This might be a bit longer of a post than I usually write, but in light of some recent things in my life I felt the need to write it.
So, almost ten years ago I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I fit many of the key symptoms of it: antisocial, compulsive, and self-destructive behavior as well as anger, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and one that I’ll just call apathy, or the “I don’t care” empty feeling.
I mean… IT REALLY SUCKS.
Not just for me but for the people that care about me. More often than not, they’re helpless to do anything when I hit those rough patches in my life.
And often there isn’t much I can do besides hang on until I make it through. Though I have learned a lot of coping skills that have really helped during those times.
So why would I ever talk about something so personal?
Honestly, this is my way of getting my thoughts out of my head and talking about my struggles. I know other people out there are going through the same thing I am, and they may be thinking that they’re alone in their struggles.
That other person might be you…
Let’s start with the fact that I’m much better now than I was several years ago.
I was at a job I hated, struggling financially, and the general stresses of life were completely overwhelming. I just got out of the Marine Corps, was working third shift, and because I recently moved I had no friends.
Those were really dark days for me. That was a point in my life that depression set in for months, and I really started feeling numb inside.
Feeling numb is a dangerous thing! And for me, there were times when I cut myself because that pain reminded me there was something there. This was also the point in my life that I really, honestly considered suicide as an option.
You know when people talk about the voices in the back of their head telling them that the world would be a better place without them…
It’s kind of true.
Not voices in the sense of different people talking, but voices in the sense of when you are talking to yourself inside your head.
Think of it like your conscience, but in reverse. Instead of the voice saying not to do a thing because it’s dangerous, the voice tells you what would probably be the most effective way you could end your life and not mess it up.
That’s a really scary place to be and I’m glad that over the years I’ve moved away from those days and those thoughts that ruled my mind.
A change of jobs and life situations really help on that road to recovery as well.
Over the years I’ve been through counseling and have learned coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.
I’ve also learned a lot simply through perseverance and reflection. Knowing that there was light at the end of the tunnel and reminding myself of that fact over and over and over again. I’ve learned what some of my triggers are and how to avoid them.
I’ve also found that there are times when I need to step away from the situation for a little while. When stress and anxiety rear their ugly heads and I do the best I can to walk away before being completely overwhelmed. When I come back to the broken thing in the house or the unexpected bill I feel a little more calm and I prevent myself from spiraling down into depression.
These days I’m doing better, but there are times when I’m caught off guard and really struggle.
It can be hard feeling trapped inside yourself screaming to do something to break free of the depression, anxiety, or other feelings because logically you know it will help you in the end; yet you’re powerless to control anything.
I still struggle…
I struggle with emptiness the most. That feeling of apathy toward my life, my circumstances, and the world in general. This is something I think I’ll always struggle with.
There are times when I have to spend my ‘spoons’ showing my family that I love them…
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family more than life itself and would literally do anything for them, but I struggle with showing the emotional aspect of that love.
I feel a sense of regret at the loss of life for the celebrities that have passed away in recent years, but I never get emotional. I never really get emotional or even feel a sense of sadness at loved ones that have passed away. I truly wish I did, but I’m not sure that will ever change.
If there is anything that all of this has taught me it’s that you should never deal with mental illness alone. Never let the struggle be only yours to bear. And never feel like you’re the only one that is going through these struggles.
My wife is often my life preserver during those times. She’s learned some of my tells and has been able to guide me as much as she’s able through the dark waters. I’ve started to learn to open up and trust her more in that respect as well.
We all need help sometimes and that’s okay!
It’s okay to feel broken and vulnerable around people when you are seeking their help.
It’s when I’ve been vulnerable and open that I’ve found the most healing and the most success.
On that, I really appreciate people like Wil Wheaton. People that are open and honest about their struggles because it shows us that we’re not alone and that we don’t have to accept those struggles as the norm. That these things raging inside of us are not things to keep quiet about and keep to ourselves. It’s through being vulnerable and sharing, that Wil and so many others impact lives such as my own.
It’s okay to not be okay, but we should always seek the best for ourselves. Whether that’s through counseling, medication, or some other means.
Life is a beautiful and precious thing. It’s something worth being our best for.