Borderline Personality Disorder: Hope for Kerri
By: Beth McHugh 2008
We looked at the day-to-day problems of living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and focused on the lifestyle of Kerri, a vivacious yet erratic 39-year-old woman who lived life on a knife’s edge. You can read the first part of Kerri’s story by clicking here.
Kerri experienced periods of relative emotional stability but the periods of normality were always tenuous and could easily be displaced whenever an event occurred that threatened Kerri’s emotional security. She feared being abandoned, yet sought love in the wrong places. She was unreliable, both personally and in her work, and therefore put off more steady and stable people that could have been supportive to her. After years of medication and hospital stays, Kerri came for therapy.
The basis of Kerri’s fears began in her childhood where she grew up with an unstable homelife, with an alcoholic father and an emotionally distant and immature mother. Kerri felt unloved and unlovable as an adult, and as a child she took out those feelings by behaving badly. As an adult, she behaved even worse. She felt unnoticed and invisible so she took steps to make herself highly visible.
Introduced to alcohol and drugs at a young age, she at last felt “normal”. She described the occasion of her first drink as “finally I feel like I want to feel”. Her parents were out of control with their own respective lives and could not set appropriate boundaries for Kerri. So Kerri grew up with no rules except her own, which did not enhance her life in any way. Climbing out of bedroom windows by age 12, she was lost in a sea of sex and drugs for the rest of her teens and all of her 20s.
In therapy, Kerri was able to determine where her irrational beliefs about herself and her world came from, and she diligently journaled the origins of her low self-esteem. She fell many times into her old habits of drug-taking and risky sex with strangers, but after each of these episodes, Kerri was able to examine in retrospect what triggered these behaviors and how they tied into feelings she experienced as a child.
Kerri is now back working in social services, this time in alcohol
and drug counseling where she has a lot of credibility among her clients.
She still fights battles with herself from time to time when her old
patterns of behavior are triggered by stressful events, but she now
has the skills to deal with them, either personally, or with the help
of outside counseling. She has had no setbacks that have lead to hospitalization.