For those of you who know someone or you yourself are suffering from mental illness of some kind. These words are for you. Well all of this is for all of you who read.
After enduring all that I have in my life, some of which that I haven’t even begun to talk about it… YET… So lets start with packing up to go to a treatment retreat. That is what I am going to call it or summer camp .. in the winter.
The night before I was so scared, mad, upset, accepting, stubborn, sad some more, shame, guilt, hatred, rage, depression and the rest of all the emotions that you can go through. It was like I was packing to go to a summer camp that my parents are making me go to and I didn’t want. I felt bad for what I had put my kids through, my brother and my mom and lastly my husband. I felt like a huge mistake. I felt bad for what I did to my employees and my job. I mean it was a lot all at once. Too many emotions all at once and I was not in a place to detach from it all. I mean if I had I wouldn’t be going to a ” summer camp.”
When I got there, I was welcomed and yet I just wanted to run away. I knew I needed help and I was being forced to confront all these things. Things as in being alone with all my shit. Plain and simple. I said my goodbyes and it was harder than ever. I clung to my husband just hoping he wouldn’t leave me. But it was time. I walked away and it was so hard. At this point ( a few days after attempting) I couldn’t talk to anyone, or walk out of my house. I even turned off my phone days before. I just couldn’t cope with anything. I couldn’t even be left alone for more than 10 minutes at a time before every bad thing in The Wall contained came crashing down. Every brick of shame, every guilty thing, all the things I have said and done would come full force into my mind. As a result I was really jacked. Panic attacks full force!
So for me, to be in a place where I didn’t have anyone safe to cling to, and I am to trust them fully. That’s crazy. It took all I had to put on my strong face. That seemed to go on a little smoothly than I would have liked, but I was also in survival mode to the max. I hadn’t slept in a few days. I was tired but there was no way that I was going to start sleeping right away. Sleep was a treat for me at this point. I rather be awake and active than have nightmares. I was told that I would meet with all the doctors and therapist in the coming day or two but to try to get settled in and sleep. Once they searched everything in my bag, and took all the things that I could kill myself with I was left alone. FINALLY. The staff was really nice and supportive. They all knew my name without even knowing me yet.
My room was really a small house. The bathroom was pretty nice. I was expecting something more like a hospital bathroom. But It felt like home for now. I just couldn’t have all my stuff the way I wanted, and that was something I struggled with the whole time actually. The room had a great view of tall mountains, and old wooden floors. I had a space that was all mine. I shared the room with others but we weren’t cramped and respected each others space. I stayed as far to back of the room as possible. I had a large desk all to myself. I loved that!! It was in front of a huge window where I could look at the wonderful views. I was unpacking when I was told that everyone had already had dinner but they are waiting for me to eat so they can close the kitchen. Y’all!! We had a chef. I walked in and they all introduced themselves and I ate quickly and alone. The food was pretty good. Eventually the chef knew exactly how I liked my eggs every morning! Fresh food, and very healthy yummy food. Anyway, they made it feel like home as much as they could for the residents there. My camp mates. I will not talk about them or what we did but I will say they are pretty awesome people. We were a community that is for sure.
I still wasn’t really sleeping I was very happy to hear that I was going to be talking to the psychiatrist that morning. I was looking forward to maybe getting some medication to sleep and calm my internal self. Not permanently but for the time being. So I had basically 90 minutes to tell my life story to this person, and just like that I was given a diagnoses. I felt a glimmer of hope. I also was given my schedule of what my days would look like and I was to see my therapist that same day. I felt great that she also prescribed me with meds. I was looking forward to sleeping that night.
So what was my diagnoses. Well, I wasn’t told the whole thing at first. I was told that I have PTSD, Depression with suicide ideation and two others that I didn’t really pay attention too. That was until I saw them on paperwork that was being sent to my work. That is when I saw Borderline Personality Disorder. I lost my crap! Internally, that is. To me when I read that, I needed to see the psychiatrist right then. I called my husband and he tried to calm me down. Even though I was enjoying my newly found community I wanted out of there. I no longer trusted. At this point there was a defcon 1 situation going on in my mind and in that office. haha looking back at it now, they were trying to help me understand what I was going through. Little did I know that I was showing that I was actually having an episode of BPD right then and there. I didn’t see that then, but in all fairness I rejected that part of my diagnoses from that moment.
