“The world tests those who are going to contribute the greatest gifts.” A kind stranger on the internet said this to me when my whole world was imploding this past week. The words touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I am taking a hiatus from blogging, because well…
I have been going through it this week. It’s just been a rough few days. Actually I don’t want to sugarcoat it. It’s been a rough few months. The most recent problem solved itself with the help of many kind strangers reaching out, and a therapist that was determined to help me reduce my stress level. Even with the help, I became overwhelmed. I’m beginning to understand that I am struggling with carrying what life is handing me.
I think it would be incredibly wrong of me to ignore what I need. My posts preach self-care and loving yourself. This is the best way I know how to show that I love myself enough to do what is necessary to heal. I’m taking a hiatus from blogging, because it’s time to ask for help.
I don’t know how long I will be gone, but I hope with every heart beat, that I will get the help that I need. I’m going to a safe place where I can heal with help from professionals. After receiving help, something great will happen, and my life will turn the corner toward happiness and peace that lasts. To me, asking for help is a sign of strength and courage.
Asking for help is my refusal to accept that pain and heart ache are my destiny. There has to be more to life than pain, failure, and uncertainty. This is me saying, “I won’t give up.”
Although I am taking a hiatus from blogging, it has been wonderful to go on this journey, and meet such kindness, empathy and encouragement. I felt like I was making a difference with this blog. This is the only time in my life that I haven’t felt completely alone and misunderstood. I have connected with wonderful people and learned so much. I am grateful for everything anyone has done to help me, whether is was just saying something positive or sending a meme. It helped immensely. I’m not used to receiving kindness, but the small and large acts made a world of difference to me. Thank you for helping me feel seen and understood.
I had a breakthrough in therapy this week! I reached a point of understanding what my toxic cycle is! Now that I have the information, I am ending my toxic cycle this year.
When I was in high school, the only thing that motivated me was getting away from my parents. It was literally the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. It motivated me to become Student Council President of my high school, chase high grades, and get involved in after school activities and sports. Any second I could spend away from home was a second of relief. My only goal was to get the hell away from them and never be terrorized again. I applied to colleges in London, Australia, and even Colorado, because I wanted so bad to be in places that they would never find me.
Of course that didn’t work out, and I was the last of my siblings to leave the house. I’m also the only sibling that keeps returning. The day that I decided to tell my parents that I was moving out, because I couldn’t take it anymore, was a few days before Christmas in 2010. I was 21 and in college in San Antonio at the time. My younger brother gave me a pep talk, saying that everything would be fine. He went to school in Florida but was visiting for Christmas. My anxiety was visible, even though I had a solid plan. He assured me with, “Just go downstairs and tell them. Nothing bad’s gonna happen.”
He was wrong.
My narcissist father punched me in the face as soon as the words left my lips. I had my glasses on at the time, and was left with a large welt on my cheekbone. My brother got between us and pushed him away from me, but I started sobbing immediately. My mom just looked on without reacting. You’d never know it if you met us in public, but that’s our normal dynamic. It’s horrible. That’s not the first time he’s attacked me as an adult, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Since then, I jumped from relationship to relationship looking for a way away from them. I ended up dating a sociopath, which sent me running back to my parents’ home after six months of being isolated, beaten, and violated every day. From there, I began a toxic career in the Air Force, that resulted in sexual assaults, mental breakdowns, and multiple hospitalizations. When I was medically retired, I ended up back in my parents’ house. I dated a number of toxic guys, ending up in bad situations all because I was looking for an escape from my parents. Each time I ended up back in my parents’ house.
Then I met my ex, and he did not seem toxic in any way shape or form. He was actually kind and honest. I felt something with him I had never felt before. Safety. Feeling safe for the first time in my life caused such a transformation. Suddenly, I believed in myself, and I felt like things could be different. I was genuinely happy, instead of working hard to make people believe that I was. With him, I cleaned up my life, got my career back, and eventually moved. When we broke up unexpectedly, guess where I ended up again? Back at my parents’ house. Shocker.
