Now, while the days and months following my catastrophic episode are a bit more uplifting than that entire last post, I should advise that this is not a fairy tale. I don’t get the guy in the end and I’m not a war hero coming home from some epic, gladiatorial like battle. That does not make my story any less valid or important.
My second day in the unit is when everything begins to get much more clear. It was the first time I had been truly lucid in quite some time. I went to breakfast awkwardly, checked the group schedule awkwardly, and went to every group awkwardly (at first). Medication regimens were assigned and I was given a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, a diagnosis that was hard for me to understand at first, and even harder for me to explain to other people. But the people in the unit with me didn’t need an explanation and I discovered how easy it was to fall in love in seven days. Of course, I don’t mean romantic love. But before that moment, there was always a part of me that no one could ever get close to. Not because they didn’t want to, not because they didn’t try. But because, unless you also suffer from one of these insidious comorbid illnesses, you honestly will never be able to understand entirely. So being surrounded by people who had been living their lives so similar to the way I had been living mine was refreshing. It was the first time in my life that I had ever truly been understood by another human being and we bonded. We bonded over silly bed noises and getting the last of the coffee. We bonded over emotions and life experiences. Some I still talk to and some I may never see again but I carry a piece of each of them in my heart every day.
When I first left, everything was being seen through a brand new pair of eyes. I finally understood myself and was willing to forgive my mistakes made while still asleep. I made the changes necessary to keep my happiness at a healthy level. Unfortunately, the illness, not unlike an auto-immune nightmare, begins to attack certain pieces of me until I barely know they exist anymore. In the unit, my bad days were guided to “okay” days with honest friends and sympathetic leaders. In the real world, its much harder to find that guidance when you’ve only just learned to look for it. Mood disorders come with such a stigma that it’s terrifying to ask for directions. In the months following my disaster, I feel like I’ve lost just as much as I did before, albeit for different reasons, each still hurting just as much. Each still giving my illness the validity it so desperately needs to carry on.
Every day is a struggle with the BPD. The poor impulse control makes it almost impossible for me not to turn just about anything into an addiction. The intense emotions expanding far beyond my own self; feeling euphoric when things are good with just a slight sense of dread that armageddon is just around the corner. The constant identity crises; who am I really? Where do I belong? And do I really belong there or have I simply created a false persona because I wanted to belong there? The severe fear of abandonment that only strengthens with each loss I experience. I spend so much time trying not to define myself by my illness that, at this point, I’m pretty sure the only person I’m still trying to convince is actually myself. I assume that as soon as someone discovers the littlest secret about my disorder, suddenly it means they know it all and I feel so uncomfortable that I become physically ill over it. My sick brain presents itself in every physical way it can and I can’t function some days.
So in light of recent events, I’ve decided to finally come out with it all. If I’m open about it then it’s not as likely to be used against me and maybe, when I’m in bed at night not sleeping, it won’t be because I’m terrified that someone knows something. Maybe I won’t have panic attacks at the thought that someone might have seen something I didn’t want them to see. Maybe I’ll help someone. Maybe it’ll be me.
If you were looking for a happy ending to this story, I’m sorry to disappoint you. But I did mention that this wasn’t a fairy tale. Maybe someday it could be. Maybe right now, there’s no happy ending because it isn’t over.