It will always get better, but we can’t sit back and wait for it to happen.

Breathe in.

Journal entry: October 12, 2016

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“I don’t want to be here anymore.
I’ve made the date.
I’m going to kill myself on the 17th.”

As I read these words, the very ones that I wrote one year ago, I can physically feel agony that I was in. I was planning the end to a life that I believed would never get any better. I remember feeling the urge to end it all right there in that moment. I held my broken body tight trying to muster up the courage to make it through the next five days. On the 15th, I was traveling to Montreal with my parents. I knew I couldn’t do it before then; if I died, they wouldn’t go and they deserved to go. So, I decided it’d do it after. I didn’t have anything else to look forward to, and it had to be done before I celebrated another birthday on the 22nd. With all of these thoughts flooding my mind, I barely got any sleep that night.

Fast-forward to October 12, 2017

No longer hopeless, but hopeful.
No longer broken, but whole.
No longer suicidal, but alive.

Breathe out.

Some of you may be wondering… How? How did she overcome the desire and longing to end her own life? How did she feel alive again?

Well, it was a monstrous mountain. It was heavy; it was rocky, but it was not impossible.

In January 2017, after months of self-harm and the on and off desire to end my own life, I received the diagnoses of Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These labels, which may frighten some, actually filled in the missing pieces. My thoughts, feelings and behaviours began to make sense. Now, it was time to fight my demons and take back my life.

I stopped drinking alcohol on January 16th. I’ve been sober for 271 days (and counting).

I began Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) in February.

I have been self-harm free since February.

I began focusing on my love of yoga and mindfulness.

I practiced letting go.. of everything in life, even my thoughts.

I rid myself of toxicity and negative influences.

I began Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) in May.

PE allowed me to face the abuse and torment I experienced. I was able to let go of the fear and anger I felt towards my abuser.

I learned to radically accepted (but not condone) the traumas of my past.

I completed 6 months of DBT in August. I have learned how to appropriately deal with my [often] abrupt emotions. I have found a sense of calmness in the present.

I have learned to challenge my distorted thoughts which, in turn, has diminished them.

I have learned the importance of self-love, self-care and self-acceptance.

I no longer ruminate over the past or worry about the future. I have fallen in love with my present life.

I understand that some days will be hard, but there is nothing that I can’t handle.

I have found peace and purity.

For those of you who may be deeply struggling, please know that it does get better. This is not the generic cliche, but the voice of someone who has reached rock bottom many times since the age of 12. It will always get better, but we can’t sit back and wait for it to happen. We have to do what we can and ask for help from others. It is possible to gain control over our lives again – but we have to take the first step. We can all experience what it means to feel alive. And we all deserve that.

Keep smiling,
Emily

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Physical illness vs mental illness?

*This piece will discuss my personal experience with mental illness (anxiety, depression, bulimia, ptsd, bpd) versus physical illness (cancer). Both mental and physical illness vary person to person. Illness is not all or nothing – people experience it differently. With that being said, this post is not to invalidate anyone’s circumstances or struggles. I am simply voicing my own personal experience on how mental illness continues to be treated differently than physical illness.*

Before I dive into the depths of my personal encounter with various illnesses, I think it is important to touch on the aspect of health. We all have health. We all have physical health (our body) and we all have mental health (our mind, thoughts, emotions). Only when our health becomes jeopardized, we may develop illness. If our physical health is poor, we can develop physical illness. If our mental health is poor, we may develop mental illness. However, we all have health.

Mental illness refers to severe and long-lasting impairment and distress of our mind. This may result in extreme emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

Physical illness refers to severe and long-lasting impairment and distress of our physical body. This may result in physical diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, MS, CP etc.

Mental illness is often invisible to the outside world. By invisible, I mean that it is often happening inside of our head. We may struggle with dark thoughts, crippling anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, etc. We may look like we’re happy, yet we’re actually crumbling. However, physical illness is often visible by the whole world. If we have cancer, we may have lost all of our hair. If we have CP or MS, we may be in a wheelchair or using mechanisms to help us walk. Yes, all illnesses profoundly impact our lives. But, the ominous feeling of our illness being invisible to the outside world makes us feel like we are all alone.

