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Teresa Knezek treats her own Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) -- including a 3 year followup

EFt Tapping Outdated ImageNote: This is one of 3,000 articles written prior to the updated Gold Standard (Official) EFT Tapping Tutorial™.  It provides practical uses for EFT Tapping and most EFT'ers should find it very helpful.  However, if your benefits are temporary or a more in-depth approach is needed, you are urged to explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT, by reading our free e-book, The Unseen Therapist, and/or (3) get help from a Certified EFT Practitioner.  

This superb article by Teresa Knezek should be diligently studied by mental health professionals as well as those dealing personally with BPD. Teresa discovered her own BPD and chose to use EFT to reduce its symptoms. She gives us a fascinating inside look at what it is like living inside the skin of a BPD and discusses her major progress using EFT. While she still has more work to do, the progress she has made in 1 month's time is well beyond the expectations of conventional therapy. She says of her very first try with EFT,

"So my skeptical self gave it [EFT] a try later that very night. The most I was hoping for was something that could make the abject misery I was feeling fade for more than a few hours at a time. My life has changed completely since that night. After just two rounds of the Basic Recipe, I felt calm and even a little happy, for the first time since the breakup [with my boyfriend]."

Please note that professionals should normally be consulted with an issue as serious as BPD. In Teresa's case, however, her input from professional sources about the problem was that it was incurable. So, she chose to proceed on her own.

Teresa's 3 year follow-up at the end of this article provides still more insights.

By Teresa Knezek

A few months ago, I found out I had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I was reading a friend's online journal, and she'd reprinted an excerpt from the book "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me," wherein the author describes his "SET communication" system for communicating with Borderline Personalities. (This book, I learned later, appears prominently on every 'recommended reading' list about BPD.) At first, I read it with a shock of happy recognition... it was obvious that this book held the key to my relationship problems. So I started doing some research about BPD, to see what else I could learn.

What I learned was not as encouraging as finding a "magic bullet" book to fix everything. Everywhere I looked, I either read that BPD was considered incurable, or that it could only sometimes be 'cured' after years of intensive therapy. Borderlines were abusive. Borderlines ruined people's lives. Borderlines were the stuff movies were written about (think "Fatal Attraction")...

...and I learned the more I read about it, the more the shoe fit. I read excerpts from a book written by a recovered Borderline woman, who could have been writing about the arguments I had in my relationships. She could have been recording my hysterical phone calls to my boyfriend, when he didn't arrive to meet me exactly on time. I found another website with an annotated version of the DSM IV diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder, and realized it fit me to a "T". (Since then, I have discussed the matter with a few therapists, and after hearing my story, they've all verified that if my account of my history and behavior is accurate, the diagnosis would be appropriate.)

There are nine criteria for diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder. A patient needs to exhibit five out of the nine for an "official" diagnosis. As outlined below, I exceeded the standard (No point doing things halfway, right?).

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. [Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5] - During arguments I have done all of the following (most of them more than once): follow my partner from room to room, hysterically insisting he doesn't walk away from me, and if he has the nerve to close a door between us, I would either force the door open in order to follow him, or eventually end up in a heap on the floor, pounding on the door until my hands were bruised begging him to let me in (I did the same thing when my last boyfriend would lock himself in his car to get away from me). I've threatened to throw people out of the house, whether or not they had a place to go. I've called a man on his cell phone more than 50 times in one night, leaving over a dozen messages on his voicemail, thinking maybe he'd answer the phone the next time I called... maybe he just didn't hear it ring last time... maybe he'd woken up since last time... (The incessant phone calls thing got so bad that my last boyfriend took to turning his cell phone off after the first time I called, if I seemed the least bit upset.)

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. - This behavior is known as "splitting." Borderlines do it to both themselves and those around them. When my last boyfriend and I met, I was convinced we were "made for each other," and that he was absolutely perfect for me. My ex-husband before him was "destiny." Later, when we argued, he would become various unprintable things, along with stupid, worthless, and more unprintable things. Or when he criticized me, I became the unprintably worthless one, and he'd have to put up with yet another round of, "If I'm so &^%$* horrible, why don't you leave? You'd have to be *&^$%*&^n crazy to stay with someone as &^%$*^% as me... what's wrong with you?!" Then a few days later, he was Prince Charming again. Outside the home, any employer who fired a friend of mine was obviously an ^&*%$&^%, and my dollars would never darken their establishment again. Anyone who laughed at me or gossiped about me was a ^%$%*^& as well, and no longer my friend. All or nothing.

