Disclaimer: This story contains details of suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, self-harm, and eating disorders that may be triggering to some.
“I went for a walk this morning before sitting down to write this. I tried to gather my thoughts and sort out my story. I think I have it ready to share now. I have suppressed my story for so long, it’s time to open up and share in hopes I can help others who are going through the same thing.
I grew up in a tight-knit family: young parents, a baby sister, and a couple of dogs. My mom was my age when she fell pregnant with me, and it wasn’t always easy for them. They went above and beyond for my sister and me. My dad worked tireless hours and my mom stayed home with us. I couldn’t imagine my childhood any other way. I have always been extremely close with my mom. My dad and I were very close growing up, but as I became more independent and defiant, we started bashing heads and drifted from one another. He and I are the exact same person, so we get each other well but that also causes tension because we are so alike. My granny has been a bright light in my life over the years and has been there by my side through this journey. I’ve been blessed with a very supportive family and am so grateful. My parents have fully supported me all along, and my sister will forever be my best friend.
We moved around a bit as kids. When I was 4, we spent some time in British Columbia with my dad’s parents. After my dad’s work term was done, we moved back to Saskatchewan. We moved to the big city to be with my mom’s dad, my Buppa. We lived with my grandpa for a bit and I started kindergarten at a new school. I made friends with kids I would hold close to my heart for the next eight years. Fast forward to fourth grade. I don’t know what it is about this age, but this is where the mean traits arose and bullying started. We all dealt with it in elementary, some years were better than others.
Reflecting on the start of my journey, I would say my depression started when I was 12. If I could go back, I would hold myself tight and tell her she’s going to be okay. In 2011, mental health talk was still taboo, not something we learned much about in school just yet, and something super hard to understand for a young brain. I’ve been an anxious person since I was a little one, so I wasn’t surprised when I felt it accelerate through my preteens. But depression? What the hell is this shadow that’s following my every move? Why do I feel this way? I had so many questions, and next to no answers.
I confided in my mom, and she’s been my number one support since. I got in with a therapist or two but I didn’t last long at any type of help she would sign me up for. I refused to share, held it all in, and couldn’t find it in me to trust a total stranger with my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I mean, at 12, you’re already starting to go through major changes, and I wasn’t about to confide in some lady sitting in a dim-lit room when I had track practice to get to. Most of my childhood went about like that. I was swamped in all kinds of activities, whether it be sports, choir, baton, dance, band, pageants, lifeguarding. I was too busy growing and expanding, and I greatly neglected my mental health.
I started self-harming in eighth grade and developed an eating disorder summer going into grade nine. I was always thinking negative things about myself and tearing myself down. No one knew what was going on, because I wouldn’t let anyone in. I have a very vivid memory of my first suicidal thought, tendency. I was 14, sitting beneath the window in my childhood home’s bathroom, clammy feet on the white cold tile, dry tears, and very heavy eyes. I remember feeling numb for the very first time. I dug around for pills and held them for a while. I considered what my life was worth, and I took some. I panicked and spit them all out. Looking back at that time now, it breaks my heart. I was so sad and so young. Kids at that age are supposed to be finding themselves and getting ready for a new and exciting chapter. Meanwhile, I was lost. I couldn’t figure out who I was or who I wanted to be. I was impulsive, emotional, defiant, and got myself into a lot of trouble. It felt like it got more and more difficult as time went on.
I got good and bad attention throughout my high school years, as any teen would. But I was a rebel. I hung out with the older kids, drank a lot, started casually smoking, and was on a constant mission to grow up. People joke now I’m well beyond my years, but it’s simply because I rushed growth and maturity throughout my teens.
In tenth grade, I got caught up in the wrong crowd and one night, foolishly ended up at a party in the sketchier part of town. My friends had left and gone home, so I followed my new ‘friends.’ That night, I was sexually assaulted by someone I was seeing, someone I trusted. Something so special was taken from me and has affected me to this day. To be blunt, this trauma disguised itself in the heaviest form of shame for many of the coming years. I told my two best friends and my little sister and kept it a secret for 2 and a half years. It ate me alive. We were so young and had next to no concept of the reality of what happened, and I am so very grateful for those three. I hold those friends and my sister so close to my heart. My mental health deteriorated, and I wasn’t even half the person I once was.
I became more rebellious and pushed any boundaries my parents had set in place. When I was 16, I totaled my dad’s truck in a car accident with my friend. Thankfully she was okay, I walked away with whiplash and bruised ribs. This was a huge wake-up call for me to figure my sh*t out. I finished my last 2 years of high school in a hurry, taking advanced classes through eleventh grade, and graduating a semester early. I worked three jobs, saved my money, and moved out before high school graduation. I moved into an apartment with my then-boyfriend and lived there for almost 2 years.