This is my cycle. I go from a toxic environment back to the initial environment that harmed me, year in and year out. The only difference was in Guam, I felt safe for a time. I blossomed before a bad situation veered my life back into toxicity again. Recovering from that was so hard, because I had finally had safety, and it was yanked away by a different narcissist’s addiction to chaos and drama. It fucked me up for months, because I thought I had broken the cycle. I hadn’t. Instead I found it in different people. The depressive episode after that realization lasted several debilitating months.
So the cycle continued in Guam. My mental health took a complete nosedive. In that situation, I was confronted with and could not avoid the very trauma I thought I had finally escaped. It was extremely hard on me. I lost about 20 pounds in several weeks, and my mental health crumbled under the stress. I pinged back and forth between mania, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks. I barely slept or slept all the time, bouncing between paranoia and fear at all times. It was exhausting.
When we moved away from that situation, the safety came back. I created a calm, quiet, and inviting space in our new home. It was so peaceful, and I loved being at home. I healed and completely distanced myself from the people that caused my decline. I stopped hanging out without saying anything to anyone. I could breathe again and my mental health settled down, because I didn’t feel stressed. I started doing healthy things, went back to a healthy weight, and stopped drinking, much like how I taking care of myself now.
How am I ending this cycle now that I recognize and understand it? The same way. Cutting ties and No Contact. I might not be in a place financially to live on my own, but in order to break this cycle, I need to go. I have to do what scares me. There are a whole lot of factors that I either have no options available or scarcity, but I’ll have to deal with it. Another problem presented itself with my little car accident last week. That resulted in the total loss of my car. I just have to add that to my growing problem pile and find a solution.
This same question has presented itself numerous times in my life. Stay in a toxic situation and make the best of it, or leave and try to make it in uncertain circumstances? Each time, I always stayed out of fear of the unknown. I can’t do that this time. I can’t allow this cycle to perpetuate itself any longer.
My understanding is this: there’s a reason it keeps happening. It’s solely life (or the universe) telling me to make a different decision. I’m listening this time. This is the decade of making different choices and ending the cycle that has plagued me for far too long. My main goal now? Putting my full trust in every decision I make, and not letting anyone or anxiety talk me out of what I know is right for me.
I come from a military family. My mom served, I served, and my younger brother is currently Active Duty. I also have a ton of friends and loved ones that serve or have served. Veterans. When people hear this word, they excitedly ask some of the most inappropriate and invasive questions regardless of the environment or setting. I was discussing this with my mom, brother, and a few friends. From those conversations comes this list of what bothered us the most.
1. Did you kill anyone? or How many people did you kill? Although I never saw combat, I know plenty of people that did. It’s one of the things they won’t (or can’t) speak freely about because of how it affected them. Plus in my experience, a lot of people in Special Operations communities don’t talk about that stuff with just anyone. If you speak to a veteran and they proudly discuss all the people they killed… chances are, they are lying through their teeth. It blows my mind that folks don’t have the common sense to not bring up something that traumatic at the water cooler at work. It’s disrespectful, and absolutely none of your business.
2. Did anyone you know die? Again, asking a service member to relive their trauma for your entertainment or to satisfy your curiosity is one of the most rude and heartless things veterans encounter. People are changed when life is lost. If you know a service member and they volunteer that information, that is one thing. They have gotten to a point where they have processed their loss, grief, and trauma. But casually asking where it happened and what they were doing at the time is in very poor taste.
3. Do you have PTSD? What happened? I have PTSD from service, yes. Many veterans do. Why do you need to know how we got it? Would you ask if a man had erectile dysfunction because he rides bulls for a living? Nope, because it’s a really intimate and inappropriate question. If you notice a veteran you know acting differently, it is fine to ask if they are okay or how you can help. They get to choose on their terms if they want to discuss details with you. That lets them take their power back.
4. Do you know anyone that got raped? Yes, I have been asked this many times. Sometimes people go far enough to ask if it happened to me. It is by far the question that makes me most uncomfortable. Prying into someone’s personal life on such a painful and life changing level as if it did not shake them to their very core is almost unforgivable in my opinion. A simple question can result in night terrors for weeks and flashbacks and upset that you can’t possibly want someone to have. You wouldn’t ask someone about their best sexual experience at work or at the grocery store. So why would you ask about their worst?
