How to Find Hope and Healing with Treatment-Resistant Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder

Understanding How an Individual with Therapy-Resistant Depression Utilized Therapy, Support from Community, and Self-Advocacy to Cope with Their Condition

Treating Depression That Doesn’t Respond to Treatment A Personal Account

When Imadé Borha graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in nonfiction creative writing, she never imagined that finding a job would become a mental health battle. But faced with career instability and the trauma of unemployment, Borha’s struggle with major depressive disorder intensified. After failed attempts with medication, she was diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, a condition that occurs when traditional antidepressant treatments fail to provide relief.

Finding the right treatment for mental health disorders can be a complex and challenging journey. Personalized care is essential since there is no universal solution that works for everyone. Ongoing research aims to improve treatment outcomes and match individuals with the most effective interventions. It’s crucial to explore different options and advocate for yourself, as Borha emphasizes.

Unveiling Borderline Personality Disorder

In addition to her depression, Borha was later diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This condition is characterized by mood swings, an unstable sense of self, impulsive behavior, and difficulties in forming relationships. Borha found that triggers such as rejection and job opportunities exacerbated her symptoms. Understanding the connection between anxiety and her mental health was also a significant breakthrough for her.

To manage her symptoms, Borha turned to dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). This therapeutic approach combines individual talk therapy with group skills training, focusing on emotional regulation and accepting oneself while fostering positive changes. Originally developed to treat BPD and suicidal tendencies, DBT has now expanded to help individuals with related issues. Borha also found that engaging in high-intensity interval training exercise helped to center her mind and maintain stability.

The Power of Community Support

Borha firmly believes that building a mental health community is vital for her well-being. However, her fear of abandonment and rejection, stemming from her BPD, makes it challenging to develop interpersonal relationships. Overcoming the barriers within the Black community to seek mental health treatment remains a struggle. Historical prejudice and the fear of punishment have discouraged Black individuals from openly discussing their psychological distress. Although there has been progress, obstacles and racial bias in accessing mental health care persist.

Through her website,, Borha strives to connect her followers with therapists who understand their unique experiences. Her Help Me Find a Therapist program, although currently on hiatus due to the backlog of requests, aims to bridge the gap between individuals and culturally competent mental health professionals.

Exploring Treatment Options

Treatment-resistant depression is a critical issue contributing to the suicide crisis. While medication options exist, such as the FDA-approved nasal spray esketamine (Spravato), alternative treatments and therapies continue to be studied. Esketamine, derived from ketamine, requires administration and monitoring by a healthcare provider.

Borha, in her relentless pursuit of understanding her condition, has faced challenges obtaining coverage for esketamine through her insurance. Yet, she encourages others to research their symptoms extensively. This knowledge can empower individuals to advocate for themselves and collaborate with their therapists or psychiatrists to consider alternative diagnoses and treatments.

It’s important to remember that being wrong is an inherent part of the process. Psychiatrists can make mistakes, and patients have the right to experiment, fail, and try again. Embracing a mindset of research, experimentation, and self-advocacy allows individuals to take ownership of their mental health.

Q&A: Addressing Additional Concerns

Q: Is treatment-resistant depression more common in certain demographics?

A: Treatment-resistant depression can affect anyone regardless of demographics, but studies have shown that factors such as age, gender, and socio-economic status can influence treatment outcomes. It’s crucial to engage in open conversations with healthcare professionals and explore personalized interventions.

Q: What are some other alternative treatments for depression and borderline personality disorder?

A: Aside from medication and therapy, alternative treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and ketamine infusion therapy have shown promise in addressing treatment-resistant depression. However, it’s essential to consult with medical professionals to determine the most suitable approach for individual cases.

Q: How can I find a therapist who understands and relates to my experiences?

A: Finding a therapist who specializes in your specific needs can be challenging. Online directories, mental health organizations, and community support groups may provide resources to help you connect with culturally competent therapists. Websites such as aim to bridge this gap, but availability may vary.

Q: Can lifestyle changes positively impact mental health disorders?

A: Lifestyle changes can complement traditional treatment approaches. Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and fostering a supportive social network have all been linked to improved mental health outcomes.

Expert Insights

For a deeper understanding of treatment-resistant depression, borderline personality disorder, and related treatments, explore the following resources:

By staying informed and proactive, you can navigate the complexities of mental health challenges and take charge of your well-being. Remember, you are not alone in this journey.

📚 References

Borha I. (n.d.). Depressed While Black. Retrieved from

Arcurs, Y. [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from Getty Images

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