illustration od a woman sleeping, a ciy landscape in the background, and half of her face showing the inside of her brain

It is not warm or welcoming. It’s cold and uninviting, yet so many people live there. Someone is always talking. usually more than one someone at once, and they never get along.

I’m going to take you through my messy, little mind in hopes you will better understand mental illness. Many people believe it is because we don’t eat right, sleep well or exercise enough. Even more people feel like we do this to ourselves. More frequently in the media, I see people romanticizing mental illness and I won’t stand for that. If you think mental illness is “tragically beautiful,” then I think you should look again, and for the people who are honestly trying to understand, I hope this helps.

There are many people living in my head. There is the manipulator, the angry one, the little girl, the shell, the void and the invincible. Here’s a more in-depth explanation of each:

The manipulator used to make her way out often.

“Hmm, my therapist hasn’t shown much interest lately. Why don’t we pretend to be worse than I am? My friend doesn’t seem to have made me as priority. Why don’t we breed lies and secrets against her other friends? The psychiatrist doesn’t seem to think I’m sick enough to be here. Maybe I should lead him to think something else. My friend and I are drifting. We need a secret to pull us closer. Let’s make something up!” This sick person takes over my body and I sit back and watch as she ruins my life.

The angry teenager rages against all that she feels she hasn’t deserved, angry she is always the one to be yelled at and the one to be blamed.

“If I’m just a kid, then why do I have to save the world? If I’m such an adult, then why are you treating me like a child?” Her abusive and neglectful childhood was so inconsistent, her sense of balance is forever warped. She is constantly mad at everyone for making her who she is.

The little girl, always feels the need to be held.

“Just hold me. Please, make me feel safe. Nothing is OK. I’m not OK. Please, help me. Please, I’m scared.” This little girl inside of me is always crying because she doesn’t feel safe, always wanting to run but never knowing where to run to, constantly in fear of being yelled at, being locked in the dark, being abandoned, being forgotten and left to fight the monsters by herself.

Now, there’s also this shell of a person. It’s not real. It doesn’t think I’m real. It doesn’t think any of this is real. When its in control, looking in the mirror is harder than ever. All I see is this ghost with no connection in her eyes. I’m just a shadow.

“None of this is real. Everything is OK because none of this is happening. You aren’t real. You aren’t real. You aren’t real. You don’t exist. You do not exist. You do not exist.” Over and over, like a broken record, there’s no way to stop it. If I hold my hands out in front of me, then I’m sure they aren’t mine. My insides are hollow, no feeling, no flicker of life.

Then there’s the void. It’s what happens when nobody is in control, yet I still can’t grab the reigns myself. It’s the depression at its worst. It’s existing and being nothing, meaning nothing matters in the least. Nobody hates you. Nobody loves you. You’re just floating in this deep sea of loneliness and all you want to do is sleep your days away. You can’t even muster up the emotion to be angry or afraid of anything. You are just a meaningless existence.

Sometimes I have short periods where this young girl takes over, just laughing, screaming, smiling and dancing everywhere and wanting to do everything. She doesn’t need sleep, friends or anything because she is a friend of the world. She is everywhere and everything. Those moments tend to be few and fleeting, but they come with dangers of their own. It’s hard to learn you aren’t invincible when you were sure you were.

Often, I can put up a facade to cover whichever person is running my body. They still have their outbursts, the moments when I loose all control and have to watch the disaster ensue.

Sometimes it feels strange to me there are people out there who haven’t thought seriously of suicide or don’t understand why people self-harm. The “sane” side of me is extremely glad there are people like that, but the sick side of me looks back on my five hospitalizations in the past year and a half and is baffled there are people coping with life. Not a week goes by where I don’t seriously consider suicide at least once and not a day goes by where I don’t have to talk myself out of self-harm.