5. Do you know [insert name here]? They’re in the Marines. Y’all. Let’s end this on a humorous note. All military people don’t know everybody else in the military! Especially between branches. That one usually cracks me up. Each service is huge and spread out across the globe. Sure, there’s the off chance we may have crossed paths, but it’s very unlikely unless we’re in the same career field. One of my favorites was when I was stationed in Washington. My cashier at Wal-Mart was like, “Hey, my cousin’s in the Army, too! He’s in Afghanistan right now, do you know him?”
I understand that service member’s stories are interesting. They’re unique and unlike what the rest of the population experiences. All veterans need is a little empathy and courtesy, just like anyone else. Remember: every survivor has a story, but not all stories have survivors. Think, before you ask.
Days before I left Guam and began this emotional healing journey, I had an emergency session with my psychiatrist. It was to renew meds, but she also knew that my entire world had been rocked. She had just given me the approval to get stationed overseas with my fiancé a week before, because I’d worked hard all summer, and my mental health was stable. Everything was fine. Then, without warning, I was suddenly single and leaving my home. She sat down with me for about an hour, listening, and helping me process the shock and pain. I remember feeling so numb and overwhelmed. At first, I couldn’t get words out other than, “I don’t understand what happened. I don’t know what happened.”
One thing from that appointment sticks firmly in mind, and I think about it every day.
She asks if I liked running. I hate it, but I force myself to because my meds cause weight gain. She smiles at my response, but presses further, asking if I run for time or distance. I shrug, saying distance, but wondering where she’s going with these questions.
She says, “You’re going to be doing some emotional healing, and that is like running for time.”
I ask what she means by that. She says, “Say you’re running two miles. That run can be any amount of time you choose. You can run slow or fast and that two miles gets knocked out. When you’re running for time, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. That thirty minutes is going to be thirty minutes. That’s what emotional healing is like. It’s going to take time.”
I nod, thinking, “Well shit, this is going to be a long process whether I want it to be or not.”
Maybe I took her words a little too literally, but I began running when I got to Florida. I ran for time instead of distance. It hurt much more than running for distance. I stopped to walk a lot the first time, but by the second time I had worked out a pace. Over the weeks, I’ve gone farther and farther every thirty minutes. I’ve even lengthened the time to forty-five minutes and an hour for the extraordinary reason of feeling good and not wanting to stop.
My doctor’s words are with me during each run. I’ve always hated running, but I enjoy it now. I visualize myself getting closer and closer to my goals of acceptance, wellness, and happiness. Running doesn’t result in feeling like death anymore. It’s a release. A lot of times tears mix in with the sweat as I let go of one thing after another. I feel lighter afterward. My fitness goal for 2020 is running the Disney Princess half marathon.
My doctor encouraged me before I left her office. She said I probably wouldn’t see it right away, but heart break was handing me one of the greatest opportunities to evolve and grow. The chance to become the woman that I was meant to be stood right there in front of me. I had the means to be fulfilled and healed on my own. She hoped I’d take it.
All I needed to do was put in the effort and keep going. Just like a timed run.
Last week’s affirmation, “I am open and ready to receive“ proved itself to be exactly what I needed. I was met with quite a few unexpected challenges throughout the week. It was enough to make me really put my affirmation to the test.
The biggest challenge was getting into a small car accident. There were no injuries, thank goodness. My car suffered some damage, and it was a daunting task to ask, “How can I look at this situation positively? There’s nothing positive about a car accident.” Eventually I stumbled upon it after pouting for fifteen minutes.
I became grateful for what I had instead of fearing what I could lose. I counted my blessings. No one was harmed. My insurance covered a tow and repairs, as well as a sweet rental car. I also had money in emergency savings to cover my deductible. My dad came to help immediately. By the time the tow truck driver came, we were giggling about two squirrels playing tag.
Having an unexpected setback didn’t ruin my day, week, or month. The old me would ruminate over how the world conspired against my happiness and growth and couldn’t let me have either. New me is like, “Wellp! It’s a challenge, but I can meet and surpass it.” I can tell that I’m actually changing, because I didn’t sprint to negative self-talk. I forced myself to see the good, and reached out to people that would encourage me. Slowly, but surely, I am letting go of thoughts and ideas that do not serve me. The war with a negative self-identity is not won yet, but I am winning each battle as they arise. Little miracles and victories!
