Just over year ago I was in a very bad place. I had been struggling with my emotions, wrestling with extremely dark thoughts, harming myself with increasing frequency and severity and becoming less and less able to function.
In hindsight I had been on a downward spiral for almost a year, although in truth I had felt this way many times before, even if not as drastically as I did a year ago. Looking back I can identify several episodes which I now know are classed as crisis and most of those episodes had a distinct, but not always the same, trigger.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) with probable post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in February 2016. The psychiatrist, I saw just once for 20 minutes, called it borderline personality disorder. She didn’t have the time or inclination to explain to me what it meant, wrote me out a prescription and sent me on my way. I felt like a failure at this point. My personality is disordered. I saw this as a negative thing, I was broken, damaged goods. My psychologist, who I’ve seen subsequently to the psychiatrist, calls it emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD). He tries to put a more positive spin on things, explaining that we feel every emotion in a more extreme way than others and this can mean when others experience happiness we are capable of feeling euphoria and that can be a blessing.
I had heard of PTSD and borderline personality disorder, but really had very little understanding of them at all and I tried my best to educate myself on what little information I could find. Some of it did not make for good reading, I do not fit all the criteria listed for being borderline and I immediately found myself wanting to prove that I’m not like that, I’m not aggressive or prone to violence, as I had been asked by a non-understanding family member when I tried to tell them my diagnosis. If anything, I shy away from confrontation and I’m more likely to hurt myself than anyone else physically. I can’t stand the thought of people judging me like that, so in my world only one friend and very few of my closest family knows the whole picture regarding my mental health. Even then I hold back, scared to frighten them off or be thought of as an attention seeker. Sometimes it feels necessary to try and fly under the radar to not to cause any unnecessary stress.
But I need an outlet for my own sanity and so here I am.
Over this past year I’ve begun to understand myself better, why I feel the things I do, do the things I do. Sometimes, when I’m in the moment, my moods seem irrational/are irrational and I am sure people might not understand the extreme emotions that I feel or the fears that I cannot shake about being rejected or abandoned. I over analyse everything, worry myself sick about what people think of me, so much so that I bend over backwards for people to like me. In reality I know this is an impossible ask, no-one can be liked be everyone, but it’s something I struggle with.
I want this to be a space where I can share my journey, explore what helps me, finding healthier coping mechanisms, whilst discovering what doesn’t help and notching these trials to experience and heading in the right direction.
Times are extremely tough at the moment and now, more than ever, I feel the pressure to stay well and I am trying so extremely hard to keep a positive head on my shoulders. I want to use this as motivation for myself, and anyone reading this, to continue to fight and be proud of how far I/we have come.
Have you been diagnosed with a mental illness? How did you react? Did you find it helpful to have a diagnosis or have you found it difficult to deal with, knowing there is still so much stigma and lack of understanding towards mental illness? Let me know your thoughts please…