I’m Not Dead!

I’m so sorry I haven’t written in here for almost 6 months! Sometimes life just gets in the way of things!

I’m almost done with the fall of my junior year, which is crazy. Time really has been flying for me. Every day has been a challenge, and, for better or worse, I’m taking each one head-on.

The past few months have been a roller coaster for me – too many ups and downs to count. I worked over the summer in addition to getting back into my volunteer work at the local nature preserve. I decided to switch my minor from neuroscience to biology and decided on a few different career paths I could take if the others don’t work out. I’m so busy this semester that I hardly have time to sit down and think about my feelings. However, I wish I could say everything has been smooth sailing heading into this semester. It wasn’t. I’ve had a lot of setbacks, and I know right now I’m not as happy or comfortable with my life as I’d like to be.

Just when I thought I had BPD beat, it came back kicking and fighting in September. The dreadful feelings of hopelessness have returned, and while they are not constant, they are debilitating when they hit. I feel neurotic and paranoid at times. It’s not fun living with constantly changing emotions and a tidal wave of anxiety every time the slightest thing doesn’t go the way I wanted. Something as simple as not getting a text back triggers an avalanche of worries related to my deep-seated fear of abandonment: “Do they not like me anymore? Am I annoying them? If I never text them again, would we just never speak again? Especially since they probably won’t text me first anyway. Why am I so paranoid? Maybe they didn’t see my first text. I’ll send another. Wait, does that make me look clingy? Fuck this. I’m putting my phone on silent and hiding it.”

It may seem silly to those who don’t have BPD. You may be thinking, “Why can’t this girl just relax and not over-analyze everything? Everything is fine.” I wish I had an answer besides the fact my brain is just wired this way and I got the short end of the mental health genetics stick. Of course, many past experiences have shaped the woman I am, too, and rejections have been a recurring theme throughout my childhood. Other than that, BPD just is what it is. Some people will go through hell and back and never develop a mental illness, while others may grow up in a loving environment and still develop one. Sadly, I’m still told to just “get over it” and to “stop worrying”, as if those words are the magic panacea to my nearly 21 years of a BPD-full existence.

Lately, I have been struggling, and I’m afraid it’s become visible in ways I want to hide but can’t. I know that I’m still on the road to recovery, and always will be. I can’t promise that I will always be okay, but I’m trying like hell. I don’t know how I’ll feel each day – it’s like a roll of the dice for whether I wake up dreading the day or looking forward to what I’ll be doing. I know that I’m fighting and always will be. I CAN promise you that I will never give into my illness and I will never give up. Though sometimes I can’t see the light at the tunnel, I know it’s there. I just have to keep pushing in order to find it.

Things That Give Me Hope: Milestones

I can’t believe I haven’t written in here in three months. I’ve just been focused on school, I guess.

But I finished another semester in school and made the Dean’s List. I’m now halfway done with earning my bachelor’s degree. My birthday is in a few days, and I’m entering a new decade of my life. I’m pretty excited about all of this. I’ve had my ups and downs in school, but I’ve started to learn about who I am and what I want to do with my life. I guess that’s what college is all about, right?

My biggest milestone for me right now is the fact that I am now one year free of self-harm. I can’t believe I made it! It’s been tempting at times, but I know it isn’t the answer and it doesn’t help me in the end. I have found healthier ways to cope with my emotions and stressful situations. It’s been hard and definitely a challenge, but the fact I overcame my addiction to self-harm gives me hope.

I have hope that I can and will beat my illness. I know I can. I’m already doing great being back at my college and I have made several solid friendships. I’m working hard to get where I want to be and I’ve seen a lot of progress so far. I’ve come a long way since this time last year. The future is starting to look a bit brighter, and I know something good awaits for me at the end of this tunnel!

We Deserve Compassion

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet, because I’m too angry to type much out right now.

I saw a comment on a forum about the topic of BPD. The person I am angry at called people with BPD “toxic” and that they deserve no compassion.

Are you serious right now?

People with cancer deserve compassion. People with Crohn’s Disease deserve compassion. People with asthma deserve compassion.

Why not people with mental disorders they never chose to have, the same way no one chooses to have any of the conditions I listed above? Why is BPD singled out as something you should disregard and are free to ostracize and stigmatize? Oh, because you think all of us are dangerous and should be locked away from society because we have a hard time with the battles going on in our brains?

