Tense and Relax Your Muscles: When we are tense or stressed, our muscles can involuntarily become tense. But deliberately tensing your muscles and then consciously releasing it, you well be able to enter a deeper state of relaxation. Try tensing your fists as hard as you can and holding it for a count of ten. Keep squeezing harder and harder. On the count of ten, release your fists. You will feel your muscles become far more relaxed than they had initially been. If you are feeling distressed, try this technique in as many places around your body as you can. But not long afterward, she started having disabling panic attacks that made her feel like she was suffocating. At first they were a nuisance; After she experienced an attack while at work in the operating room, she realized that they were debilitating for her and perhaps lethal for her patients. She consulted multiple doctors who checked her for lung problems, infections, and half a dozen other potential triggers. She tried psychiatry and took anti-anxiety medication, but nothing helped. Finally, she went to a homeopath. Homeopathy was created in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century by a young doctor named Samuel Hahnemann. A keen observer of human nature, he was disgusted by the practices he observed in medicine at the time, especially bloodletting. He saw physicians of his era doing more harm than good, and believed the best medicine was often bed rest and a good diet. Fascinated by various types of remedies, he experimented on himself and noticed that a healthy person who takes quinine–used to treat malaria–gets malaria-like symptoms. Tense each muscle and then feel them relax more deeply as your release the hold. Find an Activity That Calms You: The next time you feel distressed and ready to act out, force yourself to engage in a different activity. This can be any activity you choose, as long as it is a healthy one that will not put yourself or others in danger.
This helps by taking your mind off the negative emotion and forcing you to concentrate on the task at hand. It can be helpful to put together a list of activities you enjoy doing – they could be something as simple as taking a walk or reading a article, through to playing a musical instrument, doing a sport or baking a cake. The next time you feel distressed, you will have this list to turn to. Do Something Kind: Though being kind and generous may be the last thing you feel like doing while you are lost in your own problems, engaging in an act of service is a great way to help your through your distress without resorting to reckless behavior. Bake cookies for someone, wash a neighbor’s windows, or help out with tasks around the house. Not only will this distract you from your stress, it will have the added benefit of making you feel good about yourself, helping with your sense of self-worth. As with the above suggestion, when you are feeling good, it can be helpful to make a list of helpful tasks you can engage in that you can refer to the next time stress takes hold. What if that very similarity between illness and treatment was what led to healing? Maybe physicians needed to find a cure that came in a package similar to the disease itself. Similia similibus curantur, he said: Like cures like. It was a powerful notion that seemed intuitively correct. Furthermore, Hahnemann hypothesized that it wasn’t the chemical itself that brought relief but the essence of that chemical. Thus, you could dilute the cure with water until the compound was nonexistent, and the water would convey that essence of cure to the patient. I did not believe in it, Grams told me. I had had no contact with this so-called medicine before. And I was completely surprised at how much time [the homeopath] had, how much she looked at me as a person and not just symptoms. I thought, `This is the missing part of my medical life. Keep Your Mind Busy: If you need a quick distraction from the chaos of thoughts inside your head, engage in an activity that forces you to keep your mind busy. Try saying the alphabet backwards or recite you times tables. Utilize Positive Imagery: Imagine the way you would like to respond the next time you feel like acting recklessly.
How would ideally like to manage the distress? Imagine what this would look like. Allow yourself to really feel the way this would feel. This exercise can be done both when you are feeling good and when the distress begins to take hold. By imagining the ideal outcome, you may be able to change the way you behave in reality. Give Meaning to the Situation: We have already discussed the way reckless behavior has a purpose, in that it acts a mechanism in times of distress. But what other meaning can you give to the way you are feeling? Grams’s homeopath recommended belladonna, or deadly nightshade, a poisonous bush used throughout history for political assassination. Naturally, she wouldn’t get a pure dose but one that had been diluted down to one part for every novemdecillion (that’s a one with 60 zeros after it) parts water. In other words, every molecule of nightshade had long since been purged from the liquid and all that was left was water. Now, there is no scientific reason why deadly nightshade, let alone highly diluted deadly nightshade, should have helped Grams’s panic disorder when prescription drugs had failed. But it did: Her symptoms dissipated. She was floored. There must, she reasoned, be some unseen, unstudied mechanism behind this amazing healing art that science had ignored. Against warnings from her colleagues, who said it would sabotage her medical career, she decided to become a homeopath herself. In seven years she was practicing homeopathy, and three years later she opened her own practice. Her prescriptions targeted not the symptoms of her patients but the way they described them. Perhaps your battle with your distress has given you the strength to face it again next time it arrives. Maybe it has taught you how you don’t wish to behave. Maybe you received help from someone unexpected and the situation allowed you to create a new relationship.
