Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The question is not how to get cured, but how to live

From experience, my episodes of Borderline Personality Disorder made things seem impossible. When I was in the midst of the illness, I had no drive, goals or ambitions. Even though I was capable of having them, for 12 years of my life my illness convinced me that I was never going to get better. That I was never going to live a life of ease. That I will constantly be in excruciating amounts of pain due to not having skills to regulate my emotions properly. That I will carry the burden of shame. That I will never find someone who will love me or find people in crowds who I could connect to. That could at least relate to one ounce of the pain buried deep inside me. I stopped looking forward to birthdays. I didn't believe I would ever make it to my 25th birthday. But each year I kept beating the illness, even though my safety was constantly threatened. I somehow managed to push through. 

I was at my wit's end with my diagnosis in 2015. I felt silenced and I didn't have the skills at the time to be able to express my emotional wants and needs. You are constantly at war with your emotions when your borderline is left untreated. Some days can be better than others. But the dark days are the most terrifying. I can not sugar coat how hard this diagnosis was to live with. I navigated a system that had a lot of road blockages on the way. However, in hindsight, I do not regret it, as I was lead to a treatment that saved my life. 

I had a vision that one day I would like to become a person who spoke about their lived experience to spark a hope in others. I wanted to be a voice for change and through that voice, I wanted to be a person to help better the system to save the agony and pain I felt during the 12 years of navigation. I do not regret the position that it leads me to today, however, a lot of pain and turmoil could have been avoided if we all worked together in the system instead of against each other. I found a lot of clinicians approaches were 'I know more than you'. This proved great difficulty as I knew myself and my illness a lot better than they did. I was living with it after all. 

Emotions Matter was an organization that sparked that hope in me 3 years ago. I wanted to give back to them one day as their advocacy and voice helped me find mine. Three women by the names of Paula, Rosa and Roya used their initiatives and bought the foundation to life by having their own experiences with the illness. They created social connection, awareness and advocacy by bringing people together who have been impacted. The main message and what I saw is that they empowered people to embrace the diagnosis. A huge stigma and shame come with the diagnosis. So to have a safe space where you can proudly embrace your battles is instrumental in a journey to recovery. 

Recently I was given an opportunity to go to New York for 10 days and work closely with Paula and her team. The connections I made over there will stay with me for life. I was touched by people sharing their own stories with me. I was bursting with warmth at the kindness each person showed me over there. They were eager to learn about our system and how progressive we are in our country. I found that we were moving forward in a lot of other ways to New York. However what striked me the most was the advocacy and all the volunteer work everyone puts in to make non-profit events happen. I attended the National Alliance of Mental Illness walk and there were about 5,000 people attending. It was comforting to see the support the community bring when they all came together. 

I spoke with a lot of professionals about my lived experience and how their system works over there. Even though our systems are different, what stayed with me is the determination these professionals had to want to change their client's lives. I think that kind of empathy will never go unnoticed. I believe that empathy is the gateway for change and progression. I have no doubt the people I met will be a whole new ball game for the system in America. 

The last thing that will stay with me is the historic moment of the first-ever Borderline Personality Disorder walk in America. I got the privilege of sharing my story with everyone that day. My story reached a lot of the crowd. One lady who was around her 40's was thankful she got to hear me speak and I gave her some insight to help her on her own journey to recovery. This was a reminder of why I am doing what I do. To make people feel like they have a purpose. Because for so long I believed that I didn't belong in this world. When I do. I am only human just like everyone else, who experiences flaws, who makes mistakes and who feels pain. But with all these negative emotions I was able to discover my vulnerability and kindness were my biggest assets. That I didn't have to make myself smaller. That I was reaching the right people who were wanting to live a purposeful life too. 

I now have returned home back to my studies and I often think of the city that never sleeps. I never thought I would have been there catching subways, eating deli rolls, passing strangers by and learning more and more about myself and others. It made me realise that life is too short and to make the most of the opportunities I am given. It has worked in my favour countlessly. 