This little affirmation also led me on a path to understanding what I needed to do concerning my relationship with my parents. That’s another post for another day.
How are we cruising into this week? In style on the S.S. Confidence. I’m starting each morning with the phrase, “I am enough.”
I am enough for any and every challenge that presents itself. My thoughts are enough to create happiness and resilience. I am good enough and smart enough. All past experiences and mistakes make me strong enough to change. My heart is big enough to squash self-hatred and negativity. Every bit of me is enough.
My message to you? We are enough for what we attract in life.
When my life took an extremely painful and unexpected detour, I went looking for answers and advice on how to know if I should move on, how to stop the pain, and how to create a life that made me happy. I needed to learn the qualities of a truly healthy relationship. New habits needed to be instilled while old ones needed to be broken. I wanted to heal in a real way, not just the “Look at me, I’m doing better now” fake facade that most people post on social media. Most importantly, I wanted to make permanent positive changes. I understand most that staying the same will result in the same problems. I won’t allow that any longer. Here’s a list of podcasts and blogs that have helped me the most:
Therapy for Black Girls The wonderful Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a clinical psychologist based out of Atlanta, is my hero for creating this podcast and website. Mental health is still kind of taboo in the African-American community, but she and her interviewees are working hard to change the stigma. The topics discussed are everything from relationships, work-life balance, trauma, and so much more. The episodes “Taking Care of Yourself After a Breakup”, “Finding Your People”, and “Reimagining Single Life” gave me perspective, tools, and a calm that I don’t think I would’ve had otherwise. They assured that no matter how things worked out, I would be okay.
Girl Be Free Siobhan Sudberry actually reached out on Instagram and told me about her online community the Be Free Family. She is so inspiring and has such a calm, but powerful voice. The first episode I listened to “Forgive Yourself” made me cry. I’m not avoiding my emotions anymore, so if tears come, they fall, I understand and appreciate them and move forward from them. I’m trying out these new things called grace, self-awareness, and self-compassion instead of being hard on myself which was the part of the core message of that episode. Siobhan and I had a whole conversation on Instagram, and she sent me a guide called“101 Resources That Every Woman Needs To Live Her Best Life”. A cool lesson that keeps making itself known is that kind people with clear intent to help keep showing up unexpectedly, but it’s exactly when I need them.
HER – Healthy Empowered Relationships Imagine my surprise when I found out that Barry Price’s podcasts laid out the very framework of what a healthy relationship looks like. After a few episodes, I realized that I haven’t had very healthy romantic relationships, but that was partly because I didn’t have a very healthy relationship with myself. It was an upsetting, but necessary realization. The episode that caused a breakthrough was “Is This Relationship Worth Saving?”. I answered each question in the episode out loud and honestly, which prompted me to look at the situation with forgiveness instead of sadness or anger. One thing I needed to do was apologize and forgive the pain. The first part was hard to do, but the second part is taking time. I honestly think that’s a good thing.
My Seven Chakras AJ is all about self-healing and bringing people onto his show to help listeners get in touch with their energy. The podcast features thought provoking books and interesting guests. I finally understood that I kept attracting the same kind of men, because my negative and insecure energy beckoned them. I didn’t feel good about myself, and attracted those that felt the same or preyed upon it. The episode that opened my eyes was “Uplifting and Fulfilling Relationships with Guy Finley”. Guy spoke passionately about love, pain, fighting, and blame in ways I’ve never heard. His books The Secret of Letting Go and Relationship Together: Waking Up Together are on my upcoming reading lists.
Post Male Syndrome Natasha Adamo and her team of bloggers are so insightful about heartbreak, self-doubt, and relationships, which are all things that I needed help with. Many of the posts deal with narcissists, selfish, and emotionally closed off men, and the trauma they inflict on women. Reading these posts had to come from a place of forgiveness instead of blame, because they hit very close to home with a number of my past relationships. The posts “How to Respect Yourself When You Have No Self-Respect” and “How To Get Over Someone Who Broke Your Heart” taught me about boundaries and embracing the pain by using it to create actions and goals that give pain purpose. I have never once considered pain as a tool for growth, because I avoided it at all costs. I am still wrestling with pain, because I’m using it to become my best self. I’m spending a lot of time reading the self-improvement category at the moment. Natasha also recently got engaged, and I couldn’t be happier for her!
