Borderline Personality Disorder

When I first received my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, I was dumbstruck. I didn’t hear much of what my doctor said after that.  When I got home, I did some internet research and felt my cheeks getting red and my eyes swelling up.  I knew it wasn’t a death sentence, but I felt so ashamed and embarrassed.

As with any other disorder, there are many types of BPD, some being more extreme than others.  Many associate suicide/suicidal thoughts with this particular disorder, but that isn’t always necessarily the case.  I have high highs and low lows–basically any extreme contrasting behaviors you can think of.  I am usually extremely introverted, but I can fake it and come off as extremely extroverted in a crowd.  I could sit around with you for hours laughing, but I can also be curled up in my bed feeling extremely depressed and down about everything.

It is almost as if there is a light switch constantly flickering on or off in my head.  There is normally no rhyme or reason for my feelings or actions, which is the most frustrating part of this disorder.  I want to be happy and I want to be around people, but sometimes I emotionally can’t.  I ask that you please don’t be offended when I cancel plans or if I cannot force a smile around you.

I mostly struggle with not wanting to feel bad about myself, and even writing this blog post is making me cringe.  What am I really trying to prove with this, and who am I even trying to inspire? I was never sure if I would go public with my diagnosis, and I go through different phases where I am unsure if sharing this information online is more helpful or hurtful to me.  But I do know that I stigmatize myself as much as anyone else might, and I need to stop living with all this anger and humiliation–the same I felt when looking at NIMH’s definition of BPD months ago.

I did seek out one-on-one therapy and am looking into group therapy also.  I am finding new healthy coping mechanisms that have been working fairly well–I am still a work in progress, but I am getting to a much healthier place (of course, I do have my good and bad days).

2015 became the year that I no longer wanted to be silent about my past and current issues.  I want to make 2016 my year of recovery and ending the stigma and anger I hold against myself for many issues that are beyond my control.

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10 Years After Losing My Mom on Christmas

May 2005 changed my life.  My mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, which is basically a life sentence.  But at the age of 13, I was completely blindsided by this fact.  Everyone tried to act like everything was alright, which I can understand now is how people cope with sadness.

Throughout the next 7 months, I watched my mom die in front of me–we had a hospital bed set up in our house, and she would only spend some days of the week at the hospital.  I tried my best to pretend everything was okay–because everyone around me was acting that way–but how can anything be okay when my whole life was turned upside down?  Days I would spend with my mom talking about school or going shopping or baking cookies  were now spent cleaning up her urine stained sheets, helping her get into her walker or wheelchair to walk around, or usually watching her sleep for most of the day.

I had a lot of shame telling anyone around me that my mom was sick–mostly because my family did not even talk about the fact that she was sick.  I was embarrassed to have people over at my house seeing my mom in that condition, but I tried my best to not let it change my life.  Around this time, I noticed my depression and anger becoming worse and worse, but I felt too selfish making it about myself.  My mental health was disintegrating as my mom was dying, but I tried my best to be strong for her–whatever the hell that means.

I knew Christmas in 2005 would be weird without my mom being around–she was an avid Christmas fan and loved decorating.  I still did my best to decorate the house for her, even though her health was badly deteriorating that December and we were not sure if she would even be able to see the Christmas decorations.  As a 13 year old, I was mostly upset about how different Christmas would be–it was my second favorite holiday (besides Halloween, of course) to spend with my mom.  Throughout all of her treatments and sickness, I refused to go see her in the hospital for whatever reason, and I became angrier and angrier when my dad tried to force me to go see her, especially around the holidays.  I didn’t want the gloom of the hospital to ruin my holidays–I was already depressed and angry as it was.

But something in me changed on Christmas Eve in 2005.  I had decided that I did finally want to go see my mom on Christmas morning, after having not seen her for about 2 months.  My dad kept telling me that my mom was begging to see me, so I decided it would be nice to see her.