In the fall of 2017 following my graduation, my Buppa unexpectedly passed away. My entire world was flipped upside down. He was the only one I felt understood me, surrounding mental health. He was my best friend. We had always been close, but we had a falling out a few months prior to his passing. I’ve held a lot of regret over the last 3 years. Things came crashing down on Halloween Eve 2017, and my world hasn’t been the same since. I fell into a deep depression and now have a deep hatred for Halloween. I went to the doctor a few months later and was diagnosed once again with severe depression and anxiety. Too afraid to take the pills, I shoved my prescription away in the drawer and tried to fix myself.
My parents and sister moved to Ontario a year later. I was left with no family, and a few good friends. I was so anxious and sick all of the time. I lived off of gravol and ginger tea, meditated, sat in front of a therapy light, and tried so hard to fight the mental battles off. I was already slim built, but had lost 20 pounds and was on the verge of being malnourished. My blood test levels were extremely low and I was missing out on nutrients. I needed my family, so they came over Christmas and moved me back with them.
Moving across the country at 19 was a shock to the system, but I was finally at home again. I got a job and made new friends, I started dating and eventually landed on someone who would leave a mark. It was a very toxic relationship, manipulative, and abusive. After a long and very violent night, I ended things. This eventually set me onto a path of self-destruction, and on November 26, 2019, I attempted suicide. I went manic and blacked out. I don’t remember much of that night, though I can still feel my dad holding me as tight as possible, I can see the bright lights in the back of EMS, and I can sense the feeling of emptiness of waiting in a cold room for help.
I was by myself in a room tucked away in the back of trauma triage, no bed, just a plastic couch, a single blanket, a thick bandage wrapped around my wounds, and a glass of water. Not one nurse came to see me, until the crisis nurse was free 7 hours later. I felt like I had been failed by our healthcare system. I was in the most vulnerable state I have ever been in, and not one person aside from my security guard spoke to me. I told a bullsh*t story to the crisis nurse and said I was perfectly fine because I had to work the next day. I stayed the night in trauma and my mom took me home when it was time. I will never forget the look of worry and fear on my parents’ faces. I still have scars, a constant reminder of where I was. However, I haven’t harmed myself since that episode. Earlier this year, I got tattoos representing my growth, one wrapped around my wrist to serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come. It’s been a year and a month since I hurt myself, and that’s an incredible improvement.
I took a sick leave from work for 4 months after my hospital visit and devoted all of my time to healing. I was at my ultimate lowest point and could only go up. I started painting again and found any art form therapeutic. I found having a hobby I looked forward to working on gave me structure and routine. I started on two new medications and was increasing my dose every 2 weeks. It took me 6 weeks to be at my optimal dose, and three months to start to notice any slight improvement. Medication is important, don’t fool around with it. It takes time to get into your system and takes just as much time to get out.
After years of denying it, I finally surrendered and asked for help. Admitting you need help is the start of your journey, be proud of that. I was constantly reminded it was okay not to be okay, and I started seeing a therapist, which was a big step in my personal journey. My therapist was the most important figure in my life through our months spent together. It took a few weeks and a handful of sessions to get my whole story out in the open, but the magic happened once I was free of any guilt I had been carrying. I had complete trust in her and was able to spill out every detail of my being. She listened with kindness and compassion, reassurance, acceptance, and love. After she knew all of me, the healing started.
With her, I practiced a therapy called EMDR. This therapy is a new, non-traditional psychotherapy, particularly focusing on treatment for PTSD, of which I was diagnosed earlier this year. This therapy uses a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events. You work with eye movements and stimulation, and while this is happening, you recall past events in detail while staying in the present moment. My therapist likes to say it’s having one foot in the past and one in the present.
In order to be able to practice this therapy, you have to build coping mechanisms and mindfulness techniques with your therapist, as there’s a risk of dissociating, and in case of that, you need to be able to bring yourself back. That’s the thing with trauma, it’s so easy to dissociate and leave the present moment. You could be okay one moment, fully gone the next. This fact scared me entering this practice, because I do zone out often and feared I would get stuck in the past, mid-session. In order to heal with this therapy, you need to relive your trauma, and this was a huge challenge for me. I went from avoiding and not talking about my problems, to spilling everything on the floor and putting it back together with someone I trusted. The vulnerability that this took was surreal, scary at times, I felt so raw. But session after the next, I started to feel different. Less shame and I felt so much lighter. Reliving my trauma was the hardest thing I have ever willingly done, but equally the best thing I could have done for my healing. I was able to change the effect it had on me by moving through it again with new skills I had learned and developed. I started doing trauma-sensitive yoga every Thursday before therapy, and Thursdays became a day for healing and growing.
