Book Review: The Buddha and the Borderline

[I posted this on my mental health tumblr and forgot to post it here so better late than never]

I read Kiera Van Gelder’s book, and in the end, I was so happy for her, and grateful that she shared this trying experience with us. 

Brutal in it’s honesty, The Buddha and the Borderline takes you on a woman’s journey from completely broken to coping with all the setbacks and personal battles in between. Using not only her own experience, but Marsha Linehan’s research coupled with Buddhist teachings, she explains Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Buddhism’s core to break down the oft ignored and highly stigmatized Borderline Personality Disorder into understandable elements with goals to achieve as you strive toward wellness.

Instantly triggered by the book, I wasn’t sure if I could handle the graphic detail this early in my recovery (or remission, whatever you’d like to call it). But moving past the initial shock at how straightforward Kiera was going to be, before I could worry too much about the triggering imagery on the page I found a kindred spirit – someone who understood; I wasn’t alone.

This is why her memoir is so powerful. She lays out her tale shamelessly in an effort to take you along for her ups and downs, relapses and enlightenment, and it works. Reading this book I feel understood, hopeful, and empowered as I saw so much of myself in her. Although it doesn’t squash all my fears about my own memoir being put out into the world, it does make me proud of the advocacy I do participate in and makes me want to do even more when I’ve gotten a little better of a grip on myself. If helping others is what Kiera set out to do (which I’m sure it is), she’s succeeded. One of the hardest things about being borderline is feeling empty and alone, and when you read about someone else fighting the same fight as you, feelings of validation and community comfort you.

If you think you can handle triggers because you’re doing well (I had to read in increments because I’ve had a rough couple of days – caused by nothing from the book, just anxiety and paranoia and dissociating), I suggest you do what I did. Pick up this book with a highlighter and go through it. Highlight the things you feel too and things you want to remember. I believe Ms. Van Gelder’s book would be a very positive influence on anyone who needs to see someone’s journey to the other side of the borderline.


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