A personal trauma

personal trauma

You may have experienced a traumatic event (an injury, loss of a loved one or property,  a serious threat, or any overwhelming emotional experience). Even though the event may be over, you may now be experiencing, or may experience later, some strong emotional or physical reactions.

It is very common, in fact quite normal, for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have passed through a horrible event. Sometimes the emotional aftershock (or stress reactions) appears immediately after the trauma. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later. And, in some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear.

Recently I was asked by Workcover to see Brent for trauma counselling, even though his accident and injury had occurred 12 months earlier. Brent was still experiencing significant trauma reactions including headaches, anxiety, irritability, and regular flashbacks of the incident, especially at night, and he often woke in a lather of sweat and with his heart pounding. Brent told me he thought he was losing his mind, yet when he had spoken to his GP about it, the GP simply prescribed more painkillers. Yes, Brent suffered some physical pain, but his major affliction was his psychological pain. He felt alone, misunderstood, and abandoned.

In counselling, I explained to Brent about our brain, the amygdala (our fear centre)  and our stress response. At the time of the incident, Brent had been in a life threatening situation for some hours, and during that time would have had a body flooded with adrenalin. After the event, although “safe”, Brent remained constantly on high alert, and was unable to switch on his calming mechanism. Once he learned in counselling that his symptoms were biological, and normal (it was the situation that was abnormal), Brent felt reassured that he could recover from his symptoms . He agreed to a referral to a new GP and also a psychiatrist, for medication to treat his complex PTSD.

I am pleased to report that after just seven months, Brent has made wonderful progress. He was compliant in all his attendances at GP and psychiatrist appointments, seeing his  physiotherapist, and coming for counselling, because he felt the benefit of the therapies offered him through Workcover. The two doctors together have got his medication just about right, for Brent to manage his anxiety and his headaches. He seldom has flashbacks now, but if he does, he has learned strategies in counselling to calm himself and recognise the physical reactions as simply that. Brent has been able to return to work as a concreter, although still struggles sometimes to read building plans, due to some suspected brain injury that occurred at the time of the incident. However, Brent knows when to ask for help and has many workmates willing to help him out.

If you feel traumatised by any event – a new medical diagnosis, perhaps, or the discovery of your partner’s infidelity – it is so important to understand your trauma reactions as a normal response to the threat you feel. If the feelings do not subside within six to eight weeks, it may be necessary to seek professional counselling to help you on the road to recovery.

Moving On After Borderline Personality Disorder

borderline personality disorder

Counselling Case Study

Karl separated from his partner, Pauline, and gained custody of their young son, Sean, after Pauline was found to have erratic, sometimes criminal behaviors and was found by the courts to often be neglectful of Sean. Even so, Karl had always wanted to give Pauline a chance to change her ways, in the hope of reconciling as a family. Time and time again, he was let down. Karl came for counselling and through discussions with Karen realized that Pauline suffered a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Eventually Karl tried to minimise the disruptions caused by contact with Pauline, by reducing the amount of contact she had with him and Sean. Typical of a person with BPD, Pauline would continue to interfere with their lives.

Two years later, Karl wrote to Karen with an update…

We moved about a year ago to a new condominium. Pauline was being more than annoying leading right up to moving day by coming over unannounced (always right before bedtime) under the guise of wanting to see Sean. I told her to stop doing this and that because of her disruptions, I was going to not let her know where we were moving to on the 24th (we actually moved on the 22nd because I knew she would be around on moving day to find out where we were going). She then started calling me 5 or 6 times a day repeatedly while I was in meetings at work, and at home at Sean’s bedtime. I then changed my telephone number to stop that disruption after which she started emailing me incessantly. I informed her that if she continued to abuse this final mode of communication with us, I would block her emails. She did and so I ended this final mode of communication and we haven’t seen or heard from her in over a year.

