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Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder Paperback – January 2, 2010
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From the Publisher
Checklist: Does Someone you Care about have BPD?
If you answered yes to many of these questions, we have good news for you: You're not going crazy. It's not your fault. And you're not alone. You may share these experiences because someone close to you has traits associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
For survival tips and strategies for dealing with a loved one with BPD, read Stop Walking on Eggshells.
From the Book
Mindfulness and DBT in general help people with BPD stay off the emotional roller coaster associated with black-and-white thinking. Over time, people who regularly practice mindfulness tend to be better at enduring pain, solving problems, and not creating turmoil and stress in their lives and relationships. Notice, though, that the goal of mindfulness isn’t to experience profound happiness or a life without stress or trouble.
We all have the capacity to be mindful. It’s a skill anyone can learn. There’s nothing mysterious about it. We simply pay attention to the present moment. When mental clutter appears, we let it appear and let it fade away again. Over and over, we return to the here and now.
This isn’t usually as easy as it sounds, especially as we’re first learning it. But everyone gets better at it with practice. In the process, we also learn a lot about ourselves, others, and our relationships. Practicing mindfulness can help you achieve a better balance between your rational mind and your emotional mind. This puts you in a better position to respond wisely to distressing situations, in a balanced, healthy manner.
You’ll also make better decisions, improve your relationships, and optimize your potential for physical and mental relaxation.
The purposes of this exercise is to focus your mind on a single object and to be aware of the mental energy needed to stay in the moment.
Focus on an object
1. Find a place where you can be alone and away from TVs, radios, and other distractions and interruptions. Get into a comfortable position either sitting or standing that you can maintain for three minutes. Keep your eyes open and breathe normally.
2. Pick a nearby object that you can see clearly. This should be something you don’t have a strong feeling about a plant, a chair, a book, a cup.
3. For the next three minutes, focus your attention just on that object. If you like, look at it from multiple angles. Pick it up or run your hands over it. Smell it, if you’re so inclined. Take in all the different sensory information about it.
4. When your mind wanders off and it will simply catch yourself and return your attention to the object. This may happen several or more than several times. There’s no need to get frustrated or critical with yourself. Just keep coming back to the object.
The purpose of this exercise is to increase your awareness of your own mind and its thoughts. Over time, with practice, it will help you to not get stuck on, distressed about, or overwhelmed by a particular thought.
Watching your thoughts
1. Find a spot where you can be free of distraction or interruption. Get in a comfortable sitting position, with your feet on the floor and your back straight. (This might mean sitting forward on the front part of your chair.) Breathe normally and keep your eyes open.
2. For five minutes, don’t think or not think about anything in particular. Just watch your thoughts surface, swirl about, and float away. Don’t try to hang onto them, push them away, or judge them. Let them come and let them go.
3. If your mind wanders or gets stuck on a particular thought, just notice that and return to quietly watching your mind. If you notice yourself getting judgmental ('I’m not very good at this'. 'Why am I having such awful thoughts?' etc.), just notice your judgment and return once more to watching your mind.
4. With practice, this skill will help you avoid getting stuck in obsessive thinking or worry. Paradoxically, it will also help you better focus on important tasks, concerns, or activities doing your taxes, for example when you need to.When your mind wanders off and it will simply catch yourself and return your attention to the object. This may happen several or more than several times. There’s no need to get frustrated or critical with yourself. Just keep coming back to the object.
Do you know someone with Borderline Personality Disorder? Do you feel that anything you say or do will be twisted against you? Do you find yourself concealing thoughts and feelings to avoid horrible arguments? Are you the focus of intense, violent, and irrational rages, alternating with periods when they act normal and loving? Do you feel manipulated, controlled, or lied to? Are you accused of things you never did or said? Do you feel as if someone alternatively views you as all good or all bad? Does no one believe you when you explains what is going on? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, someone you care about may have BPD. For anyone close to a borderline, life takes place on tiptoe, as if they're walking on eggshells. This comprehensive and supportive self-help guide helps family and friends of individuals with BPD understand this self-destructive disorder and learn what they can do to cope with BPD behavior and take care of themselves.
