We all struggle to talk about mental health. Sometimes we’re ashamed, sometimes we’re so scared of the stigma surrounding it we don’t want to put ourselves out there, sometimes we just don’t know how to. And don’t get me wrong, all of those feelings are valid. We all have different issues in life, and not everyone is going to understand those issues, even though it truly is a blessing when we get people around us that do. Mental illness is a topic that’s difficult to breach upon at the best of times, and when things get hard, opening up about it can feel almost impossible.
I’ll cut to the chase here. I, too, like so many of us, have suffered and still do suffer with mental health problems. I actually have borderline personality disorder, and for so long I never said anything about what I was going through. I’ve had a tumultuous life, really, things have been tough at certain times, but it got just that bit easier once I started talking about the things that were going through my head.
Here’s the thing: depression and anxiety, they’re HARD. They suck, they can drain you, and you should always absolutely talk to someone if you think you’re suffering with them, or you’re feeling down or stressy. My whole message here, whatever your issue may be, is talk to someone, please.
Here’s the other thing though: there’s a lot of disorders out there that aren’t talked about nearly as much. For example, BPD is so incredibly stigmatised that I didn’t even know about it for years, despite suffering with it. If I’d known about it, I would have found a lot of things a lot easier. And what’s why I’m here, writing this. There are mental illnesses that are sometimes never even mentioned until you get diagnosed, disorders that are presented in horror movies as “scary”, alien almost. As someone with one of these, this is my way of reaching out to anyone who may be reading this who feels they have an issue that could be something deeper, something you may be ashamed of.
There is no need to be ashamed. I can promise you that. You’re not broken, or scary, and you’re most definitely not alone.
I want to talk about BPD for a second in more depth, because truthfully, if someone reads this and realises something about themselves, or even someone reads this and knows a little more about a mental illness that effects thousands upon thousands of people, and therefore may be able to offer more sensitivity to those they may meet that may have it, I will be satisfied. Borderline personality disorder is also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) and that sums it up, really. It means your emotions are erratic, and a lot more intense than someone without the disorder. It means we act in irrational ways, are often impulsive, and suffer with frequent thoughts of self harm, and other self destructive tendencies. We are often portrayed as abusive, or as manipulative and vindictive, because we don’t always know how to respond to our own emotions and this can come across very badly to those we interact with, which can also lead to very unstable relationships; this is a common trait that occurs in a lot of borderline people. And what I have to say to that, is this: we are not bad people. Our brains are wired differently from other peoples, and we have different needs, but nothing about us is inherently bad. You, reading this, if you feel you may have a disorder like this, you are not inherently bad. You’re worthy of love and respect and you deserve to reach out to someone to feel better. You DESERVE to feel better.
You may be scared of yourself. Believe me, I’ve been there, and I frequently still am. I have a lot to lose now, and it’s terrifying. I’ve never felt strong enough to handle the things that go on my head, things that don’t even feel like me, and yet there they are. But I was strong enough, I AM strong enough, I just needed to find the courage and the pure stubbornness inside myself to keep going. And I believe, truly, that anyone else reading this can do that too.
On another note, I’ve been to a lot of counsellors, a lot of therapists, a lot of doctors in my time. Several of them have given me the diagnosis I talk to you about today, and yet that isn’t on my official records. And again, it’s because of stigma. Because they see us as incurable, and if you get anything from this, that isn’t the case. I learned so much just from getting a group of friends around me that understood me: I say talk to someone. I’m lucky, really, surrounded by people that genuinely teach me new things about life every single day, and I wanted to make a point with this piece, to maybe show people that aren’t as lucky as I am, that there is always a place for you. There is ALWAYS a place for you.
I say this not just to people who think they may have BPD; I say this to anyone, anyone with a mental health problem they don’t recognise, anyone who is already diagnosed with something that isn’t as widely known, whether it be a personality disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar, dissociative identity disorder, anything that has a stigma that makes you feel like a monster. You’re loved. Please, please, talk about it. It was that which made me able to grow and become the person I am with the coping mechanisms I have: writing, for one, and my passion for music (other people’s, I have no personal musical skill to speak of) and the people I care about. Talk to someone, whether it be a doctor, a friend, a parent, another person you trust, even pop in to the Heads Above The Waves shop – someone is always willing to listen to you.
Take it from me: you’ll be okay. You don’t have to be right now, you can take your time in recovery, but you will get there. Promise.