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BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

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BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby Ad33 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:42 pm

Hello, I'm new tothis forum and was recently diagnosed with BPD (with impulsive traits, apparently), and depression. I spent a number of years in 12 step fellowships for eating disorders and relationship issues unaware that I have BPD. My mental health deteriorated and my behaviour in these fellowships was inexplicable to me, though it makes more sense now I have a proper diagnosis. Anyway, I recently started attending AA after developing a problem with alcohol, which led to an overdose of alcohol and painkillers. The meetings have given me just over 30 days off alcohol but I'm finding them really difficult - I tend to have dramatic, emotional outbursts when I share and then feel rejected and abandoned when people keep a distance. I also feel quite fragmented in my identity and lose touch with who I am and what I want to say, or sometimes dissociate. If I feel scared I just shut people out and hide in a corner but seek reassurance from individuals and then hate myself forthis behaviour. Recently I have developed an obsessive fear that I am not being honest and that everyone can seethis. I am attracted to the peace and calm I see in people with long-term sobriety but have been feeling hopeless recently about my ability to get the 12 steps, especially based on previous experience. I have self-harmed and felt suicidal after meetings but then again I feel suicidal when I drink or isolate myself too. I'm waiting for new medication and therapy via the NHS so maybe BPD treatment will help with AA recovery, I don't know. If anyone readingthis can share their own experiences of 12 step recovery with a BPD diagnosis I would appreciate it.
dx BPD with impulsive traits and depression
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby OMNICELL » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:09 pm

Your describing everyone who walks through the door.. They wont tell you that...

Get a sponsor, either from AA or NA.. NA is a much better program for openness/AA can shut a person out if they add anything to the Alcohol call.. It can be a narrow experience.

As for the 12 steps. Get a sponsor and work them on paper. Work all 12 on paper. The recovery process allows you to grow spiritually as your dealing with all the other problems. Get a higher power, work the 4th step. The 4th step is a great thing. I wish more people on this site knew about all of this. It would benefit them greatly...
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby jilkens » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:31 am

Hi Ad33,

I spent some time in 12 step groups for eating disorders as well. Although I don't have BPD (just traits), I do understand how it can be distressing to go through the situations you described. There was a period of time that I spent dwelling on how much everyone else in the group must have hated me for being so emotionally needy, the guilt would drive me to self injure. It was confusing.

Omnicell is spot on. Having a sponsor while going through the 12 step process is the best way to work the steps. They can also talk to you about your fears about the meetings. They were new once, too.

Keep working on it!
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby Ad33 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:41 pm

Hi,

Thank you both for your replies. It's good to know I'm not alone in this! I have a sponsor, who, as it turns out, also has a BPD diagnosis. Given my awful experiences doing the steps in the past I am reticent to do them in AA but I know I will need to if I want recovery from alcoholism.

All the best,

Aline
dx BPD with impulsive traits and depression
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby ladyjello » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:24 am

Been there too - and got a lot of insights.

Sometimes I think the people and the problems and the solutions offered there are very suited to those of us with some degree of mental illness and that all the isms - alcohol. gambling etc are manifestations of mental illness or at least maladaptive coping mechanisms.
Sometimes I think my drinking was a form of "self harm" because I would get my life sort of sorted, then got an drink and mess it up again. Felt i was not a "real alcoholic" as I was not physically addicted and would go weeks between drinks or drink without problems at times but on occasions when my "emotional instability" combined with the alcohol, the result could be me going a bit nuts and getting in trouble.

Whatever - AA and 12 Step Programmes have got some answers.

Ad33 Relate to what you are saying about lack of information about your condition. I have been diagnosed with "emotional instability" (Borderline is called also referred to as Emotional Instability Personality Disorder sometimes in certain places - seems I am considered to have some traits but not the full PD). I have never got much help or information or explanation of how I am supposed to cope with this - so muddle through myself basically.

