Life with mental illness looks different for every person. I was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and I think most people living with BPD would agree it is the emotional equivalent of a nonstop, never-ending, unpredictable rollercoaster we never wanted to ride in the first place.
Borderline personality disorder brings a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Some mornings, I wake up feeling powerful, confident and ready to face the day. Within hours, I might experience a brutal panic attack, a fit of ugly crying, extreme nausea or vomiting, an overwhelming sense of joy or euphoria, paralyzing emptiness or sadness brought on by five minutes of reading the news, loneliness or pure gratitude. We all feel these things to an extent and these emotions deserve our attention and care. However, there are moments, days and weeks when I feel these things to such an extreme, it is nearly unbearable.
In the last year, I spent a lot of time in emergency rooms, found myself alone in a psych ward, started and failed to complete multiple projects, dropped out of grad school, fell back into drugs and alcohol, experienced loss, pain, panic and heartache and I attempted suicide.
It can be frustrating and disheartening when it seems like others are waltzing through day-to-day life with ease. On one of these days — when I felt particularly hopeless and burdensome to those around me — I pulled out one of my poetry books and turned to the following poem by Clementine von Radics:
You are on the floor crying,
have been on the floor crying
And this is you being brave.
That is you
getting through this as best
you know how.
No one else gets to tell you
what your tough looks like.
Though we may live in a culture that says depression is weak, taking time off work is lazy and mental illness is insignificant, it’s important to recognize you aren’t alone. Mental illness affects millions of people in a variety of ways and your experiences are just as valid as anyone else’s. Not only that, but it is healthy to take time for ourselves. It is necessary in order for us to do our best work for others.
I have to believe even when the most I can do in a day is get out of bed and get coffee, I am not weak. I am strong for being here and surviving. The fact no one else can see my demons does not mean they are not there and that I am not a warrior for living from one day to the next. I am a warrior and so are you.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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