Looking for some interesting reading while you’re relaxing by the pool? If you or someone you’re close to has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it’s a good time to do some summer reading that can give you more insight into and information on this psychiatric disorder. Here are some of our picks for books, both fiction and non-fiction, related to Borderline Personality Disorder:
This is a definitive guide on Borderline Personality Disorder. Released in 1991, I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me was one of the first books to take a comprehensive look at BPD. Kreisman and Straus delve into the various factors that can lead to the development of BPD. Besides busting myths that are most often associated with the psychiatric disorder, the authors have devoted an entire section to people who have loved ones with BPD. The new and improved 2010 version also details the cognitive and behavioral treatment options available for BPD.
In Get Me Out of Here, Rachel Reiland weaves a first-person account of her struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. From being diagnosed with BPD and anorexia to achieving a fulfilling life, she takes us on a roller coaster ride filled with some typical symptoms of BPD, including severe mood swings, suicide attempts, promiscuity, episodes of anxiety, and depression. A gripping, yet informative tale.
Richard Moskovitz, MD, provides interesting accounts of BPD patients he has treated in Lost in the Mirror. Based on actual medical case studies, Moskovitz provides important insights into the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. He describes the psychiatric disorder through everyday analogies, making the book accessible to the general reader. Moskovitz understands the borderline personality, and makes borderlines feel “understood” too. Lost in the Mirrors offers hope, not just education.
In Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen narrates her experiences as an inpatient resident in a mental hospital. Kaysen was admitted into a psychiatric facility at the age of 18 after she was diagnosed with BPD following a suicide attempt. She recounts her experiences with the fellow wards, exploring the nature of their individual illnesses. The book transports us into the mind of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be, along with other reference guides, a good companion text for families who are dealing with BPD.
People getting into a relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder don’t often realize there’s anything wrong with their partner. People with BPD can be charming, intense, and passionate. It’s only after a while that inconsistencies in their behavior become apparent and start rocking the relationship. People with BPD can make for volatile partners and can be a constant source of stress for the other person. Breaking Free from Boomerang Love is written for the partners of people with BPD. It can be hard to detach yourself from your partner with BPD, despite the pain they might be inflicting on you, because their good, loving side keeps returning. However, Lynn Melville explains how you can detach yourself from your partner and create a happier life for yourself.
Kiera Van Gelder’s memoir provides an honest look at her ongoing recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder. The Buddha & The Borderline follows Van Gelder from her first suicide attempt at the age of 12 to her diagnosis of BPD 20 years later to her recovery through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Buddhism, and other methods. An insightful look into the daily struggles of someone with BPD and the hope that recovery can bring.
If you have any other books on Borderline Personality Disorder to add to our summer reading list, please share them below.
Tags: borderline personality disorder, bpd books, summer
This post originally appeared in xoJane
By Stephanie Watson
Note: This article describes mental illness, suicide and self harming behaviors.
"I was trying to make the shit stop."
As soon as I heard Susanna, the protagonist of "Girl, Interrupted," say these words, I knew this movie would understand me.
I've been struggling with depression and anxiety since high school, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since childhood, and utter contempt with a large portion of the world since before I can remember. I just wanted it all to stop. I did so much to try and get it to stop.
I never attempted suicide, but I did dabble in a moderate form of self harm now and again. I call it moderate because I only ever drew blood once, and the rest of the time I was either dragging my finger nails down my skin or punching things until I bruised. Before I was properly diagnosed and given SRRI's on top of therapy, this was my form of trying to make the shit stop.
I believed Susanna when she told the shrink that her overdose at the beginning of the movie (that prompted the important quote above) was not a suicide attempt. I knew because I know that sometimes when your mind can't take anymore, you just want to throw yourself into a dangerous situation to silence the voices in your head -- voices that tell you that you're no good, and that you're making all the pain up -- and the voices from gas-lighters around you. You want to survive, but you feel like you need to throw yourself into a fire to cleanse yourself first.
By now, I'm sure most of us know the story of "Girl, Interrupted," in terms of the movie and the true story behind the silver screen. A young girl in the 60's is sent to a psychiatric ward with her permission, diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and forced to choose between her friends in the mental ward and her desire to return to society.
Susanna Kaysen is a symbol of every young girl out there who has ever felt they have no clue of what is going on inside them, both in terms of just having a difficult time growing up, and in terms of mental illness coming out of nowhere and kicking you while you're down. I related to her confusion, and her journey taught me that just because you have no idea what's going on in your mind, it doesn't mean you're doomed.
Through the help of one of the psychiatric nurses, Susanna learns that though she hasn't done anything to cause her pain, she still has a hand in at least helping it on its merry way; with therapy, creativity, and patience. It took me a while to realize I had to do this too, I'd been putting off going to the doctor because I was sure they wouldn't believe me, and I resented the fact that I had to do extra work to fix this thing I didn't cause, but seeing Susanna do this I realized it was something I had to do too.
I also found myself partially relating to Lisa, Susanna's anti-social friend, and major flight risk. Lisa was someone I didn't want to relate to, but I did, in a way anyway. I always imagined if I had a full on mental breakdown then I'd run away like she did, abandon all idea of safety and just roam around with only my anger and carnal urges to guide me. I guess I was afraid of becoming her if I cracked. I related to that pure violent energy that Lisa had, though I never hurt anybody and barely hurt myself, the desire to destroy something and tell everyone around me to fuck the hell off was very strong. Seeing this character in full color on my screen almost got it out of my system for me, watching her meant I didn't need to be her.
Looking at the facility Susanna stayed in during the film (though not completely unproblematic) it was comforting to see someone I related to not being abused and shamed like they would be in "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" or "AHS Asylum." It was comforting to see her being taken seriously, when people I knew just called me attention seeking, lazy, and melodramatic. I envied that. I was so lonely in my depression as a teen that part of me longed for medical help, rather than fear it, which looking back is pretty naive considering how badly neurodivergant folk are treated in the medical world. But I just wanted to be taken care of, I wanted the pain to go away.
There are also several lines in the movie that I feel helped me a lot put my psyche into perspective, watching it almost felt like a dramatic therapy session, and to this day I still carry around a handful of quotes from it.
"Crazy isn't being broken, or swallowing a dark secret. It's you or me... amplified."
This quote made me realize that I, and other neurodivergant folk, are not broken messes lying on the sidelines of society. It made me realize that my permanent OCD is not something that makes me damaged goods, and that my anxiety and depression were not a death sentence. I am obsessive compulsive and I deal with it, it's a part of me that I can't change, an amplified part of me.
It took me until the end of the movie to realize how important the title of the movie was too, and how useful a mantra it could be for me. Susanna spent a whole year of her life in that facility, a whole year spent medicated and confined to only a couple of rooms...a whole year of her life was spent treating her condition as well as her mindset. Her life was interrupted unfairly, but that's all it was, an interruption.
When I was probably around half way through my treatment for depression all those years back, I tried to tell myself that I was just a girl interrupted, and that it'd be better someday. And I'm very lucky in the sense that my foul mood swings and self harm did pass, but I'm not going to call myself cured of depression, because that's not how it works. I do consider myself in a place of recovery, however, and I try to look back at that time as just an interruption, it's just easier that way.
So part of me was interrupted, and I may very well be again one day, but I'll keep that mantra with me if that time comes. For my "craziness" however, that amplification will never change, and that's okay, because what else am I supposed to do? I'd rather accept something I can't change, than go back to the days were it terrified me every day.
For those of you who feel interrupted right now, (re)watch the film, it'll make the shit stop for a little while at least.
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