But on a postiive note, having to do that has motivated me to think and find out a lot and find ways of coping myself ... and lead me here too where I have found out a lot. Maybe when you see your doctor next and begin some therapy you will discover more?.
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby jhp » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:39 pm

I can only add that BPD is known as the disorder of relationships. So any relationship - AA groups included - is probably going to take work, if you're BPD. They say BPD's have no 'protective skin' emotionally.... so I think you're doing v well if you're going to meetings with many people and interacting - good on you, keep at it
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - possible trigger (self-harm)

Postby Ad33 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:39 pm

Hi,

Nice to read more feedback. Yes, that's exactly it - no emotional skin. Just got back from a meeting and didn't speak to anyone because I felt too vulnerable. Also, my sponsor didn't reply to a text I sent her. Went into serious abandonment and self-harm/using/drinking thoughts afterwards ("it's pointless - I might as well kill myself etc.") and am still in serious pain but am trying to look at the positives:

For today I didn't self-harm, drink or use and won't before I go to sleep
My psychiatrist is pretty open and accessible and answered my questions freely at our last meeting.
I am about to start new meds, which hopefully will help, and therapy.
I now have an official diagnosis so can attempt to stop beating myself up - my psych. told me that the UK diagnostic term for what I have is emotionally unstable personality disorder (or something), which apparently is the same as borderline personality disorder.
I beat myself up less than I usually would after the meeting.
dx BPD with impulsive traits and depression
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby lillytig » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:59 pm

I have been in 12 step recovery and in therapy and personal developments for many years. In my 12 step group, I saw other people getting more progress out of the steps than me which baffled me and made me feel bad about myself and my ability to progress. Recently I discovered I have some BPD traits which makes a lot of sense. I am reading books about BPD based on Marsha Linehan's work (she's got BPD and has come up with a lot of the new understandings about BPD and it's recovery). She has written "The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook", which is an easy to follow workboook designed to help you develop skills to help cope with BPD's instability and "no emotional skin". There is special therapy for BPD based on her work but not all therapists are trained in this area. But this book is good enough to get you started yourself. "Stop Walking On Eggshells" was a Eureka book for me. It's a book written for non-BPs to help them in relating to a BP and has many helpful insights and concepts about BPD which helped me make sense of my disorder in a way that I didn't hate myself. But bear in mind it was a little hard to see myself through the eyes of the non-PB. I want to work with these concepts to help me cope with relationships etc. and from my years in Al-Anon I saw how beneficial it is to have a group to go to each week which constantly reminds us to be gentle on ourselves and seek progress, not perfection. As they say in AA, "God doesn't make junk". I would dearly love to see a BPD 12 step programme start up, I believe it would be very beneficial. Looking back I can see that there were other BPD's in my AlAnon group and we all benefited a lot from the regular support in our healing journey, so I recommend Al-Anon if you can find any link with over-drinking in your femily or even extended family.
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby lillytig » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:03 pm

Here's a link for an article called "DBT meets the 12 Steps". DBT is the type of therapy found to be very successful for treating a range of traits that BPD often have. So there is definately a lot of common traits in recovery using DBT and the 12 Steps.
http://www.addictionpro.com/article/dbt-meets-12-steps
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Re: BPD and 12 Step recovery - anyone with experience?

Postby jaynyhc87 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:49 pm

im 26 have bpd and am a recovered from other things. I spent 5 years in aa/na had sponsors and couldnt put together more than 6 months, now free from aa/na i have almost two years. I dont knock what works for some people but 12 step programs tell people there powerless and 12 steps are the only solution, which is a bold faced lie. Its not a one size fits all, and i searched for meaning and got tire of the whole need god thing, in this day in age if u have a medical problem they have an answer unless your an addict, then they try and force dogma on you, i found aa to be a shame and fear based program, and as a self destructive young borderline, that wasnt making my situation any better. If aa works for you then great, just dont assume it works for everyone who is mentally ill or addicted
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