For as long as I remember I have suffered with anxiety and depression. All my life I behaved in a certain manner which most people would describe as “different”. I have always felt like an outsider, as I felt my emotions so intensely, regardless if I was happy or sad. In my teens and early adulthood, I dabbled with recreational drugs and alcohol to numb myself from the intense reality I was absorbing around me that I couldn’t yet comprehend. I wasn't able to reach out to any doctors or family members; I was ashamed at my failure to cope. During this period of time, I had an unhealthy relationship with myself and my loved ones.
It may sound corny, but writing songs was my only escape. I felt validated, as my struggles gained a purpose. I found liberty in my music, creating a world much more simple than my own.
To this day, I mask my intense emotions and make people believe everything is ok. I have always found it easier to do this than to pour my heart out during confrontations. That's the deceitful beauty of BPD: no one can tell. Most of the time, we are able to disguise ourselves as your everyday neighbour with a stable job and life!
However, the hidden truth is far from this simple illusion. After shuffling in and out of the mental health system for 6 years, I hit a breaking point when my partner’s parents accused me of being controlling and manipulative. I was also being bullied in my workplace at the time, which did not help my mental health. After this breakdown, I finally had enough of emotions ruling my life. I sought professional help, and found great comfort and support in my Borderline Personality Disorder community after being officially diagnosed.
Receiving a diagnosis opened my eyes, making me feel less isolated and ostracised by society. Getting the correct help allowed me to understand myself more, and help my loved ones understand me too.
I am someone who loves to dissect every hidden crevice, and this is exactly what I did when I was given my formal diagnosis. I went online and read articles on the main NHS website, Mind Charity,The Mighty and other reliable sources. I watched YouTube videos of interviews on BPD, and learned how it affects people differently. I followed bloggers who openly discussed their symptoms and feelings. I found support through private Facebook forums, one of them being ‘Living with BPD’. The forum consists of people sharing views, discussing situations they've been, solutions they find helpful, and invaluable advice from community members. I found myself looking for films and documentaries about BPD; I became fascinated with research and education. These lifelong questions were finally being answered.
Finally, I bought some books online to further understand my diagnosis in a clinical sense, which is immensely helpful and grounding. My diagnosis is not an excuse for my actions, but it is an explanation for my limits and intense reactions.
All this research and interaction with other BPD sufferers helped me feel normal for the first time. I finally belonged to a community, a tribe of misunderstood warriors. I am currently undergoing analytical group therapy and attending educational courses through the NHS to further support my needs and my understanding of BPD. I have a long way to go, and a difficult journey towards recovery, but I am one step closer to being able to live in peace.
On good days, I see my BPD as a gift. It fuels my creativity, passion, and sensitivity. It’s not all bad! The word BPD carries so much stigma. It is my mission to share my story and help others who are struggling. Inclusion is key, and if I can help one person feel less alone, I achieved more than a sold out stadium. I want to be remembered as more than just a musician. I want to be remembered as someone who changed the way people perceived complex stigmatised mental health conditions forever.
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Written by: Elena Ramona