The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating
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The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,118 ratings  ·  141 reviews
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 an...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by New Harbinger Publications (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sarah
This was a really great book. It took me forever to read though because I found it scary in that it felt like the story was actually about my life. I suffer from BPD and since i was diagnosed many years ago it has been a very strange roller coaster ride. There have been addictions left, right and centre just to avoid having to deal with my emotions. Mood instability makes it hard for myself and the others around me, and relationships are few and far between. Trying to comprehend what the actual...more
Mo Tipton
This was an intensely difficult read for me, because I was raised by someone with BPD (who in turn had been raised by someone with BPD), and there were many passages that left me simmering with anger at the author's self-righteous, self-centered, raging neediness, because I know all too well what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that emotional roller coaster. But I also deeply, deeply respect her honesty in sharing her experience with mental illness and for committing herself to lifel...more
Erika
This was one of the best memoirs I have read. I work in mentqal health, and frequently with patients who have Borderline Personality Disorder. The author really brought home to me what someone who suffers from this debilitating yet invisible disease goes through. I applaud her courage and honesty, and am happy that she has found a way to live a life that's more than just existing. She worked incredibly hard under extremely difficult circumstances and against harsh odds. I rarely see anyone recov...more
Kimberley
This is a stunning book. If you have borderline tendencies, or if you are close to anyone who has borderline tendencies, then this is a must read. It contains an amazing proposition for borderlines (through the dialectial behavior therapy), which is to learn to hold two polarities as simultaneous realities of life. For instance learning to feel radical acceptance of the situation you find yourself in, while at the same time learning effective strategies for changing it.

I jotted down these borde...more
Tracie
I've worked with many people with borderline personality disorder and actually teach a course in DBT. I found this book interesting as it's written by a person who is diagnosed with BPD and this is the story of how she has learned to live with all of its contradictions. I especially liked the sections where she is involved in DBT as I got to read about what it is like from within the group therapy circle.
This book is not for everyone. Kiera Van Gelder, as presented in this memoir, is not all tha...more
Laura
I found this book intensely frustrating. It's written by someone with borderline personality disorder for, I think, other people with borderline personality disorder. And intellectually, I can recognize that’s a good thing. BPD must be hell. But viscerally, what I know is what it’s like to be down stream from other people’s BPD, from the intense selfishness, the self righteous rage, the incredibly poor decision making, and the explosive misery of people with a disorder that, it seems, is charact...more
Stephanie
EXCELLENT book. I actually finished it today and really want to do justice to it by writing this review. The narrator of this memoir is so incredibly smart, vulnerable, courageous, and hilarious. Kiera Van Gelder was sober for ten years when she was first diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD has a lot of negative connotations like Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, but there are many more people who suffer from mild BPD and just don't know it because it is very difficult to diagno...more
K
Kiera van Gelder's voice is one that needs to be heard.

I first encountered Kiera on a very informative video about Borderline Personality Disorder where she discusses her personal struggles with her condition and her difficult climb to improved functioning. This memoir recounts her experiences in a lot more detail.

Many professionals I know are pessimistic when it comes to working with someone who has BPD. It can be demanding to accept responsibility for someone who might experience intense, un...more
Liz
Oct 22, 2012 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012

"In one sense, it’s like growing a plant. You have the seed, but you need to give it certain elements: sun, water, soil. We have the seed. But how do you grow a borderline? Her word for the environment that cultivates our disorder is “invalidating.” She doesn’t use the term “abuse” or even “neglect,” but “invalidation” to describe how a vulnerable child’s inner experiences—thoughts, emotions, sensations, and beliefs—are either disregarded, denied, erratically responded to, punished, or oversimpl...more
Rebecca Jackson
This book seemed to embellish a lot of accounts. I felt she was trying too hard to make herself look "crazy." People with BPD, I feel, have way more self control in the harm they do to themselves. Yes, we do have tendencies to ruin relationships, but we learn to adapt and express it inwardly. The last thing, at least, I want is for someone to think I'm psycho. I'll kick and scream and bawl when I'm home alone but no in the presence of anyone else. Also this book has such a "I did it and so can y...more
Cameron
I didn't even know that I was going to read this book right now and a trip to the water park demanded a book. I grabbed the closest thing I had an the journey began. The book is memoir written by a women who was diagnosed with BPD. As she relates her experiences she seems to take an honest and revealing approach, sharing the tragedies and triumphs she experienced. I found her honesty refreshing and engaging and suffering from my own "savior complex" (as she calls it) I found myself hoping that t...more
Maggie
Can't rave enough about this book, which tells the author's travels between being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (as well as other mental health issues) and the various treatments she received.

I have read this book a few times already, yet only finished it once (so far). I found I kept re-reading various parts because they were so good, so profound, so helpful. Then I chose to restart the book altogether so I could underline these wonderful parts, and found myself underlining sp...more
Amy
This is book is disturbing in its depiction of borderline personality disorder. The writer is gifted in making you feel every ounce of pain, from the emotional devastation to the razor blades. While this is required reading for my mental health class, and not something I would normally read on my own, I think this book has the potential to change your life. This insight into the feeling of always being invalidated and the results of that invalidation for the borderline personality (or anyone els...more
Happyreader
This book starts with her writing a despairing love letter in her own blood and ends with her living in a Somerville Buddhist community. A riveting tale of mindfulness over madness and of support appearing when you need it. The generosity of her mom’s ex-boyfriend, for instance, is astounding. He finds her a safe haven and ensures that she remains safe. The Buddhism comes late in the book, prompted by the emphasis on mindfulness in her behavioral and cognitive therapy and her Buddhist muse is ir...more
Rebecca
Excellent book that I would highly recommend for anyone dealing with their own emotional dysregulation or those of someone else. Should be required reading for all clinicians. Completely has changed my compassion level for individuals who struggle with BPD. There is such an emphasis on their manipulative behavior and not enough on the incredible pain that they experience. We could all benefit from increasing our level of empathy, compassion, and validation for their experience.