On December 25, 2005 as we were getting ready to leave for the hospital, my dad received a call.  He got off the phone and was extremely quiet until he broke down and started crying.  He could barely hold himself up.  I had never seen my dad this upset before in my life.  It took him at least a minute to finally say, “She’s gone.”  I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to believe it.  I had been so selfish and refused to see my mom and I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her.

After getting through the funeral and the initial shock, my dad expected us to go right back to school.  There was no open grieving or sadness allowed in my house after my mom’s death.

You would think I would be kind of used to not having a mom at this point since my mom was extremely sick, but it didn’t get easier.  I had to grow up fast and even became the motherly figure for my brother.  My dad immersed himself into work again right away after spending most of the year being my mom’s caretaker.  I tried to ignore my mental health issues, but they got worse and worse.  It didn’t help that I was dealing with normal teenage woes on top of silently mourning the loss of my favorite person.

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Flash forward to December 25, 2015.  It was difficult for me to reemerge myself into these emotions, but I think it is important to look at my own progress.

I somehow made it through high school and got myself through college, which I am proud of.  I also started graduate school, and I will be the first one in my school to receive my Master’s degree.

I had a lot of normal ups and downs throughout the last 10 years–I did terrible in school; I did well in school; I had terrible relationships and friendships; I have had great relationships and friendships; I have dealt with my grief in unhealthy ways; I am on the path to learning how to cope better.

It took me 10 years to really want to face my emotions about my mom.  I still have days where I cry about her, but those are becoming lesser and lesser over the years.  I decided to start group therapy and individual therapy this year to cope with my mom’s loss as well as cater to my mental health issues.

I have been diagnosed with extreme anxiety, chronic depression, and borderline personality disorder.  All of this sounds scary and shameful to admit, but I am trying to be more open about who I am now and where I came from.  I never would have imagined 10 years ago that I would be more open with my friends about my emotions or even post anything on social media about it.  I am making progress by leaps and bounds, but I still have far to go.

There are a few reasons why I wanted to write this post. 1) Writing has always been a great coping method for me.  I am an avid journal writer.  2) I have done generic Google searches of coping with the loss of a parent around the holidays, and I have not had much luck with finding anything relevant to my issues.

Everyone wants to tell you that it gets better eventually and the person you love is always watching over you and is proud of you.  While I like the sentiment and appreciate people’s kind words, I am sick of hearing it after 10 years.

Growing up at the age of 13 because your mom is dying in front of you sucks.  There is no eloquent way to put that.  I wish I could have had my mom around through all the major landmarks in my life so far.  I miss being able to hear her great advice and infectious laugh.  These are all just memories now–it still stings to know my life will never and has never been the same again.

There are no right ways to cope or mourn.  I could never sit here and give anyone advice on how to overcome something this traumatic, but I want to let people know that it IS possible to move on–even though I have never completely moved on.  I have just learned a new normal for myself.  It took a few years, but I have given myself the best of a life that I could possibly have from this terrible situation.  My mom is always in the back of my mind with everything I do.

The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone who has been mourning for 5 minutes or 5 years is to do what is right for you.  Do not feel pressure to talk about how you’re feeling, but also do not feel guilty if you want to openly talk about the trauma you have faced.  Do not be discouraged when you read articles about dealing with a loss and you see a numbered list of how to cope with your issues–maybe these might be relevant to some people, but they are not relevant to all.

The holidays will always be a difficult time for me.  It took me until this year to really even want to celebrate Christmas, but even now, I do not celebrate Christmas the way I used to when my mom was around.  It is okay to not want to pretend to be happy and celebrate holidays that just make you depressed.  I still do not really like celebrating Christmas, but I am trying more and more to appreciate it again.  I do not feel bad anymore for not being happy around the holidays.  If you feel pressured to do this by friends and family, then honestly, they are pretty shitty people for not understanding your comfort zones.  Don’t let others’ ignorance deter your right to cope the way you want to.