3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self - This is one I'm not 100% sure of... I suppose I might just not want to admit this about myself? Or maybe this issue isn't extreme enough for me to recognize it as a problem?

4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). [Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5] - I have done or still do everything but binge eating on that list of examples. (Although I stopped the risky sex in my mid twenties before anything really bad happened.) Currently, the main issues are drinking (which I'm getting under much better control with the help of EFT), and spending habits (which have resulted in me filing for bankruptcy with over $40,000 in credit card debt).

5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior - I'm also unsure about this one. I haven't been *really* suicidal since I was in high school. But I do often *think* about suicide when I've had an argument with someone... it almost seems like a comforting behavior: If it gets any worse, I always have the option.

6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days) - Extreme moodiness. I'll get irritated because there's nothing good on the radio on the drive home. I get home, my boyfriend asks if I'm in a bad mood. I'm offended by this and I snap at him. We bicker. I glower for the next hour or so, until I get distracted by something. Five minutes later I'm in a perfectly good mood, and I can't understand why he's so grouchy. We have a big fight, I'm in a horrible mood the next morning. I go to work without even saying 'good morning' or 'good bye' and when I get home that evening, I'm fine. I can't understand why he's holding a grudge for so long. Doesn't he know the argument's over? I will get frustrated to the point of tears when something goes wrong with my computer, but as soon as I've figured out how to fix it, I'm as happy as can be.

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness - The very first phrase I used when I tried EFT for the first time was "Even though I have this incredible empty feeling," while I concentrated on the familiar, awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's difficult to describe, for someone who hasn't felt it... but it would become an absolutely overwhelming, paralyzing feeling sometimes. Particularly when a relationship wasn't going well.

8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights) - "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" was written about a Borderline, I'm sure. The famous Borderline rage is what eventually destroyed my last long term relationship. Behaviorally, it often ties in with #1 and #2... if my fears of abandonment couldn't be placated, which is usually the case, or a partner did something to trigger a "split" into the unprintable zone, rage was almost always soon to follow. Arguments would reach a certain point, and something would 'snap' inside me. One minute, I was using some reasonably logical argument, and the next minute I was screaming any hurtful thing I could think of. Something triggered some kind of emotional hurt or fear inside me, and all I could think to do was throw out anything I could that might make my 'enemy' feel as hurt and small as I did. While the real over-the-top rages and hysteria are something only my close loved ones were "privileged" enough to experience. But even day-to-day, if you overhear me in traffic, or see how quickly I start to lose it when my computer acts up, or hear my running commentary while handling customer emails...

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms - When my husband and I split up, and I was suddenly living alone for the first time in five years, I began hearing voices in other rooms of the house. When my most recent boyfriend broke up with me, if he was talking on the phone, or talking to a friend in another room, I KNEW he was talking about me. If someone is late to meet me they've been in a car accident, or if it's a male partner, he's with someone else. When money is tight, I KNOW my boss is about to fire me for some imagined mistake. And so on.

So there you go. That's the story of the last 15+ years of my life. For all the misery Borderlines can cause the people around them, rest assured their own lives are equally miserable, if not more so. It's an exhausting way to live. So even though researching it didn't give me a lot of uplifting, soothing "it's not so bad, you'll get better" reassurance, I was still relieved to find that there was a name for my problems, and some understanding of how to work with it. A few days later, I presented my boyfriend with some printouts from especially informative websites I'd found, and talked to him about it a bit. He said it gave him hope that I was willing to look at my behavior and take responsibility for it and admit it was a problem. We talked about the fact that it wouldn't be a quick or easy thing to fix, and it would mean a lot to me if he would help me deal with my behavior patterns differently, and I bought a bunch of books on the subject, and resolved to "get better" one way or another.

A few months later, he broke up with me for the third time in as many years. Sure, I was doing better, he agreed. But not enough better. After living with me for seven years, he was really at the end of his rope. Even though I was doing better, I was still threatening to leave during every bad argument. I would still get hysterical during arguments, and start screaming even though his children were in the house trying to sleep. Yes, I was doing better. But not enough better and not quickly enough. I was devastated. I was hysterical for the better part of a week. I can't think of words to describe how utterly worthlessly hopelessly why-can't-I-just-die-and-make-it-go-away miserable I felt. And I was SO DAMN TIRED of feeling that way. After all our arguments. After three breakups. I couldn't go on. But I had no idea what to do.

