Vulnerability

At first, I thought to be vulnerable meant sharing the awful and miserable parts of life. The ones that we often refrained from sharing. I believed that by sharing these stories, I was the most vulnerable I could be.


But that’s not how vulnerability works.


We are vulnerable when we share our emotions. Stigma has conditioned us to believe we should keep our feelings hidden, and those who choose to talk about their emotions are looking for sympathy or attention.


We are vulnerable when we talk about our hopes and dreams. When we share goals and desires we have not yet accomplished, we are putting ourselves out there and being real.


We are vulnerable when we share our work.


I feel most vulnerable when I share the thoughts I hold and the content I have created. I am aware that others may not understand or disagree with what I create, but regardless, I am putting myself out there.


While vulnerability can be opening up about a dark time or situation, it is not limited to.


Vulnerability is sharing your authentic self with the world, knowing that not everyone will be accepting of what you have to say.

As a Child

I needed help when I was in 3rd grade, so my parents found me a therapist. Her job was to help me control my intense fear of well, everything. First, it was going to school. I only remember a little bit of my childhood, to be honest, I think I blocked a lot of it out when my thoughts grew dark.


Going to school is something many children hate, myself included, but I think most children handled better than I did. I remember waking up every Sunday, full of worry. Sunday was the weekend to everyone, but for me, it was just a whole day full of worrying about school tomorrow. I’d wake up bright and early Monday morning feeling slightly ill and a little on edge, I was worried about something relating to school, but I had no idea why. I always said I couldn’t go to school, not because I was sick, but because I just couldn’t go.


To others, this made no sense, but my mom understood me well. She knew I was an anxious child from the beginning, and this was a common occurrence. I would still have to go to school; my mom was a teacher of all things, so she would drive me when this happened.


Panic is all I remember feeling. I recall my mom having to drag me into school and meet with someone from the ‘stop and think’ area would pull me from her. I was transferred from my mother to a staff member. Often, she would ask me questions such as: why are you so scared, is someone in school being mean to you, is everything okay at home, etc. Everything was okay, so I would just nod and say I didn’t know why I was so upset.


Adults around me didn’t understand how I felt or why I was so scared, but neither did I. It was like being terrified of green and having no logical explanation for why you’re afraid of green. The anxiety of being afraid, but not knowing why. I always just told everyone who asked that I didn’t know what was wrong or why I was scared. They would just stop asking, and when I would eventually calm down, I would be lead into my classroom to begin my day.


In addition to school anxiety, I hated being away from my family when I was young. The idea of being away from my parents would trigger an anxiety attack. Sleeping at friends’ houses was only an idea for me. I wanted to stay over, and I would even make plans, but when it came bedtime, I would call home and beg my mom to pick me up. I felt a mix of guilt and relief as she drove me back home, but I didn’t have a choice, I truly believed I couldn’t stay over at someone else’s house.


Then there was my moral compass. I lived each day, fearful of doing something wrong because I viewed the world in black and white. Making a mistake was always on my mind, and when I felt that I had made one, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of guilt. To this day, I can say that I don’t think I will ever feel as guilty about anything than the constant, but unnecessary guilt I felt as a young child.


Power of a Positive Mindset

Having a positive mindset will not cure, fix, or prevent depression. Optimism and positivity may not always help someone who is struggling. However, a positive mindset can enrich the good days and bring hope for the future.


I used to be very pessimistic and I believed that doing so released my stress and frustration. It was not until recently that I discovered the internal and external dialogue, matters.


Assuming and anticipating the worst makes it convenient to both perceive and experience negativity. The reason I was not feeling joy was because I rejected all the happiness around me. I was preventing myself from enjoying and appreciating life.


Now, I begin each day with an open mind. It may be a wonderful day or a difficult one. Regardless, I will accept it. I no longer want to confine myself to solely bad days.


Mindset matters, that is something I understand now. If I tell myself everything will work out, I may not accept it at the moment, but my subconscious hears this. Often I will later reflect and recognize how everything did work out.


On my bad days, I can recognize that there is room for improvement. I also know that tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity.


A positive mindset will not prevent bad days from occurring or remove one’s pain and suffering. What if will do is enrich your life and improve your overall outlook of life, the world, and happiness.


Having People That Reach Out

I struggle to reach out to friends. My mind tells me they are too busy and don’t want to hear from me. I fear they will be annoyed and will reject me. I feel needy and unwanted.


When fighting a mental illness, having people that reach out is crucial. Not just when they need something or when it is convenient for them, but when they haven’t heard from you in a while.


I appreciate those who check-in when you’ve been distant. Those who set up a day of the week to do something relaxing. Those who want to talk about their life AND yours. Those are the friends I not only want but require, and I’m grateful to have some wonderful ones in my life.


For a very long time, I was this friend. I always reached out, tried to set up plans, and sorted through my friend’s emotions. Unfortunately, this left me feeling burned. I no longer have the energy to be that friend because I need that friend.


This is not to say I never reach out or support my friends, I do. I am still the therapist in their eyes, always there to listen and help. However, I have begun to put up boundaries.


I am no longer the friend who always reaches out, but I am the friend that is still up to doing something. I may not be the one always making plans, but I follow through with the best I can


I am taking steps, small steps. Pushing past negative thoughts and doing my best to both reach out and put up boundaries. Acknowledging what I need is the first step.


I do what I can, but I need people that reach out.


Emotional Energy

I feel depleted — not from being busy or moving my body, but from strong emotions. This is my emotional energy.


The days I spend at home leave me feeling tired, but whole. I accomplish what I can and cope with the emotions that arise.


The days I spend working leave me drained and exhausted. When I go out with friends or Tyler, I’m left feeling tired. I often make memories and experience powerful emotions.


