. Depending on my internal state, misinterpretation is also possible.

People with BPD are highly tuned into their environment. Hypervigilance is another hallmark of BPD. This is a learned survival skill, where accurately interpreting the finer nuances of another’s intentions can save one’s life. Getting it right albeit half the time means you can go on to live another day. It means you will survive long enough to pass your genes onto the next generation. This makes perfectly logical evolutionary sense.


People With Borderline Personality Disorder May Misinterpret Facial Emotions

In studies, patients sometimes saw anger in a ‘neutral’ face and reacted to that threat

Facial Expressions

Facial Expressions

THURSDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) — Symptoms of borderline personality disorder often mimic traits of other psychiatric disorders, complicating diagnosis and treatment. But researchers in Canada say they have identified a characteristic that may be unique to borderline personality disorder: a tendency to misinterpret emotions expressed by the face.

“They have difficulty processing facial emotions and will see a negative emotion on a neutral face,” said Anthony Ruocco, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “This is not seen in bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”

Inaccuracies in recognizing anger, sadness, fear and disgust also were noted in Ruocco’s recent study, with greater deficits related to anger and disgust.

Continue reading People With Borderline Personality Disorder May Misinterpret Facial Emotions