So let me explain myself a little. When I saw this term BPD I have associated it with like multiple personalities. That is so not it at all. BPD is a result of trauma in my case. It was a result of coping with life, and always being in survival mode all my life. I feel emotions longer and deeper than a healthier mental person. I don’t know who I really am without these symptoms of survival. I have defined my life based on what I have done in my life. Work, accomplishments, kids, spouse, family. Everyone in my life was my personality, everything I did was my personality. I didn’t have my own identity that was truly mine. Then to complicate it even more having BPD I would tend to detach from all emotions to think and asses my situation better to survive. BPD doesn’t allow room for boundaries to be made because there is the huge fear of rejection and abandonment, hence why I overworked myself, tried to be everything everyone ever wanted. Because who would want this jacked up mess of a woman. RIGHT?! And because this a very real thing, people who have this condition get depressed because they have no idea who they are or where they fit. They don’t always know their purpose.They get into bad toxic relationships. I mean everything goes wrong with small amounts of good that happen. That has been my experience. It is a complicated condition. Those that are diagnosed with it hold a lot of shame and guilt for everything and everyone. Someone with BPD can take up to 10 years in order to recover fully. In women that statistic is 60/ 40… 60% of women will recover fully whereas 40% have ended up committing suicide because of it.
The people who take care of people like myself are great people who have great hearts. It’s not easy for the people around me to notice when I am in a mood. BPD patients also have a lot of zoning out stuff. We live in our heads a lot. I do anyway. Not as much as before. People close to me are able to bring me out of the zone. I feel a lot of guilt for the people who take care of me, there are days I feel bad for myself. I just want to be better and it is a long road ahead of me to get there. I am learning patience and its worth it because I am worth it.
Imagine a situation where you accidentally bump into someone at the store. Healthy people just say sorry and move on. People with BPD over think the whole thing. They feel so deeply sorry and sad that they didn’t pay attention, then they feel that they need to over apologize, then go through an array of other emotions. Before it’s all said and done a day has passed and two panic attacks later than can move on and realized that it wasn’t a bad thing. This is a, at times a moment to moment, day-to-day, hour by hour thing. Learning to feel and accept an emotional response is hard. Allowing myself to cry just because I had a flashback is hard. Allowing myself to feel joy is harder, because I feel that I don’t deserve all that joy at that moment, then that whole cycle starts again. Its exhausting. PERIOD. To actually talk to someone about feelings is hard when you have spent all your life detaching from emotional stressors. That includes the good too.
So what works… well we are all different. Some people with BPD are really hard to handle when they don’t talk openly or honestly about whats in their head. All BPD patients have had similar traumas but we are all different. That is why it is so complicated to have a pinpoint plan of action to help that person. We all respond differently to treatment courses. There isn’t a pill on this planet that can treat this condition. So for those of you who think that… please don’t. It is completely up to the person to take action to get the help they need. Forcing pills down their throat to most is just confirming to that person that they are not worth the work. Forcing them to do anything is not a good thing. That is my opinion. When it was forced to me, I bailed and rejected, detached, burned that bridge and walked away. This condition is right at the heart of this person. Rewiring is what needs to happen.
So for me, I finally decided to take another look at BPD. With an open heart and mind. I had already treated most of my issues. Oh yeah! I was also diagnosed with OCD and extreme agoraphobia. Haha squirrel moment. I am still working on my OCD, somethings are very hard to break when you have done them for a long time. Just saying. The depression is gone. I have to practice some things when I am triggered but that is all part of the recovery process. Plain and simple. I have tools that I can use for that other stuff.