I want to thank Paula, her team and everyone who made an effort to make me feel at home over there. You were strangers who became friends with me. Something that will never be forgotten. Lastly, to myself for all the hard work I did. All the blood, sweat and tears were worth it in the end. I worked hard on myself along with my DBT team here in Western Australia. Turns out being kind to yourself is the medicine needed to help yourself heal. Dont ever under value how effective kindness can be. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Hope is a waking dream

I use to lay awake staring at the ceiling of my room on my bed. I thought if I convinced myself enough times in my head I didn't want to be here that the pain of my illness would come to a halt. I wanted the emotions to drown out without having to leave marks. The marks were left there so the pain could eventually seep out before it killed me. For 12 years the marks would lead to more turmoil pain. Hospital beds became homes. Nurses became friends because I would fluctuate between detachment and attachment with the people closest to me. Being close to people meant exposing a part of me that was hard to swallow for a long time. Due to my own insecurities and due to societies high demands of fitting the 'normal' box, I was finding it hard to live a life of meaning. 

Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder was confronting at the start. I was diagnosed in 2008 just two years after I graduated high school. My family was breaking down due to my parent's separation, so everything became overwhelmingly difficult for me to adjust to. The amounts of pain that came from that event were overbearing, and that is where my severe dissociation episodes started to happen. That it was lead me to try to take my life for the first of eight times over the space of 12 years. I didn't know how to deal, accept or even come to terms with this diagnosis. So I started to run away out of fear. There are times I really tried to seek help and treatment. Unfortunately for me, I was set back a lot before I reached a treatment that changed my life which is known as Dialecticaltical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). 

After 30 hospitalisations, 5 inpatient treatments at psych wards around Perth, Western Australia and eight suicide ideations episodes, time was wearing thin for me. In between these episodes, life would seem okay for the time being. But it's those short-term fixes that were making me run circles in a vicious cycle I become trapped in. The system failed for a long time to think of the long-term solution to help me manage the diagnosis. I was trying to juggle symptoms that came with the diagnosis which are suicide ideation, self-harm, dissociation, emotional dysregulation due to trauma, abandonment issues, chronic feelings of emptiness, impulse of emotions, paranoia and transient psychotic episodes. I was fed medications that I was not warned about. I then experienced side effects that would heighten my ideation. Life then began to drown out. I entered relationships out of hope that I could seek the validation and love I couldn't give to myself due to not knowing any better. I was conditioned to believe I was not good enough, that everything was my fault and that I didn't deserve the kindness this world has to offer. 

Then came 2016. I was isolating myself from the world and my support network was running out of options to help keep me safe. I didn't have the skills to be able to cope ahead, so I completely shut myself off from the world. Something in me wasn't ready to give up just yet. So I went on the internet and started to browse Borderline Personality Disorder speeches on youtube. I was lead to Amanda Wang, who is a Borderline Personality Disorder advocate in the United States of America. I watched her speak for over an hour, where it lead me to other speeches. I started to cry of relief knowing that there was someone similar to me out there who understood the pain I was experiencing. I sought comfort in a complete stranger on the internet. This move was instrumental in my recovery journey and inspiring me to share my lived experience. Finding this speech played a huge part in saving my life. 

Amanda's speech leads me to find Emotions Matter, who I am currently interning with in New York. Emotions Matters, Inc. is a non-profit organization created by a network of families and individuals affected by BPD who have united around our mission to improve social connection, awareness and health care systems for those with this disorder. This was a small vision of mine to come over here and connect with an organisation that helped me seek hope when everything else seemed to be failing me. I am currently writing this from my host family's house on Marlborough Street in Brooklyn. What seemed impossible became possible through other people's stories of hope. 

I now don't fit the criteria for BPD back home, but I am challenged by the symptoms from time to time. I know how to self-manage the challenges in a safe and long-term manner, something I never pictured myself doing. I know live a life full of laughter, self-reassurance, kindness, compassion and love. I still feel negative emotions as that is part of life, however, I am able to regulate them properly so they don't become harmful or endangering. I don't have the feeling that comes with suicide anymore. Something I never ever thought would happen. I didn't wake up one day and it miraculously disappeared. I worked very hard and confronted my own pain to make sure the feeling slowly left me. 