I Had A Best Friend

I have spent a long time trying to defend myself against others in regards to why I so easily cut people out of my life. The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t need to give people an explanation as to why I don’t value a lot of friendships. I can count the number of good friends I have on one hand, and I think that I am doing pretty well for myself! Quality over quantity is an important aspect with friendships. I love being around others who value and respect my opinions and beliefs.

“People still do not understand why I cut people out of my life. The reason is because I think relationships are only worth it when they are positive. And not just occasionally, but always. These relationships do exist. I have found them in so many people. And this is what friendships should look like – they should be mutual, they should be anxiety-free, and they should be empowering. I have worked hard to surround myself with people who feel the same way – feminists, allies, members of the queer community, and all people who are receptive, who will listen to your experiences, especially as an oppressed member of society, and learn from them instead of brushing them aside or ignoring them as if they don’t matter.”

andyslamsthings

I met my best friend in an acting class. I didn’t know anyone there and I was nervous. She approached me and our personalities clicked. It was strange how well we got along, how our imaginations fit together and conversation flowed so perfectly. It was like it was meant to be.

In this class, I “came out”, as queer people have to do. Straight until proven queer. And she decided to cook us a Valentine’s Day supper. When I went to her house, she told me that she was okay with my sexuality. She told me that “real Christians” do not judge others for their sins because everyone is a sinner. She told me that all sin is equal in the eyes of God – stealing, murder, rape, lying, and homosexuality. She told me she wouldn’t judge me for sinning. She did not ask if I was okay with her…

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You Are Not Your Mental Illness

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You are not your mental illness.  I hear this a lot.  I try to agree with it.  I really try.  Some days I agree with it more than others.  Tonight is one of those nights where I see something like that and it really hits me.  Yes, I am empowered and no, I am not my mental illness.

But most days, I second guess myself.  It’s hard to not feel selfish when you have a mental illness.  I try my best to appear to be happy.  It’s hard to not feel bad for putting other people through that, but I really can’t help it.  I want to really be happy. I want you to know I enjoy hanging out with you.  But I also want you to know I enjoy being alone from time to time.  There are different kinds of joy in the world.  Even when I am happy, there may be a hint of sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, etc. and maybe even a mix of every emotion.  Depression does not just come and go; it is a forever thing.

However, some days are worse than others.  It’s discouraging when so-called friends and family members don’t believe me or even belittle me when I try to explain how I am feeling. I am not putting on an act for you.  It’s hard enough to grapple with these emotions in my own head, but to have someone actually put me down when I try to be honest–now that is painful.

I get told overall that I seem like a pleasant person, and that means a lot to me.  It’s not always easy to appear that way when I am battling to balance emotions in my mind.

I hate feeling that I am ever pulling a woe is me.  No, I am not battling cancer.  No, I do not have physical ailments.  Why are there qualifications to prove you are suffering?  Having a mental illness is not any better or worse than having any other disease or illness.  You cannot compare them because they are different.  Everyone has their own journeys and struggles, and everyone is courageous for getting through it.

I am never looking for empathy.  I am grateful for what I have and always accept that others have it worse than me.  However, everyone can also recognize their own struggles.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong or selfish about that.

I’d like to reiterate:

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What I Received From Mentoring Young Girls

From Outside The Mall

I am no stranger to the self-esteem issues faced by (young) women. I blogged about some of my personal experiences in my post, “Celebrating My Fat (Fabulous) Body” last year. I consider myself to be a confident, self-aware and strong person for the most part. However, sometimes I judge myself by society’s standards and feel myself falling short. However, educating myself on gender and “colour” politics has helped me a great deal in becoming a well-rounded social worker.

