Mental Illness Awareness Week is held from October 2nd to October 8th in Canada. It is a very important week as it is a dedicated public education campaign designed to raise awareness of what it is like living with components of a mental illness. If people do not understand, they will not support the very real needs many of us have. As we have seen in history, that in turn leads to stigma, discrimination and chronic underfunding. I hope by sharing my story and recovery process I can do my part to raise the awareness of what it is like living with a mental illness.
My Story ***Trigger Warning***
I’m a survivor. I was prepared to be ill but I’ve been through the revolving doors and ended up leaving those doors behind. I didn’t know if I could make it in this climate of the outside world, but the coldest days never took me down. My squeaky voice wasn’t able to speak. I had my mouth shut for years as I went through the system. I was scared to make a sound. Mental illness isn’t something you talk about it. What are you mental? Shouldn’t you be in an asylum?
I was in seclusion, chained to a bed with 4 walls, a crayon, and one piece of paper. So, you could say I’m crazy, but I’m so much more than that – you’re gonna miss out.
Borderline Personality Disorder
My illness made me believe I was worth nothing. I was a waste of space. Any person who said that I was worth anything, I felt the sting in my stomach that they are wrong. I got angry, but I never showed it to anyone but myself.
I didn’t eat – wasn’t worth it. The energy was gone and I waned to be perfect. But my family struggled to see me fade away and honestly I hated being that way. I wanted to enjoy my life and get my ability back be able to walk without fainting and get back to a stable weight.
When I started to become out of control my anger went viral. I was known in the hospital as a flight risk. I was shot with needles; fought with security guards, never spoke until ignited, and was scared to the bone.
Borderline Personality Disorder/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Truth is I was suffering from my BPD so terribly because I had PTSD on top of it. Someone close to me had passed away by suicide. I had gotten into drugs – they were my solstice. I couldn’t think of anything else. I loved being knocked out after one huff. I loved being too tired to get out of bed because alcohol dictated my life. The feeling of drugs was so incredibly terrible but… it was beautiful for someone who hates themselves.
I gave up and let people take over my life. My partner abused me emotionally, physically and financially. But I didn’t care – I deserved it. I was so guilty for ever being a menace in that hospital. I had to be on the other side. She spit, hit, licked, and kicked me out of her sight. She took me as her property. I am nobody’s property.
I was chained to beds, held down by the feds, secluded, angry, but never did my personality change. I had my good days. Jenn saved me from running out those revolving doors before I was ready – now she’s my friend and helps me even when it’s not part of the job description. Roxy petted my head and helped me feel safe. My parents worked so hard to get me treatment it’s as if they went through it too. My doctor and I are friends – I still think I can beat him in a 100-yard race. My therapist talks to me now like a friend and I still use the tools she gave me to beat this. My guidance counselor is my best friend as well as my savior. If all these people cared about me when I was at my worse, imagine me at my best.
I accepted that I was sick, I started to use the strategies, I kept my promises, I spoke when I needed help, I stayed away from triggers, and close to recovery-focused people. Soon I was out of those revolving doors.
Recovery at Home
I continued to use my coping strategies outside of the hospital. I’m an adapter. After 7 years in a hospital, I gave it up to cope from home. I gave it up to open my mouth and help people who are going through similar struggles. I started to advocate. It became the most incredible and amazing thing I had ever done. I now hold myself to a high standard – if I am telling people to cope then I have to lead by example. I’m not going to say everyday I love myself like a big teddy bear… but I know what works and I know what’s important. I’m so close to my dreams, my head is in the clouds but my feet are on the ground.
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is here and I am in my apartment writing this post, knowing that because I share my story – you might too. And if you do – it could be another life saved.