Every day, I seriously consider self-harm. Every single day, I have to tell myself needing stitches will not solve my problems, but it isn’t only physical self-harm. Sometimes just putting myself in dangerous situations fulfills the self-destructive need. I sometimes put myself with someone I shouldn’t be, just so I can feel terrible about myself because I feel like I deserve it. There is always a part of me trying to ruin my relationships. I think things like, “I’m sure I don’t deserve them and I’m sure they’re going to just pick up and stop talking to me again so I better finish this my way!” I’ve managed to sabotage most of my relationships because of my actions, based on the rampage of countering thoughts running through my mind.

“That person must hate me because they didn’t initiate a hug.”

“Well I hate them. I’m never going to talk to them again.”

“No, no, no I need them. I hope they don’t hate me.”

“Love me, please! I need love don’t leave me!”

“Oh screw them, this is their fault.”

“Oh God, I hate myself for all this. I hope they don’t hate me too!”

“Oh look, they text me just to say hi, guess we’re all good!”

It’s a roller coaster I want to get off of, and even worse, sometimes the people in my head decide to fight. It’s not just a mild disagreement. Oh no, a full on screaming match and it’s all I can do to keep from losing my mind. Sometimes the voices get so loud, I can’t stand it. I have entire episodes of screaming at my mind to quiet down. It’s so intense and painful I feel like my brain is about to implode on itself.

My thoughts always run fast and wild, but during episodes, it feels like there are so many words in and out of my mind blurring together. It’s like blinding flashes of words going too fast to understand. I just shake from the feeling of holding the whole world in my mind.

I’m 17 and most days I wish not to exist anymore simply because I just cannot take all that happens in my mind. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people whispering behind my back because I’m never at school, have so many scars, have been hospitalized again or that I must be insane, but that’s just their own ignorance. I would love to be able to correct all that faulty thinking about mental illness.

The next time you hear someone laughing about people with mental illness or saying how “tragically beautiful” suicide and self-harm are, I would love it if you would tell them it is nowhere near funny or beautiful. It is painful and miserable and every day is a fight with yourself just to make it through. So don’t whisper and glare when you see my scars. Don’t criticize or say I’m not trying to get better because you don’t know what I’m going through. Everyone fights a different battle. Don’t judge someone’s battle just because it isn’t the same as yours.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

The Mighty is asking the following: Give advice to someone who has just been diagnosed with your mental illness. What do you wish someone had told you? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


This post has come about off the back of a conversation I had with a close friend who had been struggling to know how to react to me at times, or understand why I was behaving in certain ways. I’m so proud of her for having the strength to bring this up with me because it was never going to be an easy conversation, but it was one that had to happen sooner or later.

One of the things she mentioned was she had gone looking for information on how to be friends with someone who has borderline personality disorder (BPD) and didn’t get very far. It seems so obvious, I can’t actually believe I didn’t think to write something like this before, because there is so much I’d like people close to me to know – about the times I hide, the times I ask over and over again if everything is OK, the times I seem angry, the times I seem distant – the most important thing is it’s nothing to do with you. I (occasionally way over)react to everything, even the seemingly inconsequential things. I’m working so hard to get a handle on it all, and I’ve been making huge progress since starting with Therapist 2.0, but there are still times BPD will get the better of me.

Actually, it occurs to me as I write this that while it’s personal to me and my own family and friends, it could equally apply to anyone who is either trying to understand a friend, or trying to explain to a friend what it is they need. In no particular order of preference, here are a few bits I think might help us all:

1. Be honest with me. If I have said or done something to upset you, please let me know. The conversation might not be pleasant, but avoiding it just makes things worse

2. Sometimes I won’t be able to talk to you. It’s nothing personal. It’s just sometimes I feel so awkward and out of place I can’t actually string a sentence together

3. Similarly, sometimes you won’t be able to talk to me because I will frustrate the hell out of you. That’s OK. If you need some space, just tell me. It’s up to me to manage my response to that.

4. If I don’t make eye contact, that’s a pretty strong indicator that I’m not doing well.

5. You are not responsible for making me better. If you can, listening on a bad day would be awesome, but I understand that won’t always be possible. You’re not my therapist!