Despite numerous campaigns that bring awareness to mental illness, our society is still conditioned to empathize with those struggling with physical illness, whereas the severity of mental illness continues to be under-looked. When I was going through chemotherapy in 2014, people understood if I couldn’t get out of bed or go to social events. I was reassured that it was completely okay to sleep for 16 hours a day. It was even suggested. I was flooded with love, support and flowers. However, when my anxiety was overwhelming or my depression wouldn’t allow me to get out of bed, I was viewed as lazy, overreacting and attention-seeking. I often felt like I was so damn alone because my feelings were swept under the rug. All I really needed was someone to reassure me. I needed someone to tell me that it was okay to listen to what I need – just as I would if I was battling a physical illness. Unfortunately, feeling profound shame and guilt for having mental illness led me to talk about it less and less. I pushed it away and pretended that I was okay when in reality, I was dying inside.

Not only is mental illness underlooked, it is often invalidated. Nothing feels worse than finally opening up to someone (“I can’t shake this sadness”), and getting the reply of (“Don’t worry, everyone has those days!”). It invalidates our struggles. It makes us feel as though our extreme emotions and distressing thoughts are normal. Because of this, many people do not reach out and receive the help that they desperately need. Yet, when someone says, “Ow, my stomach really hurts today. I feel like I might be sick”, people reply with, “Oh no! You poor thing. You should go home and rest”. We discredit mental illness with our words and behaviours (without even fully acknowledging it).

Furthermore, physical illness is regarded as life-threatening. The majority of people are horrified by the thought of getting diagnosed with cancer. Yes, cancer is a terrible, life-threatening disease, just as many mental illnesses are. Borderline personality disorder often coincides with severe self-harm behaviours. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an abnormally low body weight due to food restriction. As we can see, mental illnesses are just as life-threatening and serious as physical illnesses. However, mental illness continues to be viewed as attention-seeking or selfish. “People have it a lot worse than you.” “Why are you sad? You have every reason to be happy!” “I don’t understand; you have nothing to be scared about.” These sentences should never be a response to someone battling mental illness, just as they would never be said to someone fighting a physical illness.

Additionally, many of us fail to realize that mental illness and physical illness are often interconnected. Individuals with physical illness are more likely to develop mental illness. For example, many people battling cancer are diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Our physical state affects our mental state. We feel grief and loss of innocence and normality. In addition, individuals with mental illness (who do not receive the help they need) are more likely to develop a physical illness. For example, some people struggling with mental illness abuse drugs and alcohol. These substances can significantly impact our physical health. This shows us how interrelated human illness is.

For those who have read this entire post and still fail to see my argument, remind yourself that mental illness is actually an illness of our body. Mental illness is a disease of the brain. As we learned in childhood, the brain is an organ of our body. So, just like we may develop a disease of the lungs, thyroid, heart, etc., the brain may become diseased. You can call it a physical illness if you’d like, as our brain is tangible and concrete, just like all of our other organs.

This gives us something to think about the next time we feel as though our mental illness isn’t that serious. Spoiler alert: it is, and it requires professional help.

My hope is that one day society will view physical illness and mental illness as equally important. They both significantly impact our lives. They are both serious and require attention. Just because mental illness is invisible doesn’t mean it has to stay invisible. Please reach out. You do not have to struggle alone.

Keep on shining,

Emily

 

Left picture: September 2014. One day after chemotherapy. One glance and you can see how sick I look. Oh, the sympathy I received from having cancer…….

Right picture: December 2016. We see a bright smile so we think, she’s happy! She’s doing great! Yet, I was suicidal, abusing alcohol and self-harming.  I was struggling to stay afloat. I was waiting for the day it would all end.

