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Eternal Company: Part 2

* this is a postscript to part one, written in the present
** Trigger warnings for self-harm, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide 

I struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Cyclothymia (Bipolar Type 3), mild OCD, in addition to a learning disability. Well, I still haven’t developed psychosis, but stay tuned! A little over 4 years ago, I was admitted to the hospital for the second time in a year following my first suicide attempt. I stayed there for almost 3 weeks and despite the horrible circumstances which led to my stay there, my experience wasn’t so bad. I met some great people and had a little break from my overwhelming life, a much-needed break at the time. I was also diagnosed with BPD, so I finally got an explanation for my thoughts and behaviour.

Today, I’m happy to say that I’m doing much better, I’m finally emotionally stable. However, I’m not going to write a sentimental text stating that I got better right away after that experience because I like to stay honest and genuine about my struggles. So, in all honesty, my first suicide attempt wasn’t my last at all. In fact, it was the first of nearly 10 suicide attempts in the span of 14 months. As you can imagine, it was quite a ride. The path to stability was not unchallenging. My friends, family, high school — my teachers & principal — and my cat have all helped me tremendously, proving the importance of a stable support system when a person is struggling with mental health issues; no one can overcome these problems on their own. And if you’re reading this thinking "I would never open up to anyone", I want you to know that I used to think the same exact thing. I’m not going to pretend that I know or understand your particular situation, I’m just going to explain how my issues externalized in a way that got the people around me to notice I was struggling and get me the help I needed at the time.

I used to be so afraid to express my feelings, afraid to even show that I have feelings in the first place. All my life, up until the age of 16-17, I kept everything inside and struggled in silence, crying myself to sleep every night. My biggest fear was appearing vulnerable to people. I would act super tough, and I never ever let anyone see me cry. I never even expressed any kind of affection, I never hugged people, I never said "I love you" to anyone, including my parents. My friends wouldn’t even believe me when I said I cried watching the movie Hatchi!

I was that good at hiding, until I found out the cost of bottling up my feelings. Keeping it all inside for so long was draining and my body and mind couldn’t take it any longer. My emotions started resurfacing on the outside when I was in grade 11, and, at the start of grade 12, after a summer of major depression, I broke down. My teachers and principal noticed my fragile mental state, and, for the first time in my whole life, I expressed what was going on in my mind. Expressing my feelings became my favourite thing to do, so much so that I started writing poetry. I went from being an "emotionless" 10-year-old, to crying multiple times a day (it felt SO good to let it all out) in front of literally anyone and writing poems depicting my darkest thoughts. I simply couldn’t hide my vulnerability anymore.

I am aware that my experience cannot be generalized. I cannot tell you to simply go and open up to the first person you see. It’s SO hard to trust people, even if they’re family. And sometimes, family isn’t an option, for whatever reason. Your family and/or community could also not be supportive of your mental health, which can make you feel quite lonely. Even if you have the most supportive family, it could still be extremely hard or scary to open up to them or trust them. I have no advice on how to feel less scared or how to know if a person is trustworthy. All I can tell you is that there are people out there willing to listen to you. I know it’s hard to believe, I didn’t believe it until I started talking to my teachers and principal. Even then, it still didn’t feel real, and I still had my doubts, despite them showing me countless times that they were there for me and that I could trust them. I didn’t want to be a burden; I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems. It took a very long time for me to get to this point, to start trusting people and to let myself be vulnerable around others. It will take time for you as well.

And, just like I did, you can try talking to trusted adults. This doesn’t necessarily mean your parents, it can be anyone, like a teacher, a relative, a coach, even a friend’s parent. I found comfort in my teachers and principal, and they became my trusted adults. And I’m not only talking to teens here! I’m 21, and I still find comfort in talking to an older adult. Being an adult doesn’t mean you should deal with things on your own, especially if you’re in between the ages of 18 and 25. This weird life stage between being a teen and an adult can be particularly challenging. What’s important, is that you find someone to open up to. Like I said, it won’t be easy, and it might not happen anytime soon. When you finally feel ready to do so, things will hopefully start getting a tiny bit better. And I say a tiny bit because I don’t want you thinking that it will work like magic and you’ll suddenly be happy. Opening up was the first step I did towards "recovery", towards getting better. What followed was a long process involving medication (which isn’t for everyone) and therapy, a process filled with ups and downs. And of course, I still have my occasional episodes and meltdowns, and I still cry every day ☺ How else would I water my eyelashes and hydrate my eyes?

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