This is a book th...more
Ted
Having been first introduced to individuals with this type of maladaptive behavioral pattern while I was a clinical social worker in a downtown Detroit crisis center as well working in a residential treatment center for adolescents, I chanced upon this title in my search for a more buddhist approach to mental health.

This is a memoir of someone who identifies with this disorder- strongly at first, less so as she learned more about Buddhism. This is not a book that will tell you all the terrible t...more
Ash
The Buddha and the Borderline was a great, highly enlightened, tragic, hilarious, and informative memoir from Kiera Van Gelder. It is her story about her struggle with dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and using dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and Buddhism to help her manage this illness.

When I was in my high school health class, I learned about this disorder and really thought I knew it, to the point when I thought I actually had it. Honestly, now learning more in depth abou...more
Amanda
This is by far one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Kiera has one of the mental illnesses that is most difficult for those who don't have it to understand and empathize with--Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Yet here she manages to make her pain and struggles incredibly relatable. From prior to her diagnosis when she would write boys letters in her own blood begging them to take her back, to treatment with Dialectical Behavior Therapy, to her gradual recovery and embracing of Buddhism...more
Matt
I loved this book, although I realize it's not for everyone.
It might help to know a little about personality disorders and that only a few treatments have ever worked for *any* personality disorders.
Once you know what you're getting into, you're good to go. Other people might label her a drama queen, but she does a really good job in the book of elucidating the biological basis for BPD.
Kiera also helps the reader out because she's just as sick of having BPD as the reader is. And she is "deter...more
Eileen
I've never wanted to be done with a book before as much as I did with this one. It's not that this was terrible, aside from the several typos (they happen to all of us), I just couldn't get myself to 'like' Kiera very much. I understand bpd, I just couldn't relate to being so helpless and needing others to take care of you, financially, to the extent that she needed everyone.

I do wish she spoke more about her time as an alcoholic and drug addict and her life before the time of her diagnosis. Pe...more
Suzanne
Amazon sent me the rec for this book since I had ordered other DBT workbooks from them in the past. Although I read it as a therapist who practices this type of therapy I found it interesting on a much more personal level. I think it opened a window into a very real account of BPD and how someone with this illness experiences life. I also thought it made many great points about the stigma of mental illness in our society and often the problems accessing any decent mental health care. A really gr...more
Amy
I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book and I appreciate it and the author for writing it more than I can even possibly convey. I am going to try to get a hold of her; Write her a letter of appreciation and gratitude.

If you ever wanted to know what having borderline personality disorder (BPD) is like from inside the mind of a person with BPD read this book. It is spot on with my experience for the most part. It is always misleading reading about mental illness from a psychiat...more
Avril
Wow. I'm stunned by the author's courage in being honest about her neediness and self-centredness. I knew very little about BPD before reading this book; now I think it must be one of the most difficult mental illnesses around, for both the sufferer and those who care for them. I hope that having read this book about what's happening 'inside' someone with BPD will help me to be more compassionate with people who seem to me to simply be narcissistic and needy.

I did hope for a bit more about how B...more
Kayla
Very honest account of the diagnosis, recovery, and ongoing struggles of a woman with BPD. Her honesty, courage, and humor came through along with the raging out of control behaviors exhibited when there is no sense of a reliable connection with others.

As literature, however, it could have used a bit more editing. I also think it was long on DBT and short on Buddhism, but perhaps that is splitting hairs.
Korinna
There are things that I can appreciate about this book - the author is very candid about her experiences and her emotions, and I have a great deal of respect for her openness and willingness to work on herself and improve. However, I found the book poorly written and tedious. I don't think Van Gelder is a particularly talented writer, nor do I think that her story is particularly interesting. I like that although the book covers about 6 years of her life, she doesn't leave us with a happy ending...more
Ellen Kane
This book proves Howe difficult it is to describe BPD. The best thing about it is that you get a pretty good description o CBT and DBT. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is dealing with a Borderline friend or family member as a way to guide them to a therapy that has the best chance of working. The writer definitely pulls you into her story.
Kimberly Gonzalez
I expected this book to be more about buddhism and her experiences with bpd based on the title and the cover, so was a little disappointed when buddhism didn't really come up until the last few chapters of the book. That said, I thought it was a good memoir. Engaging, interesting, honest. Good read.
Kim Bowen
Like most books on BPD, this shows the extremes in dysfunctional behavior. It would be nice to see something a little less....well....extreme. Also like "Get Me Out of Here". Another memoir on BPD.
JSA Lowe
I got the book from the library yesterday and I've already read it three times. Will say more later—but for now, just, yes. I've never read such an accurate description of what dysregulation feels like.
Heather
I've read quite a few books and articles from the perspective of the parents, children, and spouses of people with BPD so it was good to read the perspective from someone who suffers from this illness.
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“I'm so good at beginnings, but in the end I always seem to destroy everything, including myself.” 203 likes
“We do not deserve to be trapped in hell. It isnt our fault.” 17 likes
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