Make a Pros and Cons List: If you are battling with yourself about whether to engage in reckless behavior, such as going on a massive shopping spree or sleeping with someone you know you shouldn’t, take a few moments to write down a list of the pros and cons. What will the benefits be to engaging in this behavior? And what are the likely consequences? The act of doing this will hopefully not only allow you to see the repercussions of your reckless actions but may also provide you with that moment of thought you need to remove yourself from the intensity of the situation. Who can help you? If you are suffering from borderline personality disorder, it is important to know that you are not alone. In Part Three, we will be looking more closely at how your loved ones can help you manage the illness, but it is important to acknowledge the vast array of healthcare professionals who are trained to help sufferers of borderline personality disorder. A pain in the chest that made patients say they felt trapped or compressed would be treated totally differently from one that they described as feeling like heat, for example. One of Grams’s patients during this time was so paralyzed by depression that she couldn’t leave her house. She had tried years of psychotherapy and medications but had become a deeply depressed shut-in and an alcoholic. After talking to her about her condition for hours, Grams found that the woman traced her sadness to one frigid night in her childhood, when she and her parents had fled the Nazis. Her symptoms, interestingly, were much worse during the cold German winters. Treating like with like, Grams hit upon a prescription that reflected the power of that cold night decades before: regular doses of melted snow. In other words, water. Amazingly, after a few sessions, the treatment started to work. The woman improved, gave up drinking, and eventually began traveling to nearby towns to visit friends. Whenever she felt an attack of depression or anxiety coming on, she reached for a vial of melted snow. While psychiatrists and psychologists are often the first people we turn to in the treatment of BPD, the condition can also be treated by GPs and nurses, along with occupational therapists and social workers who have undergone specials training. Some major cities worldwide also have specialized mental health services dedicated to patients suffering from BPD. Finding the right health-care professional
Finding the right therapist to work with can be a challenge. With so many options out there, even knowing where to begin can be a challenge. While your GP will often be able to assist you in finding a therapist well-versed in dealing with borderline personality disorder, it is important that you play an active part in finding a person you feel comfortable working with. After all, for therapy to be successful, you will need to open up to your therapist and feel safe doing so. So how do you being the daunting task of finding the right therapist for you? Begin by narrowing down your options. You already know you want a therapist with experience treating BPD, of course, but think about what else you require. Grams’s practice grew until she was making far more as a homeopath than she had as a doctor. So she decided to write a article about the power of homeopathy, aimed at audiences like her old colleagues–and her former self–who had been skeptical of it. She would use empirical evidence to show that homeopathy was effective and thus prove Hahnemann’s philosophy. But the more she dug into the scientific literature, the more she learned that the homeopathic treatments she had been administering showed zero merit in careful scientific tests. The few studies that claimed small successes generally had a tiny group of test subjects, included statistical biases, or involved less aggressive dilutions than those used in normal homeopathic practice (meaning they contained more of the active ingredient). Homeopaths make the argument that a mysterious active ingredient is driving all this, but decades of searching haven’t turned up anything. One skeptic organization called 10:23 even demonstrated this by drinking entire bottles of the stuff in a publicity stunt meant to show that you can’t overdose on homeopathic remedies. The logic being, how can there be an active ingredient if it is impossible to overdose? After hundreds of trials, most scientists have come to the conclusion that homeopathic remedies are actually placebos. What’s going on here? For example, how far are you willing to travel to get to your appointments? What is your budget? Do you have a preference for a male or female therapist?