Sep 17

The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating

Posted by Soliloquy in Adults with disabilities | Mental Illness


Kiera Van Gelder’s first suicide attempt at the age of twelve marked the onset of her struggles with drug addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, self-harm, and chaotic romantic relationships-all of which eventually led to doctors’ belated diagnosis of borderline personality disorder twenty years later. The Buddha and the Borderline is a window into this mysterious and debilitating condition, an unblinking portrayal of one woman’s fight against the emotional devastation of borderline …

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5 Responses

  • Scott Edelstein says:

    Review by Scott Edelstein for The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating
    Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental illness than can often seem bizarre or incomprehensible. It can destroy psyches, relationships, lives, families, and organizations. Yet it’s also fair to say that the symptoms of BPD are nothing more than the human condition multiplied by 20. This book–by a brilliant writer who is in recovery from BPD–offers a profoundly insightful, balanced, honest, and compassionate view of the illness, and of the roles that mindfulness and various therapies have played in her recovery. Van Gelder never asks for pity or empathy–and, unlike most memoirists, she consistently understands that she needs to serve her readers, not herself.

    A recurring theme in the book–and an essential element of the book’s arc and structure–is that recovery, relationships, and life itself are all built around dialectics, the often-uncomfortable space between two polarities out of which our most helpful and harmful actions can emerge.

    Van Gelder isn’t just another person in recovery telling her story; she’s a first-rate writer who has written a compelling, greatly entertaining, and sometimes outright funny book. If you want a clear-eyed, down-and-dirty view of BPD that you won’t find anywhere else, read this book. And if you want to enjoy a fascinating, engrossing, and expertly told story, read this book.

    Scott Edelstein, author of the forthcoming Sex and the Spiritual Teacher

  • Julie says:

    Review by Julie for The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating
    This book shows the ugly and real side of someone with volatile and unpredictable emotions. I cried at times while reading this book because I could relate to how scary your emotion can be and saw a lot of myself in her. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is sensitive and feeling so low they can’t see the light or family and friends who don’t understand what you are going through. It can be difficult to read when you are in the pits of hell and I would caution you if hearing about dangerous behaviors might be a trigger. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I especially recommend it for therapists so they can have a better understanding of what it is really like to live with these thoughts and emotions.

  • Jane says:

    Review by Jane for The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating
    This is a teaching manual which is a page turner, X-rated, challenging, wise, and entertaining. The core issue is about Borderline Personality Disorder. I have seen people cringe when they hear BPD. The cringe factor is validated in the book — but there is much more!

  • L. Finger says:

    Review by L. Finger for The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating
    This book is an inspiration for anyone wanting to resolve their own life’s problems and is a manual on how not to give up. The author has a mental illness (Borderline Personality Disorder) that affects every level of her life, personal, professional, familial. It is not easy for her to find the treatment she needs but she doggedly pursues what is available in her community and uses what is available to her, eventually getting her life together and finding insight. The book is a fascinating look into the treatment of a mental illness, the health care professionals who hinder or help. She offers important insights into what calms her negative self talk, the core belief systems of people with BPD (i.e., the world is a hostile place), and which treatments truly help. The author has so much courage as she moves through her difficulties with her anger, attachment issues, and being mindful. In her participation in a group which offers Dialetical Behavioral Therapy (which was created by Marsha Linehan for those with BPD, using among other things, the Buddhist technique of mindfulness) sows the seeds of the author’s interest in Buddhism. When the author completes her treatment with the DBT group, she looks for a meditation group so she can continue her techniques of grounding and mindfulness, which involves noticing her thoughts but not getting caught up in the emotions of her thoughts. As a clinician I have provided counseling for people with BPD and have also had friends with this diagnosis, a description of which includes “frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.” A person with DBT can feel very afraid of abandonment at one point and then be the abandoner the next in a reactionary pattern that can go back and forth (and indeed the author experiences this in her book). The sense of staying grounded, of not using others for validation but learning to self validate, and staying centered and not pulled back and forth by extreme emotional responses to relationship issues, are not only important to those with BPD but most of us who have experienced challenges in life that can pull us off balance. The book provides so much information on BPD, the mental health “system,” family dynamics, and Buddhism it is a fascinating read and the reader is gratified to see the author overcome alot of her problems and begin giving informational and inspirational talks to others with the same issues. If you take anything away from this book, her dogged exploration into treatment for BPD and how to hold the mental health system accountable, is of great inspiration. Further, her experience with Buddhism is also a treat, as she immerses herself in it and uses it in a very real way to continue to resolve her life issues. This is a fast and informational read and I recommend the book highly.

  • H. Scott says:

    Review by H. Scott for The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating
    This book held my attention, gave me hope and taught me lots about BPD and DBT. I highly recommend it to anyone with BPD and anyone who wants or needs to have a better understanding of BPD.



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