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Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder Paperback – Illustrated, January 1, 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.
"Stop Walking on Eggshells makes good on its promise to restore the lives of people in close relationships with someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is a rich guide to understanding and coping with the reactions aroused in others by troubling BPD behaviors that negatively impact relationships. Readers will find this book very useful and beneficial."
—Nina W. Brown, EdD, professor and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, author of Children of the Self-Absorbed
"This book is the absolute go-to guide for my clients who are dealing with a loved one with borderline personality disorder. Readable and thorough, it strikes a perfect balance of practical advice and emotional sensitivity. This book has helped so many people break through their sense of confusion and isolation by helping them to name, understand, and respond to the difficulties of this complex and misunderstood disorder."
—Daniel E. Mattila, M.Div., LCSW
"This book is urgently needed now that a National Institutes of Health study shows that 6 percent of the general population has borderline personality disorder (BPD). I constantly get requests from families needing resources on BPD, and I recommend Stop Walking On Eggshells almost every time. This second edition is really easy to read and packed with even more useful tips for family members in distress."
—Bill Eddy, LCSW, attorney, mediator, clinical social worker, and author of High Conflict People in Legal Disputes and Splitting
"Amazingly, Stop Walking On Eggshells not only teaches readers how to recognize the signs of borderline personality disorder, it also shows how they can make life and relationship decisions based on what they want and need instead of decisions controlled by the illness."
—Julie A. Fast, author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder
From the Publisher
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This book makes it seem like BPD is a disorder of thinking. They will take sentences like "I need to go out for groceries" and say the BPD person *hears* (literally) "I hate you and am leaving for good." Except that doesn't make sense; if the language-center of the brain were ACTUALLY affected, then the person wouldn't just have problems with speech comprehension, they would have problems with speaking as well. The problem is not with understanding what is SAID. It's with having extremely strong emotions about what is said, which interferes with thinking. (None of us think very well when we're emotional, so obviously this goes even more for those with BPD. But that's a lot different from saying they literally do not understand your words. If that were true, then all of the advice they give wouldn't work ANYWAY.)
So the disorder itself is misrepresented, and it's hard not to get a feeling that they're really slathering on the sympathy for those with BPD in a way that's so distorted as to be excusing of their behavior. BPD is an awful disorder to have, and it causes suffering. But it does no good to misrepresent it to make it seem like people with BPD have absolutely no agency or even the ability to understand simple sentences.
Moreover, part of their advice to the loved ones of BPD is to "detach" while they're literally being abused. I could hardly believe what I was reading. "Detachment" is not a healthy way to deal with emotions. BPD is a very serious disorder, and it requires professional care. IF YOU ARE BEING ABUSED, YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE ABUSIVE SITUATION. You don't need to understand why you're being abused. You don't need to feel bad for your abuser. Once they've gotten professional help, they will probably feel guilty and reach out-- you can choose at that point to make amends and resume your life together (as I did with my sister), or you can choose not to.
We get one life that we know of. Don't waste it in suffering in misery if the person abusing you refuses to get help, *for any reason.*
I am happy to report that after applying the strategies outlined in this book, my wife, (who has consistently refused therapy or medications despite having substance abuse issues, severe depression, angry rages, and being extremely self-destructive) realized her behavior is out of control and voluntarily sought professional help. Her moods and behaviors have drastically improved, and she said she doesn’t feel on-edge, angry, and empty all the time anymore.
I cannot stress enough though that these are strategies for the non-borderline, and you will have to address your own negative contributions to the relationship which might include your own feelings of inadequacy and need for codependency. You have to be willing to address your own demons. I recommend enlisting the help of a therapist while going through this book, it really helped me stay accountable for my own behavior.
Top international reviews
However, this book did make me think more about how I needed to take less responsibility for the person’s illness and become a person who was able to be more supportive.