Afam Uche This blog is everything I needed to find some direction and really get to know myself. Afam Uche has shared so much about her life, written poetry, and even made personal development tools. The thing I want the most for myself is commitment to permanent positive change instead of commitment to another relationship. I found what I was looking for in this blog to really begin healing. The post “Important Steps to Take In Order To Change Your Life” was the gentle nudge I needed. I am prone to getting deeply depressed and discouraged when things don’t go the way I think they should. Because I wasn’t finding happiness the exact way I wanted it, I wasn’t open to all the other ways it could be found. I have to let go of those negative habits to embrace what else is out there.
What I’m trying to accomplish is hard, but I’m committing to positive change, instead of committing to continued pain and heart ache. I know made great strides in the last month, but it’s going to take much more time. I’m treating myself with honesty and forgiveness, while also being realistic about how long this process may take. Small changes are my goal for each day. Each decision I make comes from a place of love and trust. I’m caring for my body by exercising, not drinking excessively, and doing kind things for myself. I’m doing what feels right for me. Whether it’s going to bed early or having an extra cup of water, I’m doing it. I’m taking responsibility for my happiness, my future, and everything in between. I feel empowered. My healing journey is far from complete, but things will get better from here on out.
Leave a comment below to share blogs and podcasts you follow for self-care, advice, and personal growth.
Music is such a great way to process emotions, which is probably why I avoided it like the plague. I started listening to EDM a few years ago, because all the beeps, bops, and drops didn’t make me think. I didn’t have to connect to it and feel anything. There’s few emotions in music without lyrics. It was an escape. I just moved my body, and that was that.
Since I’ve been on this healing journey, I’ve started listening to something else. I’ve been acknowledging my feelings and thoughts. In doing so, I’m opening the door to forgiveness. Here’s what I’ve been listening to for introspection:
Soulmate by Lizzo “I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown Look up in the mirror like damn she the one”
Lizzo is an absolute goddess. I love her. She is unapologetically herself, no matter what anyone says. It’s empowering to watch her move through life doing what makes her happy and fulfilled. She deserves every award and accolade coming her way. This song was such inspiration for me really embrace myself and appreciate everything great about myself. I’m kind, sweet, and funny, and damn it if I don’t absolutely enjoy that every day.
Sorry by Beyonce “Today I regret the night I put that ring on He always got them fucking excuses”
Oh Queen B. What is there to say about this woman that hasn’t been said already. She is unstoppable. I’ve never been a huge Beyonce fan, but her album Lemonade captured every feeling, thought, and question that’s run through my mind in the last couple months. This song in particular helped me work through my anger, betrayal, and shame in a healthier way. This one comes on every time I’m stretching and warming up to run.
Worthy by India.Arie “Worthy of love, worthy of life Worthy of saying no when something don’t feel right”
India.Arie has the most beautiful soul. This woman is everything I aspire to be in terms of being inspirational, loving, and true to myself. I look up to her so much. Her latest album Worthy is everything someone with a broken heart needs to hear. Every song feels like she’s handing the listener a little brick of self-esteem to stack until their shaky foundation is steadier. This album has caused a lot of tears, but also smiles and nods.
I listen to this one every morning. This is the first song I listen to as soon as I get up. There is something about Nina Simone. It’s sadness in her voice. It resonates with me. I feel like we share the same soul at times. Each time I listen to this song, I feel like I let go of some of the pain that I’ve held onto for so long.
Y’all, when I say this song is POWERFUL. It is everything. Alicia Keys has been a part of my life since middle school. Her ups and downs were my ups and downs, even when I was 13 and didn’t know nothing about nothing. This is the anthem for my healing journey. I have changed, and what hurt me neither matters to me or controls me any longer. A metamorphosis is happening. You can either help in that process or get the hell out of my way. Queen Alicia reigns supreme.
