The Best Gift I Gave Myself in Borderline Personality Disorder Recovery

Back in August of 2016, I was put on a treatment section for three weeks as an alternative to inpatient and it honestly saved my life at the time. I was in and out of the psychiatric hospital every single day talking to lots of different professionals who managed to get me into a more stable mindset to allow me to actually function, sorted out new medication for me to try and formally diagnosed me with both borderline personality disorder (BPD) and anorexia nervosa. Previously, these terms had just been handed to me as a kind of “This is what we think.” I don’t remember a lot of that time as I was not in a good mental space, but I remember getting lots of “homework” of various grounding techniques, tolerance techniques and little encouragements to go home and try and it made such a difference.

This year, almost to the day, I was tidying my room when I found a small box I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was going to throw it out but I checked inside just to make sure there was nothing there and I found four letters, each with different headings on the envelope. There was one entitled: ”For When You’re Floating Away” (the term we would use in the hospital instead of dissociation or depersonalization), another called: “For When Anorexia Is Loud,” another called: “For When You Want To Self-Harm” and “For When You Want To Die.” Upon my time of finding them, I was struggling a lot with my mind. I was very aware it had been a year since I was in hospital and instead of celebrating that, my brain and my illnesses were telling me, How dare you even try to recover? You’re never going to get better, so just get back to that place because it doesn’t matte. My body image was at an all time low and every part of me was begging for relapse. Finding those letters was absolutely incredible and it came at such a necessary time for me.

Each of the letters were dated from the week I was got discharged and I could tell from reading them that I had felt so positive about the journey ahead of me. I was so confident things would never get as bad as they had been and it was so emotional to read back on this hopeful person and thinking that at some point, all of that positivity and hope had managed to disappear again. But every single one of those letters spoke of comfort and belief in full recovery, reminding me who I am, how strong I can be and that there is a life outside of mental illness, misery and self torture.

So to those of you reading, no matter what you are struggling with, I cannot recommend it enough that you write yourself a letter when you are feeling positive or motivated — or get a loved one to write one for you. In that letter, remind yourself why you keep fighting, why you can win, how strong you are, how worthwhile you are and why you will be and deserve to be OK. Once you’ve written it, put it somewhere safe where you can come back to it on those dark days. Let it remind you of who you are and how strong you are. Let it remind you that you’re going to be OK.

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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Thinkstock photo via MistakeAnn.

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