 

How PTSD has crippled my entire world

In university, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was one of the many psychological disorders that intrigued me. I couldn’t read enough research about the ruthless impact trauma has on our emotions and our behaviour. It fascinated me how our brains and neurochemistry could completely change due to trauma.

However… no amount of reading and research could help me when I needed it the most – when I was forever changed by PTSD.

If you’re reading this, you may not even know what PTSD is and that is absolutely okay. In some ways, I wish that I didn’t know what it was either. I wish that I was still caught up reading and reading about it, not living with it.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating mental illness that affects some us after exposure to trauma. Despite contrary belief, PTSD does not only impact soldiers, but average human beings as well. Any one who has experienced colossal trauma (natural disaster, abuse, neglect, life-threatening illness or car accident) is at risk of developing PTSD. And, unfortunately, I was one of those “average human beings” who was diagnosed with PTSD.

Side note: *My list of trauma is not a definitive. *

I was officially diagnosed in mid-January 2017 after months and months of severe, incapacitating symptoms. I am far… far… f a r from recovered, but I felt obliged to share my experience with PTSD as it is often overlooked. Few people know what PTSD is and the excruciating impact it can have on it’s victims.

Like all disorders, PTSD manifests differently person to person. My experience may be different from yours and that is okay. All of our experiences are valid.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has crippled me with:

Emotional numbness

This began shortly after I was removed from the abusive relationship that I found myself in. I returned home… well maybe, my body did… my mind was somewhere else. I couldn’t feel anything. My body shut down. I couldn’t process what the hell just happened. I couldn’t even remember what had happened… my brain wouldn’t let me. I felt absolutely nothing. I couldn’t remember words. I had no thoughts. I simply couldn’t function. I spent days on end staring blankly at the wall, unable to do much at all. I felt completely gone. So far gone without return. This emotional numbness carried on for a couple of days. I felt as though he had taken my soul from me. I felt like nothing.

As time went on, I was able to feel again. Like a light switch, I went from numb to frantic. For days, I felt nothing and now I was feeling absolutely everything. I continue to have days where the pain takes over and I shut down. Gone, yet again. Each time, wondering how much longer things will be this way.

Avoidance and Isolation

At around the same time that I became emotionally numb, I began to isolate myself. If you know me personally, you know that I am an extreme extrovert. I love parties, social gatherings and meeting new people. However, something in me changed. I began to fear people – even those I have known for a very long time. I questioned everyone’s motives and intentions. I began to label others as bad – inherently evil. He became everything that I saw. I saw negative qualities in others that may not have existed at all. My memory of him and his malevolence flooded my life. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to see anyone. I just couldn’t. I wouldn’t let myself.

After much persuasion from my family and my therapist, I pushed myself to go out – but not without significant anxiety. I flinched walking past men on the streets. I could literally feel my skin crawl. I held my breath as I walked past strangers afraid of what they may do. I was conditioned to expect violence.

Leaving the house was exhausting. I was sore physically and mentally. However, with exposure, things have gotten much easier; though I still isolation myself more than your average person. I rarely attend parties or social gatherings anymore. The way that I see it is if I don’t interact with humans, no one can hurt me. And no, I’m not being rude, I am protecting myself. I’m working on rebuilding my self-esteem, self-love and self-acceptance. Please give me time.

Hypervigilance

I honestly didn’t know what hypervigilance meant until I was diagnosed with PTSD. For me, hypervigilance is constantly being on edge. When I’m out and about alone, I’m continuously checking over my shoulders. It’s like living life through a constant stream of anxiety. It’s pure torture and I despise it.

Negative beliefs about the world

All men are evil.

All men are abusive.

All men are incapable of empathy and love.

All men are to be feared.

People are inherently bad.

Our world is corrupt.

Trust me, I never used to feel this way – but it’s what trauma can do to a person. It can change your whole perspective of the world – in the blink of an eye.

Negative feelings towards self

Often times, my mind decides to replay all of the awful things he said to me. After hearing these words relentlessly, you start to believe them.

