I actually finished it today and really want to do justice to it by writing this review. The narrator of this memoir is so incredibly smart, vulnerable, courageous, and hilarious.
Kiera Van Gelder was sober for ten years when she was first diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD has a lot of negative connotations like Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, but there are many more people who suffer from mild BPD and just don't know it because it is very difficult to diagnose.
The Borderline personality disorder overlaps with so many other disorders. At one time it was thought to mean "borderline psychotic," but now there are vastly different levels for those with BPD. She managed to turn main Buddhist tenets into something that could be used as an effective therapy tool to help an under served group of people.
How cool is that!? Hurray to Marsha for making important contributions to psychology so it doesn't continue to be taught and interpreted from an old-white-males perspective. Just to prove to everyone that you should read this book, this is the longest book review I've EVER written. Like many similar diagnoses, I'd had the symptoms most, if not all, of my life, but had finally been given a name and understanding of what it was that possessed me. I also started individual therapy—thi Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
I also started individual therapy—this didn't go so well and eventually I quit. Somewhere in my studies, probably four or five years after my diagnosis, I first heard of Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT ; it was touted as the best cure for BPD, but I had my doubts and fears , so I continued with my self-therapy and studies.
Along the way, I plateaued. I didn't want to admit it, but I did. All forward motion came to a stop. I'd done everything I could on my own and I still was an anxious ball of fear wrapped in a lovable fury.
I decided it was time to check out DBT—and then I dragged my feet another couple years. Finally, things were so bad and I was so hopeless that I had only two choices: With some reluctance, I chose DBT. To celebrate my initiation into group therapy, I decided to start reading this book.
As I've read other similar books about BPD, I've come to learn that while the symptoms and internal feelings are identical, the way they are manifested may be wildly different.
Van Gelder's experience is very different from mine, but what drives her is very familiar. The thing I liked most about this memoir is that it really shows the progress Van Gelder makes. Yes, she's still struggling in the end, but as soon as she receives her diagnosis in an early chapter, she is off and running, searching for help and being willing to take it.
One chapter we see a broken Van Gelder enter therapy, we get an overview of what happens inside, and then months pass and Van Gelder is doing better. These jumps in the path of the author's recovery happen frequently. I wanted to know more about that internal struggles she faced. That's not to say Van Gelder completely glosses over her struggles, not at all, but there are certainly times I would have liked to have known more about her thought process and less about the people in her surrounding circles therapists, boyfriends, etc.
There are select chapters, however, where Van Gelder really shows her talents as a writer. When she's not simply regurgitating facts, when she's digging deep within her and bringing her darkest moments and thoughts to light, she is a very talented and magnificent writer.
It is for these moments alone that this book rises above many other similar books.