All I want to do is help other people who struggle with mental illness. This is why I do not hesitate to talk about my experience with my disorders, medications, the mental health care system, and the resources that I’ve used. I encourage those who reach out to me to be honest with their therapists, doctors, medication providers, and their support system to ensure that they are able to receive the treatment and care that they need. Over the last ten years, I have cycled viciously between seasons, moods, medications, endeavors, and levels of stability. Though I have been in what I consider to be recovery for about 2 years now, I have recently started to realize how much time I have actually spent building a smoke screen.
A fellow classmate of mine had mentioned to me about this time last year how impressed he was with me being as involved in as many different things as I was, and still being able to handle full time school, my mental health, and my marriage. I love being out and doing things, meeting new people, finding new opportunities to help others and giving back to my community, but I struggle with being able to set boundaries for myself. Saying “no” is exceptionally difficult for me-I want to help everyone and do everything. And this is where the problem begins.
So much of my time has been spent pouring into other activities, some of which I feel strongly compelled to do and others that I feel awkwardly obligated to, that I am starting to burn myself out. I am so exhausted that I do not have the energy to take care of myself, yet I continue to commit myself to things simply because I am unable to tell someone that I care about “no.” Maybe part of that comes from one of several ways that BPD manifests itself: intense fear of abandonment. If I can’t help someone, they will stop liking me! They won’t want to be my friend anymore! They will never ask for my help or help me when I ask them! Therefore, I always have to say yes. I always have to put others before myself because my mind tells me that, if I don’t, I will be alone.
Doing this has done nothing but impede my progress. I am so exhausted most days that I barely have the energy to cook for or feed myself or my husband, that the laundry piles up for two weeks before Nick finally decides to go ahead and take care of it, that all I can manage to do is pace around the house, mindlessly scrolling through my various social media accounts and chain smoking through an entire pack of cigarettes.
Yeah, it’s been years since I’ve been hospitalized or had a suicide attempt, but when I take a real, honest look at my life, I have just barely been scraping by. I’ve been broadcasting to the world that I’m doing much better than I really am. I’ve been waking up every morning and putting on a mask to show the world that I am a shining light of hope, when I still have a tempest brewing inside of my own mind. How can I help others if I allow them to see what I am really going through? Is putting this mask on the right thing to do, the way that I am supposed to push myself through recovery? Or is it only bringing more pain and damage into my life?
I woke up today feeling worthless, conflicted, and empty. After a nice chat with my grandmother about my internal conflict to start the day, I realized that I have a lot to reevaluate in my life. Some of the new commitments that I have taken on recently have proven in a short time to be necessary additions to my life and some of the commitments that I have been conflicted about and struggling with incorporating into my schedule for awhile now are going to have to go. It’s also time for me to go back to being transparent, to retire this mask and not be afraid to ask others for help when I need it, to take some of my own advice for once. I have to remind myself the same way that I remind others that it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, to say that you’re having a bad day, to ask for prayers or good vibes or a hug or some space.
Most importantly, I need to start every day with God, spending time with Him in prayer, hearing His voice through scripture, and giving Him all the things that I possibly can. Yes, I am still sick, and I will be for the rest of my life, but God has a plan for me and I know He will do incredible things through me once I being to strengthen my relationship with Him and allow His presence to permeate all of the different parts of my life. He has brought me this far with what He has put into my life and I know without a doubt that He will continue to provide for me whatever I need.
Thanks for reading.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will life you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7