You deserved this.

You let this happen.

Maybe if you didn’t…

Maybe if you would have…

You’re stupid.

You’re disgusting.

You’re worthless.

Nightmares

I am subjected to graphic night terrors that throw me into full fledged panic. They are often painful scenes that I have been desperately trying to forget. Some are real memories and occurrences while others are just a fabrication made by my mind – both equally agonizing.  I usually wake up crying in a drenching sweat. I have to check my surroundings around 20 times before I can finally allow myself to relax. I have to tell myself that I am safe and that I am okay. I think the most treacherous thing about my nightmares is that every single night I fight the urge to sleep as I am so terrified of what memory will come back to haunt me. Thankfully, as of now, I’m down to about two nightmares a week. This is major progress as they used to be a nightly occurrence.

Flashbacks

Flashbacks are utterly crippling as they take you by surprise and bring you right back to the traumatic moment in seconds. You don’t know when they will creep up on you; you can’t always know all of your triggers. My flashbacks come in hot and heavy distorting my reality and suffocating me.

I can still remember the nights he abused me perfectly. I can remember the clothes I was wearing the nights he hit me. I can remember the exact locations in our apartment. I remember the exact words and phrases I cried as I begged him to stop. I can remember the sound of my skull striking the floor. I can remember the pure horror. Sometimes these sounds and images flood my mind and I can’t escape them… feeling as though I am right back there. Helpless.

Disgust in Intimacy

The thought of another human touching my skin makes me queasy. No, thank you.

Hopelessness

Sometimes it feels as though things will never get better. That things will forever be this way and I will never be free. It’s as if this excruciating pain will cloak me for the rest of my life. I hope that one day it will finally leave me alone, but sometimes it feels like that day will never come. And, I have to accept that.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a happy ending to this post. Most of the time, positive and encouraging words flow out of me like a waterfall. But, nothing positive has come out of having PTSD.

Maybe still being here to be able to write this article is enough.

Keep on shining.

Emily

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Bruised, but healing. [Photo taken August 2016]

Reasons to Recover

When I began dialectical behaviour therapy in February, my individual therapist asked me a question that has stuck with me since.

Why choose recovery?

This may seem like a simple question with a simple answer… “because I want to live”. But, after contemplation, I realized it wasn’t actually an easy question to answer. It was something that I needed to ponder.

Why do you want to recover? Why attend therapy three hours a week? Why do you want to spend the next six months learning and practicing new skills? Why spend the time restructuring your behaviours and emotional responses?

Why?

I think we all have different answers to this questions. We all have different reasons to choose recovery. After much consideration, I discovered my justification for recovery.

My hope is that by sharing my answer someone else may identify with me and find their own reasons to recover.

To me, recovery means being at peace with myself. It means accepting help, not losing hope and striving for a brighter day. It means practicing self care and riding myself of the toxicity in my life. It means finding love rooted deep within myself and spreading it outwards (while retaining a good amount for myself). Recovery means living life again.

So, why have I decided to recover despite the resurfacing of traumatic memories, excruciatingly tiring sessions and complete rewiring of myself?

Because….

