Suffering Mental Illness: Only the Beginning
Life With Anxiety, an Eating Disorder, and Borderline Personality
A year or so ago, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, an eating disorder, and features of Borderline Personality Disorder. After going through psychological testing and receiving this diagnosis, it made sense to me, but at the same time when you read your diagnosis, you can't help but feel as if you are reading about someone different than yourself.
I had been struggling with a lot of issues in my early twenties. Anxiety was controlling everything I did. I went through a very intense break up which required me to take out an EPO against my ex, which was already a controversial relationship before our break up. It wasn't my idea, but with persuasion of a co-worker who had been through a similar situation, it felt as if it were my only option to really get him to leave me alone.
After that whole stressful situation, I was in shambles. The night before court I was so anxious I couldn't bring myself to watch anything but an animated movie. I started over analyzing my life. I realized I was not as successful as I wanted to be or where I wanted to be.
After I became single again and was independent, the routine of my eating disorder kicked in. At the time, I may have been too dependent on a partner for my self esteem. I started doing faster cardio every morning, obsessively, not missing a day. I stopped eating, which dropped my weight down to 95 pounds (around 25 pounds lighter than normal), I was obsessing about what I ate and about what people at work would think about me.
After a visit with my physician, she told me I had reached my limit. An eating disorder is generally fulfilling to the person because it is a way to control at least one thing in your life, your body. I ventured into occasional marijuana use again and was reaching out for relationships which weren't nurturing.
Around this time in my life, I had also befriended a younger coworker. We were spending some time together outside of work. He watched me go through my break up, my weight loss, and the changes which were to come. After a stern talk with my father's girlfriend, I decided to get back in school.
I didn't think I was able to at first. With working full time and having bills and rent to pay, how could I focus on school too? After having the idea planted in my head, though, I knew it was the right thing to do. So, since I hated my living situation, I asked my parents to let me move home.
At first, I moved in with my dad and his girlfriend upon his request, so he could help me through this difficult time. At this time, I started to gain some of my weight back. I think because I was no longer living alone, some of my anxiety subsided and I felt like I was in a safe, supportive place again.
Soon after, my father and I had a falling out over people I wanted to spend time with (friends from work whom he didn't approve of), and decided to move to my mom's. From there, I decided to buy a condominium instead of rent an apartment, since I had enough for a down payment. I left the job, which was a negative in my life and got a job at a local community center which helps immigrant in refugee families with different services and classes for English.
Now, with a brief history of my life and all the changes, I feel I have given the background you may need to further discuss anxiety, eating disorders and borderline personality. Everyone has problems. Even the most sane people you know deal with some issues.
Mental disease is something which affects almost everyone. Whether you know someone with mental disease or suffer with it yourself, it is like an ocean which can be calm one moment then can create a tsunami the next. One characteristic of mental disease which is tough to deal with is not understanding why you may be feeling a certain way. Some days the sadness will sink in, or the emptiness, out of nowhere. It can be a perfectly normal day but the sadness can make it feel hopeless: feeling paranoid for no reason at all, feeling defensive or the desire to seclude yourself, feelings of suicide when you are upset about something. I have attempted to commit suicide one time, which statistically ups my chances by 50 percent to try again.
Even when I was little, I felt different from other kids. Somehow, I knew I was weird. Kids are able to sense things, and I was able to sense this even when I was in elementary school. As I got older I spent a lot of time comparing myself to other people or feeling as if I was not as normal or popular as other people. Sometimes my jealousy would get the best of me. It is embarrassing to admit, but I think it was part of my mental problems which I didn't relate before. A boyfriend of mine who I dated at the beginning of college had a little sister who I grew to become jealous of. She was a gorgeous, straight A high school student on the dance team. She had qualities that I never had and it ended up driving me crazy. It wasn't so bad, but the more and more I smoked weed with my boyfriend, the more and more I let this jealousy take hold of me. It was tough because it was affecting my daily life. I was actually having thoughts that my boyfriend may be more sexually attracted to his sister than me. At this time, I also started exercising obsessively. I lost weight. I would look at a picture of her and would literally want to die because I was not her. It was a horrible phase which luckily passed. That boyfriend and I eventually broke up.
I have learned from past events like this. When something doesn't kill you it makes you stronger. I have grown into a stronger person. I cannot wait to try a behavioral therapy, to see if I can really conquer my mental illness with out the use of pharmaceuticals. If there is anyone reading this who is suffering, just know you aren't alone. Recognizing you have mental illness is one of the hardest steps to take, because it is difficult to openly talk about your problems unless you have an unbiased, professional presence (like a therapist). Also, many diseases are not as talked about as others. Borderline personality, for instance, is not a very well known mental disease. I had never heard of it until my Dad informed me of it. Once I read what it entailed, it was easy to recognize myself in the category. Know that it is something that can be overcame. After learning about what I was suffering from and how I could control it and keep my symptoms at bay, I completely changed my life for the better. Life shouldn't be the gloomy day to day, but instead, it should be a realm of endless possibilities. I hope from reading my brief overview of what mental disease in my life is like, you have learned or are inspired.
Also, on a positive note, the younger co-worker who became my friend is now my boyfriend of about a year and a half. Yes, my Dad doesn't approve, which causes some pain in my life because it estranges me from him (for the second time), but at least I am with someone who cares for me as I do him. One thing mentally ill people are good at doing is going against the grain.