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I read a single-star review here on Amazon about this book before buying it. It stated that this book is all about "tough love", which doesn't work for BPs. Actually, it's also the ONLY love that works, or the BP will continue to mow your life down like a monster truck and demand you lay in front of the tires again and again and again, making the situation worse until someone is locked up, homeless, divorced, or dead. This book is about humane, thoughtful, methodical INTERVENTION that at least will get your own life back on its feet even if the PB can't or won't. Just because the BP is in hell doesn't mean they get to take you with them. This book is written for those who are determined to not be the next domino that falls in the borderline's life. This book is about TAKING CHARGE of the situation so you get your life back. It is NOT written to get the BP the help they need, though it does offer critical information on the subject if the BP is agreeable to it. It is written to show you how to get your life back and what choices you can make and how to properly make them for you and/or your children. This includes making the right choices, including determining if the BP is beyond your resources/capabilities to cope and if it's just time to clean them out of your life and move on. In this proper context, this book is worth pure gold and comes from the experiences of a BPD support community that has MANY thousands who have contributed not only from their own experiences in hardship, but their experiences in WHAT WORKS.
To the Non-BP who is desperately seeking validation, confirmation, help, etc: Buy this book and go straight to pages 45-47. You will weep for joy as you read that the BP in your life has been concisely mapped out and handed to you on only 3 pages of silver platter. If treatment for your BP is the goal, then you now know what you're dealing with, and if I may be so bold, don't waste any time - get him/her right into DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) if at all possible. It's the only one that gets it all right, gets nothing wrong, actually works, and produces by far more permanently cured ex-BPs than any other therapy or program. Everything else is just trying to copy it and usually getting major aspects of the therapy wrong as it pertains to a BP. That's if you can get your BP to willingly acknowledge and commit. If not, this book helps you with the necessary alternatives, since so many BPs refuse therapy and/or the caretakers of the BP do not have the resources to make use of this expensive, elite, long-term treatment program.
This book is pretty much the bible for anyone who lives with a BP but isn't one themselves, but has decided to take a proactive approach of getting their lives back on track. Not only does this book teach you all about the disorder, but also how to handle both the good and the bad. It also exposes the horrors that the BP in your life can unleash upon you and your family if you fail to act. This is the first book I have ever read in my life that had me taking 4 different colored highlighter pens to it - yellow for highlighting things that I had experienced or found relevant to my BP's symptoms, bright pink for critical information I needed to know/remember, green for highlighting all the things I had done right, and regular blank ink ballpoint to write notes in the margins and underline certain things.
PBD topics covered in this book that had me practically weeping for joy after seeing it was actually in print: The spending sprees, drug addictions, rages/rampages, totally illogical reasoning, false accusations/retaliations, explosive rage from out of nowhere, jeckyl/hyde "behind closed doors" Godzilla that nobody believes you about, public lies and accusations against you ("distortion campaigns"), verbal, emotional, and physical abuse ("rage is abuse"), sexual recklessness/affairs/risk-taking/dysfunctions, and the illogical thought processes of the BP that have them driving away the people they want to be closest to the most because of a rage-driven fear of abandonment that often turns out to be self-fulfilling.
Pros of this book:
Non-Clinical/easy to read
I have only two - but HUGE - con/disagreements:
1. The book states that BPD is not necessarily caused by environment or childhood trauma, and that it can be hereditary/developmental. Though there are cases where both a biological and environmental cause is the determination, in nearly every BPD case I have come across (witnessed or even heard of), childhood trauma in some form of individual or combined abandonment and/or abuse was ALWAYS present, regardless of any physical or hereditary suppositions the book briefly attempts to "stay safe" on. In actuality, the entire book is very adamant on stressing the common environmental triggers that cause BPD, which it continually states are the numerous/combined forms of abandonment and abuse that children are increasingly experiencing. Many BPs exist who were not known as "emotionally sensitive" children but became borderline because of severe environmental factors alone. Most all books on this subject ignore this fact, including this one. Again: two or three sentences in the book state that BPD is not necessarily environmental - but then the entire rest of the book stresses how environmental factors are indeed what most all PBs state caused and repetitively trigger their nuclear detonations. Evidence shows that BPD can be caused by a combination of physical and environmental factors and can also be caused in completely normal children by nothing more than severely invalidating environments alone.
