The lived experience of recovery in borderline personality disorder: a qualitative study
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Background: The concept of recovery in borderline personality disorder (BPD) is not well defined. Whilst clinical approaches emphasise symptom reduction and functioning, consumers advocate for a holistic approach. The consumer perspective on recovery and comparisons of individuals at varying stages have been minimally explored. Method: Fourteen narratives of a community sample of adult women with a self-reported diagnosis of BPD, were analysed using qualitative interpretative phenomenological analysis to understand recovery experiences. Individuals were at opposite ends of the recovery continuum (seven recovered and seven not recovered). Results: Recovery in BPD occurred across three stages and involved four processes. Stages included; 1) being stuck, 2) diagnosis, and 3) improving experience. Processes included; 1) hope, 2) active engagement in the recovery journey, 3) engagement with treatment services, and 4) engaging in meaningful activities and relationships. Differences between individuals in the recovered and not recovered group were prevalent in the improving experience stage. Conclusion: Recovery in BPD is a non-linear, ongoing process, facilitated by the interaction between stages and processes. Whilst clinical aspects are targets of specialist interventions, greater emphasis on fostering individual motivation, hope, engagement in relationships, activities, and treatment, may be required within clinical practice for a holistic recovery approach.