  • I truly believe that I deserve to recover. I deserve to be at peace with myself. I deserve help, hope and a brighter day. I deserve to practice self care and remove toxicity from my life without immense guilt. I deserve to live my life again.
  • My family and friends need me. I’ve seen the agony in their eyes after telling them that I do not want to be a part of this world anymore. I’ve felt the pain that they feel. The panic as they rush to the hospital to find out if I’m okay. The horror of the unknown. The truth is, they can’t imagine this world without me. They deserve peace (just as I do). They need me to recover (just as I do).
  • My 10-pound shihpoo, Cinnamon, would wonder where I have gone. She doesn’t deserve that. She’s deserves all the cuddles, cheese and tummy rubs in the world.
  • Warm Julys. The warmth on your skin. The bright sunshine glistening on the water. The feeling that everything will be okay.
  • Crisp Octobers. The smell of apple pie. Pumpkin-carving. My birthday. Halloween. Indulging in pumpkin pie.
  • Breath-taking sunsets. The one last moment of striking colour before the darkness of the night. The kind where pictures don’t do it justice. You have to soak all of it into your memory.
  • The first snowfall of the year. The excitement. The beginning of the festive season.
  • Smiling at strangers. Hoping to make their day a little brighter. You never know the impact you can have on someone. We all need a smile sometimes.
  • The feeling of sand in between your toes. 
  • The sound of crashing waves.
  • The crunch of autumn leaves.
  • The smell after a much needed rainfall.
  • Tight hugs. Being embraced in the arms of someone you love.
  • Feeling loved. 
  • Fresh bedsheets. Enough said.
  • Your favourite scent. A candle. Incense. Perfume. Finding comfort in a familiar smell.
  • Eating your favourite meal. Something with potatoes that’s for sure.
  • ‘I thought of you’ moments. The thoughtfulness sends a shiver up my spine.
  • Singing at the top of your lungs. Whether it be country, rap, pop or rock n roll, there is so much joy in screaming the lyrics to your favourite song.
  • Dancing around your home. The only time I can bust a move without judgments.
  • Laughing until your stomach hurts. The best workout.
  • I have so much left to learn. About yourself. About others. About the world.
  • Flowers. I don’t know what we ever did to deserve flowers. Lively colours help brighten those dark days.
  • Crawling into bed after a long day. 
  • Concerts. Seeing my favourite band or singer live.
  • Naps. Rejuvenating.
  • So many places that I have yet to see. 196 countries and endless beauty in this world.
  • So many people that I have yet to meet. People who share my interests and values. Removing my go-to mask. People that I can be my complete and utter self around.
  • Being understood. Hearing ‘I get you. I have experienced something similar and I’m okay. You’ll be okay, too.’
  • Writing. Thoughts. Feelings. Memories. Let it out.
  • Reading books. The feeling of escaping to another world for a little while.
  • The calm after the storm. Literally and figuratively.
  • Forehead kisses.
  • Bonfires. The crackle of wood burning. The smell of cedar. The orange flame lighting up the dark night.
  • Art. Interpreting a piece of art work. Finding meaning in poetry. Identifying with the lyrics of a song.
  • Getting married and having little Emily’s of my own. Never giving up on the idea that true love exists.
  • Cuddling like a burrito on a winter day.
  • Eating burritos.
  • The excitement of sports. Watching the Leafs win the Stanley Cup and TFC win the MLS Cup. Or, the fact that there are so many soccer games that I have yet to play.
  • Yoga. Mastering a pose that was once viewed as impossible. Feeling all of the muscles in your body work together.
  • Inspiring others. Prove to yourself and others that recovery is possible.  
  • There is so much that I have yet to do. I could start all over again. I could learn to play an instrument. I could cut my hair. I could run a marathon. I could do whatever I wanted – if I put my mind to it.
  • Self-love.
  • Falling in love with my life.
  • Things do get better. The darkness cannot last forever.
  •  I am not alone. We have all experienced trauma. We choose to push on. We all choose recovery.
  • I am loved. Despite what my mind tries to tell me, I am loved, I am cared about and I am enough.

So, why do I choose recovery?

There isn’t one, simple reason.

Keep on shining.

Emily

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Yes, I have a Personality Disorder and no, I am not crazy.

*Note: This post may be triggering for those with BPD, self-harm behaviours and suicidal ideation/thoughts.*

In January of this year, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (or BPD). Unless you too struggle with BPD, know someone who does or have studied it in school, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. A personality disorder? Does that mean she’s a lunatic? No, certainly not.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious psychological disorder where individuals experience ongoing instability in moods, behaviour, self-image and functioning. In simplistic terms, I have difficulties regulating my intense emotions.

