Paige Kezima

@paige-kezima | contributor
Paige lives with Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder and a myriad of physical health conditions. She is tired of the stigma against mental health disorders, and just plain old tired.
Paige Kezima

My Passive Suicidal Thoughts Make Me Feel Like Suicide Is Inevitable

My favorite artist, a handsome indie crooner from British Columbia, Dan Mangan, recently released a rather sad song “In Your Corner” dedicated to Scott Hutchison, a performer who tragically died by suicide a few years ago. While the piece I think is supposed to perhaps provide some hope to those who share similar feelings of despair, I found my own grievous meaning behind the lyrics: “What leads the best of us to suffer?Do they know their pain and write it downTo help the rest of us recover?We’re crying in the showerCrying in the carparkCrying in the office towersYeah, we were trying not to get darkTrying hard to fight that darknessTrying not to count the hoursSo come find us if you canWe’ll be unified and sadWe’ll be in your cornerLeave a light on when it’s badWe will congregate and make a planAnd we’ll be in your cornerWe’ll all be in your corner.” I have plenty of people in my corner, and feel fortunate enough for each of them. My concern is that one day those people won’t be enough. I don’t have a people problem — I have a me problem. You see, I am resigned to the fact that I will inevitably die by the same fate Scott Hutchison did: suicide. I don’t have any concrete evidence of this, but I’ve believed it for a long time. Maybe it will become an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy. At this point, I feel it so deeply in my gut that I’d have the same reaction if someone told me that the sky was blue today. It’s just part of life. This is really my deepest fear. That I will someday lose control and will choose to end it all instead of bearing with the inexplicable pain that having a severe lifelong mental illness can bring. So, I’m consciously choosing to accept this fate as fact instead of living whatever time I have left in complete fear. I have expressed this ultimate fear in therapy many times, and have a few thoughts of where it came from. I have come close to killing myself many times before, even being seconds away from completion. Those experiences are extremely traumatizing alone. I’m almost more fearful of getting to that low point and somehow surviving than the dying part itself. I don’t think I have the capacity to make it if I were to have to come back from that brink again. It is far too difficult and painful to fight that battle. So, in a way, I am treating my mental illness as if it’s terminal because it very well may be (the statistics for people with borderline personality disorder aren’t great). It’s hard to describe these thoughts. It almost feels like a twisted sort of mindfulness. I don’t know how or when it will happen. I just have a feeling that it eventually will. Now I’ve never been one for hoping or dreaming for the future, even as a child. And once I was exposed to a string of suicides as a teen, I came to the dark realization there were others feeling at least somewhat like me. Believe me, this is not a club you want to join. I have spent the majority of my life feeling suicidal in one way or another. I’m not sure what to do about all of this. Likely, I will continue to tiptoe on the eggshells that make up my fractured mind and avoid any possible emotional triggers in a naïve effort to prolong my existence. I’m not currently actively suicidal — I don’t have a plan and do not harm myself intentionally anymore. I don’t even really want to die, I just have mixed feelings on life itself. This piece may evoke strong feelings to you, reader, and for that I apologize. While its darkness may be heartbreaking, I felt it was important to give others a perspective of what passive suicidality looks like to me. Feeling suicidal isn’t all crisis hotlines and emergency rooms — it can be a quiet yet unrelenting gnawing from the inside. I will continue to unpack this core belief with trusted professionals, with the desire to chip away at its certainty. If you feel triggered by what you’ve read, please reach out to someone available to help.