These artists reached into my mind, heart and soul. Their music gave me all the strength, kindness, and love that I needed to really feel my emotions. Their words provided understanding and a feeling of being understood. I think that’s was the worst part of having a broken heart. Feeling so damn misunderstood when I was trying so hard to be seen, heard, and loved by the one I was seeing, hearing , and loving with ease.
The best part of healing, is of course, beginning to understand myself. I have clarity about who I am, what I want and need, and who I need to be around to feel safe, happy, and inspired. I feel safe and whole on my own. Finally, I don’t feel as lost and confused as I did this whole year.
What music helps you connect with your emotions? I’d love to start a playlist to share! Let me know in the comments. And as always, connect with me on social media! The links are below.
My struggle with borderline personality disorder has mostly been under the surface. Usually when people hear “Borderline Personality Disorder”, they react like someone peed in their cereal. Disgust or anger that crosses their faces as they begin to talk a particular ex or the movie Gone Girl or Girl, Interrupted. Things I’ve heard about borderlines?
“Those girls are absolutely insane.” “They’re the worst people on the planet.” “They are crazy, but they’re the best in bed.” “Attention whores with extreme daddy issues.” “Oh, you mean strippers?” “If you don’t want to get stabbed or murdered, don’t date one of them.” “They deserve to be locked up and kept away from normal people.”
The people that said those things didn’t realize they were speaking to a person with that personality disorder. Do I fit their criteria? Nope. Am I mostly in control of my actions, reactions, and emotions? Yeah, but it depends on my stress level and environment.
Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family.
Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (“I’m so in love!”) and devaluation (“I hate her”). This is also sometimes known as “splitting.”
Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships.
Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts.
Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.
Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.
Yep, I check most those boxes or did at one point. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit that. Thankfully, therapy and medication has given me a reprieve from my own intensity. That’s something I’ve gotten used to being described as: intense. But it’s the truth. When I fly high, I am intoxicating and everything you could ever want in a human being. When I feel sad, I crawl into this dark hole that I can’t get out of then initiate self-destruction sequences. One small word or action can send my day into a tail spin. I live on a roller coaster. I’ve had to unlearn a lot. Taking a breath before speaking has become a life saver. I typically withdraw until I’m ready to speak rationally. I’ve also got some meds that have evened me out a ton.
I lashed out a lot in my early twenties while I was still undiagnosed. Here’s a huge and necessary, I’m truly sorry for how I behaved toward you, to every guy I dated in that time period. I was not the person I am now, and it’s okay if you still hate me. I hated me then, too.
The best portrayal of Borderline Personality Disorder, in my opinion, is Netflix’s BoJack Horseman. What would the horse from Horsin’ Around know about BPD? Quite a bit. He’s self-destructive, impulsive, and looks for approval in everyone around him while simultaneously pushing them away. BoJack’s very intelligent, quick-witted, but mean and sarcastic as a defense mechanism. He engages in risky sex, binge drinking and driving, and drug abuse. All of his self-sabotaging decisions, his desire to get away from himself, and his absolute need to be loved ring so true with me. I adore BoJack, because I don’t feel so alone. He is the male version of me. It’s also refreshing to see a depiction of a male borderline, because I feel like the media ignores them completely.
You could say I’m high functioning now. I don’t necessarily act like BoJack anymore. There’s evidence that borderlines actually grow out of these behaviors by their 30’s or 40’s. I’m working hard at changing, but I am also much less intense than I was at 23. How come? Time and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It was created by Marsha Linehan. She’s a doctor that actually has borderline personality disorder, but created a method to challenge all the thoughts that tell me I’m worthless or that I should harm myself. DBT helped me learn how to tolerate distress and practice mindfulness.
The only time the techniques fail me is breakups. They are uniquely hard for me, because of my fear of abandonment. Even if I’m the one that initiates the break up, I react as if I’m the one broken up with. And if I’m actually the one broken up with, my whole world collapses. It brings up the worst emotions. Everything I was afraid of during the relationship, in other relationships, as a little girl comes straight to the surface. My internal struggle with borderline personality disorder becomes very visible. It’s like a volcano erupts.