In the meantime, I’ve been able to get my life back on track and Sean and I are doing much better. I’m still without a significant other, but after all the pain and trouble was lifted (I’m unfortunately still suffering from the financial mess she left in her wake), I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this may be the way it is for me indefinitely and although not the way I envisioned or wanted my life to wind up, there has been a sense of peace that has come over me when I resigned myself to this possibility. Hell, I’m far better off this way to be sure.

The reason I tell you all this is because I hope you can use my case to help others in BPD relationships. It took me YEARS to really buy into the fact that BPD really exists and it isn’t just a clinical term used to diagnose people when it is impossible to understand their behaviour. But I can now see it is a very serious illness and there are really NO levels or degrees to it; someone is either BPD or they are not, and the lives of those around them are always negatively affected.

The point I wanted to make is that after trying everything I possibly could, to nearly the point of my own self destruction, I now KNOW there is nothing that the “non-BPD” can REALLY do except get out of the relationship entirely and cut-off all contact. If the “non” does not, their life will always be disrupted by the borderline and they will most certainly start taking on the characteristics of the borderline person and begin acting as a borderline themselves. Exactly as I had started to do before you were able to help me understand what was going on, Karen.

Unfortunately, the summary is that the best advice you can give someone in a borderline relationship is to GET OUT and CEASE ALL CONTACT. Nothing else can be done and the prognosis for the borderline is dismal at best. Sad but true, and after over 10 years of living in that hell, I can say with conviction that I’m living proof of the fact that after BPD, life does go on.

Karen’s Advice for People Living with a Borderline Personality Disorder

People with BPD suffer enormous emotional pain. They desperately want to be loved, but their fear of loss causes them to behave irrationally, and to blame other people for their pain. This behaviour in turns drives away the very person they love. In the case study, Karl tried for 10 years to manage the situation with Pauline. When the going got tough, he returned for more counselling and strength to “keep going” as he loved his partner and son, and desperately wanted them to be a happy family.

In the end, when Karl realized that his own behaviour was no longer loving or appropriate, he decided it was time to end the relationship. His view ultimately was that one should “get out” of such a relationship. Certainly this is one way of managing the situation – and as Karl says, life will go on. Others may persevere however, with learned strategies to manage borderline behaviors, and not taking things too personally. Certainly this situation is aided if the BPD realizes that she/he is contributing to the problem, and seeks help to behave differently.

If you think BPD may be affecting your life or relationship, seek help from a counsellor so that you can be empowered through information, about how to be more in control of the situation.


Karen Gosling is an experienced counselor specializing in relationships, trauma and adult add counseling. She can help you end emotional pain and build healthy relationships. She conducts face-to-face counseling on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, and helps people worldwide by telephone, email and through her online EmotionMatters Community. Karen is a graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work and holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

To inquire about professional counseling, contact Karen.

6 Books on Borderline Personality Disorder That Should Be On Your Reading List

Source: Borderline Personality Treatment

Looking for some interesting reading on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? If you or someone you’re close to has BPD, it’s a good time to do some reading that can give you more insight into and information on this psychiatric disorder. Here are some of our picks for books, both fiction and non-fiction, related to Borderline Personality Disorder:

I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality, by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus
This is a definitive guide on Borderline Personality Disorder. Released in 1991, I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me was one of the first books to take a comprehensive look at BPD. Kreisman and Straus delve into the various factors that can lead to the development of BPD. Besides busting myths that are most often associated with the psychiatric disorder, the authors have devoted an entire section to people who have loved ones with BPD. The new and improved 2010 version also details the cognitive and behavioral treatment options available for BPD.

Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, by Rachel Reiland
In Get Me Out of Here, Rachel Reiland weaves a first-person account of her struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. From being diagnosed with BPD and anorexia to achieving a fulfilling life, she takes us on a roller coaster ride filled with some typical symptoms of BPD, including severe mood swings, suicide attempts, promiscuity, episodes of anxiety, and depression. A gripping, yet informative tale.