My BPD diagnosis was the missing piece to the complex puzzle that is known as my life. I have struggled with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder and disorder eating, yet I still felt as if something was missing. I felt as though I wasn’t fully understood and wasn’t getting all the help that I truly needed. The first time I learned about BPD was in my developmental psychopathology class last year. I went home and cried after the seminar and I couldn’t make it through the textbook chapter either. It felt all too similar, too real, too close to home. I didn’t tell anyone about my concerns; I kept it all bottled up inside. I didn’t want to have a personality disorder. I didn’t want to be ‘crazy’.

As an individual with a personality disorder, I have been extremely hesitant about going public with my diagnosis. I felt as though it was a piece of me that I should be ashamed of; a part of me that should be put in a box, kept in a closet and locked away from the rest of the world. With that being said, this is me publicly announcing that yes, I have a personality disorder.

Let me explain what BPD means for me.

You can’t see my BPD.

Having borderline personality disorder is not like when I had cancer and lost all of my hair. BPD is deep within me. Often times, I only show you what I want you to see. Those who interact with me daily have a glimpse of my BPD tendencies, but they can’t see what is going on in my head. They can’t see how I fight inside of my mind on the daily.

I have been damaged along the way.

BPD is closely linked to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, with any mental illness, not every case is the same. Just because there is a generic etiology of BPD does not mean every single diagnosis is cookie cutter. For example, I did not experience abuse, neglect or maltreatment as a child. I am fortunate to have unconditional love and support from my family. Nevertheless, trauma is something that has had an impact on my life. I have physical and emotional scars that have shaped me into the person I am today. This led to me create a distorted view of myself, other people and the world in general.

I feel abrupt, amplified emotions and I am often unable to control them.

You know that feeling when a friend cancels on you last minute? Many people would be upset and angry, yet for someone with BPD, feelings of rage become intolerable. You view the situation as an attack on you, yourself. You feel as though your friend planned to hurt you and doesn’t care about you or your feelings. It’s as though you feel this sudden hot flash overcome you and you lose control of yourself. In situations such as this one, I may lash out verbally – and have feelings of shame, guilt and regret almost instantaneously.

Anger isn’t the only emotion where I struggle with regulation. There is also anxiety, sadness and irritability. These emotions encompass me in a thick haze that I struggle to appropriately fight my way out of.

I have all or nothing thinking.

I love it or I hate it. I’m ecstatic or I’m depressed. Things are absolutely delightful or things are completely disastrous. I see the world in black or white – all or nothing. I have never known grey.

I have a continuous, internal monologue inside of my head.

I’m always thinking. Even if I become aware that I’m overthinking, it’s as though I can’t stop it. I analyze every little thing often creating completely irrational thoughts, what if situations and judgments. “They aren’t texting you back because you’re a bad person.” “You’re repulsive, no one loves you and you will be alone forever.” “You deserve every bad thing that has happening in your life.” Because of this, I find that allowing myself to be happy is a challenge. I often believe I don’t deserve happiness or love. I blame myself for situations that are beyond me. If the weather’s bad, it’s probably because “I did something to deserve it. I’m sorry.” As you can see, this constant (no-good) thinking is exhausting. It impairs my relationship with others as well as my relationship with myself.

I can love myself one second and want to end my life the next, multiple times throughout the day.

This topic almost goes hand in hand with the previous one. Because I am always thinking, I find that my beliefs and thoughts can switch multiple times during the day. The main one that I struggle with is my view of myself. “You are beautiful and your scars show your strength”. “Actually no, you’re damaged beyond repair and your scars give you physical evidence that no one could ever love you.” I am able to love everything about myself and two seconds later, sob uncontrollably in disgust. The hardest part about this is that it’s all happening inside of my head. No one can see the pain and distress that I feel. This ominous feeling is completely invisible to the outside world.

I crave affection, yet flinch when someone gets too close.

