I have been noticeably less symptomatic for the past few months. My mood swings are less frequent and intense, I don’t feel empty as often, and I don’t get my feelings hurt as easily. However, I don’t think this is because I have improved my DBT skills or become a master of managing my symptoms. I think my improved state is largely due to circumstances.
This makes sense since it is BPD is generally considered to be less based in neurochemistry and more based in cognitive distortions and difficulty regulating emotions and behavior based on trauma, intense fear/pain, being in an invalidating & non-nurturing environment, etc. Marsha Linehan has noted that borderlines are dependent on their environment to regulate their feelings and actions. So it’s not surprising that I am feeling and functioning better since my situation has improved.
I am fully aware that I have been very lucky, and I am so grateful. I am in a relationship with a wonderful, validating person who makes me feel secure, for the most part (meaning that I still have a lot of insecurities but they are not logically based on things he does). My hours at work went from 40 a week to 30 a week, which reduced stress. My boyfriend and I aren’t middle class or anything and we have to be careful with money but we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay rent and utilities from one month to the next. October to December is my favorite time of year, especially Christmastime. So that has added a huge amount of pleasure and happiness to my daily life lately.
I really think that if I were working a job I didn’t enjoy, worrying about money, and experiencing a bunch of conflict in my relationship, I would be EXTREMELY symptomatic. Even if one of those things were the case I would be pretty symptomatic. My stress tolerance is still rather low and my mood zooms up or down when too much is going on or something hurts my feelings. It’s like someone running naked through the woods and getting bitten by mosquitoes, scratched by thorns, stepping on sticks and rocks, etc. The longer they keep going and the more obstacles & irritants there are, the worse they are going to feel. But if all the aggravating stuff is removed, it’s still annoying to be in the woods naked (or a person who has so much trouble regulating themselves) but it’s much easier than it was before with the thorns and mosquitoes and such.
Right now I’m naked in the woods, but I haven’t run into any thorns or bugs or rocks yet.