On Sunday I will be the 4th speaker at Emotions Matter 'Walk for Borderline Personality Disorder' walk. This is the first time in history that the United States of America has had anything like this occur. To be a part of this is an honour that will stay with me for as long as I live. 

To anyone who is at the beginning of the illness, please know there are people around the world advocating and using their initiatives for change. This is only the beginning of what will be a future where we can say the diagnosis with ease and not be scared of people's judgements and assumptions. I am living proof of how lonely the world seems to be. But remember, you are not alone and there are people out there who will help you see that. 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Our deepest wounds surround our greatest gifts

Initially, the thought of finishing up Dialectical Behavioural Therapy terrified me. I have only known self-management skills outside of therapy to be daunting. I would either relapse, enter psychosis again, hospital admissions and then repeat. It was a vicious cycle I was trapped in for 12 years of my life. Self-management was a short-term thing for me because as soon as I was confronted by emotions I didn't want to sit with, my self-destructive behavioural pattern would surface again. I never could picture an image where I would be living like I am today and using healthier self-coping strategies to help manage my Borderline Personality Diagnosis. And I have one therapy to thank that literally saved my life: Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. 

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy or 'DBT' is becoming more and more known inside the consumer movements I am involved in. DBT is an evidence-based treatment that was founded by Dr Marsha Linehan, who was originally diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Later on, she said she believed she actually was living with Borderline Personality Disorder. So she designed a whole therapy using her studies, PhD and her own lived experience. DBT is also practiced with other mood disorders and mental illness. However, the highest success rate is within the BPD community.  It is also becoming a hot topic amongst my social networks, as there are a lot of people being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

DBT helps minimise majority of the BPD symptoms (depending on your experience).  The therapy is designed to help people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning and discovering their own triggers that can lead up to reactive and explosive states. So the four modules of the therapy help guide and cement healthier coping mechanisms to reduce the reactions that can lead to emotional distress. An analogy I like to compare self-harm from the past is like this- Just say a person around you has burnt their skin by brushing against a fire. A person who has healthy coping strategies would rinse under warm water and manage their burn to reduce blisters etc. A person who doesn't have these skills would rinse their burns with something that can react the pain (eg neglect the burn, use methylated spirits). Something that they assume will stop the burn short term. However, they aren't aware of the long-term consequences of not managing or healing the burn in a safe manner.

A lot of DBT practices are taken from Buddist Meditation practices. Mindfulness is a small but largely effective practice of the therapy. My biggest internal struggle was sitting and staying in present moments. Due to a traumatic past, my dissociation played a huge part in me not being able to stay in present moments because of painful memories that would surface. So dissociation would be the first small thing to lead me into a suicidal crisis. So learning how to stay actively present with mindfulness has helped minimise my dissociation episodes.

Another concept is interpersonal effectiveness with the DBT module. A lot of acronyms are used to help you manage during confrontation, conflict and growing distant with people within your relationship circles in your life.  I will give one example, called DEAR MAN. Dear man is used to conveying ones needs to another person. This is used to enable a person to get what they want when asking. It also helps the person stay grounded when asking for things they might find difficult or uncomfortable. Usually, when people are experiencing emotional distress, they avoid asking for their wants until crisis point hits. Then that's where they struggle to communicate their needs when emotional distress is present.

Describe- Describe one's situation using specific facts about the present situation.
Express- Express the emotions during this situation, how you are feeling about it and why it may be an issue.
Assert- By asking clearly and specifically for what behaviour change the person seeks.
Reinforce- By offering a positive consequence or outcome if one was to get what they want.

Man- Mindful of the situation. Stay mindful by focusing on what one wants and disregard distraction by validation/empathy and redirecting back to the point.
Appear confident and assertive, even if you don't feel like you will get what you want.
Negotiate with a hesitant person and come to a comfortable compromise to maintain the relationship.

