This is the 60th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Mandy hasn’t fully recovered yet, but she has come a long way. This is her story:
Mandy is from Brazil and she loves to sing, draw, write songs and short poetry. She listens to music, especially Rock ‘n’ Roll. She said, “I usually pick songs by what they mean.” Mandy enjoys watching historical movies and her favorite books are Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov and The Praise of Folly, by Erasmus of Rotterdam. Mandy’s goal is to be happy, to be far from her mother, and to live in a nice house with someone she loves with two or three cats and a dog. She also wants to keep her mental illness under control and be able to finish her degree.
Mandy has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), she said, “It’s kind of controlled now, but I had a lot of problems in the past. I still have some issues with it everyday, but I consider myself mentally healthy at the moment.” She believes her mental disorder is caused by genetics and the environment. Mandy said, “In my family, a lot of my relatives have or had mental illness, some weren’t diagnosed, but you could understand something wasn’t okay.” She also said, “My mom is very complicated, she forgets things she says or does when she is angry, and tends to be very violent in those moments.” Mandy tries to avoid using medications because she does not want to become dependent, so she goes to therapy instead.
She has dealt with many symptom that affect her life each day, such as being fearful and constantly changing behaviors. Mandy can feel immense happiness with someone who is nice with her, but if the person is criticizing, even if it’s the smallest thing, it can turn Mandy’s life into a nightmare for days. She said, “I am also very impulsive and I never had compulsion for drugs or spending money, but I couldn’t hold myself near men. I would just try to attract any men near me that I could have some interest without thinking about consequences, like hurting my boyfriend.” Not only that, but Mandy’s self-esteem took control of her, for instance if a friend did something great, Mandy would start crying when she got home or if a friend complimented an actress, she would feel like she was ugly and could never be like the actress. Mandy moved a lot to different cities and in every school she went to, she was bullied for being “weird”, so much that Mandy ended up in the library alone.
This made her feel terrible and she wanted to die or disappear. She said, “I thought that nothing could make me happy, since I was broken. I even had weird feelings and fantasies, that I wasn’t human or that I was dead and in hell. Sometimes I was very rude to people and deeply desired that everyone died.” Due to this Mandy attempted suicide dozens of times, the first being 11 years old, but thankfully her attempts did go through. She self-injured once and never tried again because she didn’t want to suffer more, just die. Since the age of 8 Mandy wanted her mother to suffer and feel the way she felt, but now she just pities her mother and understands that she is ill.
People thought Mandy was being dramatic, always overreacting and victimizing herself. When all she wanted was someone to open up to. The turning point was meeting people who were a little like her, some with other illnesses. She started to talk with them and now Mandy understands herself better. She said, “Time, friendship and the treatment made me feel more comfortable with myself; I don’t even see my BPD as a bad thing, now. I just think that is a thing that I have inside me, that can be used for good and for bad.”
The strategies Mandy use to gain control of her disorder was to open up, have fun with friends, and laugh. She uses art to express herself by drawing, writing songs and poetry. Mandy’s friends helped her understand that just because she has BPD it doesn’t mean she is broken. This is the lesson she learned from this ordeal, “Trusting people can be very hard, as finding real friends can be. But if you give yourself a chance, you can find people that are as ‘’weird’’ as you are. You may not have dozens of friends, but maybe giving one or two people the chance of hearing you can change your life.” Her outlook in life also changed, she has realized that even if the world in not perfect, she can still find happiness.
This is Mandy’s advice for those with BPD:
“Learn about yourself, understand who you are and what you feel. Accept yourself, see what are your strong points and the things that you do well. Then, start to slowly open yourself to people. Try to explain how you feel to close people in your family or your friends. If, like me before, you don’t have these things, talk anonymously to people in the internet, make a blog about it. Draw, write, sing… express how you feel through what you can do.”
“Sometimes being ‘’weird’’ give us the power of doing things that ‘’normal’’ people can’t. Don’t hate yourself for being different, learn how can you use that to do good and great things. The only one that can stop you from doing anything is yourself.”
I am glad Mandy has found trustful friends she can rely on and help her along the way. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know are struggling with mental Illness feel free to join the Mental Illness Recovery Series Facebook Group, to find support.