Discovering EFT

I found out about EFT about a month ago, a couple weeks after the breakup. I read an article about it on Dr. Mercola's natural health website. I was intrigued to read about a self-help technique that apparently worked so well, and I was willing to try almost anything I could afford. When I found that I could download an instruction manual from Gary's site for free, I signed up and printed it out immediately. I figured I wasn't losing anything by giving it a try.

Of course, I didn't expect much. Even the most optimistic literature I'd read about BPD said I could expect years of intensive therapy and counseling before I could even hope to consider myself recovered. And the testimonials on Gary's site set off my "too good to be true" warning flags. But Gary himself said you didn't need to believe in EFT for it to work. So my skeptical self gave it a try later that very night. The most I was hoping for was something that could make the abject misery I was feeling fade for more than a few hours at a time.

My life has changed completely since that night. After just two rounds of the Basic Recipe, I felt calm and even a little happy, for the first time since the breakup. I was able to go out to the living room, and sit and just hang out with J without feeling miserable and needing to leave the room to cry every ten minutes. I was actually able to enjoy his company without feeling the compulsion to beg him to take me back.

After a couple weeks of using EFT whenever I found a "trigger" issue upsetting me, I felt like a whole new person.

There were a few incidents from our first break up two years ago that would still bring me to hysteria if I thought about them for too long. As soon as I'd start thinking, my mind was caught in an obsessive cycle... I couldn't stop thinking about it and making myself miserable! I would literally be reduced to uncontrollable sobbing, all by myself. These memories don't upset me anymore. I can sit and TRY to upset myself (and I have!), but it doesn't work. If I think about them at all, the thoughts come and go like anything else. They've lost their emotional power over me.

As I worked on the "obvious" issues I already knew about, I discovered other fears and trigger issues that had been buried until then. I discovered connections between childhood events and my destructive drinking habits, as well as the extreme possessiveness I felt about people close to me. Although those issues aren't completely resolved, they're fading noticeably the more I use EFT. I liken the whole experience to peeling away the layers of an onion... as I resolved the obvious issue, I'd discover there were others underneath it.

My EFT Techniques

The first time I used EFT, I did a round of the Basic Recipe on two different phrases. Although the manual said to be specific, when I sat down to try it, I couldn't think of where to start. I was depressed and felt completely, miserably empty inside, so I used the set-up phrase "Even though I have this incredible empty feeling, I deeply and completely accept myself," and as I went through the Basic Recipe, I concentrated on the gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. By the end of the second series of tapping points, I was feeling a lot calmer and more focused.

I spontaneously thought of an argument J and I had earlier that week, and the moment when he was walking out the door and I started sobbing and begging him not to leave. So my second Basic Recipe was for the phrase, "Even though I have this fear of abandonment..." While I tapped, I concentrated on the feeling of utter panic and desperation I felt during that last argument. I felt like I would die if he actually got in his car and drove away. By the time I was done with the second round of tapping points, I felt like a band had been cut away from my chest. I could breathe. I felt calm. I felt more calm than I had since J broke up with me.

I was completely amazed, but still expecting "the other shoe to drop." This feeling of calm couldn't possibly last. Later that night, when I went to bed, I did one more round of the Basic Recipe for the phrase "Even though J broke up with me..." And I slept better than night than I had in weeks. And as the week went on, that amazing feeling of calm DID last! My feeling of utter devastation never returned to the way it felt before EFT.

Since then, I've developed my own informal routine for dealing with really "big deal" issues.

When I feel like I'm dealing with something that goes deeper than one 'onion layer', I start out with the Basic Recipe. I try different set-up phrases while rubbing the 'sore spot' until I hit on one that either makes me start crying, or gives me a tingling feeling in my arms and legs. Consistently, when I find a set-up phrase that really gets to the heart of an issue, one of those two things will happen. After I find the right set-up phrase, I go through one round of the Basic Recipe, repeating my whole set up phrase at each tapping point, and by the end I've almost always stopped crying and/or started sighing deeply at each tapping point. When that happens, I know it's working.