Paige Kezima

Dr. Phil's Episodes on Borderline Personality Disorder Spread Stigma

Allow me to give you a sampling of quotes from two recent episodes of the “Phil in the Blanks” podcast on borderline personality disorder (BPD), “Recognizing Borderline Personality Disorder: Toxic Personalities in the Real World” and “Dos and Don’t for Someone Living With Borderline Personality Disorder,” complete with its own hashtag: #ToxicPersonalities. “They will suck you dry, they are a bottomless pit.” “This is above your pay grade.” “Boom, it’s like a bomb lit off.” “They will wear you absolutely out.” “They’re going to overreact and everything is going to be overdramatic.” The “esteemed” “doctor” admits he is not an expert in BPD, yet finds it acceptable to rant for two hours on the topic. Hyperreactive, dramatic, volatile — these terms were used repeatedly as descriptors for people with BPD by our friend Dr. Phil. His wild assumptions on the behaviors and traits of people with BPD can be so obscene I almost found myself laughing while I listened, but then I remembered he has an audience of millions that would believe every word he said. The most common example he used to describe one of the common symptoms of BPD, which is fear of abandonment, is one where a friend has to cancel plans with the “borderline personality,” who reacts in a way that completely assumes they are being completely abandoned. It is a very extreme illustration of a scenario that is sure to scare people off. As a person living with BPD (diagnosed 10 years ago), let me bring an actual human reaction to your podcast, Dr. Phil. While yes, you mentioned it is important to treat “these people” with compassion, there was very little advice as to how someone with the disorder should try and navigate it. Almost the entirety of your two episodes focused on how to deal with us as if we were puppies you were trying to train. Where is the humility? For two hours, I listened to you fearmonger your listeners into paranoia about their loved ones, that they may actually have this godforsaken disorder. Near the end of your second episode, you actually advised the audience to list out 10 people they have core relationships with and analyze them in a way that would make it possible for you to guess if your loved ones have BPD. You say you don’t advise them “to play diagnostician,” despite instructing them to do that very thing. This whole series on personality disorders, which I will not bring myself to listen to any more of, is quite frankly dangerous. You may think you are helping people have a better understanding of very serious mental health conditions, when what’s actually going on is a clueless celebrity demonstrating a lack of compassion he claims to espouse. You make jokes about our emotional instability, identity diffusion, and fears of abandonment. I don’t think those are funny traits. I felt nauseous after hearing the tone of your voice as you kid about us with your quirky comments about deadly symptoms. Although you do cite some experts, like Marsha Linehan, I can’t take you seriously. When you make assertions that people with BPD change their linguistic accents as a symptom of the disorder, it is difficult to accept much of your ramblings as evidence-based fact. If for some reason you happen to read this piece, Dr. Phil, let me tell you about myself. As mentioned, I have been diagnosed with BPD for 10 years and have lived with it for my whole life. I am caring, a good friend, capable of love, a “productive” member of society with a full-time job, have the ability of foresight… I could go on. This is all to say that, simply put, you are wrong. Do these symptoms exist? Yes. Do they exist in the way you described in every person with the disorder? No. Did you ever make that clear in your podcasts? Nope. The broad allegations you make about people with borderline personality disorder are alarming and risky. Maybe you are well-intentioned with your analysis, but I am more inclined to believe these podcasts are just attention-grabbing for your audience. You made a hashtag for God’s sake. If you are ever wanting to cover BPD or any personality disorder again, may I suggest to actually have a guest who has experienced the symptoms firsthand? If you truly want people to have an understanding of these lives lived, perhaps go to the actual experts. “These people” deserve better.

