One day you’ll look at your life and recognize that you’ve reached a point in recovery that you have been working toward all these years.
Last year was a year of change. I considered moving, left grad school, got engaged, built jobs I feel capable of handling, and began to write about my experience with mental illness.
A year ago, I would not have imagined this growth. I can fight through my bad days and still have good come from it. I can process and talk about my thoughts and emotions without believing them. I have healed, something I did not see possible.
I hope you recognize your strength and growth. I hope you understand that you can fight. One day you will look at your life and realize you have reached the point you have been waiting for – health and happiness.
Those living with BPD commonly experience guilt and shame.
Many of my negative thoughts are centered around guilt. Did I wrong someone or hurt their feelings? Have I disappointed, someone? Did I say something I shouldn’t have?
Outbursts triggered by intense emotions can result in me doing or saying things I immediately regret. I feel ashamed, and if I allow it, this emotion will consume me. Thoughts of my wrongdoing replaying in my head, over and over.
From an early age, guilt and shame distorted my perception of myself. Eventually, I learned to work through this.
One factor in my healing process has been learning how to combat and ultimately change these negative thoughts.
I can’t ignore the fact that I do and say things I regret, that would limit my progress. I also can’t blame myself for the symptoms of my mental illness. So focusing on these thoughts is essential to my recovery.
I have more control when I feel healthy, and my stress level is low. I feel my best when I get enough sleep, rise early, and eat well. I am patient and kind with myself. Instead of focusing on guilt and shame, I am moving forward.
My mind still tells me horrible things about myself, but I feel in control. If I say something I regret in response to my emotions, I feel extreme guilt. If I hold onto that guilt, it turns to shame. To fight back, I need to process these emotions and not hold onto them.
I no longer need to hold onto this guilt and shame; I am allowing myself to let it go.
My illness is all in my head. Well, it is invisible to you.
I won’t lie; sometimes, I feel guilty because of how I am unable to engage and present myself fully.
I wish I could be carefree and easygoing, but that’s unrealistic for me.
Often, I want others to understand why I’m not those things.
My illness is invisible; others cannot read the thoughts that I have. Others cannot feel the pain and tension I experience. Others cannot grasp the emotions that take over my reality.
Sometimes my presence is all I can manage. I am juggling my mind and existence, and on stressful days that keeps my hands full.
There are days where I feel in control. My thoughts are more positive, and I have more energy. On these days I can be present. I feel like myself, and I can engage. These days remind me why the hard ones are worth it.
If you can relate to my words, I want you to know it is enough for you just to be you as little or much as you can manage. If you can’t relate, I hope you can better understand.
I’m fighting an invisible illness.
Remember these icebreaker activities you were required to do in grade school? The teacher would ask for a fun fact or three ways to define yourself. What makes you, you. Those ice breakers always brought extreme anxiety. Now just the fear of all eyes on me or speaking out loud. It was the fact that I had no idea how to define myself.
What I didn’t realize then was that I have the power to choose who I am.
I would answer that question with adjectives others labeled me as. I was shy, kind, quiet, and caring. While at times, I am these things, these characteristics don’t define me.
While I don’t find myself getting forced into an ice breaker activities, I do meet new people. I think about how I introduce myself, and the characteristics people see are ones that I CHOOSE to show.
I don’t want to be defined by aspects that are not me, and I used to see that as something external or out of my control. But now I know that I hold power.
Others may see aspects in you and label you, but at the end of the day- you define yourself.