When I lived in Destin, I swear, my group of friends used to look forward to my frequent breakups, because I would go wild afterward. Feral might even be a better word to describe an out of control and hurting Rachelle. I would go off my meds completely, and party hard, doing the most ridiculous shit. It was entertainment for them, but I was destroying myself. Without caring about the consequences, I threw myself to the wind many times, because I felt that no one loved me. Somehow I’ve avoided STDS, DUI’s, and death. I consider myself very lucky. Other people going through the same pain were not so fortunate.
Right now is probably the best I’ve ever reacted to heart break. I was frantic initially, yes, but I calmed down in a day or two. I resisted drinking, or theatrical sobbing midnight phone calls, or getting naked with any guy that smiled in my direction. Risky or impulsive decisions were not an option. I needed to end the cycle of abusing and punishing myself. I’m not really a self-harmer, but I didn’t have any suicidal ideations which is a huge sign of progress for me. I don’t know what caused it, but I told myself that I would not treat myself that way this time.
Even though every brain cell is shouting to do the opposite, I’m controlling my impulses. I’m exercising every day and doing productive things instead of self-destructing. Dancing terribly the living room until I feel better is a daily occurrence, because it makes me laugh. Sure I cry, but I make sure that’s accompanied with writing down exactly what was going on in my head and heart. I get it out instead of letting sad or angry thoughts bounce back and forth in my mind. I also go to therapy and coaching. I’m staying on my medications and hugging my giant teddy bear whenever I get down. My soul searching trip empowered me and influenced this very level-headed and rational approach to healing. You might even say I’ve matured through this process.
This makes me inexplicably proud of myself. I’m sure 19 to 27 year old me is doing backflips and cheering. You can’t heal in the environment that harmed you, but you also can’t heal while harming yourself. Somehow that clicked in my mind without words this year. I wish that I had been able to do this for myself sooner, like maybe when I was 23 or 24. But I am grateful that I get to learn this lesson and heal myself at all.
What I’ve learned from living with BPD? I am not alone. I am worthy of love, respect, kindness and security. There is hope. There is genuine love and understanding out there for people like me. There is the possibility of change and recovery. Each day is a second chance. I can accomplish healing.
What does it feel like to be so low that you can’t leave your bed, yet at the same time your mind’s going a million miles per hour freaking out about everything you’re not doing? I’m changing my outlook with affirmations, but I also want to share my experience with mental illness.
I’ve experienced depression since grade school. I vividly recall walking through Wal-Mart with my mom and younger brother after school when I was seven years old. Partially quoting Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, I looked up at her and said, “Mom, I’m only seven and I’m tired of living.”
A strange look crossed her face when she shushed me, telling me not to talk like that. “You don’t say things like that.”
That statement should have led to a trip to a doctor, but it was another lesson on how I should not be honest about my feelings. I was told to stop exaggerating. So I wasn’t honest about how I felt inside. I began smiling like crazy when I got my braces off. The sadness got pushed down. I tried hard to be like everyone else, while dying inside. As an adult, my days became muddled by this inexplicable fog. I got to the point of suicidal ideations and plans many, many times. Thankfully, I’m still here.
Anxiety feels like when you’re in seventh grade. You’re gawky and awkward, and your hands and feet are too big for your body. You’re standing at the front of the class for your book report. Your heart’s racing, and you’re shaking a little. You start sweating, and eyes bore into you. This is what I like to call my default setting, because I feel this way all the time. The best depiction of anxiety in a movie was how Miles felt in Into the Spiderverse when he first started having Spidey Sense. “Who’s Morales?” had me on the floor, because anxiety has made me say some really dumb stuff without fail. “It’s a puberty thing.” LOL!
I started having anxiety in 5th grade. My bullies were extra cruel then, and I had a very mean, dismissive teacher. Prior to developing anxiety, I was a straight A student. Without warning, I started failing math and science, two subjects that never gave me trouble before. Still there was never any mention of going to a doctor or a tutor. Instead my dad used the tried and true method of most West Indian (and so I’m told African) parents for homework. It was yelling first, slamming a hand or fist on the table, then beatings with a belt or sometimes fists, if I did not understand, got a question wrong, or the worst sin of all… forgot my homework at school. Prior to these after school abuse sessions, I never forgot my homework in the previous four years of school.