2. The way BP parents try to make up for their shortcomings as parents by controlling every aspect of their children's lives until it is a nightmarish hell of blame, abuse, control, deceit, and manipulation - and what this does to children right under the clueless BP's nose. The book touches on a few topics, such as how the children of BPs often wind up suffering NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). But well-known BPD parental behaviors are not found in this book, such as how the BP will enroll their children in every program they can think of, from school music to sports to scouts to anything else to convince themselves - and others - that they are good parents. This is an attempt at "damage control", to convince themselves that if they have ensured that someone else is raising their children, they THEY have properly raised their children. Worse, will have slaved out their children so badly that the kids suffer burnout, exhaustion, and dread on top of the horrors they secretly endure in the home. Additionally, it is very common that the BP parent, especially mothers, will latch onto the youngest child and will protect/control their lives down to the most minute detail in the attempt to ensure they never leave home, even at the expense of alienating and practically abandoning all of the older children in the process. No hobby, job, boyfriend/girlfriend the youngest child will have will be good enough and will be slandered and attacked ("distortion campaign"). Fear of abandonment is what drives the BP, and there is a whole different set of behaviors BP parents unleash on helpless children that should have been covered much more thoroughly in this book.
Regardless, this book is a valuable resource as one of two go-to books for Non-BPs who are struggling with BPs in their homes or relationships and what to do about it. The other book is "Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder", by Shari Y. Manning. That book is for the truly committed individual who is willing to carefully and methodically wade through all the fiery rings of hell to save their loved ones, the category in which I am continually doing my best to keep myself in. Make sure you read that book.
Pity the person—man, woman, or child—who on a daily basis has to deal with someone afflicted with Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD]. For that person life can be chaos written large, and despair written deep. They can constantly feel the need to be ‘walking on eggshells.’
While the BP, on the other hand, is mostly, genuinely oblivious. Like the drunk, who’s aspects and affects their behavior often mirrors, BPs are often narcissistically charming and exciting to be around. But the price of being around/associating with a BP is soul-crushingly painful and permanently damaging/scarring: TO BE AVOIDED ALL POSSIBLE, AT ANY COST.
Paul Mason and Randi Kreger’s excellent book, Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder—replete with helpful insights and practical suggestions—is for the more likely circumstance when full avoidance is not really an option. Simple answers: there are none. And really only scant hope. Hope, none-the-less, needs to propel not surrendering to this insidious, devastating disease. Mitigation might be the most we can wish for.
Recommendation: At one time or another, we have all encountered someone around whom we had to ‘walk on eggshells.’ For the lucky ones, it was just a casual, passing, encounter, and even those might benefit from reading this book. For those living with BPD in their lives on a more consistent basis, this book should be a MUST READ. Do like I did, drop everything else and read it today.
“Living with a BP is like living in a perpetual oxymoron. It’s a seemingly endless host of contradictions. I feel like I’ve been through the spin cycle on a washing machine. The world is whirling around, and I have no idea which way is up, down, or sideways.” (p. 67)
“But [non-BP] in order for you to get off the emotional roller coaster, you will have to give up the fantasy that you can or should change someone else. When you let go of this belief, you will be able to claim the power that is truly yours: the power to change yourself.” (p. 87).
“Memorize the three Cs and the three Gs: I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t cure it. get off the BP’s back. get out of the BP’s way. get on with your own life” (p. 94).
New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition, 256 pages