6. I want to know what’s going on with you – never, ever feel like you can’t talk to me. There are two of us in this relationship.

7. I’m really good at picking up on your moods, good, bad or otherwise. Unfortunately I also have a tendency to assume it’s my fault if there’s something wrong (I’m working on that one, honestly), so if you’re able, talk to me. Chances are I’ll understand.

8. Sometimes my reactions to seemingly minor events will be epic. Nine times out of 10, it’s nothing to do with the actual event but rather what it has triggered in me (I’m working hard on that one too).

Things are changing for me. It feels so, so good to finally be getting some control over BPD, but it’s also a little scary – I have to get used to new ways of managing my behavior, and then you have to get used to me behaving differently. I’ve discovered there are quite a few things that have to happen every day to try and keep myself on the straight and narrow, and that takes a considerable amount of time and effort, both of which leave me flattened on occasion.

You won’t always understand, you won’t always want to, but I honestly believe as long as we keep talking to each other, as long as I keep doing what I now know I have to do, it will be OK.

Follow this journey on Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers.

The Mighty is asking the following: Imagine someone Googling how to help you cope with your (or a loved one’s) diagnosis. Write the article you’d want them to find.  Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

It’s hard to talk about my borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it’s even more difficult for those close to me to understand. I decided to compile this list of my 11 truths of my BPD that also have been hard for me to recognize until now. These are my 11 truths, and the 11 things I need my loved ones to understand about my BPD.

1. I’m afraid you’ll leave me. 

What if you get tired of me or fed up with my mood swings? Questions and fears about you leaving me are always at the back of my mind, and I need frequent reassurance.

2. When I’m mad at you, I’m more mad at myself.

I hate that I overreact when we argue, and I’m always more mad about that than I am mad at you.

3. I don’t want to hurt you.

Some things I say or do may make it seem like I’m trying to hurt you on purpose, but please know that’s not the case. I love you, and I would never purposefully hurt you.

4. I hate my medication.

Taking it is annoying and the side affects are awful. It makes me feel jittery and unable to focus and I only take it because I know I’d be a partial mess without it.

5. I don’t like being asked ‘why.’

Asking me why I feel a certain way or do certain things isn’t helpful because I don’t know the answer. I know that I have BPD and I know my symptoms, but I don’t know why.

6. I don’t mind my heightened emotions (most of the time).

I like being emotional about the good things. When I’m happy or enjoying something, I am truly happy and wholeheartedly enjoying it. So, I don’t mind that BPD heightens my emotions, except when they’re not good.

7. I scare myself sometimes.

My thoughts race and sometimes get out of control and pretty frightening. It’s hard to admit, but I do scare myself when I think my thoughts might turn into actions.

8. I wish I had a better filter.

I don’t like when my words hurt you, and I don’t like that my BPD makes me brutally honest and unnecessarily brash at times. I wish I had a better filter because I want to say what I mean and say what’s in my head without it coming out in a way that I don’t mean.

9. It’s hard to keep my trust.

I have a hard time letting go of the past and that hurts my ability to trust. It’s hard to gain and keep my trust, but it’s not impossible, and I’m sorry if that makes you work harder to love me.

10. Sometimes I need to be left alone.

It’s not that I want you personally to leave me alone, I just want to be left alone sometimes. I need space and I need you to understand and accept that.

11. I have a hard time thinking rationally.

This is probably the truest of them all. My mind always catastrophizes and goes to the worst case scenario, and I may need help finding the rationale in my life.

It’s important to know these 11 things about me to truly know me and understand my BPD. It was important for me to know these truths about myself so that I also have a better understanding of my BPD. These are my twelve truths, and the parts of my BPD that I need my friends and family to understand.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

I can’t wait to meet you! I’ve been trying really hard to get myself to a place where I’m ready to make new friends, and I can honestly say I’m finally there. I gave up on friendship for the past year because I had some mental stuff to work through, mental stuff that made it difficult for me to make friends and maintain friendships in the past. But don’t let that scare you — I’ll explain what I mean by “mental stuff,” just please have an open mind as I do.