Another concept within the module is distress tolerance. Many current mental health approaches are focusing on changing emotional distress during crisis points or to avoid crisis points/relapse. Although during recovery periods relapse is a normal thing to happen, practising distress tolerance skills is vital to help reduce and even completely minimise suicide ideation and feelings from occurring. Practising mindfulness components first help develop distress tolerance skills further ahead in the module.  The main focus is enabling people to acknowledge calmly negative situations and approach them non-judgementally, using radical acceptance and not evaluating the situation. Simply 'letting it be'. That doesn't mean you disregard the hurt and pain that may have occurred. It's simply accepting that you cannot control or change your past. But you can control and change your present moments by using these skills put into place.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder often experience frequent suicide ideation and experience their emotions on a higher emotional intense scale. Using emotional regulation skills throughout DBT helps the individual identify and label emotions they are experiencing (can help reduce dissociation when you are able to label the emotion), identify obstacles to use opposite action to avoid a crisis, reduce vulnerability when emotion mind presents itself, increase positive emotional responses to things that bring enjoyment to the individual, increase mindfulness so the individual is able to sit in present moments instead of 'avoid'. Applying these distress tolerance skills also helps the individual tune into other things within their body to help manage triggers (body sensations, body language).

I practised these things every day for seven months. I started off really small, practising breathing exercises when I had a bath. Tasting the toothpaste in my mouth when I brushed my teeth. Going to the park to sit for ten minutes to get some breathers. Going to sport even when I felt like I wanted to stay at home and isolate myself. After Experiencing a couple of relapses during the DBT program, I was able to change some things around that wasn't working for me and threatening my health. The way I managed these relapses was using all the skills that were accumulated in the program. Cutting people out who weren't benefiting my health. That wasn't coming from a place of hate- that was coming from a place of safety and security. Realising that I am bound to upset people from time to time and that does not make me an 'awful' person, that it makes me human. The hugest testimony to the character is what you do when you have upset someone or crossed a boundary with them, that is a skill called self-reflection. Asking what you have to change in order to validate another human being and accept that you are both individually unique. Doing things for YOURSELF and not to please others for your own self-validation requirements. Small steps like this changed my outlook on life drastically.

DBT was one of the most challenging, draining and life-changing experiences I got the pleasure of experiencing. I wouldn't change it for the world and I am grateful I was able to be placed in a program that saved my life. The beauty of this therapy is that it opens and expands your knowledge in so many areas that doors are continuously flying open for me. DBT may not be for everyone and I can accept that. However, if you are an individual experiencing BPD and want to have a life worth living, I encourage you to give it your all if you are ever placed in the program. You will grow and change. And most importantly, you will begin to be kind to yourself. Once you start practising the kindness you give out to others towards yourself, that is when you will really experience the true understanding of a life worth living.

Monday, 26 March 2018

It was my letting go that gave me a better hold

I think one of the most common misconceptions that comes with a Borderline Personality Diagnosis is the attachment and fear of abandonment. You will read outdated articles on google confirming that everyone with BPD is 'crazy' and 'psychotic' for experiencing these symptoms (even though it is part of the illness). They will tell you to GET OUT of the relationship as soon as possible and to stay away because they are DANGEROUS. All this language surrounding the symptoms can impact the way we respond to someone who experiences heightened fear of abandonment and attachment issues. There is also a way to maintain a relationship and understand how serious these symptoms are when you have untreated BPD. 

I believe that everyone will experience attachment and abandonment issues in their lifetime. As a human being, we thrive on love and care in relationships. However, as soon as we sense a loved one may not reciprocate the same feeling back, we go into panic mode driven by the fear that we are not good enough for them. From my experience, no matter how many 'right' things you do in a relationship, they can come to an end. I realised this wasn't because anyone was at fault, it had just rn its course. Unfortunately, at the time, I was untreated, I held onto relationships due to the fear of being left alone with my own thoughts, feelings and emotions. I relied heavily on partners to validate my experience because I didn't know any other ways to validate them myself. It wasn't because I was 'crazy', 'psychotic' or 'dangerous', it stemmed from my nature vs nurture as I was growing up. I grew up in an invalidating environment where my needs weren't getting met. As a child, it would have been a big ask to have me learn all these coping tools on my own. I was fortunate enough to have learnt them through dialectical behavioural therapy program before I lost my life to my illness. 

