We had the good fortune of connecting with Ana Del Castillo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ana, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
I’d been a coach for decades, my focus being women who are looking for a deeper, fuller experience of themselves, their power, their sex, and the concrete ability to speak up and authentically be themselves in a world that tells us otherwise. Recently, however, I came to the realization that, without ever using labels or diagnoses, just about every single one of my conversations with clients had something to do with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or panic and anxiety. I had, without realizing it, been working for years and years, with considerable success, with people affected by, or with some leanings towards, a personality adaptation. So the single most important decision I made that has contributed to my success was owning that this WAS in fact an area of my expertise, and owning WHY it was an area of my expertise. I had to “come out” about it, so to speak. I had to do the very thing I had been working with clients to do for years; speak up and authentically be myself in a world I was afraid wouldn’t welcome me. I had to own my power.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
For most of my life, I have had a co-morbid Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and for a number of years after a traumatic event, I also had a Panic Disorder. Like some or most who have these disorders, I didn’t know I had them for a lot of years. To those on the outside I was simply a “troubled” child. In reality, I had developed major personality adaptations to survive the trauma of my upbringing and surroundings. Growing up in the 70s, there was no such thing as the internet, google or access to information like there is today. So, I did the best I could which meant therapy. And therapy helped, up to a certain point, but personality disorders require a high degree of expertise on the part of the therapist, and deep commitment and (most times) desperation on the part of the client. Both of which weren’t available at the time. And then an enormously traumatic event happened – my father and brother were both murdered – and in walked my desperation. Their deaths ripped down my narcissistic mask in a way that I couldn’t put it back together again. And that’s when my BPD and Panic Disorder went into bloom. …There’s something to be said about the profound, humbling, spiritual opening that comes from genuinely being in desperation and hitting rock bottom. To say the very least, it was a really challenging time in my life. I had been in therapy before their deaths, but afterwards, I went into recovery as though my life depended on it, because to a large degree it did. So for the past 20+ years, I have been in active, aggressive, out of the box, non-medicated therapy, recovery and training for my co-morbid disorders. And as a result, I’ve seen enormous progress and have had remarkable success: Most people with NPD have an exaggerated sense of themselves; have an inflated sense of entitlement and have problems being in relationships; write people off for small or imagined issues and see people and the world in black & white. People with NPD exploit others, are obsessed with power, with class and status, and most distinctly and importantly, have little to no ability to feel empathy or compassion for others. Most people with BPD feel “empty” a lot; have a lot of quickly shifting emotions and moods (sadness, anger, anxiety, etc.); are constantly afraid that people will abandon or leave them so most romantic relationships are intense and unstable because they themselves are emotionally intense and unstable; when they’re feeling insecure in a relationship (which is often), they tend to lash out or make impulsive gestures all in order to keep the other person close; at times they behave in reckless ways, like engaging in unsafe sex, binge-drinking, drug use, or going on spending sprees; and worst of all, they’re suicidal a lot – they ideate about it, threaten it or are in fact, suicidal. In the past 2+ decades, through a LOT of effort and determined allegiance to the parts of me that had been shattered, I have long-standing, loving, intimate, stable friendships and romantic relationships; I see the grey in myself and in others. And most rare, unique and hard-earned, especially with people who started out where I did, I have the ability to feel something that’s called effective empathy – it’s genuine, real empathy and compassion for myself and others. I am also able to feel love and to be loving; and most miraculously… I am happy. I am able to have and hold happiness without destroying it, sabotaging it, or blowing it up out of an unconscious anxiety or a deep, well-grooved patterning of fear and terror. My life’s curriculum and training has given me a truly unique insight, perspective and experience that I don’t hear very often in the black & white, demonizing, shame-filled conversations that are had about NPD & BPD. I know the emotional and psychological landscape and the terrain of trauma, and the insides and outs of these disorders intimately. And every day I see how this perspective and experience helps people, because most don’t understand what they are dealing with, or why they or the people in their lives behave, think and feel the way they do. And most don’t know how to address the distinctive powerlessness, pain or addictive quality of these relationships. I do, and quite literally I speak to clients and people every single day about these dynamics in ways that most can’t.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is Covid quarantine time so places are not as available as usual, but… THE BEACH! I live in LA so we would have to visit Santa Monica and Venice and people and dog watch. I also love going to Pismo Beach off season where I stay in a place where I can see the beach from bed. I love taking the scenic route from LA to SF, where I used to live, and so stopping at San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, and hiking Big Sur. And when I lived in SF, I LOVED running the stairs and the track at Kezar Stadium. I miss them tremendously! California is an amazing state where if I wanted to I could go to the redwood forests, swim the pacific ocean, walk the desert, or climb mountains.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh gosh, there are so many! There’s Lynne Forrest who’s work with Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle is transformative; there’s Natalie Thiel-Gebheim who is an exceptional coach, human being and woman I have worked with who understands how to use her deep understanding and grace to hold people through challenging places; there’s Bryan Winston who works with leaders who support and build up other leaders; there is Dr Elinor Greenberg, an incredible Gestalt therapy trainer who specializes in teaching the diagnosis and treatment of Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid adaptations in a way that feels lively and practical. And countless others! I stand on the shoulders of so many before me – some are people I have never met but have read their works. Every one of them whether I have personally met them or not has taught me how to hear, interpret, appreciate and live peacefully inside the nuanced and rich language of my body. I am so grateful! Here are links to the people I mentions above: https://www.lynneforrest.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org www.bryanwinstoncoaching.com https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/elinor-greenberg-phd