Paige Kezima

How Canada's Assisted Suicide Bill Targets People With Disabilities

Canada generally has a good reputation as a country. We’ve got universal health care, the Rocky Mountains, and poutine. Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is a young and hip Liberal who has done some progressive things as the country’s leader. I’m here today to tear those assumptions down and tell you about a recent piece of disastrous legislation that will ensure that I will never vote for him or his party. Bill C-7, “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Medical Assistance in Dying)” has had a tumultuous life in Parliament, bouncing back and forth from different legislative chambers with numerous amendments proposed and passed. If you’re not a political fiend like me, its path may confuse you. I’m not here to talk about the politicians; I want to explain how this legislation will affect me. But first, I want to set the stage. Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) has been legal in Canada since June of 2017. It was made for people whose death was “reasonable and foreseeable.” Justin Trudeau’s government decided that it wanted to expand the criteria for MAiD and introduced another Bill, C-7, which removed the requirement above, and thus made people with chronic conditions or disabilities able to access it. To me and many other advocates, this directly targeted people living with disabilities. How? Well, the answer was put aptly by an opposing Senator who said that this Bill “offers people with a disability a way out instead of a way into society.” Ableism, both structural and individual, is a direct threat to the lives of people with disabilities. We don’t hear about it a lot compared to other forms of oppression, but that doesn’t take anything away from its danger. I am from a privileged position – I am white, middle-class, English-speaking, and educated. I am disabled, yes, but because of those qualities listed above, I am less likely to be targeted for MAiD. People who face numerous other structural barriers in their lives compounded by suffering (as a result of their disability) are literally at risk of losing their lives because of this legislation. There is great evidence that medical coercion exists targeted at people with disabilities. Anecdotally, I heard numerous testimonies as I listened to folks with lived experience speak as witnesses against the proposed bill. Their stories were heartbreaking, and displayed how medical professionals – you know, the ones that are supposed to save us – would bring up MAiD because of their disabilities. To make matters worse, an amendment proposed that people whose sole disability was mental illness could apply to receive MAiD. Yes, they could apply to the government for death. This addition is now part of the bill that passed the House of Commons on March 11, 2021. The government did add a clause that they would “study” this part of it for 2 years – although I believe that they already have their minds made up. The Canadian Mental Health Association put out a well-thought statement in opposition to this addition, that included scientific evidence that “it is not possible to determine whether any particular case of mental illness represents an advanced state of decline in capabilities that cannot be reversed.” So basically it’s saying that doctors are not in the position to say that a patient who may be suicidal or greatly suffering is never able to recover. The science is just not there. Despite this, Bill C7 will likely become official law soon. This is greatly upsetting because of how I connect it to my lived experience. I live with borderline personality disorder, depression, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and chronic pain from endometriosis. Given that list of diagnoses, it likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have struggled with strong and treacherous suicidal ideation numerous times in my life. When you are in those dark pits of despair, well versed in your own psychiatric case, killing yourself can be thought of as the only way to escape such overwhelming pain. It was for me anyway. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of those for-life conditions. In those instances in my life, I could not bear the thought of being stuck in a cycle of unrelenting suicidal thoughts. If MAiD existed as proposed by Bill C-7 then, I would have surely applied for it. No question about it. My suffering felt indeed insurmountable, and I was dealt a diagnosis (BPD) that I had to live with forever. This is all to say that had the timetable shifted, I could be dead right now at the hands of the government. Even if I was refused MAiD, I would likely have been encouraged to take my own life because of the message it sends to people with mental illnesses and other disabilities – your life isn’t worth living. At such a vulnerable place, I could have been indirectly coerced into death. This is coming from a privileged person. Can you imagine if I faced things like racism, poverty, homo/transphobia, or other barriers? I mentioned that Canada has universal health care, but that was a bit of a fib. Psychological care (other than what’s provided by those with a medical license) is not covered by our health care. This means I pay over $500 a month for counseling and would pay thousands of dollars a year for necessary medication if I didn’t have private insurance. So much for universal, huh. The supports needed for people with all types of disabilities are sorely lacking in Canada, which can make folks feel like a burden to society. It’s not right, but it is a reality. Until these needs are actually addressed by governments at all levels, expanding MAiD should not be an option. This is a matter of life and death for many, and I for one cannot idly stand by while my peers die from state-sponsored murder. In my case, while I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for many years, am now in a place of semi-recovery. I am so thankful that I made it through those perilous times of suffering. For anyone reading this who is considering suicide – don’t let anyone convince or coerce you into believing that your life isn’t worth living. Things can get better, and they will.

Paige Kezima

Why 'Mental Illness Awareness Week' Isn't Enough

As I lay doom-scrolling through Facebook last night, I was reminded that this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. I want to talk about why these awareness campaigns don’t go far enough and can actually be harmful for people living with mental illnesses. It is true that one in four people live with a mental illness and through their various connections, virtually everyone is affected. Yet, our conditions remain highly stigmatized in work, relationships and even internally. There is a disconnect between the reality of the existence of mental illness and how it can impact society. Awareness campaigns are generally the first step in trying to solve a problem. Unfortunately, the possibility of change often is halted in that phase. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a 24-hour Facebook profile pic frame will undoubtedly not create much change. There are four patterns I have seen in my personal observations of these awareness campaigns. 1. In an effort to normalize the occurrence of mental illnesses, they somehow become “trendy.” Let me tell you — I can think of no one who would wish for themselves of even their worst enemies to become a part of this club. Mental illness is not fun. Yet, we see it continually become glamorized like the newest fashion accessory: “I totally had a panic attack when my crush walked by” “I cleaned my whole makeup case yesterday – lol, OCD” “I swear I’ll kill myself if I don’t get an A on that test!” By adding these terms half-heartedly to our vernacular it takes the seriousness away from illnesses that have the potential to kill. We need to be careful with our words and how we educate people to use them. 2. If there is existence of such elite clubs, there are bound to be outcasts. By this I mean that those with more intricate diagnoses are not invited to sit at the “cool kids table.” A hierarchy of mental illnesses occurs — placing the severe and complex conditions at the bottom. This can cause internalized stigma for those who live with things like personality disorders, schizophrenia and so on. It’s easier to talk about the more common conditions and those who struggle differently are just shit out of luck. 3. I have a background in public relations. To me, corporate attempts at spreading awareness about mental illnesses are meaningless when they insidiously cover up harms within their own companies. In Canada, the #BellLetsTalk campaign takes place every year where the company gives 5 cents per tweet/share/text to mental health initiatives. Sounds good, right? Regrettably, there have been numerous stories about Bell treating its employees badly in regards to mental health and then there’s the whole mess of the company charging inmates in Ontario’s jails to call their loved ones and supports. 4. Then there’s the politicians. Elected officials love a good hashtag, don’t they? When the people in the highest positions of power utilize it for mere awareness, it’s infuriating. Here we have the folks that hold the purse strings and jurisdiction to actually help and they respond to us by tweeting a picture? Are you f##king kidding me? Mental health advocates are consistently offering valuable and viable solutions to these politicians and are constantly met with silence to their proposals. The fact that these campaigns are used as a feel-good exercise while people continue to literally die is disturbing to me. There are many unknowns when it comes to the realities of mental illnesses and it really bums me out that change is so slow coming. We need more money for research and universal coverage for all mental health care (psychologists, psychiatrists, cultural care, etc) to start. Until I see resources being meaningfully allocated to such things, I will remain wary of empty promises being made by everyone — from my friends to the big corporations to every level of government. We do need a better understanding of mental illnesses. But let’s try to be cognizant of what we are supporting and how it can affect the most vulnerable. We can lift each other up by educating ourselves and showing care for each other, regardless of if it’s trending.

