This is the 15th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. I want to thank Aoife for sharing her story with us. She is determined to find happiness and achieving her goals. Aoife does not allow her BPD to define her and that is what matters. This is her story:
Aoife is from Ireland and she enjoys keeping herself busy by learning new languages, exercising, watching movies, and listening to music. She is currently working full time in retail, to save money. Five years from now Aoife hopes to have a joint degree in political science and psychology. She would love to work for an organization that helps promote awareness of mental health issues that women and children face in developing countries.
Aoife was diagnosed at the age of 15 with depression and at 18 with borderline personality disorder. She still struggles with her BPD, but she has learned to cope with it. Aoife believes that the stigma of having depression, the attitude of others towards her and being in an abusive relationship contributed to her BPD. Due to this Aoife has had difficulty maintaining relationships, always changing her best friend.
She visited a therapist that specialized in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Aoife was given lithium, to help motivate and regulate her mood. She dealt with terrible mood swings. Aoife felt intense emotions that did not have to be triggered. She said, “I can really struggle to control the anger- I can lash out at people or throw things.” Aoife also said, “My mood swings are very frequent- I can wake up feeling happy and motivated but by midmorning I can feel depressed and apathetic. I struggle with my own identity and I don’t have a strong sense of who I am, meaning my goals and aspirations for the future and the type of person I want to be change every day. I can sometimes feel very empty and lonely, especially if I haven’t reached out to anyone or have fallen behind on a goal. I can occasionally act on impulse, with massive spending sprees completely emptying my bank account, restrictive eating and drinking heavily.”
This has affected greatly Aoife’s life. Her depressive side has occasionally given her suicidal thoughts and she has self-harmed. Thankfully this does not happen often. Aoife has difficulties maintaining stable relationships. She only has a small group of friends and her family has been with her throughout her diagnosis. When she loses a friend, Aoife tends to become so angry, she tries to best them. For example scoring higher on a test.
The turning point to gain control over her BPD was explaining to her close friends about her mental disorder and the symptoms associated with it. Her friends ended up giving her a ton of support. The strategies she used was to take her medicine, go to therapy and surround herself with supportive people. Her friends help her by listening, or distracting her with activities such as, baking or watching a movie.
This experience has changed her outlook in life, this is what Aoife said:
“I’ve learned that it is important to see yourself and your emotions as being valid, and that it is ok to feel upset and angry and that all negative feelings will pass eventually. I’ve also learned that it is important to focus on the good memories and positive emotions, and to really treasure them.”
She continues with her treatment in order to prevent going back to how she was before. Aoife hopes to soon come off her meds because she does not want to depend on it. This is her advice to others struggling with similar situations:
“I would suggest that if you feel in any way that you might also have BPD, to talk to your doctor and be put in touch with a mental health professional. They can offer you help and support systems so that you do not have to struggle alone. For anyone currently diagnosed with BPD, I would like them to know that they are not their illness. Of course, there will be bad days and good days, but don’t let the bad days and negative feelings take over you. It’s important to not repress your emotions and act on them in safe ways.”
“Having BPD is kind of like a journey. The beginning is rough and tumultuous, and you don’t really know what the destination is, just that you want to be happy. What really counts is how you get there.”
This story will help others in similar situations. Aoife is dedicated, strong and determined. I believe she will find what she truly wants to become. Everyone achieves goals at a different pace, the point is to be positive and take one step at a time. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.