I want to be loved and validated more than your average person. I often fantasize about how I want my life to be like the fairy tale, love story we see in movies. The issue with this (besides being quite unreasonable), is that I have such an incredible difficulty with being vulnerable. The thought of letting someone in makes my head ache and my stomach upset. I fear rejection, failure and hurt. I struggle with the idea that someone could truly love me (and all of me). Because of this, I don’t like to make close connections with others unless I know for a fact that they won’t leave or hurt me (how can you truly know?) (and even then, I often question it).

I have an irrational fear of losing my loved ones.

One of my biggest fears in life is that, one day, my loved ones will stop answering my calls. They will decide that I am too much of a burden, a lost cause and continue their lives without me. They will leave me to fend for myself.

*Thankfully, this would never happen – but it still crosses my mind from time to time.*

Destructive behaviours distract me from reality.

Drinking copious amounts of alcohol became my escape. I would drink and drink and drink, until I blacked out. Regretfully, I can recall a few times, when I woke up in vomit or urine. Gross, I know. This was all done to forget who I was. To numb the excruciating pain. To sleep through the night. To turn my mind off. To not have to be me for a little while.

With heavy drinking, came impulsive behaviours. I won’t get into too much detail about this as I still deeply struggle with coming to terms with things that have happened to me. But, long story short, my impulsivity has led to sexual assaults and self-harm.

Self-harm became a way to deal with my emotions. Numb? Maybe you’ll feel something. Ashamed or guilty? You deserve to be punished. Sad? Release some pain. Suicidal? Maybe it will go too far this time.

Some days breathing is about all that I can do.

Apart from side effects of chemotherapy (which are finally subsiding), some days I just can’t get out of bed. I am tired of thinking and functioning. I just need a little break from the world for a while. I am not suicidal – I am just tired and need to be left alone. I will come out when I am ready.

Sometimes I feel empty, like a shell without the snail.

This feeling of emptiness is almost indescribable. I don’t feel anything; I feel hollow as if there is nothing inside of me. I can’t smile and I can’t cry. I feel numb. It is unsettling to say the least.

Sometimes I depersonalize, disconnecting myself from this world.

When my emotions become too much for me to handle, my body may shut down. This is where I depersonalize. It’s like living in a thick fog. Sometimes I feel as though yes, I am in my body but cannot move or think. Other times, I feel as though I’m across the room staring back at myself. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it creates intense anxiety and panic.

I am an empath and have such a big heart.

For as long as I can remember, the needs of others have always come before my own. If I can make someone else, smile or laugh then I am satisfied. I will talk to someone for hours about their problems and do my best to give them advice or help them come up with a solution. The trouble with this is that I often feel other people’s feelings too much. When I was younger, I recall a night when I was watching Team Canada play. Although we won, I cried because I felt awful for the goalie on the losing team. A simple example like this one, shows that I struggle with creating emotional boundaries. I often feel as though it is my duty to keep everyone happy and alive.

I am resilient.

Despite all of these negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours, I strive to be at peace with myself. I take medications nightly and I participate in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) twice a week. I have only been receiving this treatment for one month now, but I have already made so much progress. I work on the skills that I have learned every single day. I practice self-love, mindfulness and compassion towards myself. I have become sober and in turn, my impulsivity has decreased. I’ve found a creative energy in myself that I had never known. I am able to appropriately deal with my negative emotions.

Something that I’ve realize is that with many mental illnesses (and BPD is no different), you have to want to get better. You have to want to heal and recover. You need to practice the skills and techniques that you have learned every single day. You have to integrate good, happy and therapeutic things into your life. You will sink if you don’t.

I am not crazy.

I am a human just like you and the next person. I love playing soccer. I practice yoga daily. I paint and write. I love to sing loudly and dance around my apartment. I love going to the beach. Laughing is one of my favourite things to do. I am not a monster. I am just another human being who happens to struggle. But, I am hopeful. I am healing, and I am recovering.

I am Emily, and I have borderline personality disorder but no, I am not crazy.

Keep on shining.

Emily

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