Paige Kezima

When Your Mental Illness Diagnosis Changes

If you’ve read any of my articles before, you’ll know I often write about my perspectives on life with borderline personality disorder (BPD). I have had that diagnosis nearing on ten years. It originated after a particularly rough breakup, but stood the test of time for a long time thereafter. It was a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with BPD in my early 20s. As they are seen as authorities on mental illness, I believed him and dedicated myself to learning and healing through that lens. BPD has become part of my identity in many ways — I’ve made friends because of it, I have been prescribed medications because of it, and so on. Because the availability of psychiatrists and their evaluations, I haven’t properly been assessed in years. Fast forward to last week. I had asked my GP for a referral for a medication review, as his knowledge around mental health is less than stellar. An hour and a half after the session began, the doctor was prepared to give me her “findings.” She didn’t believe I had BPD — just some symptoms of it. Rather, her diagnosis included: generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and persistent depressive disorder. WTF? Questions began to swirl in my head. What about BPD? I thought that was a “forever” disorder. How can it not be part of me anymore? And adding social anxiety? The thought of that increased said anxiety tenfold. Luckily, I saw my therapist a couple days later and relayed this new information to her. We talked about the fact that the psychiatrist didn’t even ask anything about my childhood or past experiences. So now, in addition, we have added complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) to that list given by the psychiatrist. My therapist explained her view of this to me. She said that diagnostic labels according to the DSM may shift over time, even the “extreme” ones — and that the one common denominator, in my situation anyways, is trauma. The good news is, I believe I am in recovery from BPD, a thing I didn’t believe was possible. The bad news is I have an ever growing list of terms to learn about in order to continue with my progress. I guess I naively thought if I were ever to be lucky enough to not struggle as much with BPD, I wouldn’t have to find myself at the bottom of another mountain to overcome. Instead I have found social anxiety pass and depression hill, all part of the big Mount Trauma. Needless to say, this is all unexpected. I have to build a new path and need to find my way up this foreboding peak. If the end goal is recovery, does it really matter the words we place on ourselves? What do these labels mean? Why do we assign ourselves to them? In doing so, I feel like we are giving our power up by self-shaming and stigmatizing ourselves. Each one of those diagnoses are loaded terms. I am currently left in a state of confusion. On one hand, I want to digest all the information I can about these new names. On the other, I want to throw them and the DSM in the garbage. One thing is for certain: I will keep documenting my journey. If you’re in a similar boat as me (I haven’t seen a lot of findings or readings about evolving mental illnesses) — feel free to reach out so we can navigate this together.