Ways to describe the fear of abandonment I have experienced over my time: suffocating, terrifying, restraining, paralysing. Each time I sensed a partner wanting to leave me, it was driven mainly by my own minimal self-compassion I had for myself at the time. Over time, I was able to build up self-compassion and realise my self-worth on my own. I learnt these skills by being by myself and removing myself from seeking invalidating relationships. Being able to validate my own thoughts, feelings and emotions definitely help me stay on top of emotional attachments and fears of abandonment. It's not as terrifying anymore or consuming all because I have learnt to sit with those uncomfortable feelings alone. 

I have been alone in rooms where I feel like no one will be there for me. I have been left alone in some of the most terrifying situations in my life. I have been in and out of a whole range of emotions that have come with being attached to certain situations and things. This is part of being human. It is normal to feel these things. There is nothing 'wrong' with feeling fear. Its what you do to cope if things to change and your expectations of others get the better of you. This doesnt mean you are at fault for seeing the best in everything and everyone. If you can reflect and see that, then that can be used to your own advantage. 

I believe it is up to everyone to educate themselves and understand that these behaviours of abandonment are driven internally. These aren't done as 'manipulation', these are driven by feelings of fear (hence 'fear' of abandonment). Once I learnt to let go of my attachments and radically accept people come and go, I know at the end of the day I am always going to rely on myself. Having that self-management breakthrough when experiencing BPD is one of the best feelings in the world. I obviously can lean on people and other outlets for support, however, I am not terrified of being alone. As being alone has prepared me for anything life may throw at me. 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

One of the hardest things was learning that I was worth recovery

"You will never recover". "I'll never get better". "Its always going to be like this". "There is no point". Far too often I hear these words from people who are living with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Far too often I heard myself also speak the same sentences over and over again. I abided by those sentences. I was told by numerous professionals over my years in Western Australia's mental health system that I would never recover and that they cannot provide the help I needed to recover from my diagnosis. Little did I know two years later I would be standing proud and grounded. Little did I know I was going to be alive when I was certain that living with this illness is a life sentence. 

Being on the other end of it now, I am finding it difficult at the moment to see people I care about and love in the pain that I use to be able to relate to. I now realise the frustration my loved ones went through when offering to guide me to the help I needed. However, when you are in the midst of it, you are convinced that this is what you are going to live with for the rest of your life. That you have to wake up every single day of your life feeling immense amounts of pain. Pain that is the driving force that leads to self-harm behaviours, suicide ideation, isolation, dissociation, transendent psychotic episodes and impulsive behaviours. Imagine trying to balance a life like that? Where those feelings are what you feel more than happy. Imagine trying to start a life where those symptoms weren't presenting itself. 

Before I started Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, that was my life. I was self-harming nearly every day of my life. Sometimes to the knowledge of others, and sometimes the thoughts that came with the self-harming behaviours (shame, guilt) were overbearing. I was too ashamed to tell my closest friends how severe it was as I didn't want to burden them with my pain. The biggest thing that was holding me back is I felt I wasn't worth being looked after and cared for. So I neglected myself. When I was the one who needed to learn healthier coping strategies to keep me safe in moments that I feared for my life. 

There are pros and cons to self-harming behaviours. The pro's of it is that it was a quick fix to the immense amount of pain I was feeling. I couldn't communicate my needs to my support network so when the harm was visible I was able to get help. However, the vicious cycle continued because self-harm is all I knew. Self-harm was comforting at times. However, the consequences of self-harm built up and lead me to suicide ideation. As you can see, the build-up and escalation of self-harm is the con. Because when you rely on that as your coping strategy, it's all you know and you don't have the awareness skills at the time to see how much you can jeopardise your own safety. 