In 2015, I got the opportunity to work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton and facilitate G.L.O.W, a girls group, at 3 different schools over the last 4 months. G.L.O.W or Girls Linking Our Worlds aims at empowering young girls from diverse communities make healthy lifestyle choices and develop positive identity. Using the set curriculum, my co-facilitators and I got to interact with girls from different socio-ethno-cultural backgrounds to play…

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Sharing is Caring: Raising Feminist Kids

“I am distinctly feminist, which means my non-feminist friends think I want to work 90 hour weeks to be the CEO of a huge company and make my husband wear an apron while he does the dishes. So, so false. There’s not really one rigid set of feminist goals, but it all boils down to equality, not domination.”

*Dusk Magazine

Remember when feminism was all about voting and equal pay for equal work? When it was that thing you learned about in history class, not on social media? Well that social movement has come back in style, and it’s making a big impression on Generation Y. From our status updates to our blog entries to our spending habits and career choices, regardless of gender, feminism is bringing about some very real changes in the largely uncharted gender equality waters. Movements such as #HeForShe—a hashtag employed to allow men to show support of the feminist cause—are getting unprecedented attention as a result of celebrity ambassadors such as Emma Watson. With this uprising of male support, feminism has a new audience: parents.

Parenting is hard. You wake up, spend your day doing activities that revolve almost entirely around your offspring, get a few hours of “you” time—if you’re lucky—and then rinse and…

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For those struggling today:

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Mother’s Day isn’t easy for everyone.  Whether you’ve lost your mother, your mother has walked out on you, you don’t get along with your mother, etc., many of us have different struggles today.  No one can tell you the right or wrong ways to cope.

I struggle with today because I look at where the status of my family is now.  We all don’t really get along, and I personally would prefer to not be around them for long periods of time at all.

I lost my mother at the awkward pre-teen stage of my life where I hated everyone and everything.  I have vivid memories of openly being a brat at family functions; at the time I thought my family was terrible, but little did I know that those periods when she was alive were the best family times we have ever had.

Since her passing in 2005, we don’t celebrate holidays, we don’t celebrate special events (like graduations), we don’t go on family trips, etc.  The passing of my mother also represented the passing of my family.  I have tried extremely hard to bring my family and together, but everyone has completely fallen apart.

I am grateful for what I have, though, today.  My mother taught me amazing things in the short amount of time that I knew her.  My mother always treated everyone with respect, no matter how they treated her.  She taught me to always stand up for myself even when it seemed easy to give in to what everyone else says/does.

When I was in kindergarten, we always had a saying right before I got on the bus.  It resognates more with me now than it did then: have a good day, have fun and play, learn a lot, and be sweet.  Any time I am stressed out or having a bad day, I try to recite this saying in my head.

Playing God: Women’s Battles for Basic Human Rights

http://theweek.com/speedreads/552359/report-insurers-fail-provide-free-lowcost-birth-control-violate-obamacare

Insurers fail to provide free or low-cost birth control.

I mean, that’s cool though. Any woman that has pre-martial sex and doesn’t have sex in the hopes of having children is completely immoral and impure anyways. We are just playing God (somehow in alliance with the government I suppose) by trying to prevent pregnancy in healthy ways. It’s also good that abortion clinics are being closed down left and right. Who needs options? Women are just getting too greedy and needy at this point.

But you know, men that get condoms for free for the same exact reason are cool. God’s speed with you!

Krakauer’s “Missoula:” Helpful or Hurtful Commentary on Rape Culture?

“Yet some of the goodwill the book might garner was put at risk by Krakauer’s highly irritating NPR interview, in which he said he’d never thought about rape much and essentially acted as if decades of activism on the subject didn’t exist — explaining how shocked he was to realize this was common. A thousand women listeners banged their heads. This raises the legitimate question of whether it’s permissible, from the perspective of social justice, for a white man to come in and take on a major feminist topic with the eyes of an admitted newbie — and make considerable money off of it. In essence: Is Krakauer mansplaining rape? Is he appropriating the work of dozens and dozens of feminist writers who piece through the detritus of rape culture every day to tell stories and try to make a change?”

http://flavorwire.com/515838/jon-krakauer-mansplains-rape-but-will-his-book-help-women