Paige Kezima

How to Improve Relationships After the Coronavirus Pandemic

I am a future-minded and big picture person. As the world finds its way through a global catastrophe, I can’t help but think about what comes after. This is in no way to dismiss the struggles that people are currently going through with the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) — the new viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system — as I have so much empathy for those who are closely affected. Perhaps this is just my coping mechanism – to look forward. Even though my mom has been telling me for weeks to focus on each day at a time, I simply cannot. Yes, there are a lot of worries and fears about the lasting consequences of a pandemic, which I will also explore, but there is also hope to be found. A light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. As I face this dialectic between dread and hope, confusion mostly takes over. Let’s take a look at the two sides of this coin. Since we are still in the middle of this, and my country has not yet hit its peak of cases, I am self-isolating in my apartment. My everyday freedoms have been taken away, and I am feeling trapped. In terms of the big picture, I have friends and family who are on the front lines every day in health care facilities. I cannot forget that thousands of people have died from this virus. Families thereafter are unable to even grieve per their wishes or traditions. The grim reality of this situation hits hard. The future negative consequences of this pandemic are also unknown. Will there be a rise in mental health challenges? Will children have adapted survival behaviors and struggle to go back to “normal?” Will the long-term financial impacts devastate the economy? There is a lot of uncertainty. I, for one, am hopeful that things won’t go back to how they were before this hit. There is so much room for compassion for each other, and maybe, just maybe, we can learn some positive lessons from this time. Therefore, I am calling for a “ relationship reclamation” once w e are back in safe territory. Social or physical distancing is extremely difficult, especially in times of trouble. Now that we know how trying it is to not be able to socialize in-person with one another, maybe it’s time to change our old patterns of interaction. Go for that after-work drink with your colleagues. Learn the name of your barista (they likely already know yours). Take a long weekend off to go on a road trip with your friends. Find out the likes and dislikes of an acquaintance. Get ready and go on that Tinder date! Perhaps it’s already happening to you. I have been communicating with my friends and family more than ever, albeit over virtual means. Sometimes we talk about our feelings and other times we send each other funny GIFs. There are so many possibilities to improve our relationships with one another. Caring is part of human nature, and maybe this forced isolation is just what we needed to realize how important it is to all of us. I am choosing to see the silver lining in terms of the potential ahead for expressing feelings and building new friendships. There will undoubtedly still be arduous times ahead, but just for a minute, consider what a new “normal” full of kindness and care would mean to you. Why not start today? Struggling with anxiety due to COVID-19? Check out the following articles from our community: What You Should Know About Social Distancing During COVID-19 6 Tips If You’re Anxious About Being Unable to Go to Therapy Because of COVID-19 What to Do If the Coronavirus Health Guidelines Are Triggering Your Anxiety or OCD Feeling Calm in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic Might Be a Trauma Response How Can You Tell the Difference Between Anxiety and COVID-19 Symptoms? 8 Soaps You Can Use to Help Prevent the Spread of Illness

Paige Kezima

My 'Simple' New Year's Resolution for Mental Health in 2020

A lengthy list of resolutions for 2020 has dwindled down to one main theme for me: honesty. This is because I think I need a reality check. I am approaching 30 years of age and nearing 10 conditions. Sometimes, I feel like, in order to grieve what I have missed out on in the past, I need to try to regain those experiences now. This just isn’t possible anymore. Instead, what would be more helpful is to look to the future. Even though I have had enough mid-life crisis episodes for about seven people, and looking ahead is scary, it is time to stop living in the past. Our experiences help shape us, sure, but dwelling on them does not prepare us for what is to come. I have a bad habit of feeling mighty guilty if I need a sick day or cancel plans. This isn’t helpful to anyone because when I am doing it, I have a rightful reason. I am listening to what my body needs at that time. I need to do more of that instead of feeling pressured to perform. The pressure is real, my friends, as I am sure you know. Every time I need to duck out early from an event, I immediately get inwardly angry. “You’re such a baby,” “You should have sucked it up” and the almighty FOMO, “Think of what you could be missing out on.” I often try to live like I am in my younger years, where a hangover was minor and a good night’s sleep could cure all ails. What I need to realize is that I’m not 18, and I am sick. Coming to that realization — that I am not a “well” person — is tough. It’s not what I want, but it’s what I’ve got, so I’ve got to start living accordingly. Hope. What do you think of when you hear that word? For me, it is almost debilitating. It is a rarity in my life. I would like to change that. Understanding that it is difficult might be the first step to changing my reaction to it. I have lived with low self-esteem since I can remember having a sense of self. I never knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Now, there is a crack of light in that door where I know I want to focus on writing, and talking to people like those who are reading this today. It is an amazing feeling to have something to give you hope. I dream that this newfound goal creates a snowball effect on my self-worth. External validation is great, but it cannot be without the internal side as well. With support from readers and my own self boosting me up, perhaps I will be unstoppable. It’s not easy to have hope and dream big when you are faced with challenges like mental illness . If you have similar life experiences to me, I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone in 2020 and begin the new decade with a new perspective. If that sentence nauseates you, don’t worry; I am here for you too. We’re all on individual journeys. Wishing you a best-as-it-can be New Year, Paige

