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Thoughts from our Public Member – Chris Kallas

May is BPD Awareness Month. Thanks largely to the efforts of NEA BPD, on April 1, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1005, which recognized the month of May as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. The vote was 414-0. (Nope, not a typo; even Congress was able to recognize the challenges of this disorder.)

In the past eleven years, some things have not changed. Those with this disorder, and their families, often feel lost, wondering what is wrong, and what to do about it. We still, in this country and around the globe, don’t understand how to recognize mental illness ‘up front’, and how to treat it effectively and early on, so as to minimize its negative consequences. The feeling of isolation that results, of not being ‘normal’, of not fitting in, creates enormous suffering. The need to find effective treatment is a challenge that is daunting, even for those of us who are educated, and who have access to affordable medical care, and who are in areas where treatment is available.

Some things have changed. In 2013, the DBT Linehan Board of Certification was established. Since DBT therapy is the most effective treatment for BPD to date, it made sense to identify those professionals who were practicing it the way Dr. Linehan studied it, so that it was most likely to be most effective. Most states have basic licensing requirements for mental health care providers, but don’t set standards for different types of treatments. So people who practiced in the field decided that they would take on the task of assuring compliance with the DBT paradigm at its best, and the DBT Linehan Certification Board was formed.

Those of us who live in the world of BPD with a loved one sometimes feel that we would do anything to live on a different planet. The stress is never-ending, and often overwhelming. Many years ago I met Dr. Alan Fruzzetti, a mental health practitioner who lives in “BPD World.” He was always smiling, and he always had a suggestion about how to deal with whatever challenge was in front of me. I asked him once, “Why do you do this? Why do you voluntarily work with people who can be so challenging, so angry, so hard to make progress with?” He looked at me as if I had missed the whole point, and said, “But they are so interesting, so intelligent, so creative!”

I have now met so many professionals who treat people with BPD. You are so often extraordinary in this way of Dr. Fruzzetti. You choose to deal with challenges that would overwhelm lesser people. So this May, as far as I am concerned, is also BPD Treaters’ Awareness Month. To those of you on the front lines, who do so much to help our loved ones, I offer a salute, and a heartfelt thank you for all that you do. Please keep up the good work!

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