Dance for Borderline Personality Disorder

When I first was diagnosed with BPD I felt a sense of relief. For years I had felt that I had two ways of coping with life. One part of me that wanted to thrive, be successful and be perfect at everything I attempted, and another part that was self-sabotaging and ruthlessly destructive. This part hated everything of my being. To be honest I thought this was ‘normal’, and that everyone had the same perception of themselves as me.

So it’s not surprising that after my diagnosis of BPD I felt a weight lifted from me, as another was slowly uncovering the darkness that I carefully hid. I became hopeful that there was an explanation for the way I thought and interpreted my self and the world. As so many emotions clouded my mind and I searched for a way to express myself.

As I have never been great with words, I looked to dance as a way of finding meaning amongst the chaos. In the past, I had been involved in running a disco for adults with disabilities this involved dancing with consumers and encouraging them to express themselves.

So it was totally amazing to discover a song titled “Borderline”! And I decided to dance it out. One night, I dressed in my favourite bird jacket and rocked out some pretty weird moves.

I danced like I was expressing myself for the first time. I could feel my body, mind and emotions connecting as if it was the first time they had said hello to each other.

In the past I had danced in a way that I guess was socially desirable, composed and perfectionistic, portraying a false happiness of what the outside world wanted to see.

But this dance was different, it told a story of how I was willing to let my inside emotions be exposed with self-acceptance, a kind and open attitude. I was finally starting to process some difficult emotions and allowing myself the freedom and opportunity to express my inside confusion to the world.

After making the dance, I showed my friends with BPD, who immediately wanted to start a group dance together and make their own self-expressive videos. I am hopeful that they will continue to do so and that I can learn some expressive moves from them. In the meantime, I have joined a group “dance for expressing emotions” which I am so excited to start. I really encourage everyone that struggles to put words to their emotions to find other occupations that allow self-discovery and expression.

If you are a clinician, the references by Barton (2011) is very insightful in how to create a safe and trusting dance group for people with severe mental illness and the value of dancing with others. If you have not considered dance as a way of helping people express emotions nonverbally, I strongly encourage you to have a look and even try it for yourself!

I’ll probably regret it, but enjoy the video I hope it makes you laugh 😀

Barton, E. (2011). Movement and Mindfulness: A Formative Evaluation of a Dance/Movement and Yoga Therapy Program with Participants Experiencing Severe Mental Illness. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 33(2), 157-181. doi:10.1007/s10465-011-9121-7

Until then… Have a day,   

Love Laura

Founder of OT for BPD

Published by OT Trauma Tools

Founder Mental health Advocate; Phd Candidate; Occupational Therapy Teacher and Researcher Australia “As an occupational therapist diagnosed with BPD I will use this page to share about the various interventions and strategies that are helpful to those with BPD. I will also share about the positive and sometimes challenging approaches that health professionals have used in my treatment in emergency, inpatient, outpatient and community settings. I hope that by sharing my lived experience I can help improve the experience of those struggling to understand Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD) and also support those living with BPD and other mental health challenges Most importantly we will share how occupation can powerfully help change lives!" Laura

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