Lost in the Mirror: An Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder, by Richard Moskovitz
Richard Moskovitz, MD, provides interesting accounts of BPD patients he has treated in Lost in the Mirror. Based on actual medical case studies, Moskovitz provides important insights into the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. He describes the psychiatric disorder through everyday analogies, making the book accessible to the general reader. Moskovitz understands the borderline personality, and makes borderlines feel “understood” too. Lost in the Mirrors offers hope, not just education.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
In Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen narrates her experiences as an inpatient resident in a mental hospital. Kaysen was admitted into a psychiatric facility at the age of 18 after she was diagnosed with BPD following a suicide attempt. She recounts her experiences with the fellow wards, exploring the nature of their individual illnesses. The book transports us into the mind of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be, along with other reference guides, a good companion text for families who are dealing with BPD.

Breaking Free from Boomerang Love: Getting Unhooked from Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships, by Lynn Melville
People getting into a relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder don’t often realize there’s anything wrong with their partner. People with BPD can be charming, intense, and passionate. It’s only after a while that inconsistencies in their behavior become apparent and start rocking the relationship. People with BPD can make for volatile partners and can be a constant source of stress for the other person. Breaking Free from Boomerang Love is written for the partners of people with BPD. It can be hard to detach yourself from your partner with BPD, despite the pain they might be inflicting on you, because their good, loving side keeps returning. However, Lynn Melville explains how you can detach yourself from your partner and create a happier life for yourself.

The Buddha & the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating, by Kiera Van Gelder
Kiera Van Gelder’s memoir provides an honest look at her ongoing recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder. The Buddha & The Borderline follows Van Gelder from her first suicide attempt at the age of 12 to her diagnosis of BPD 20 years later to her recovery through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Buddhism, and other methods. An insightful look into the daily struggles of someone with BPD and the hope that recovery can bring.

If you have any other books on Borderline Personality Disorder to add to our summer reading list, please share them below.

I’ve counselled couples where one is struggling to cope with a spouse or partner who has a borderline personality disorder. Typically, it is the partner who needs the support as the borderline person usually does not see themselves as the problem. If you have problems regulating your own emotion or if you have sudden intense rages, if you feel like everybody is opposing you and hurting you, then please get help. You may have some of these borderline characteristics.

The Addiction Solution

In the following video, the author of The Addiction Solution, Dr. David Kipper shares his thoughts on treating addiction as a chronic medical disease.


Dr Kipper advocates unraveling the mysteries of addiction through cutting edge brain science. The underlying problem with addiction, he says, is our brain chemistry, which is not treated. Brain chemistry is where this disease of addiction originates and there are a few basic neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, or adrenalin, that control our behaviors. Until these neurotransmitters are in balance we are never going to succeed with behavioral therapies.

From my work in emotional health I know that when your brain is filled with negative messages, one of the direct physical effects from experiencing the resulting negative emotion is a depletion of the serotonin neurotransmitter in your brain – your body begins to reabsorb serotonin during periods of emotional constipation. Emotional health shows you a way forward to control your thinking and reverse this process. If your negative state (stress) goes on for too long you may need targeted non-addictive pharmaceuticals to rebalance the chemicals in your brain to maintain and improve your life.

My husband experienced the loss of his former wife and twin daughters over 30 years ago through the disease of alcoholism and its impact on others. He sought treatment and was able to catch the illness in it’s early stages. But his losses were too great. Please watch this video to understand how addiction has often been looked at as a behavioral malady – a lack of will power. This brings judgement, guilt and lack of sympathy to your plight. This happened to Mike all those years ago! Now there is hope – treat addiction like a chronic medical disease, which it is, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. There is hope, says Dr Kipper, that through understanding brain chemistry you can maintain and treat people over their lives.

Buy The Book: The Addiction Solution: Unraveling the Mysteries of Addiction through Cutting-Edge Brain Science