I didn't think I was worthy of anyone's affection, care or love. So when I had my closest friends showering me with it, I pushed it away. I pushed it away because I wasn't showering myself with it. To self-manage a borderline diagnosis, you need to learn how to self-soothe when your main support network cant be with you in the present moment. Learning these skills is what saved my life. 

Recovery is not a straight path. You have turns, trips, falls and backwards steps where you will fall down and feel defeated. There are times over the last year where I did want to throw in the towel, where sitting with the uncomfortable feelings and unknown territories felt too much. I was persistent in letting people kick me when I was down as I didn't know how to pick myself back up and dust my own self off. Sure some people initiated the kick. However, it was up to me how to learn how to react. Either I reacted to the pain because I didn't want to sit with it. Or I learnt how to sit with the pain and not be fearful of allowing myself to feel it. I now have the coping mechanisms to feel the pain and articulate the pain where I can own it. People can impact you in all sorts of cruel and different ways. At the end of the day, it is up to me what I do with that pain I am experiencing. I can build myself up with it or I can break myself down with it. I decide to let myself build up and to not beat myself up if I broke down from time to time. 

To anyone reading this who is currently has BPD and is not being treated, recovery is your own journey. You get to tell the story, no one else gets to write it for you. There is no right or wrong way to recover from a mental illness, the only way is your own way. You do whatever you can to get better and the right people will be there at the very end of it. There is no cure for the pain, however, there are ways to ease it. The illness isn't a choice and sometimes you won't choose the safest path. Trying is at least a small start that has excellent end results. I know trying is one of the reasons I am sitting here typing this right now. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Your perceptions are derived from your feelings and your ability to be yourself, to own and trust yourself, and to say what you feel, even when it may be diametrically opposed to everyone eles's opinion

Self-perception is a weird concept. I always find myself wondering how others see me, and if they see me in a light I don't want to be seen in, I use to always fall into the self-blame category. Growing up in an invalidating environment, I was moulded into believing I had to act a certain way to get people to accept me for 'me'. However, over a long period of battling a mental illness, I learnt that the uttermost important lesson I was going to learn was self-acceptance. Really having to accept who I am at my most vulnerable times. The times where people want you to be smaller, be quieter, be still. Except you have all these bursts of kindness, love, compassion and empathy you want to shower on the people who matter to you the most as you can feel their pains and their internal battles.

Growing up, I always believed I should cater to everyone else's wants and needs. Everyone's dictations of who I should be. What I found is when you are too much for someone, you are usually bringing something to the surface that is shovelled deep inside of them. Making them question their own self-identity, morals and values. I believe every human being is individual and has a depth to them. Whether they decide to show it or not is their own journey. We are here to challenge each other in order to grow. I use to believe to fit into society was to sit in denial of my own shovelled truths. Once I started to slowly confront who I am, what I want and my own beliefs, morals and values, I slowly started to learn self-acceptance.

I accept my symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder aren't the same as my closest friends who also live with the same diagnosis. The beauty of my closest friends experiencing something similar is I was able to form special connections with them through relations and empathising with similar experiences. I have also learnt through recovery if you do share the same diagnosis, that sometimes you will challenge one another depending on what stage you are at with accepting the diagnosis. I believed for a long time that this illness defines me. This is far from the truth. This illness helped shape who I have become today through the challenges and testimonies.

Another thing the illness has taught me is the meaning of accountability. A lot of my past distresses and episodes were not choices at the time. They were behaviours stemmed from trauma, grief and a huge overwhelming fear of abandonment. The only coping mechanisms I knew were ones I had gathered since I was a young child. These behaviours were dangerous, however, they were all I knew to help keep 'safe'. Through DBT I was able to obviously re-learn different coping strategies that didn't produce more suffering. It was then I learnt how to self-reflect and take accountability as I had become more self-aware. There is nothing 'wrong' or 'bad' with the behaviours, it's just all I knew at the time. I now have learnt more. I am not a perfect human who is able to perfect these coping strategies all the time when triggers occur and pain surfaces. I do however try my best. I believe everyone tries their best in the periods of life that happen beyond your own control.

