When I first heard about borderline personality disorder back in the fall of 2017, I remember reading tons of online forums that claimed BPD was a “lifelong disorder” and that “recovery could never be possible.” However, I’ve since learned that isn’t the case at all. In fact, I’ve encountered numerous people both online and in-person who have found ways to manage their symptoms and, in some cases, even recover to a point where a BPD diagnosis no longer fits.
In fact, one of these people is Dee Chan, founder of the website BPD No More. Through her website and Facebook group, Dee hopes to help people with BPD find “a way out of the darkness” so that they can build a life worth living just as she has.
However, Dee’s life hasn’t always looked as sunny as it does now. In fact, Dee has lived with BPD for over 35 years and says that she spent years trying to kill herself before she finally discovered her saving grace: dialectical behavior therapy.
I recently connected with Dee through a Facebook group for writers and loved reading about her recovery story, so I decided to chat with Dee about her website and the services she offers for people who live with borderline personality disorder.
Here’s what Dee had to say:
What is the ultimate goal of “BPD No More?”
My initial goal, as I said, was to offer other people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder some kind of hope. It can be overwhelming to receive this diagnosis. When I was first diagnosed and did my preliminary research at the local university library, I saw article after article about how there was no cure. I felt so devastated that it actually sent me down my next spiral. I felt depressed and suicidal before, but [receiving my diagnosis] prompted a few serious suicide attempts.
In addition to helping people through their diagnosis, my ultimate goal is to become a loud voice for mental health awareness so that people know that BPD is not a death sentence and they can turn their life around if they want to focus on recovery.
What help or services do you offer to people with BPD?
Since I believe anxiety fuels borderline personality disorder, I first help people get a handle on their anxiety. I teach them the same “anxiety-busting techniques” that I learned. I find that people usually see results pretty quickly with this, which makes me feel great and helps motivate them to continue working towards improvement.
After I help clients get their anxiety under control, I move into mindfulness and other DBT skills.
How do your services/coaching differ from what a traditional DBT therapist would do?
I had the best DBT facilitators, so I modeled my course after them. Because of this, I don’t think my services look much different than traditional DBT coaching, but I don’t work with clients in a group setting or in-person. Everything happens online.
I teach the skills then assign homework. I ask clients to complete the handouts, scan them, and send them to me. Honestly, not all of my clients follow through with turning in the homework, but that is how I approach it as that’s what will help them in their recovery.
I also connect with my clients on Facebook and then I make myself available to them outside of class time. Although I don’t make myself available all the time, I will answer questions and engage with them outside of class time.
Do you require that your clients also see a DBT therapist or work with a DBT clinic?
No, but I do require that they be work with a therapist and I ask them to make sure that their therapist is onboard with what I will teach them, although I don’t request permission to communicate with their therapist.
I also ask my clients to sign a “no harm contract.” This lets us proceed with reasonable assurance that the client will not engage in any self-harming behavior while we work together. I tell them that if they choose to break the contract, it will terminate our working relationship. I’ve never had anyone (thank God!) engage in self-harming behavior while we work together, but I also think that’s because I rigorously screen every client.
What advice would you offer to someone struggling with borderline personality disorder?
I believe that BPD is 90% learned behavior and that it is possible to unlearn behaviors. Nobody gets to the place they are in overnight, but in time everyone can learn new ways of responding to prompting events. BPD is not a life sentence; it is possible to recover.
What advice would you offer to loved ones of someone who just received a BPD diagnosis?
I tell anyone who is living with a loved one with BPD to read, “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me!”
I also stress that the problems their loved one displays are not their fault and not their responsibility to fix. If your loved one is experiencing a meltdown or crisis, you can listen to them and validate their feelings, but at the end of the day, it’s not a loved one’s job.
Furthermore, I recommend that friends and family members of people with BPD seek therapy because recovery from BPD is a long process. The problems they currently live with will not go away quickly, so family members must learn how to take care of themselves so that their loved one’s illness doesn’t destroy them in the process.
You can read more about Dee’s story and connect with her by visiting her website.