I started seeing a dietician for my eating disorder and continued with a second therapy. I started doing things I felt were healthy for me. I was painting up a storm, I started writing a poetry book, I was reading, educating, learning and growing. Not to say I didn’t have hard days, because they were definitely there too, but I tried my best to focus on the positive. I started drinking wine a little too often and smoking marijuana to cope. This habit wasn’t a healthy one, nor will it ever be. I have since cut back and don’t rely on either anymore.
I found a love for plants, poetry, and nature. Music has always been my number one crutch. It’s an important tool in my toolkit, therapeutic. I was getting on the right track, then in April of this year, I was up next on a 9-month waitlist for an appointment with a psychiatrist at the hospital. I had my session and came out confused, but so relieved at the same time. They asked me a million questions, I spoke with two doctors and they came up with the conclusion and diagnosis of BPD, or borderline personality disorder. I was in shock and felt so much embarrassment regarding my diagnosis. I knew nothing about this disorder and felt like they had just blatantly called me crazy. I was making judgments before I knew anything. I think we as humans do that out of fear. I was making assumptions about what this disorder was and labeling myself instantaneously. I laughed at my doctors and told them they were probably wrong. I told my mom, and she thought it made perfect sense. When I said it out loud, I was hit with the reality— realizing I finally had my answer I had been so desperately searching for.
All these years, feeling like there’s something more going on and not knowing what it was, wondering why I felt different, why I was so sensitive, emotionally exhausted, and in so much pain. With Borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, rapid self-image changes, little to no impulse control, suicidal thoughts and behavior, risky behavior, intense feelings whether high or low, a hard time balancing/regulating emotion, and ongoing feelings of emptiness. There’s a lot to it, and it’s absolutely not talked about enough. I have read a lot about my disorder, and though there’s a lot of struggle, there are positives surrounding it too. We are able to read facial expression 14.7% higher and feel emotion much deeper than the average person, we are resilient, and we can empathize in ways others cannot. We are intuitive, examples being: facial reading, knowing the emotional state of others, and being able to easily read the energy of whatever room you walk into; this trait can be a blessing and a curse. We are incredibly loyal, creative, and can easily adapt. They say BPD gives you the power to chameleon to your situation. I am a mixture of very happy and very sad. I’m still trying to figure it all out, everything I feel is a contradiction in itself. I’m a self-aware borderline, and this makes it difficult because I know my emotions are beyond the normal, and I know the ‘normal’ way to act, but I’m constantly battling internally.
I know how I’m expected to feel and react to situations, but that means I need to swallow my intense emotions in order to do so. Nobody talks about how living with BPD is like having a third-degree burn over 90% of your body. It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, but I finally see this disorder is in fact many ways a blessing. I get to really feel, so much and so very deeply, I can’t imagine going through life in any other way. I am finally at peace with this diagnosis. This year has been the hardest, yet most rewarding year of my life. It has surprised me and taught me so much. What a plot twist have you been, 2020! I have made two very close friends in particular, later confiding and discovering they’re living with the same diagnosis. They feel like my guardian angels. For once, I don’t feel alone on this journey.
Healing has taken a lot of time, practice, effort, and love. It has been 9 years of battling with my mental health. Working through trauma and emotional baggage has taken so much strength. All of my being has gone into my growing process. It’s taken vulnerability, hope, and resilience. Surrendering myself was the strongest thing I have done. I encourage you. I have faith in you. I have your back. I give you strength. You can do it.
There have been more good days than bad lately, and that’s how I know I’m growing. I am honest and transparent with my journey, and I know my younger self would be so proud of the woman I have become. Healing will look so different for every person because no story is like the next. We all come with our own history. If you pull anything away from this, let it be a reminder things will be okay. I promise you. Things can be dark and scary and feel impossible, I get that. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to be in touch or out of touch with your emotions. It’s perfectly okay to be vulnerable, it’s beautiful to be raw, it’s incredible to heal. Things can still be messy while you’re healing. In fact, it’s almost to be expected, you don’t have to have everything figured out.
I write this with an understanding of your journey and strength to help push you forward. I believe in you, I know you will come out of this on the other side, keep doing what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Growth can be intimidating, but it’s so very worth pushing yourself through. Growth is growth, no matter how small. It may be really hard, but you are so brave. I am proud of you and I believe in you. Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can.
There is in fact a light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of how dark and hidden it may seem. If you are struggling, remember this: you have survived everything you’ve gone through up to this point. You are not alone. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Your words could become an important part in someone else’s survival guide. “
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Buchanan, Sarnia, ON, Canada. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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