What has plagued my past friendships is my borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD makes it difficult for me to regulate my emotions and comes with a lot of unpleasant symptoms that cause some unsavory actions. Because BPD makes it hard to manage my emotions, it has been hard to manage healthy and stable relationships. My symptoms cause me a lot of grief and torment that I have had to work hard to get a handle on. Just so you have an idea, I’ll describe some of the irrational thoughts and feelings I’ve had in the past.

In past disagreements with friends, I’ve overreacted and taken everything personally, and ultimately ended my friendships. I’ve been known to get too clingy with my friends, because I’m afraid if I’m not, my friends will leave me. I also used to get so excited about new friendships that I would sort of smother my friends with love, which pushed them away. All of this sounds incredibly unpleasant, I know, but now I have the upper hand over my symptoms and actions.

I am not the way I used to be, but I do still have BPD. That will never change, but the way I cope with it has. And my new ability to cope with my illness has made it possible for me to make new friends and keep them. I’m not saying I’m able to effectively cope 100 percent of the time, and I might need some patience and understanding from you at times, but I will try my best to use the coping skills I’ve learned so our friendship doesn’t have to be such hard work.

I choose to see my BPD in a positive way, and I hope you do, too. It gives me the power of empathy and the ability to love fiercely. I am excitable and enthusiastic, and I can be a lot of fun! I still have bad days, but who doesn’t? I cope well, and with your love and friendship, I can get through the hard times. And I will help you and be there for you, too, because I have a great understanding of different kinds of pain. Our friendship will be symbiotic; you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Mine might need some extra scratching every now and then, but I promise it’s nothing you can’t handle.

Our friendship is going to be so great! I am ready and happy to be the best friend possible to you, and I ask the same in return. I am no different than any other friend you have had, except I have BPD, and I promise that I’ve learned not to let my BPD control my friendships. I may have a BPD diagnosis, but I also have a big heart with plenty of room in it for you. Give me a chance, and you’ll see that I control my friendships, and my BPD does not. I am really looking forward to meeting you, and I’m looking forward to our loving and fruitful friendship.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

The road of my life has been long and filled with soaring ups and devastating downs. Today I realize and acknowledge the impact I had on my own life with borderline personality disorder. I felt like I was never good enough and let myself down daily by not being able to fulfill my own expectations. My mental illness is a blessing and a curse that both enlightens and eats at my soul.

It’s not easy being me and I know it’s not easy being around me. I want to be loved so badly and yet don’t know how to accept myself. I want to be happy and yet I have a voice inside me saying I don’t deserve to be loved. I want to stop my pain but I just don’t know how to do it.

As I continue on this journey without you beside me, I wish I could find the words and the courage to tell you I love you. I wish I could find a way to apologize for the times I let you down but alas, the courage does not come and I am left in my world of self-hatred.

Life is not easy and I know it has not been easy for you to watch me suffer. I know you tried, but you never found the right way to show me you loved me. In the end, either you left or I left before you could.

Some days I think it would be easier to disappear from this world, but I have so much more to learn and give. Each day I am learning more about myself, ways to live with and embrace this medical condition plaguing my mind.

I’m sad as I reflect on our memories and I know you won’t be there to share any more. I cannot change the past, but I’m learning I cannot live there either. I acknowledge I’ve made mistakes and I know I cannot change those. For me to be able to love myself, I must be able to forgive myself even though it’s the most difficult thing I’ve had to do.

As I continue my journey I realize I have reacted or behaved inappropriately at times and damaged relationships I held so dear. I wish I could tell you I did not do so out of malice or hate, but out of a lack of awareness of how deeply my illness controlled me. Please know, this is not an excuse, I am not denying responsibility or the part I played. I know I hurt you with my words and actions and I hate myself for that. I just wish I could turn back time.

There is a person inside of me who is screaming to get out. Screaming to tell you they are still there and to beg you not to leave. I keep hoping that person will emerge victorious over the demons that keep her prisoner. She is a gentle soul who loves deeply, laughs happily and lives life to the fullest.

