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

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

4.4 17
by Kiera Van Gelder

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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


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 and debilitating condition, an unblinking portrayal of one woman's fight against the emotional devastation of borderline personality disorder. This haunting, intimate memoir chronicles both the devastating period that led to Kiera's eventual diagnosis and her inspirational recovery through therapy, Buddhist spirituality, and a few online dates gone wrong. Kiera's story sheds light on the private struggle to transform suffering into compassion for herself and others, and is essential reading for all seeking to understand what it truly means to recover and reclaim the desire to live.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Discovering the enlightenment of Buddhism comes pretty late in this shaky, ultimately triumphant account of coping with an elusive mental disorder. Van Gelder had been plagued by suicidal tendencies, drug addiction, chronic instability, feelings of entrapment, and mood swings since she was a young teen growing up in Concord, Mass.. Although off drugs for more than 10 years and a veteran of therapy and hospitals, Van Gelder was only diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) when she was 30 and seesawing wildly in a relationship. Finally putting a diagnosis to her illness was "like a religious conversion," and she instantly delved into the literature and treatment, including a rigorous multistage process of dialectal behavior therapy, conducted in groups. The first half of this densely detailed memoir chronicles the author’s continued yo-yoing into self-destructive behavior and hospitalization; eventually, with intensive BPD treatment zoning in on her six-year-old self molested by a babysitter, she moves through issues of trauma and vulnerability to a desperate need for validation from her parents, divorced early on and in deep denial about her psychic neediness. Studying Tibetan Buddhism confirmed her desire to embrace a nurturing community of compassionate seekers away from hospitals and diagnoses, well documented in this useful work. (July)
From the Publisher

"The Buddha and the Borderline is a cross between Girl, Interrupted and Bridget Jones’s Diary.While reading it, I found myself admiring Kiera’s talent for vividly describing borderline hopelessness and pain while keeping me laughing with her tales of life as a ‘lonely and increasingly horny receptionist.’ While this book has something for everyone, Kiera’s detailed account of how she recovered from this deadly disorder will be enormously inspiring to people with borderline personality disorder and their family members."
Randi Kreger, author of Stop Walking on Eggshells and The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook

"With wit, clarity, and candor bout her sex life, Kiera chronicles her coping with the pain and emptiness of borderline personality disorder while proving that the road to recovery is usually under construction."
Jim Payne, board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

"Kiera creates a window into the soul of one coming to grips with severe mental illness. Fully exposed, she shows us the pain, pleasure, and finally, the redemption of the borderlineexperience. Her gripping story sheds new light upon one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized of all human conditions, and for that, I am deeply grateful. Her words will quite possibly be shocking to some, but will validate and comfort those with the disorder and those who are tryingto understand them. Welcome to our world: the pain, shame, and pleasure, and then, finally, the insight and skill-building that leads to healing, love, and happiness. Kiera captures the experience brilliantly."
Tami Green, internationally recognized speaker, life coach and advocate for those in recovery from mental illness

"The Buddha and the Borderline is a strikingly candid and comprehensive account of the author’s personal experiences of the effects of borderline personality disorder spanning more than two decades. Van Gelder is a very well informed, engaging, and talented writer. She reveals the multiple and complex symptoms of borderline disorder as manifested in her life with great honesty,revealing the devastating pain with moving and insightful vignettes that are tempered on occasion with a finely tuned sense of humor. This is a must-read for people with this disorder, their families and loved ones, and mental health professionals."
Robert O. Friede, MD, author of Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified

"The Buddha and the Borderline is a masterpiece. Kiera shares her road to recovery in a captivating way that brings a unique understanding to a confusing, challenging, and controversial disorder. Having the privilege to personally know Kiera, I applaud her on so many levels, least of all this must-read book. She is an inspiration to all who strive and hope for recovery from borderline personality disorder."
Perry D. Hoffman Ph.D., president of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD)

"Kiera’s book is destind to become a classic in the growing literature on borderline personality disorder. I expected to get a somber account of a transformation from suffering to enlightenment,but the book I read was not only entirely entertaining and revealing, but also had me up way past my bedtime in stitches. The Buddha and the Borderline is seriously funny, authentic, and sublime in its wisdom. The book embodies the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and integrates the world of core unrelenting suffering with the world of freedom from suffering. Transcendent stuff."
Blaise Aguirre,MD, medical director of the Adolescent Dialectical Behavior Therapy Residential Program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA

"The Buddha and the Borderline is a gripping, authentic, and ultimately inspiring portrayal of one woman’s triumph over borderline personality disorder. An intriguing, riveting, and compelling read, the depth and complexity of both character and story are to be savored. Kiera Van Gelder has shared the private depths of her heart and soul and, in doing so, has bestowed upon the reader a great and sacred gift."
Roy Krawitz, author of Borderline Personality Disorder: The Facts