Then I move on to a slightly modified round of the "choices" method described in other articles on Gary's site. I do the first round of tapping points, allowing myself to say a different but related "problem" phrase at each point. I'll start with the first half of my set-up phrase, and go from there. For instance, when dealing with my guilt about the breakup, I used the following phrases: "Even though I feel guilty about hurting J" (my set-up phrase), "Although the breakup was all my fault," "Even though I deserve this pain," etc. All different, but all different aspects of my feelings about the main issue.

Then, for the second round of tapping points, I use the second half of the set-up phrase at each point, re-phrased as a choice. For the guilt example it was, "I choose to completely forgive and accept myself."

For the third round, I use the alternating "problem" phrases from the first round with the "choice" phrase from the second round, saying a different two-part phrase at each point: "Although I feel guilty about hurting J, I choose to completely forgive and accept myself." "Even though I deserve this pain, I choose to completely..." and so on.

I usually do this at night, while I'm laying in bed. This used to be the time I'd spend tossing and turning and wondering why I wasn't asleep yet. Now, when I'm done with my EFT, I usually roll over and fall asleep within minutes. And I sleep better than I have in years.

Conclusion

When I was speaking ot Gary on the phone about my EFT experiences, he asked me to rate my progress, assuming that my previous Borderline behavior was a ten. I hesitantly gave myself a five, and he later asked how I knew it wasn't a two or a zero. Although I've given the matter more thought since then, I'm still really not certain. Doing without the guidance of a professional therapist, I've realized that I really don't know exactly what level of emotional response is considered "normal," so it's hard to say.

I do know I still have a very short temper. I still get way too frustrated way too quickly. Although I haven't had any major rages since I started EFT, I still go over the edge with hysteria occasionally. EFT has helped tremendously in curbing my tendency to drink too much, but it's not completely gone. I haven't used it to address my spending habits, but I have tackled a couple of childhood issues that definitely helped reduce the spending and drinking issues, as well as creating further relief from the abandonment/possessiveness issue.

Now I can stop myself during an argument before I lose control, which is an entirely new experience for me. And if I do get really upset about something, instead of being completely consumed by out of control feelings, part of me is standing back looking for the 'real' reason it's happening, so I can use EFT about it later (I've so far been relatively unsuccessful at using EFT to calm myself down during an overwhelming emotion). As things come up in my day-to-day life, I look for ways to deal with them with EFT, and I can feel the difference it makes every time.

And I'm not the only one who'd noticed changes. J says I'm doing better than I ever have since he met me more than seven year ago, and if anyone is in a position to gauge my behavioral changes, it's him. Personally, I know that I feel more in control, more calm and much, much happier than I have for as long as I can remember. Do I feel the way a "normal" person does? I don't know. But I do know that the changes I've made in only a month's time, with the help of EFT, feel nothing less than miraculous. I'm looking forward to finding a house for myself and moving out of the house we've shared for the last 5 years. I'm looking forward to seeing what life has to offer, instead of desperately looking for a relationship to validate myself.

For the first time, I really feel I'm making consistent, significant progress at dealing with my problems, instead of two steps forward, one step back, fighting every step of the way. I can't thank Gary enough for making this information available to everyone, and I only hope my story can help someone else struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder, or anyone with out of control behavioral problems.

Teresa Knezek

Followup

Gary-

I still sometimes get emails regarding the first article I wrote about using EFT on my apparent Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms, so I wanted to write a follow-up article answering a lot of the questions I've gotten.

Hope you can use it for the newsletter and website!

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It's hard to believe it's been almost exactly three years since I wrote my EFT article on Borderline Personality Disorder ... when I spoke to Gary on the phone in July 2005, and he asked me to rate my progress on a scale of 1 to 10 (using my "old" behavior as a 10), I said 5. I wasn't really sure, but I knew I wasn't all better yet.

Now I know I should have said something closer to 7 or 8, because as amazingly as I had improved in only a month of using EFT, I truly feel my Borderline tendencies are at a zero today. Re-reading my original article today, it feels like I'm reading about a different person. Although I do remember the behaviors I wrote about then, there is no emotional connection for me when I read them ... I honestly cannot feel even a shadow of the emotional hell I used to live through constantly.

Now that I revisit that article, I realize I wrote it so early in my EFT experience that I hadn't yet used the technique that brought me to an apparently full recovery today. I often thought about doing a follow-up, but I was always a little afraid I'd relapse, and my advice would just give people false hope.