Those other issues are just fruit from a bad root. That root for me is BPD. Tackle that root and I will continue to have good soil to grow. So when I chose to read my condition I finally accepted that I have this issue. BPD doesn’t define who I am as a person. I do the work in order to get better. I can’t wait to see who I really am when I am done with all of this. So I do work that is called DBT ( Dialectical behavior Therapy) Basically, you learn who you are. You are being rewired to who your real identity really is. You learn new ways to cope, learn ways to feel the emotions and process them in a healthy way, figuring out what you really like and don’t. Setting boundaries, learning what your true morals and ethics are. I mean the list goes on and on. There are days where I get so frustrated and want to take it out on something, and that is usually myself. Learning to communicate in a way that is less aggressive to myself and others. Learning grace for myself and others. being mindful. It’s all in practice. As much as I would like to be better now, I know that I am not. I have to rewire all the lies that I believed and work on the ones that are true.
I know that I can’t work outside the home because I know that I will dominate in ways that are unhealthy for me. I will put all that I know into that job and overwork myself and start that cycle again. I am mindful enough to know that. I recognize that I would even make up lies to convince others that I am okay enough to work outside the home just so I can feel something that I have known. I am fortunate enough that I have an opportunity to live out my dreams right now. I wouldn’t have said that a year ago. I had to overcome people telling me that I needed to go back to work. I had to overcome their judgments. It’s really hard to do when you feel everything and detaching is not an option. Besides it’s not their life its mine. That was a hard thing to say at first.
Sometimes day-to-day stuff can be just too much. But everyday I have the opportunity to live not survive. I have to fight for my life everyday but everyday it gets that much more easier to handle. I know what is important to me. I know that life happens and I can’t run detach from my issues. I have to be present in them not in the past, not in the future. I have to be in the right now. I also know that I can’t do this alone. I know that I have voice and its ok for me to use it. It’s ok for me to vulnerable and its ok to show that without feeling shame for it. Not everyone is going to like me, and I have no business knowing what they feel about me when it’s behind my back. Its ok for me to feel the way that I do, and I know that its ok for me to tell people NO.
Everyday is a new day, a new problem, a new solution, a new way of seeing who I am, a new way to live, a new day to be who I am meant to be. To the people who help take care of BPD patients, family, spouses, kids, parents, anyone there is hope. Don’t give up on that person but don’t live their life either. Don’t stop living because they don’t know how to yet. Create your own boundaries but don’t sink into every fiber of who they are. You are meant to live just as much as they are. They just don’t know it yet. It is not your responsibility to ensure that they get the help, you are there to support and love. But they have to be the ones to do the work not you. Try not to take what they say personally because they are fighting a deeper fight within themselves. and yes most BPD folks fear that you will leave them, sometimes they just need to hear that they are worth it. Even if they don’t believe yet. They will eventually see the mirror in new eyes if they want to and ready to. Be kind, full of grace, assertiveness and love. That is all we all really want anyway. It’s a complicated condition and there is a lot of work to be done. There is a way out.
I had the great experience of deliverance to help me know who I am in Gods eyes. That gives me something to hold on to but that is my experience. I can’t say the same for so many others. I know how hard it is to be on the side of BPD but I refuse to be defined by it. BPD is not who I am. I am a great person. I have a big heart. I am an introvert with great social skills for the most. It’s a work in progress. I am a good mom. I am beautiful. I am funny, I am caring and loving. I am cherished, I am loved, I am worth it, I am loved by my creator, I am so many other things. I am falling in love with who I am little by little.
I am reversing all the lies that I once believed. I am learning what people really see in me and that is inspirational and empowering. I am seeing how I can affect my life in a positive way and how I impact others. I see that I am worth it to myself. I am happy. I am not perfect and I don’t want to be. I am me and I have a lot to offer to myself and others. I have a long road of me but I am enjoying the journey.
To those of you who have a mental illness, hold on. You are worth it, you are loved even if you don’t believe it yet, there is hope, make a commitment to yourself to do the work everyday, give yourself a lot of grace, you are not a mistake, its ok to make mistakes. You can do this. Reach out… you can even reach out to me. I will gladly be there to listen without saying anything… unless you want me too.