The beginning of a new calendar year is a somewhat arbitrary thing created by people more so than the planetary movements in our solar system. In fact, even on our singular planet Earth, a number of “new” years start at different times, dates and cultures around the globe ( Chinese, Jewish, etc.)  It’s not exactly precise, but I guess you have to start somewhere.

The concept of a new year lends itself to all sorts of well intended phenomena – the return of the Sun, a new fiscal year, repeat celebrations of annual holidays, the chronicling of all the birthdays of everyone on the planet. The new year is also a time for personal reflection and re-booting, an opportunity to step back, take a breath and make some course corrections, great and small..

For people caught in the chaos that is Borderline Personality Disorder, the New Year can also be a sober reminder of the anguish, emotional turmoil and isolation they face on a daily basis. Despite there being millions of people who live with BPD, the few treatments available are difficult to find and afford. However, there is one BPD resource that can provide powerful and welcome relief – peer support. One excellent example of this is just a few keystrokes away. It’s a Twitter based community of people with Borderline Personality Disorder called #BPDChat

#BPDChat was originally founded and initially moderated by Sue Sibbald and her dear friend Hannah. Carl Dunn, Jr., both certified peer support specialists took up the moderating tasks when Sue stepped down a few years ago, although she still participates in the conversations.

Every week (without exception over the three years I have participated), Carl leads a one hour discussion with a community of people who are living and trying to cope with BPD. Carl begins each #BPDchat by posting an extensive list of helpful books, videos, websites and other resources followed by an “ice breaker” question such as “What kind of pet do you have?” (a question that produced a plethora of pet commentary and pictures). Then Carl moves the conversation to the topic of the day, always related to a BPD-related issue that affects and/or perplexes people with the disorder. The information and “how-to- use” examples that Carl offers are based on one of Marsha Linehan’s numerous Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) social skills that is pertinent to dealing with a particular BPD problem. Chatters who have had success with any of the presented skills typically chime in and describe their experiences using that skill.

#BPDchat is lively, fast moving and always highly appreciated by that day’s participants. It’s a no-cost, informative and effective and way to help people with BPD get a better handle on their disorder, especially if they can’t access or afford formal BPD treatment services in their area.

#BPDChat runs every Sunday 4PM EST in the US and 9PM GMT in the UK. You can find the chat on Twitter by searching for #BPDChat. It might be a useful way to start the New Year. Hope to see you there.

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