Paige Kezima

How to Support the Mental Illness Community From the Outside

This week in Canada is Mental Illness Awareness Week. I am one in five directly affected by a mental illness (well, numerous, truth be told). Normally, I write to an audience who can identify with my struggles in being mentally ill. Today, it’s a bit different. I want to talk to those of you who do not live with a mental illness . Even though you don’t live with one, it doesn’t mean you can totally forget about the topic. Because these illnesses are so prevalent, you can almost be guaranteed someone you care about is struggling. Maybe you don’t know who it is yet – but even so, wouldn’t you want to be able to help them if you got the chance? There are numerous things you can do , aside from posting an awareness graphic once or twice a year. 1) Change your language. If someone is acting what you deem is “strange” – don’t refer to them as a “schizo.” Having a hard day? Don’t joke about killing yourself. Even the word “crazy” has negative connotations to those in the community. On the same note, stand up against derogatory jokes – just as you would with sexist, racist or homophobic ones. 2) Know the emergency lines in your area. Program them in your phone in case someone is in crisis. 3) Take a Mental Health First Aid course. These courses are just as important as other First Aid courses. 4) Take care of your own mental health . Just because you have not yet experienced a mental illness doesn’t necessarily mean you are immune. This isn’t meant to scare anyone, but it is common. You are also more capable of helping others if you have taken care of yourself first. 5) Just be there. You don’t need to be a psychologist to be there for someone who is in need. If someone is in a crisis, being just a physical presence as they get professional care can mean the world. For example, accompanying someone to the ER and waiting with them (even in silence!) during the unavoidable wait times is very helpful. These are five simple(ish) ways you can help. There is of course much more you can do – including being a mental health advocate. In Canadian provinces, mental health is funded by only a small percentage of the provincial health budget. This needs to change in order for everyone who needs treatment to receive it. Additionally, all mental health services should be publicly funded. Whether you need a social worker or psychologist, it should be covered by our medical system – because mental health is a part of health! I hope these five tips are useful to you as someone who isn’t part of the mental illness community. You can help create change without identifying in the same way as the group you are advocating with or supporting.

Paige Kezima

Borderline Personality Disorder Can Leave You With Trauma

When people think of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD ), their minds usually go to the worst possible situations — escaping war, being sexually assaulted, engaging in combat. These situations are no doubt inherently harmful, and are able to cause severe mental health issues. However, I want to talk about my perspective on trauma. I have seen no violence in my life, and I have never been in danger (except when the threat was myself). I have lived a privileged life. Despite this, I have the belief I live with undiagnosed PTSD . How is this possible, you ask? Perspective is my response. When I was at my worst emotional state, I was a “frequent flyer” at the emergency room, was having panic attacks and felt incredibly suicidal. These experiences left me feeling scarred — both figuratively and literally. Now that I am in “recovery” (whatever that means) — I am absolutely terrified of returning to that state. Simply put, it was traumatic. How could it not be? Constantly wanting to die and actively loathing yourself puts you through the ringer. We never really hear this perspective though. Is it possible that having one mental disorder can trigger another? I think that living with borderline  personality disorder (BPD) I am more susceptible to other mental illnesses, especially PTSD . With BPD , my senses and emotions are constantly heightened. This hypersensitivity leaves me vulnerable. This has led to numbing. Paranoid of relapse, I ignore negative emotions and symptoms and put them on the back burner. I tell myself I will deal with them another day, but in reality I am running away from anything that could feel like a trigger to that deadly state from years ago. It’s ironic that in the long run this tactic is more likely to be the cause of a relapse compared to just dealing with the feelings in the immediate timeframe. The repression of both memories and emotions is unhealthy and risky. But, in the moment, it seems like the most responsible course of action. Why? Due to my heightened anxiety that has become a new normal, I am consistently walking on eggshells with myself. I am a volcano in danger of erupting at any moment. In terms of moving forward — I suppose I just have to learn how to control the inevitable explosion. Do I do it on my terms, through therapeutic guidance, by taking it one thing at a time? That would of course be ideal. However, the risk of losing control is still there. If I continue to put it off I can live under the illusion that ignorance is bliss. Defining trauma can be a tricky thing. I am in no way a specialist — I am simply providing my ideas in relation to the subject. I do not know if what I have experienced is diagnostically classified as “trauma” — but what I do know is that it sure as hell felt like it. And still does.

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