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On the Other Side of Borderline

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I have an urgency to write this. As if someone needs to read this, or maybe I just need to see it. Yes, I’m going to give you glimpse of my mind again. If you can check all judgment, fix-its and sympathy at the door, you are welcome to have a look. If not, please stop reading now.

Nearly every day I get asked if I’m OK. I’m good. Stronger every day. Smile. Inside I’m screaming, “Help!” See me inside here. See my empty eyes. My sparkle-less smile might even fool you. I’ve been coached to do that – don’t let others know you are struggling. Don’t let them know you are not well. It’s just crying wolf. It’s just “attention seeking.” Rather say “I’m fine” and everyone can go their own way.

Today I was called out on that. A lifetime friend asked me how it is really, really going. And I had to admit, I’m not well. I can hardly carry a cup of coffee without spilling, because I’m shaking too much. I’m constantly nauseous, my heart is racing and I’m out of breath. My anxiety is freaking me out.

At the same time I’m isolating myself. Drawing into my own cocoon. I’ve been told that I’m manipulative, hurtful, unpredictable, an incompetent mother, unreliable. So I’d rather just be me — in my own basement. Saving myself, the only way that I can — avoiding.

But I will not shy away from being a mother. I scrape together the last little bit of my energy to be a mom — not the best mom, because I can’t be that right now, but I can be a mom. I have to show up for life. Be strong. There’s a song called “Even If” by MercyMe that goes:

“They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I’m losing bad
I’ve stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it’ll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can’t
It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone.”

Not my words, but they might as well be. Right now I just can’t. I cannot tell the broken that it will be alright. But the show must go on. The strangest thing is, once I’m in the studio and I open my mouth, words of hope flow through me. Am I faking it? No, I know those are not my words. And by speaking hope and life, I also feel hope and life again.

I got the label last year — the name of my illness. I don’t want to mention it, tell you what it is. Once you Google it, you will turn your back on me — many others have. I’m labeled by my illness, the symptoms and everything I do is measured against that. That fate of doom. I will never recover from this. It’s my brain that is sick. My world view that is blurred.

Funny thing is, since I got my diagnosis, my “life sentence,” I’ve been able to grow. I’ve been able to learn how to cope. I can function without beating myself up — without self-harm. I work hard at this, every day and it’s tiring. But I cannot give up. I cannot let this illness take over my mind again. I need to hold on, clim and be strong.

But unless you have been scared of yourself — your own brain telling you that you are useless, unwanted, worthless, a burden and better off dead – you cannot tell me to snap out of it. Unless you’ve locked yourself in your room, so that you won’t grab something to hurt yourself. Unless you’ve driven down the highway and prayed that you don’t give in to the badgering thoughts of driving into the truck ahead of you, or showing you all the tall buildings that can end it all. Unless you’ve fought this battle every single day, you cannot judge me. You cannot tell me I’m crying wolf or looking for attention.

At this point, I want to say to everyone who has ever been affected by suicide, every day you had with your loved one who died by suicide, every single day was a victory your loved one battled for you. Every night you could spend with your loved one who was battling suicide, was a gift from them to you. Because it is a hellish fight, a relentless battle that just won’t go away. And one day, that person let their guard down. One day the battle was just too long. But all the other ones were days given to you with all of their being, with strength and love.

So, there’s the glimpse. It is the surface of my battle, but I cannot let you in deeper. I’ve been hurt too much. Rejected. Judged. Lost my family. I don’t want sympathy, maybe just understanding. Most days I’m not having a good day — I’m just having a day, keeping myself alive.

I am still the Carina you got to know. I am still a devoted friend. I just know a little more about how my brain works, and I am working on it now. I can now upgrade myself. Accept myself. Be kind to myself. Just remember me as the person, Carina and not a label or diagnosis.

Thank you for staying a while in my world. For taking the time to see me.

Follow this journey on En Route to Omega.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via Lillasam

Originally published: October 26, 2017
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