By the end of those busy days, I have nothing left to give. I am drained of my physical and emotional energy. I become incredibly irritable and often lash out.


There is emotional energy between Tyler and me as well. My strong emotions leave us both feeling raw and empty. We often argue over little things and become distant for a while. We require time to regroup before making up.


Positive emotions increase my emotional energy. There are days where positive emotions outweigh the negative; these are my best days. They remind me of how important it is to utilize and embrace the positive mood.


I am working toward adapting my life to increase my emotional energy. Working from home, clear boundaries, and being open about my emotions and thoughts. The more aware I become, the better I feel.


Mood Swings

My mood keeps life interesting. Due to having an emotional reaction to everything, my mood can quickly swing. One small bump can turn my joyful spirit, sour.


The most challenging part is coping. Once my good mood is gone, it is impossible to get back. I can use my skills, deal with the recent mood change, and make the best of it, but I can’t go back in time.


Once my mood swings, my mind desperately searches for ways to justify my bad mood. Suddenly I’m nitpicking a wonderful day due to one bad moment.


I try my best to prevent my mood from taking over. I can’t ignore the sudden mood swing, but I can do my best not to escalate the mood. The bigger deal I make of it, the more significant the mood becomes.


Sometimes it works in my favor. Doing activities with people who make me feel safe can turn an average mood into an amazing one. Excitement comes easily to me. The feeling may not last long, but sometimes it swings in my favor.


I’m learning to appreciate and make the most of my good moods. I can recognize the importance of adjusting my plans based on how I feel. I’m beginning to understand how to live more in the moment — one mood swing at a time.

The Deepest Love

You know me like no one else. You can read me, decipher me, understand me. Maybe it’s time which led us to this point, although it’s so much more than that.



I spent some of my darkest days with you. Since then, it hasn’t been time that brought us closer, but hardship. We can make it through because we have each other. We are always leaning on another, still picking the other up after a hard day.


Mental illness forced us to get comfortable. It brought out our flaws, the ones we would have usually tried to hide. We are tested, again and again, but we never run; we lean.


Now we are referred to as an old married couple, but we are neither old nor married. It is the comfort that you see — the understanding and acceptance of one another.


The deepest love.


Loving You

After only six months of dating, my mental health went downhill. We were unable to grow and blossom due to my mental illness, and every day chipped away at us both.


After my borderline diagnosis, I began to recognize the ways my mental illness affects our relationship.


I often overreact. Clothing left on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink. The little things can send me in a fury. Hunger or lack of sleep makes me cranky and bitter. I lash out and often take it out on you.


I call the shots: how we spend our free time, who we see, and what we do. Sure we compromise and talk, but due to my mental illness, what we do matters. I know we are less spontaneous and spend more time at home because of it.


My bad days can become your bad days. I wish it were different, but my hard days often take over, which leaves no room for peace and positivity.


I recognize the toll it takes on you. Your hair is thinner than when we first met. Your eyes tell a darker story than the carefree one they used to tell. You’ve matured and slowed down because you’ve been to hell and back with me.


Loving you is not always easy. Sometimes I want to be alone because I fear hurting you beyond repair. These aren’t my thoughts; my mental illness tells me this. It wants me to feel unworthy and unlovable, but you show me otherwise.


No matter what my illness tells me, I know that loving you is worth it. Always is and always will be, worth it.


My Life May Not Look Like Yours

When I work a typical 9-5 job, I can function, but I cannot thrive. Slowly, I lose who I am and become what I am doing. I spend all my energy at work, and I’m barely left with enough to care for myself. Any social life is out of the question. I float, become who I need to, and slowly disappear.


My days begin to blend. I forget what I do day to day and only remember the powerful emotions that were triggered.


I’m beginning to discover how to adapt to my new lifestyle. Interacting with people exhausts me, so I share my story online. I can stay focused without feeling drained, and I can write from the comfort of my home.


I nanny to provide a small income. Children are wonderful because they have gentle hearts and respond to the care you provide. I can teach children kindness and love. I can help them understand their emotions. I grow each day because of what I put into my work.


I require flexibility in what I do. I need boundaries and safety.


From an outside perspective, I may look lazy. A bunch of free time used to do what? What can’t be seen is the emotional pain I’m in. I’ve learned to hide the instability. I discovered others withdraw when I share all the therapy and treatment I require. But I’m not going to hide in the background anymore. I want to live my life, a life that likely doesn’t resemble yours.

Broken

I have always felt broken. I believed there was something wrong with me, and I needed to be fixed.



Growing up, I was told a lot of things about myself. However, I was never taught how to express my big feelings and emotions. Nobody knew why they were there, or what to do with them. I didn’t understand what these feelings meant or how to handle them.


I never knew how to advocate for myself because others had always jumped at the opportunity to do it for me. I felt lost and broken, and I believed I needed others to fix me.


Due to lacking emotional intelligence and the ability to express myself, I never fully understood how I felt. It wasn’t until a formal diagnostic assessment. I expected a diagnosis of anxiety and depression, but not borderline personality disorder. Initially, I saw this as an affirmation that I was broken. I was angry and hurt, but I stuffed my feelings down.


Then I enrolled in a counseling graduate program. I think I learned more about myself than anything else. I was gaining self-awareness and acceptance.


I then began to realize that my diagnosis was the validation I had been looking for. I understood that I was being given an opportunity to better understand myself. Aspects of myself that I had felt but could never name were validated.


I no longer had to feel broken because I could externalize my symptoms from myself.


Self-awareness is the key to my healing. From feeling broken to becoming whole. This is my journey, my recovery, my life.