I am in hospital. The last time I came here was to give birth to my second child. It was a happy moment, a sweet memory.
Today, my head is torn between that memory and the harsh reality of today. The reason I am here this time isn’t too joyful. I am impatiently waiting for my turn and my heart is filled with pain.
Why am I unable to be happy? I have a great family, a job that I love and I am surrounded with people who love me but I am filled with anxiety. I am hurting myself without knowing why and I cannot manage my emotions. My children are giving me an unprecedented feeling of well-being but they also give me mixed feelings and an insecurity that I find difficult to accept.
Diagnosis: borderline personality disorder
At last, I know what the cause of my mysterious anxiety is. My sporadic and unexplained irritability, my compulsions and my intense reactions to life event are caused by a “borderline personality disorder”. Phew. I thought the diagnosis would bring me inner peace but knowing that I am defective only adds to my insecurity and anxiety.
Doubt is kicking in!
I think the most difficult part, when you are diagnosed with a mental illness, is to doubt the essence of your emotions and perceptions. You cannot trust yourself anymore and everything you are experiencing is questionable. As a mother, it is a tremendous challenge.
I spent months feeling guilty to have given birth to children who are the victims of my problem and ashamed of my behaviour towards them. I isolated and buried myself in this incapacity to act and react normally. Might as well stay put and do nothing: that way I will do no harm. It was better, in my mind, to stay away and allow qualified people to guide my children towards a future that was better than the one I had to offer.
On the road to recovery
I went to therapy. I emptied my pain and learned to change my way of thinking. I am not cured –borderline personality disorders cannot be cured, it is a state, not a disease – but I have better tools. Morale is going up, I am starting to join the activities of the family but I realize that I am half the woman I used to be. I am walking on eggshells. I want to avoid pain and I make conscious efforts to avoid conflicts. I let my husband take care of discipline because I am afraid to make mistakes.
Gradually, I learn to trust myself again. I realize that any mother can make mistakes and start anew and that we learn a lot more by managing conflicts and accepting pain than if we avoid living.
I also understand that the best thing to do is to is to set an example for our children and show them how to overcome adversity. The important thing is not to give in to despair and continue to fight and find ways to cope.
Learn to live with yourself
The efforts to make are constant. I must take time regularly to valuate if my emotions are adequate, if my way of interacting corresponds to the information I am trying to communicate and if my impressions are correct. I still dissociate myself now and again when I feel overwhelmed and I focus my strength on my children to come back to reality and manage the present.
I do all that for love. Love of myself because I deserve a good role in my own life and because it is never too late to gain new knowledge that we missed before. It is also out of love for my children because I want them to have all the tools they need to face life.
If you know people who are living with a mental health problem, the most important thing to know is that they need your support. They are going through something very difficult and it is unfortunate that it cannot be seen like a physical disease. And even if you don’t understand what they are going through, understand that it is a heavy load to carry and help them as much as you can.