I am proud of who I am, what I have to offer and that my compassion for others has never ceased no matter how much I have been hurt. No matter how much my expectations have let me down, I am still able to practice loving kindness. I believe no matter how other people perceive who you are if you develop a strong connection with yourself and a strong self-awareness, you will become unstoppable. You will still experience pain, shame, blame, guilt, anger and despair, as these are normal human emotions to experience. But no matter what people say of you, perceive you or the picture they want to paint, only you truly know how you feel. So have the courage to be brave and say how you feel, regardless of what others may think of you. At the end of the day, it's their own judgements that will hinder their own growth. If you believe in yourself, then you will bloom in no time.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

I met someone whose eyes showed me that the past, present and future were all the same thing

I have been doing a lot of self-reflection as of late. I think the more you grow older, you start to process things at an urgent level to grow out and set yourself up to become the best version of yourself. You have a handful of experiences under your belt such as relationships, friendships, social circles, degrees and so forth. You learn a lot about yourself through connections with others. Some have been life-changing in a positive or negative way. You start to understand pros and cons of your experiences, and life becomes a balancing act that can be proven quite challenging at times. But you survive to the best of your ability. Your best of abilities change depending on what life is throwing at you during that time. 

One of my biggest life-changing experiences was through a negative experience at the time. Adapting to relationships when struggling with a BPD diagnosis was challenging for a whole range of reasons. However, abandoment was the thing I feared the most due to my mental make up. I tended to attach myself to people I knew deep down would probably leave, however, my greater expectations got the better of me and I convinced myself that everyone would love everyone unconditionally. I was not aware of my own boundaries so it was easy for me to cross others. I assumed I knew how people felt. My own self-hate splashed onto my partners during crisis melting point making it impossible for them to understand me. And do you know where most peoples mental illness behaviours stem from? Not danger. People experiencing mental health issues aren't 'dangerous'. We are SCARED. INTERNALLY SCARED. I believe we have to keep that in mind when we come across someone in distress. 

Being on the other end of recovery, there is no reason to blame the other person when a relationship tends to fail. Blaming is a coping mechanism we use to be able to shield the distress from us and reflect it back on to someone else. I made that mistake in the past and it hindered my recovery. Its the only skills I knew at the time. When in reality we should be questioning our own selves. We have feelings that are valid during distress if someone has HURT us (anger, sadness, despair, stress), but the way someone hurts you say more about the relationship they have with themselves. I believe we are all humans who are work in progress, over humans who are built to ruin each other. I don't think anyone goes into a relationship wanting to destroy someone else. If they show behaviours to do that, it's their own self they are destroying. Its the internal hate for themselves mirroring back at them through the connection they have made with you. I don't think anyone is born inherently evil. People do hurtful things in reactions to own pain. Once we begin to understand that, we can detach from people whose morals and values don't align with our own truths. 

I met someone who showed me something in the most painful way through their own hurtful behaviours. Behaviours I believed were my fault. Behaviours I started to take accountability for on top of my own mistreatments of others. Behaviours that are driven by our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. We are all human beings at the end of the day, clawing at each other for survival as that is the only way we know how to cope. But once you start reflecting your own self, learning about your own behaviours, flaws and also learning about your own strengths and what you have to offer, that is when you will be able to connect with people on a deeper level. That's when you will start to feel like you can survive in a safe way. 

When looking in the mirror and seeing your own self-reflection, question your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Start to own them, even if you did fuck up along the way. Even if you didn't express them in ways society demands as 'normal'. It took me crumbling into a pile on the floor to pick myself back up and become whole again. I was the only one who could save myself from the pain I endured. I let people in who could help me heal, and spat out the ones who made the painful sting. But never apologise for being who you are, as there is only one of you. No matter what anxieties you have when it comes to reflecting your past and thinking about your future. Its about who you are now and nourishing your own growth at your own accord.