I became anxiety-ridden to the point that I could not function because of a sense of dread and impending doom. It’s a terrible feeling. Usually I was on the verge of tears or all keyed up for seemingly no reason. Frequent stomach aches and strep throat plagued me around that age. Anxiety attacks became these internal events that I got used to after a while. I still recoil from loud noises from fireworks and thunderstorms to people yelling unexpectedly or slamming things. When people make fists around me, I automatically get nervous. Getting slapped on the butt playfully also induces panic. It shakes me to my core by taking me back to a place where I felt very unsafe and terrified.
This is why my relationship with my parents is strained. I feared them, instead of trusting them with my safety and well-being. It’s something we’re working on now, I’m happy to say.
Therapy and medication helped immensely. In therapy, I learned several breathing techniques and how to ground myself. My go-to is counting all the legs on a chair and name all the colors that I see. I like the breathing technique where you take a deep 4 second breath, hold it 7 seconds, then exhale slowly. It effectively reduces my heart rate. The medication does some magic in my brain that makes me noticeably less anxious. My hands don’t shake as bad.
Honestly, I wrestle with depression daily. I might have to for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t scare me anymore. The best depiction I’ve seen of depression in a TV show was on Big Mouth on Netflix. There is a weird comfort that I feel in giving in to the fog and sadness. They showed that comfort, something I have struggled to explain to others in the past, flawlessly. The trick for me is finding one small positive reason to get out of bed. Sometimes it’s simply brushing my teeth for my mega-watt smile. One things I won’t do is bully myself out of bed or bully myself for staying in bed. I am nicer to myself nowadays, and somehow one foot follows the other.
My biggest success so far is that I am honest with myself and others about how I feel at any given moment. I don’t push my truth down. If my answer makes other uncomfortable, I don’t care. I won’t lie to myself anymore. That’s progress.
If you have either anxiety or depression, I hope you find the strength or courage to tell someone that will really listen to you and understands you. Neither of these illness mean that you’re weak, or damaged goods, or any of the other mean things we say to ourselves. Take the time to do something nice for yourself once you calm down after an anxiety attack. They’re embarrassing and awful, but it’s not your fault. I used to eat ice cream afterward, but now I eat pickles and watch Disney movies. Those movies are an important part of my calming process, I’m not ashamed to admit. They remind me of times I felt safe and happy. Say something nice to yourself instead of blaming yourself. Do whatever brings you to a happy place! It’s not dumb if it works.
And most importantly? Remember to love yourself. Depression or anxiety aside, brain chemicals that you have no control over don’t stop you from being amazing and worthy. I’ve learned and internalized this recently. I hope you do, too.
Last week’s affirmation, “Something wonderful is about to happen,” led me to some new and interesting places. Wonderful things happened!
On Sunday I ended up at a cigar bar with a new friend. We ended up laughing so hard we went into silent giggle mode. It was fun! In therapy on Monday, I began connecting with my pain and trauma. Finally admitting that horrific things happened to me, instead of hiding behind a convincing fake smile was very difficult.
I went to a Pranic Healing Session on Tuesday out of curiosity for a unique experience. My heart chakra was displaced according to the guides in my individual healing session. I burst into tears when it was repositioned. They said now I’d be truly ready to accept and forgive.
On Wednesday, I found a job fair for veterans by chance. I got dressed while repeating my affirmation on Thursday. Surprisingly, I was not anxious in the crowded conference room. I left much closer to a job I want, plus a new option of becoming a teacher. Another blessing happened! I have a job interview next week!
I ran five whole miles on Friday, which I’m super proud of, because it’s the first time I’ve done it! And Saturday? I prepared for my interview from a place gratitude instead anxiety. I can safely say… affirmations are what’s up! This week’s affirmation is:
Also, I am making phone wallpapers for every affirmation, so you’re more than welcome to save and use them, too. Let’s go on the affirmation journey together! I am excited to find out what this week has in store for me. Lastly, if you haven’t found me on social media, click one of the buttons below, they’ll get you where you want to go.