Acknowledging Anxiety in BPD

Calling all BPD’s! That feeling when you’re feeling a happy feeling has a name!

We are predisposed to thinking dichotomously (black ’n’ white) about just about everything. The food on our plate being good or bad, criticizm being positive or negative, people being bad or good. Not all the time…but most of the time. And the rest of the time, if you’ve been lucky enough to find a good trainer (see below for more details) we are using those good ol’ Dialectic Behavioural Therapy skills to reign in the behaviours so we can make informed choices on our actions in wise-mind.

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It’s easy to lump Borderline Personality Disorder into a highly negative light with very little room for optimism or hope as the majority of the time we’re throwing around terms like “trauma” and “attention seeking” and “manipulative” and “abandonment”. So when you find someone with BPD who has a smile on their face, you might automatically assume they are cured…or seriously medicated.

Happiness is genuinely a common feeling with BPD. With DBT a person with BPD can develop an understanding of the variety of joys (glee/delight/elation) that exist in the world and how opportunities for this joy are everywhere.

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The big flaff with it is that, even when we are having a coherently happy emotion, we are also considering it’s longevity. Yes, even positive emotions in BPD need some careful consideration to maintain stability. Dichotomous thinking can have you feeling a happy emotion so entirely…and struggling with battling the complete opposite thoughts at the same time: That it will not last, that it will never come again, that the fall is going to come and it’s going to come hard.

This is Acute Anxiety.

“But I have it all the time,” I hear you cry. No, no you don’t. Before you noticed it, it wasn’t there. But now you’ve noticed, it’s the pink elephant in the room…but we’re still laughing…and laughing a lot. Milking the positive emotion for all it’s worth so that pink elephant is pushed away to be processed later…along with all the other pink elephants anxieties. Until the anxiety box is full of pink elephants and bursts open. Cue negative BPD episode…and a hilarious mental image of pink elephants just bouncing into everything!

DBT helps to settle the brain, reinforcing the connections between behaviour, meaning and emotions. And by establishing appropriate behaviour and meaning, it is possible to reassure the brain that it is able to experience, and process, multiple emotions at the same time so there are a multitude of pink elephants on an orderly parade. That it is possible to feel secure this emotion, and secure in the knowledge that the emotion will return…trumpty-trump-trump-trump.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Helping you building DBT skills to make your life easier to manage, boundaries easier to maintain, and strengthen inter-personal realtionships, Natasha is a walking, talking DBT machine and life-coach check her out here:




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Philippa Cooper

Philippa Cooper

Furious learner, exploring personal development, mental health advocacy and human connections.

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