Look, I know some people with BPD have done some awful things, perhaps because of their disorder and perhaps not. Yes, these things could be illegal and they should be penalized. However, these people also need psychiatric help, and do not deserve to be locked away and never given the time of day. We are not a lost cause. It is entirely possible to treat us. I had proper care from my doctors and because of them, I have better coping skills than I did before and can function just as well as people who do not have BPD. I didn’t choose this life. Should I not deserve compassion because of it?

We are called toxic. People say you should stay away from us. People think that we can never be treated and that it’s hopeless and futile to even try. It hurts. It really does. Compassion and the determination to help me by my doctors are what made me enjoy my life again and get my act together. Without those things, I would certainly still be in the dark place I was a year ago.

Give us compassion. Give us a chance. You are only furthering our struggles and frustration by treating us like a different species, one that should not even be allowed to live in any proper society.

What if I never spoke about my BPD? Would you have given me a chance and compassion? The second I said I had it, did you suddenly change your mind and decide to dehumanize me?

Think about it.

And So the Stigma Lives On

“You’re borderline, so you know that relationships with borderline people get really old fast. I don’t think there’s a big mystery to this.”

Someone said this to me today because I mentioned some difficulty with social situations and maintaining solid friendships. I know I can be difficult to handle but I also believe there are many positive qualities to me and I try to bring as much as I can to the table when it comes to my friends.

But, person, thanks for the constructive criticism. Really.

I don’t even know what to say right now. These are the kind of defeating stigmas that continue to perpetuate the alienation of the mentally ill from the rest of society.

I actually feel a little sick about the whole thing right now.

This isn’t a positive post, and I’m sorry. I’m just honestly really hurting over this right now, and I hope whoever is reading this knows that these kinds of sayings are extremely harmful and detrimental to people like me. I’m disgusted someone would write off all borderline people like this, and make me feel like I’m not worth being friends with.

Your words might be the trigger someday.

Think before you speak.

Giving It the Old College Try

Well, dear readers, I have been back at college for a week and a half now. Let me tell you, that week and a half has been a real test for me to see if I truly am fit to be back at school.

The answer is…yes. I’m recovering well. Yeah, things are hard and some days I just want to cry and give up. Sometimes I’m tempted to go back to my old ways. Yet I haven’t, nor do I plan to. Between the challenges of my psychology classes and the heavy workload for my German classes, I’m doing just fine. I’m happy to be back here and to challenge my brain again.

Socially, I’ve been doing just fine. I’ve already made a lot of new friends, and they have already proven to me that they can be counted on. They’re a great support system and I feel blessed to have such amazing friends, both new and old. For the longest time, I never believed I had a niche with any group and that I was just never going to find a core circle of friends. Well, I think I’ve found them, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Romantically…well, let’s not even get started on that. I’m not going to sit here and write personal details of it for the world to see. I will say, however, that a certain event has broken my heart, and I’ve been trying to cope with it in the best way possible. It’s still fresh and the pain is never far from my mind, but I’m dealing with it in a healthier way than I would have if this had happened last year. It’s hard and it’s a rough challenge to face on top of everything else, but somehow I’m managing to not let it, and him, break me down. I’m stronger now. I’m the one in control of my emotions, not him. I’ll get through this even though the pain is deep right now.

My battle with BPD is ongoing but this time around, I’m not going to let it win. I’m back at Gettysburg and this is where I plan to stay the next few years. Nothing is going to stop me from achieving what I want, and I’m not going to let my illness hold me back. I’m in this for real this time, and I truly am giving this the old college try.

Only time will tell where my newfangled adult life will lead, but so far, it’s going a lot better for me than it was a year ago. I’m still in that transitional period where I’m just trying to figure everything out, but this time I have a positive outlook and know that soon I’m going to reach my light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how or when, but I do know I’m on the right track.

Ignorance Surrounding Eating Disorders

I recently stumbled upon a comment made by Meghan Trainor, the singer of “All About That Bass”. I already despise that song for various reasons, and her skinny-shaming earned her a negative reputation in my book. However, what she said about eating disorders really pissed me off:

“I wasn’t strong enough to have an eating disorder. I tried to go anorexic for a good three hours. I ate ice and celery, but that’s not even anorexic. And I quit. I was like, ‘Ma, can you make me a sandwich? Like, immediately.”