This journey is a painful one as self-awareness and self-awakening occur, but the light at the end of the tunnel is self-love and happiness, so I will fight on.

There are many things I want to say but none as important as I’m sorry, I love you and I wish you well.


The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

My superpower is that I move through the world without skin.

You can’t tell. My fake skin suit looks very real.

But it’s true. I don’t have skin. I am a bundle of nerves and raw muscle and sinew and blood and wounds.

It’s hard to love someone like this.

There’s a double meaning in that.

It’s hard to love someone who is like this and it’s hard to love someone when you’re like this.

I want to be in love. I have been in love. I tend to love with my whole heart and kind of immediately. It can be off putting.

I remember reading John Irving’s “The 158-Pound Marriage” a long time ago, and while I think describing yourself in quotes from literature is indulgent and gross, I’m going to ask you to indulge me grossly.

“…she is vulnerable for the same reason that she is strong. Whatever she puts her love in, she will trust. She will wait you out, she will put up with you  — forever —if she loves you.”

This is the truest way I know how to tell you about myself. I wish I’d written it. I wish I’d written something better. I haven’t. Yet.

I think this is sometimes a good quality. It doesn’t feel good. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel good. I also think it means I lack solid boundaries and look to others to meet my emotional needs instead of learning how to fulfill them myself.

I have borderline personality disorder. If you don’t know about it, congratulations. It’s hallmarked by unstable relationships, fear of abandonment perceived or real, unstable sense of self, self-harming behaviors, difficulty regulating emotions and suicidal ideation or suicide attempts and well, suicide.

But really, it just feels like I don’t have skin.

Everything is the most.

My deepest, truest, most honest fear is that if I tell you who I am, you will leave me.

Here’s what it feels like to be left: dying.

That’s it really. It feels like I’m dying.

OK fine, I’ll describe it.

I can’t get any air and I can’t move and I can’t feel anything and sometimes I weep in the shower and my body feels like it’s going in all directions and I don’t know if I can sit still and I want to talk to people but I don’t want to talk to people and I want to connect but I can’t and everything feels like I’m being stabbed right into a bundle of nerves and I can’t tolerate the pain for one single second more and I can’t get air and nothing will fix it not words or movies or weather or music or sex or food or drugs or people or…

That is what it feels like to be left.


My real deepest, truest, most honest fear is that if I tell you who I am, I will have to feel all of that again.

I cannot weep in the shower again. I cannot contain my body and my sadness and my rage and my loneliness again.

I cannot.

I can not.

I can not.

I want to be in love. I want to be held and meet the person I think is so electric I can’t stand to be away from him and he will feel the same about me and we’ll dance and have a whole night where we just break dishes and scream into the void because it feels good to do that sometimes.

Maybe you think that sounds crazy and maybe it does and maybe that’s the idea of love from the perspective of a person with a mental illness.

Here’s what I also believe love is: horrible jokes you tell each other over and over, telling the truth no matter what, back rubs, dancing in the kitchen in the middle of night, nasty f*cking against walls and on the bed and the kitchen floor and in public if that’s your thing, coming over and tasting this melon to tell me if it’s bad, radical acceptance of every part of this beautiful human in your field of vision, lazy Sunday afternoons listening to Joni Mitchell while it rains.

This is what I want.

And yet.

What if I got it?

How can I enjoy it?

What will I do if it leaves?

What do I do?

I am so tired of being alone and I am so scared of not being alone because I know I am hard to love and it’s inevitable that you will go and I can’t stop thinking of myself weeping in the shower so I keep you at arm’s length.

But that’s not a life.

I go out into the world without my skin. I try again. I hope this time you won’t leave. Or if you do, maybe I am better equipped this time. I take medicine and go to therapy and meditate and stuff so that’s good, right?

I don’t like this.

I want my skin. I want the skin I was born with, but somehow lost along the way.

I want to love you in a way that is fearless.

I want to know that I will be OK. Eventually.

This piece originally appeared on Medium

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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