I haven't experienced a "Borderline rage," or felt the indescribable panic and despair I used to feel on a regular basis, in well over a year and a half, despite a number of emotionally trying experiences in the meantime: an accidental pregnancy, abortion, arguments with my current partner, having my emotionally troubled younger sister move in with me, even being rejected by a man I'd been infatuated with for years - after I finally worked up the nerve to 'make a move' (other BPD sufferers will understand why I was so proud of myself for not completely losing it after that!). These are all things that would have reduced me to an hysterical wreck three years ago.

So, now that I'm really confident I have honestly and permanently dealt with my BPD issues, I'd like to share exactly what EFT routine seemed to help me in the most long-term and meaningful way.

Back in 2005, I'd read the emofree.com series on the Personal Peace Procedure. On some level, I knew that would be a huge help to me, but it seemed like I was always in the middle of such a huge emotional crisis I just couldn't face the idea of dealing with things on such a far-reaching level. The very idea of writing down *every* "bothersome specific event" I could remember was way too much to think about, so for a number of months I just worked on using EFT to control my violent temper and hysterical mood swings (1).

Then one night, when I was in a fairly calm mood, I decided to start dealing with my hurtful childhood memories without the specific rules given for the Personal Peace Procedure. I started tapping on the early memories that still had the emotional power to enrage me or make me cry. Starting with the one that bothered me the most, I tapped on them one at a time, and they started to disappear.

Some incidents (even among the most painful memories) only took a couple of rounds of tapping to lose their power over me. I could deal with more than one in a single bedtime session on a good day. Some took 20 minutes or more of tapping (using the modified "Choices Method" I talked about in my first article). Some stubborn ones took a few 10 to 20 minute sessions over the course of a few days, but I didn't move on to a new memory until the last one was gone. And in an amazingly short time (considering many of these memories had been hurting me for over 20 years), all of these old emotional injuries started to disappear.

As the biggest, most painful ones were dealt with, other secondary memories started to come to the forefront. Just like the Personal Peace Procedure describes, after you take down the biggest "redwoods" in your emotional forest, you can start dealing with the smaller trees ... and in many cases, I found the bigger issues "knocked down" a lot of smaller ones at the same time, without having to tap on each memory individually.

I think the key factor for me was this: With the level of emotional fragility that comes with BPD, or similar problems, sitting down and writing out a comprehensive inventory of painful memories is far too frightening a task to even attempt. You'd be overwhelmed with feelings you couldn't begin to deal with. Instead, I just let my memories guide me (one of the only times going along with my feelings was a *good* thing back then), dealing with only one at a time, as they pushed themselves to the front of my attention.

I regret now that I didn't keep a detailed weekly journal of all of my EFT work, but the improvements with each session were definite and significant enough to keep me optimistic and determined. Within a year, I found myself able to deal with situations that used to unavoidably send me over the edge. And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I haven't felt anything even close to that old rage - terror - desperation feeling I used to get (multiple times a week during my worst years).

I can't thank Gary enough for bringing this self-therapy technique to the public, and making the basic instructions available to anyone who needs it, without charge. Thanks to EFT, and only a year of personal persistence (which is nothing, compared to the decades of misery I'd lived with before that), my friends today tell me I'm one of the happiest, easiest to get along with people they know. For anyone who's lived with Borderline Personality Disorder, or cared about someone who suffered from it, you'll understand all too well how truly miraculous that really is.

I am not exaggerating at all to say that EFT has completely changed my life, and helped me become the person I always really wished I was.

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(1) For people just starting out using EFT with BPD issues, here's what worked best for me when I tried calming a rage after it had already started: I let the other person leave the room (If you can do that, you're halfway there! ), and then I started the basic tapping routine while I told myself all the things I was thinking in the moment. Even if I knew they were irrational, or felt stupid or mean saying them out loud. I remember one fight with J: After he left I started tapping on a list of phrases like,

Even though he doesn't understand me…

Even though he doesn't care about me at all…

Even though he hates me…(maybe with some swear words thrown in ;-) and so on.

It didn't matter what was going through my head, or whether made any sense at all ... tapping on exactly what I was thinking and feeling *at that moment* was the only thing that could help. I didn't end up happy and serene afterward, but I did calm down enough to walk into the house and not jump back into the argument, which was a HUGE accomplishment.

Teresa

 

 

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