There are so many things wrong with what she said. First of all, she made it seem like being anorexic is a choice. Like you just wake up one day and you’re like, “Hmm. I wanna lose weight. Let’s stop eating and develop an unhealthy body image, and convince myself I look awful no matter how much weight I lose!” Anorexia and other eating disorders are NOT a choice. They are mental illnesses. They are debilitating and I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy. I developed anorexia when I was in high school. I did not choose it. I hated my body and hated the way I looked, and so I slowly stopped eating because I wanted control over my weight. I just wanted to be skinny and to be pretty like all the women in magazines and on TV.

Second of all, saying “that’s not even anorexic.” What are you even TALKING about, Meghan? A certain diet does not make you anorexic. Having anorexia and starving yourself to death because you genuinely hate the way you look and thinking you are fat no matter what IS anorexia. Not just “oh I feel fat, let’s start an anorexic diet!”

Thirdly, there is no strength needed to have a mental disorder. I never felt strong when I suffered from anorexia. I felt weak and like my mind was being controlled by my destructive thoughts. Do you think having depression is strength? How about BPD? Or cancer? Diabetes? Anorexia is a HEALTH CONDITION, not a choice and someone you need to be “strong” to have. You aren’t weak for not having anorexia. It takes strength to overcome it, yes, but having a disorder that consumed me made me feel anything but strong.

I can’t believe there is still so much ignorance about eating disorders. I know Meghan Trainor is for body acceptance and all (except if you don’t have enough booty to hold at night because then guys won’t love you, apparently)…but she just doesn’t understand eating disorders at all. It’s annoying that she is seen as a spokesperson for body acceptance when she trivializes eating disorders.

I’ve Come a Long Way

Comparing myself to the person I was when I left school 10 months ago, I feel like a new person.

Of course, I still have the same basic personality, likes and dislikes, and ambitions. But I feel like I can handle tricky situations much better now. Do I still have irrational worries, mood swings, and fears of abandonment? Of course. Those may never go away. But do I let them control my life and my actions? Not as much as I used to. I still have more to learn, but I feel so much more prepared to deal with life’s challenges in a healthier way than before.

I haven’t hurt myself in 6 months. I haven’t tried to attempt suicide. I’ve become okay with not needing constant reassurance from others that they won’t abandon me. I still have worries about people leaving me, and about losing the one I love most. However, I know that I will be okay if things don’t work out. I know I shouldn’t be dependent on others and I need to make myself happy if I want to make someone else happy in a relationship. Do I still desire a relationship and a reconciliation with the one I’m in love with? Yes, of course. But I know being miserable and clingy will not fix things. Becoming happier with myself and more independent will. Not letting my mood swings or fears rule my life anymore is hard but as long as I take care of it, I know I will be fine.

It’s funny. I used to feel the need to text certain people and every day and would get mad when no one would talk to me first. I would shut off my phone in rage only to turn it back on 5 minutes later to see if anyone did actually try to contact me. I would turn my Facebook off during a bad mood swing and then log on an hour later to see if anyone even noticed. I used to take naps to see if anyone would have tried to talk to me while I was asleep. Now, I hardly notice. I don’t NEED people’s validations to feel happy and worthwhile. I know that someone can still be my friend or hold me in their heart if I don’t hear from them for a day. I’ll be fine, and each day is a new experience. Who knows what could happen? Just because I am out of someone’s sight does not mean I am out of their mind.

I am still not fully recovered. I still have bad tendencies, like blowing up someone’s phone when I am afraid they are mad at me or turning to unhealthy activities to stifle my boredom and emptiness. Some days I do just feel listless and easily antagonized. I do still worry about him and hoping he doesn’t abandon me. The difference is that this time last year I would be crying, cutting, and doing stupid things to rid myself of the pain and anxiety. I would scare people away with my unpredictable behavior. Now I smile and laugh and try my best to keep my feelings from bouncing around and coming undone. I feel like now I am becoming more desirable to be around as long as I keep stabilizing my emotions.

Recovery is tough, but I’m doing it. I’m winning. I’m beating this illness. It may always be with me, but never again will I let it control me. I will keep fighting and won’t stop until I reach where I want to be.