This is the 38th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. It was extremely difficult for anonymous to separate her mental disorders from her life, but with help she was able to recover.
Anonymous is currently 20 years old and lives in Canada. She is a trumpet player and loves movie soundtracks. Her favorite food is pasta, and she also enjoys 18th century literature such as, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. Anonymous pictures herself successful, she said, “In 5 years I see myself in a serious relationship, finished my degree and starting my career in marketing/management.” She began to struggle with her mental health since she was 16 and it became serious at the age of 17 when she was about to graduate from high school.
Her anxiety and depression was diagnosed by a therapist, but her borderline personality disorder (BPD) was never diagnosed because her mother was in the session and anonymous felt embarrassed about her symptoms. She said, “I guess my thing was that I was ashamed about my BPD which caused me to keep it to myself.” Thankfully she has fully recovered from depression and BPD, but still struggles with her old anxious tendencies. Anonymous figured out she had BPD during a psychology class she took in high school. She said, “We were reading all of the symptoms and I realized that we were talking about me.” She is not sure what caused her mental disorders, but it could have been trigged after her high school boyfriend cheated on her 6 months after they started dating. Anonymous said, “I can’t really pinpoint the beginning, but it was aggravated by my then-boyfriends flirtatious nature with other girls. My depression and anxiety started after we broke up and because we saw each other every day it made me more anxious and depressed.”
This affected her daily life, anonymous attitude changed and her friends started to ignore her. She didn’t have anyone to talk to. Her therapist set up appointments with her guidance counsellor at school, so she could talk once a week during class time. It was a relief for anonymous to have someone to talk to. She said, “It helped me to relieve some of the pressure from my depression. It also helped to release some of my anger and accept my situation.” Her therapist gave her activities to do, making anonymous anxious, because of this she would scratch her hand until it bled, but her therapist told her to find a quiet place to calm down. Her BPD cleared up on its own, what helped her was knowing the behaviors related to the illness, this way she stopped herself from acting it out.
She had had to deal with depressive symptoms such as, not being able to get up and do anything. She said, “I couldn’t feel happy doing anything. I didn’t smile. Nor could I laugh even watching things or doing things that I knew made me happy.” Her anxiety made her constantly nervous and stressed. She said, “At first it was just around my ex, but it started to take over other parts of my life. That combined with the lethargy from my depression meant that my grades in school dropped. Eventually the anxiety got to a point where it started causing my chest to tighten up when I feel stress. At first I thought I was having a heart attack, but I lived. The chest pains were debilitating, I would be incapacitated for anywhere between 10 minutes to over an hour.” Anonymous also said, “Sometimes my chest would tighten up while I slept and I would wake up gasping for air. At first we thought it was medical and I had so many tests performed on me, but when no results came back we linked it to my stress levels and anxiety.” Her BPD made her think that her ex-boyfriend was going to leave her, which triggered her to have “pregnancy scares” every month in an attempt to keep him near. She said, “When we broke up I kept up a “pregnancy scare” for a month in an attempt to make him come back to me, I told him that I was feeling nauseous and often would run off to fake vomit when I knew he would be watching.” This affected her so much, she would stab herself with needles and pins, and she did this because she wanted to feel something other than emotional pain. Her happiness was short lived every time it came around.
Everything for anonymous was a struggle, daily tasks were difficult and she couldn’t sit in classes without crying. Anonymous considered suicide once, right before she asked for help. While all of this was going on, her friends abandoned her because they thought she was making a big deal out of a break up. Her parents didn’t know what to do with her, they felt as though they had lost her. Those that cared for anonymous tiptoed around her and those who didn’t want to deal with her kept their distance until she recovered. Her teachers could see that she was struggling with something, gave her extensions and let her leave class if she felt overwhelmed.
The turning point for anonymous was the night she thought about committing suicide. After asking her mother to take her to see a therapist, her mom stepped in and helped anonymous recover. She started her on herbal medications to relieve stress. Anonymous still practices the exercises that her therapist gave her years ago. This ordeal taught her that mental issues are not a joke and that no one can understand how you are feeling except for yourself. Anonymous is now more cautious and reserved around her relationships. She said, “I try to make sure I don’t exhibit any BPD behaviors and I also try to stay unattached. I suppose that doesn’t make for very good relationship material on my part, but I don’t want to have to go through what I went through again, and I don’t want my partner to have to go through that either.” She also learned that she shouldn’t be ashamed of her feelings and mental illness.
Her advice for others struggling through similar situation is:
“My advice to anyone going through bpd would be to remove yourself from the people you find yourself exhibiting behaviors around and then go and get some help. You can’t get past it alone. For anxiety and depression talk to someone who will take you seriously- a professional. Your friend will not help you here, they can try, but they won’t be able to give you the support you need. And make sure you find support systems that work for you, everyone is different. Find friends who feel the same, don’t bring down your friends who are mentally healthy, they’ll just resent you. Find a counsellor, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist- someone anyone who knows what to do to help.”
Anonymous would also like to share this:
Looking back it was a dark period in my life. Mental illness is not a joke, and there’s a very fine line between bpd and having a fight with your boyfriend. If I could tell two things they would be: watch yourself, know what’s healthy and what’s not, don’t let it get to a life threatening and if you think you need help, GET HELP! If you hurt yourself or you have thoughts of hurting yourself please go see someone. I was very lucky, I knew when it was time for me to get help, but not everyone does. And if you currently have a mental illness whether it be one that I suffered from or a different one please just think that you want to get better, because if you don’t want to, then you never will.”
Anonymous is a strong young lady, she has been through hell and back. It was not an easy battle, but she was able to pull through. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.