"A very educational and insightful look into the inner world of borderline personality disorder and its treatment. Kiera Van Gelder’s witty tone and engaging journey brilliantly chronicles the dialectic of profound suffering and how that suffering can be transformed into a life worth living."
A.J. Mahari, author of Life Coach and Mental Health Coach

"The Buddha and the Borderline by Kiera Van Gelder is captivating, literary, and insightful. Van Gelder’s use of metaphor enhances the haunting nature of her journey through life. As I read the book, I recognized her pain, and cheered her on. Her insights led me to a better understanding of myself and the nature of borderline personality disorder."
Lisa Dietz, owner of www.DBTSelfHelp.com

"Out of a profoundly painful experience, Kiera Van Gelder has written a brave and hopeful book exploring her recovery from borderline personality disorder. Kiera's story will undoubtedly touch countless lives and be a source of inspiration to those who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, their families, and the mental health professionals who play a crucial role in the complex nexus of education, treatment, and support. The Buddha and the Borderline is a compelling and invaluable narrative for anyone wanting to learn more about the difficult, yet ultimately rewarding, process of recovery."
Amanda L. Smith, Florida Borderline Personality Disorder Association

Product Details

New Harbinger Publications
Publication date:
Unassigned Series
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Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Kiera Van Gelder, MFA, is an artist, educator, and writer diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. An international speaker and advocate, she is featured in the documentary Back from the Edge: Living With and Recovering From Borderline Personality Disorder. She currently lives in Massachusetts at a Buddhist meditation center. For additional information, please visit www.buddhaandborderline.com and www.kieravangelder.com.

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The Buddha and the Borderline 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
STBookReviews More than 1 year ago
The Buddha and the Borderline is the memoir of a woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD.) She is determined not to give in to this devastating disorder and turns to dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and Buddhism. The author shares the most intimate parts of her life with readers, including self-injury, suicide, psychiatric hospitalizations, therapy, issues with her parents, romantic relationships, and spirituality. Starting in the prologue there are very graphic descriptions of self-harm. This could help others to understand what is going on in the head of someone with BPD, but could be very triggering to those who struggle with self-injury. The book was well written and at times entertaining. The information and insight on borderline personality disorder and DBT was interesting and helpful, and the author's determination to recover was inspiring. Buddhism played a smaller part than I expected from reading the title, and at times I would have appreciated a little more background to better understand the way studying this religion actually benefited her. As a person with BPD I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to other people diagnosed with this disorder and to their families. I don't know how interested others would be in this story.
ScottEdelstein More than 1 year ago
Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental illness than can often seem bizarre or incomprehensible. It can destroy psyches, relationships, lives, families, and organizations. Yet it's also fair to say that the symptoms of BPD are nothing more than the human condition multiplied by 20. This book--by a brilliant writer who is in recovery from BPD--offers a profoundly insightful, balanced, honest, and compassionate view of the illness, and of the roles that mindfulness and various therapies have played in her recovery. Van Gelder never asks for pity or empathy--and, unlike most memoirists, she consistently understands that she needs to serve her readers, not herself. A recurring theme in the book--and an essential element of the book's arc and structure--is that recovery, relationships, and life itself are all built around dialectics, the often-uncomfortable space between two polarities out of which our most helpful and harmful actions can emerge. Van Gelder isn't just another person in recovery telling her story; she's a first-rate writer who has written a compelling, greatly entertaining, and sometimes outright funny book. If you want a clear-eyed, down-and-dirty view of BPD that you won't find anywhere else, read this book. And if you want to enjoy a fascinating, engrossing, and expertly told story, read this book. Scott Edelstein, author of the forthcoming Sex and the Spiritual Teacher
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a well written book that described the life of someone suffering with bpd. I loved how open and honest she was about not just her feeelings but willingness to admitt her faults. I hope her story convices others that thete is hope!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! My friends and I read this book together as a psychology book club. It was relatable and inspiring, it made us think about the issues we've had either by having BPD or by knowing someone who did or opening your mind to mental health.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Superb from beginning to end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have bipolar disorder and although this author has borderline personality disorder I could really identify with her struggle to deal with her illness. Although, as she tells it, people are totally turned off by people with BPD, she comes across as a person you can care about. You develop empathy for her even though at times she behaves in a totally repellant manner. Kiera has a great sense of humor and that definitely helps her cope and helps the reader to care more about her. I was originally interested in this book because the title implies that it is partly about Buddhism. That is somewhat misleading. It doesn't really play a big role in the book. In the end it didn't matter. This would not only be a really helpful book for someone with BPD to read, but a good read for anyone who struggles with a mental illness.
WanderingSnake More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read! An up front author describes the pain of being trapped in a world where not only people do not understand what is going on,; but also who do not seem to care. The author talks about great alternatives to otherwise unhealthy behavior and provides great hope to others.
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